Performativity of Avatars in Gaming (Online Sexual Identity)

Written by annonyblogger (aka Annaleis Bijdeveldt) – Sunday 28 May 2017

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandala

Video content and strategy:

At the time of choosing an area of focus I had been watching various documentaries on how the online world was revolutionising the porn industry, online dating and sexual relationships. First I thought about looking at the online impact on the porn industry, with plenty of research pieces and documentaries on the subject. The porn industry has been at the forefront of technological advances and adaptations since the birth of film itself through the VHS, DVD era and into online streaming.

However, I chose to focus my efforts on exploring the concept of sexualising virtual avatars.  I discovered that the topic I had chosen was so broad as far as the scope for investigation. It also touched on various topics such as gamification, online identity, performication and sex in a digital age.

I enjoy this topic due to the taboo nature with so much to cover in this new virtual age of romance and the sexualised world. Wanting to use material related to the topic, imagery, video and music was not hard to find. I was able to source a range of suitable creative commons materials. I also tried to use an element of recyclability as 7 minutes is a lot to fill visually!

Keeping my ideas in line I created a basic framework and proceeded to flesh out the content around this. This kept my conversation on point, I made sure that it had flow and progression and included relevant sources to bolster my discussion.

Creating my own content and use of creative commons – images, music, video, ideas:

I found a range of creative commons images, video and sounds that could be used. I wanted to be able to include my own creations as well.

The idea was to curate my story through the eyes of one of my virtual avatars and have them do the talking for me. Some of my audio would contain key words that would relate to an image.

I really enjoyed editing my own images in Photoshop experimenting with different filters, effects and styles.

I developed a script and highlighted in red the areas that met the reference material criteria and then tried to align these with an appropriate image.

Suffering writers block for a moment (not one to suffer from this problem as I usually have too much to say and not enough time), I got back on track and the ideas flowed.

Use of resources:

After a few adjustments to keyword searches I hit a home run with a search term “females gamify sex through avatars”. This returned good quality scholarly research pieces that would assist with informing my arguments. Finding scholarly resources for my topic was actually easier than I expected. There were plenty to choose from and some really added authority to my discussion.

Never having story boarded before I found that this helped my to gather my thought and structure the video both aesthetically and content wise. This also assisted with where to reach critical argumentative points and include scholarly findings to back up arguments at crucial moments.

Challenges and learning: 

My frustration often stems from my creative ideas and concepts and the lack of technical ability or knowledge of how the Adobe software suite works, Premiere in particular.

This project challenged my advanced editing and effects abilities especially with layering my voice audio, music and imagery.

YouTube has a plethora of helpful tutorials but I had to be mindful not to waste too much time in the vortex of watching tutorial after tutorial. Screening each video for relevance was also challenging. I was pretty chuffed when I successfully learnt how to fade music out gradually and how to add certain effects to photos.

My Adobe Premiere Pro expertise and Photoshop skills have advanced throughout this process but are still rudimentary. Time could have been saved knowing more of the short cuts, tips and tricks to produce the best quality video.

Overall the leaning by doing experience has been most rewarding and more beneficial than any text book could have been.

My broader ALC203-related online activity

  • Tweets 185 (up from 77 April 9)
  • Following 213 (up from 158 April 9)
  • Followers 153 (up from 85 April 9)
  • Likes 372 (up from 174 April 9)

My strategy was to contribute to #ALC203 at least once a day. On days where I had multiple ideas I would write them down.  Some of the topics from week 8 onward I found harder to contribute to as I felt less connected with the topics. I followed people who I relate to or that had been really clever with creating content. To ensure engagement happened when tweeting I tried to be conversational and ask questions rather than broadcasting. The 140 microblogging word count made me think really craftily about what I wanted to say inn as few words as possible.

My Twitter Account  is alive and well! I would like to have blogged more but finding time and the creative head-space is challenging working full-time in a demanding job, studying and other commitments. Blogging is something I have always wanted to pursue and I will continue to do so in future.


Boellstorff, T 2008, Coming of age in Second Life: an anthropologist explores the virtually human, Princeton: Princeton University Press, ©2008.

Fischer, NLSSM 2011, Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, Taylor and Francis, London. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [26 May 2017]. pp. 1-17.

Fox, J, Bailenson, JN, & Tricase, L 2013, ‘The embodiment of sexualized virtual selves: The Proteus effect and experiences of self-objectification via avatars’, Computers in Human Behavior, no. 3, p. 930. Available from: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.027. [27 May 2017].

Mitra, B, & Golz, P 2016, ‘Exploring Intrinsic Gender Identity Using Second Life’, Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 1-17.

Nagy, P, & Koles, B 2016, ”I Create Therefore I Virtually Exist’: Digital Content Creation, Virtual Consumption, and Motivation in Second Life’, Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 1-20.

Paik, PC, & Shi, C 2013, ‘Playful gender swapping: user attitudes toward gender in MMORPG avatar customisation’, Digital Creativity, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 310-326. Available from: 10.1080/14626268.2013.767275. [12 May 2017].

Poxon, Kym. Is less more?: Sex, stories and video games [online]. Kill Your Darlings, No. 19, Oct 2014: 69-79. Availability: <;dn=698988467414722;res=IELLCC> ISSN: 1837-638X. [Cited 27 May 17].

Rauch, J 2006, ‘sex, lies, and video games’, Atlantic, vol. 298, no. 4, p. 76.

Rymaszewski, M 2007, Second life: the official guide, [San Francisco, Calif.]: [Sybex]; Chichester; Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley [distributor], 2007.

Sam 2016, 7 Games Like Second Life – More Virtual Worlds 19 July 2016, image of voting poll, retrieved 21 May 2017, <>.

Smith, DH, & Fels, D 2012, ‘The Disintegrated Erotics of Second Life’, International Journal of the Image, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 125-138.

Taylor, T 2003, ‘Multiple Pleasures’, Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, DOI:  10.1177/135485650300900103 vol. 9, no. 1, p. 21.

Thank you to:

Video Attribution

“SMPTE COUNTDOWN” by Patrick Flaherty (CC BY 2.0)

Image Attribution

“SMPTE color bars” by Denelson83 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Life is a stage and you got only One performance! Make it a good One…” by Neda Andel (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Sexy on” by Philippe Put (CC BY 2.0)

“Lust” by Hyble (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Lust” by Soffie Hicks (CC BY 2.0)

“Purple Candy – April Lust – The Kollective” by Tigist Sapphire (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Victoria 4.2” by Franck Genot (CC BY 2.0)

“Grab and Go” by Annaleis Bijdeveldt captured May 27 2017

“Censored Teddy” by Annaleis Bijdeveldt captured May 27 2017

“Gun Shop” by Annaleis Bijdeveldt captured May 27 2017

“B&W Raguletto” by Annaleis Bijdeveldt captured May 27 2017

“Toilet Wall Anxt” by Annaleis Bijdeveldt captured May 27 2017

Screen shot of Second Life Profile captured Monday 8 May 2017

Music Attribution

“Squirting Loop” by Zagi2 (CC BY-NC 3.0)


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