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TILT – Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology Research Review Can Virtual Rea Changes in Self by Agata Pasikowska Virtual environments allow us create multiple alter-egos. We can climb into the skin of a “night elf” avatar in World of Warcraft or become a famous designer in Second Life. During many hours spent in game communities as a psychologist, Agata Pasikowska, a researcher in Poland, worked on the hypothesis that online 3D gaming in virtual environments can support personal awareness, learning and psychological growth. Virtual worlds enable computer-mediated immersion and interactions encompassing multimodal communication channels including audio, video, and text. These are enriched by avatar-mediated body language and physical manipulation of the environment. Virtual reality possesses many qualities that give it rehabilitative potential for people with intellectual disabilities, both as an intervention and an assessment. It can provide a safe setting in which to practice skills that might carry too many risks in the real world. Unlike human 14 T I L T MAGAZ I N E s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 1 tutors, computers are infinitely patient and consistent. Virtual worlds can be manipulated in ways the real world cannot be and can convey concepts without the use of language or other symbol systems. This study (Pasikowska, 2009) examined the impact of playing the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft on the player’s selfimage. It was predicted that creating avatars whose status represents success in a game will alter disproportions between the player’s online self (alter ego) and their real self. It was further expected that these changes in the discrepancy between online and real self would be dependent on several initial qualities of the person – self-esteem discrepancies, stability of self and received social support. Gamers were asked a battery of questions about World of Warcraft (WoW) regarding their character, their self-esteem, social support and motivations in playing it (Yee, 2007). Moreover participants rated how similar each personality characteristic was to their real and online self using an adjective rating method. Participants were initially self-selected through WoW gaming forums with a second survey sent

TILT Magazine (Issue 7)

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