"The old me, the new me, and the new me again": crafting future selves in online worlds
Espen Helgesen (University of Bergen)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper I explore how children engage in timework as they craft avatars in an online world. I argue that, in giving imagined future selves material form, avatars allow for projections of, as well as experimentation with, the capabilities and limitations of the human body.
Paper long abstract:
Children in Norway are increasingly inhabiting online worlds, where new kinds of self-formation emerge as they craft and experiment with avatars. In this paper I draw on ethnographic fieldwork from an urban neighborhood in Kristiansand, Norway, to explore how 8- and 9-year old children playfully imagine and embody future selves in an online world called MovieStarPlanet. I argue that avatars constitute chronotopes; potent spaces of compressed time where children imagine and act out a variety of futures. Whereas children's actual bodies grow at an imperceptible rate, avatars can, and often do, change their outward appearance with the single click of a mouse. The concept of timework, which refers to the practical aspects of people's engagement with temporality, draws attention to how imagined futures are given material form in children's play.
Future(s) with/of the human body