Avatar (computing)

An avatar (noun, masculine, and the Avatar ) is an artificial person or a graphical representative of a real person in the virtual world, for example in a computer game.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit. There Avatara means "descent", which refers to the descent of a deity in earthly spheres. The term is used primarily in Hinduism, for incarnations of Vishnu.

Classic Avatars

Smilies are shown for example in the form of a picture, an icon or as a 3D figure of a man or of another being. The use of the term avatar in this regard was made ​​in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his popular science fiction novel Snow Crash. In the epilogue, he claimed that he had invented the concept for this book, as well as " metaverse "; but there is a marketing legend. As fantastic figure with the meaning of " role reversal " comes "Avatar" already from the story by Théophile Gautier from the year 1857. 1953 wrote Giacinto Scelsi 's " Quattro Illustrazioni " four illustrations or illuminations on the metamorphoses of Vishnu, whose items he " Avatars " titled.

In Internet forums and social networks, the Avatar is also called Avatar, similar to the 3D figure in a virtual world. Often the registered user of a forum have the ability to upload an image or choose from a list, which then represented and that appears next to your posts in this forum.

The term avatar intelligent software is often referred to, are able to communicate in natural language with the users. Advise and support the user not only the Internet but also in communication with technical systems (Human Machine Interface ). The ultimate aim is to increase the user-friendliness through dialogue-based systems. Examples include avatars as digital contact in vehicle navigation (eg VW Tiguan and Mercedes F700 ) and kiosk solutions or so-called interactive showcase.

However, an avatar is often more than a static image. Based on real-time 3D engines located interactions can be represented graphically. In addition to simple game play, where the user figure by the artificial worlds leads (eg World of Warcraft, Second Life ), especially in the audiovisual communication solutions are in demand. Avatar video chats, video services and virtual deputies are development issues. Different Avatar portals where users can design their individual personalities and different use, offer a wide range of solutions and services.


A Gravatar is a globally available Avatar (Globally Recognized Avatar ), which is linked to the user's e - mail address. Various sites offer users to download avatars on their server and link it to their e- mail addresses. To be able to leave its global avatar, a user of the Internet in any blog or other system, no extra to register at each blog and then upload a picture. For many blog systems or other Internet services, there are plug- ins that facilitate the integration of such small images which usually have a size of 80 × 80 pixels.

But there is also criticism of Gravataren. Through the use of Internet for different activities the operator of the service is the creation of a comprehensive user profile of the user's possible that the provider can use for example for advertising purposes. Also investigating authorities may thus obtained in a simple manner comprehensive insight into the activities of the user.