Designing by Archetype – part 2 – The Avatar Persona

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The Archetypes

1. Avatar Persona

Learning in the 3rd person

This was a fascinating and stimulating concept for me.

The most popular point of view (PoV) for those interacting via an Avatar is 3rd person e.g. you watch yourself interacting.

The text explains that this can be highly beneficial and contribute to effective learning by, amongst other things, promoting reflection by the learner.

Observing and identifying with our Avatar persona as the key actor/protagonist, creating the narrative and building a story within the context of an immersive space a leads to a sense of meaning for the learner.

The text cites research that has shown that this type of 3rd party interaction leads to ‘change’, not only psychologically (described as ‘growth’) but also in thbe behaviours of the learner.

The work cited in support of this is that of Lisa Libby of Ohio State University [link].

Other interesting facet that Libby has commented on is the ability to affect of change to future behaviour based on projecting future scenarios.
As a personal example, I have been in dialogue with the UK Ministry of Defence who continue to pursue projection through immersive learning as a method to directly affect the behaviours and responses of their military personnel when in conflict situations.

A good example of the natural popularity of the human inclination to prefer to understand and articulate context, meaning, understanding and narrative in the 3rd person is the Facebook ‘IS‘: Until recently, status updates were automatically prefixed by ‘[the user's name] is…’.

This small inflection/nuance is enough to radically alter the perspective of the status author and encourage reflection, analysis and understanding.

The text states that ‘More studies are definitely needed…’ to verify and validate these phenomena. I am not so sure that I agree as we have much existing evidence to draw upon:


  • We have 1000′s of years of tradition in storytelling whereby understanding and meaning have been achieved through interpreting events through identification with a 3rd party agent/actor/protagonist.
  • We have new, contemporary examples such that of marketing where brand is no longer defined by logo but by story.
    The commercial results/benefits of this are clear, with billions being spent on creating and disseminating brand stories and even more billions being generated in revenue as a result. [link to Christian Salmon - Storytelling: Betwitching the modern mind ]

There are some points of #value, #unique to immersive, 3D learning to be found:

  • Identifying with our Avatar, from our 3rd person perspective leads to
    ‘emotional & intellectual investment’ p.92
    #visceral #SoD
  • Ability to ‘act and observe themselves ‘p.92

  • The learner becomes ‘a highly vested voyuer’ p.93
    #visceral #theatre


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