I need a skinnier avatar...
Most studies involving video games and avatars have been connected with weight gain, but seeing our virtual selves could also melt pounds away — if the avatar adopts the right healthy habits.
The appeal of virtual-reality games lies in their power to simulate realities that we create ourselves — from the mundane familiarity of our own existence to the stimulating excitement of a fantasy world where anything goes. And the appeal of simulated worlds is driving researchers to investigate how these virtual experiences are changing or shaping our behaviors. Does connecting with a virtual version of yourself alter your perception of who you are and what you are capable of doing? And if that’s the case, could such virtual realities become a new tool for influencing social behaviors like relationships, or even lifestyle choices such as exercising, smoking or eating?
According to scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), the popularity of interactive digital games serves as evidence that people respond to avatars and virtual-reality settings — and that these avatars may be an untapped resource for influencing behavior. “This digital ‘gold rush’ has increased public awareness, driven advances in underlying enabling technologies, and ignited social changes that have gone well beyond the early expectations of behavioral-health scientists,” the authors wrote in a 2011 review of how virtual reality could impact obesity and diabetes, among other health-related conditions.