“Applicant or Avatar?”: An Explanation of Temporary Behavior Alterations as a Strategy to Succeed in the Gamified World, Jenna Elliott, UG '25, (3965065)
Princess Peach or Luigi? Aspiring psychology major with clinical research experience or trilingual valedictorian with a passion for mental health advocacy? The task of choosing which character to play in a friendly (or even a not so friendly) game of Mario Kart seems vastly different from the act of crafting a college application with the potential to determine one's future education, income, and profession. Yet, the desire to maximize one’s odds of victory is the same underlying logic of the decision-making process in both situations. This objective facilitates a pervasive - but rather under examined phenomenon - in human behavior: individuals selectively alter the expression of certain traits and aspects of their personality in order to achieve specific goals. Because of the resemblance these selective, short-term alterations of self bear to the function of avatars in game settings (in which an avatar with certain traits and characteristics is used to faciliate the accomplishment of a given goal), the phenomenon described above is finally given articulation through the name “avatarilation.” Building upon previously observed trends in human behavior, accounted for in the work of at least one scholar, Jennifer M. Norton, avatarilation inseparably links the variations of self that exist to the objectives of a given environment. This explicit connection is crucial in enhancing the previous understanding of these behavioral patterns that Norton begins to develop in her definition of “Cultural Code Switching.” *This abstract is based largely on the introduction to my paper.