This week’s self portrait assignment asked us to create self portraits with two avatar creation systems – one with Adobe Fuse and the other with our own choice which I decided to go with Bitmoji.
My first self portrait was made with Adobe Fuse. The first step is to assemble the base of your avatar which was quick and easy as it only involves getting the general frame of your figure right. Then comes customization which took a very long time.
As a size petite, I knew my arms and legs should be shorter as well as my hands and feet should be smaller than the default setting yet it was difficult to determine how much adjustment I should make. I ended up going with minor adjustments (within 10 out of 100 on the slider). I also couldn’t find any outfit that fits my aesthetic so I decided to go with the default black underwear.
Customizing the face is a whole different process since I looked into the mirror almost everyday as I applied beauty products or makeup before leaving home and hence I am hyper-aware of my features – I can easily tell if something is off. It took me a few hours to get my face “kind of” right. I think my nose can be a little smaller and my lower lip can be thinner but that wasn’t really an option on Fuse. Adjusting the make up was the last step in my process. I edited the eye shadow/blush/lip color according to my everyday make up palette. One main issue I encountered was that none of Fuse’s default models look like my hair which was a trademark of mine. I ended up using one that looks similar to a pink wig I occasionally wore to special events.
I then moved on to my second self portrait with Bitmoji. The process was fast since there weren’t that many options. I spent a little more time on my eyebrows over other features which was probably due to the fact that I prioritize getting my eyebrow filled over other make up. I found a hair cut/ color that looks just like mine and an all black outfit with a chocker which is my other trademark.
Unlike Adobe Fuse, you don’t have much control over details with Bitmoji yet just enough to recognize your trademarks. Even though the avatar made with Fuse is closer to a human figure, I feel like my Bitmoji portrait is a more accurate depiction of me since people often know me as a woman with short red head and a chocker.
With both avatars, I applied actions for them to do that I would normally not do in real life such as belly dancing and silly poses.
Thoughts from the readings:
In The Psychology of Video Game Avatars, Madigan brought up that people tend to create their avatar based of an idealized version of themselves. I found his study intriguing and relevant to my avatar creation process in Adobe Fuse. I am naturally slim and exercise pretty frequent yet my stomach was always far from my ideal. When I was customizing my avatar’s torso, I knew I did not possess any abs in real life yet decided to leave my avatar with the default lean stomach. Both Madigan and Yee discussed about the Proteus effect where behavior comes before attitude which was a eerie yet accurate depiction of how people live between the virtual and physical world. Looking at my Fuse avatar belling dancing, I think if I were to experience it in a virtual game for a longer duration, I would have been able to easily alter my consciousness into believing that I look like my avatar physically and can belly dance in reality.
All the readings, especially Frasca’s “Rethinking Agency and Immersion: videogames as a means of consciousness-raising”, voices the concern of the immersion power that video games evoke. On one hand, I find factoring critical thinking into The Sims of the Oppressed fascinating as it elevates The Sims from simply a game to a discussion platform which in a fine art context would be considered as a successful move to complexity your work. On the other hand, I find it problematic and frustrating as it gives players too much options and freedom which takes away the fun in a conventional game where the player enters for joy or relaxation. I wonder if artists or developers should recognize video games’ immersion power and utilize it as a medium for critical discussions or leave it as an escape from the reality.