e113. Cartoons vs. Avatars

A couple of weeks ago, in order to placate the masses during a worldwide quanrantine, Facebook released their new “Avatar” system — a tool to allow users to create little cartoon characters of themselves for use in profile pics and stickers. Other technology companies have similar system. Apple has one built into its messaging system and Bitmoji uses this principle as its underlying business model. However, when Facebook made their announcement, some professional artists pushed back noting that if people want a custom profile pic, why not hire someone to make a unique one rather than just using a set of ubiquitous tools. Good Question! On this week’s show, Mav, Katya and Wayne are joined by two hosts of the Webcomic Alliance Podcast, Byron Wilkins and Dawn Griffin, to discuss the this issue as well as the difference between avatars and cartoon caricatures, why people might choose one over the other and how the whole thing relates to issues of race, identity, gender, culture, creativity and psychology. It turns out a whole lot more than you think goes into the simple act of making yourself in a video game or web app. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

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