Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Games and Culture





Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



In this paper, we investigate racial diversity in avatar design and public discussions about race within a large-scale tween virtual world called, with more than 1.5 million registered players of ages 8—16. One unique feature of Whyville is the player’s ability to customize their avatars with various face parts and accessories, all designed and sold by other players in Whyville. Our findings report on the racial diversity of available resources for avatar construction and online postings about the role of race in avatar design and social interactions in the community. With the growing interest in player-generated content for online worlds such as Teen Second Life, our discussion addresses the role of avatars in teen/tween identity development and self-representation, and the role of virtual entrepreneurs and community activists in increasing the diversity of avatar parts available.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.