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A virtual identity is part of an interface that represents the user in a virtual world such as a chat room, video game, or virtual common space.
Different types of virtual identities are built to complement various platforms and virtual spaces. Many of those most commonly used in video games or other venues are simply called "avatars."
An avatar includes representative images or video content, a 'handle’ or name, and a profile that provides more information about the virtual identity.
People build virtual identities as virtual representatives of themselves. For example, someone's virtual identity in an online role-playing game is often almost completely different than their own identity, although in some ways it is a part of their own identity, since it was individually created.
Many virtual identities in other spaces that are less creatively oriented will more or less represent the actual physical identity of the user, for instance, in collaborative platforms such as Basecamp, where someone may use their own name or image for an avatar.
Virtual identities play a substantial role in some of the most advanced technologies used to connect individual end-users across global Internet and other wireless networks.
The concept is that as virtual worlds and platforms become more functional and vibrant, virtual identities also become more dominant models for self-expression, and practical tools for virtual collaboration.