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The (Big) Business Of Avatars

There was a time when all it required to play a video game was a television and at least one thumb. But now, before playing game one on a Microsoft Xbox or a Nintendo Wii, you are encouraged to create an avatar that will become your virtual representation in some online universe. And the companies behind these games have big plans for those virtual interlopers.

Companies like Microsoft and Sony (maker of Nintendo) are banking that users will stay in their virtual worlds longer if they have some digital representation, particularly one that looks the way they would like to in reality. Hence these companies are not only encouraging users to create avatars, but are coming up with new things for them to do online.

"The avatar is the core of the entire casual gaming and community experience," said the CEO of virtual world Meez. He also noted that the most popular games on Meez were the ones that involved avatars.

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Read the whole story at Forbes.com »

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