I’m really happy to announce that I (Stefan Gelfgren) and Jørgen Straarup, professor in religious studies, have received research grants from The Swedish Research Council for the three year project “Pinocchio goes to Church: The religious life of Avatars”. See abstract below for a brief description:
In virtual worlds, individuals explore new experiences of holiness. The avatar is seen as a representation of the individual self , controlled like a marionette, like Pinocchio. Behind the avatar is the “puppeteer”, who commands the expression of the avatar. This project investigates:
• How the religious experience of the avatar is related to its driver, and vice versa.
• If and to what extent the avatar, like Pinocchio, can emancipate himself from the puppeteer and live a life of his own.
Entrepreneurs create spaces and activities, and avatars participate in the activities or hang out in the spaces. The experiences of the avatars (holiness, motivation for commitment, fulfilment, confirmation, sense of meaning) are channelled back to the driver.
The aim of the project is to analyse the motivation of avatars and their drivers (participants as well as entrepreneurs), assuming that both groups are seeking experiences of holiness, with an added motivation among entrepreneurs from positive evaluation by other avatars.
Study A (Gelfgren) focuses on avatars aiming at description, understanding, and analysis of differences and similarities between holiness experiences in virtual and physical worlds. Study B (Straarup) focuses on entrepreneurs in order to describe, understand, and analyse their motivation and inspiration. Of special interest is how entrepreneurs relate to, and evaluate, the experience of participants when developing these spaces and activities.