Ever dreamed of sprinting through a pixelated world, head-butting mysterious blocks, jumping on sentient mushrooms, and battling an evil turtle to rescue the princess?Of course, you have. But not all dreams should come true.A new study suggests virtual doppelgangers don’t necessarily improve video gameplay.Researchers at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that photorealistic avatars have little effect on players’ performance.The results build on previous work analyzing subjective involvement with a self-similar icon in a maze-running game.“We found that players felt more connected and engaged—and that their avatar was more attractive—when they navigated the game with a photorealistic self-similar avatar, compared to a photorealistic avatar that looked like a stranger,” Gale Lucas, senior research associate for USC Institute for Creative Technologies, said in a statement.But while folks may enjoy seeing a version of themselves collect coins and conquer difficult tracks, there is no evidence they perform better than, say, Mario or Luigi might.“Although there were no performance benefits of self-similar avatars, we wanted to confirm that these subjective benefits of self-similar avatars were because they looked like the player, not just that they were familiar,” Lucas explained.New research suggests that avatar appearance may not make a difference to players in certain game contexts (via University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies)The team invited pairs of friends to be turned into photorealistic avatars, using full-body scans and 3D technology. One person played a search-and-rescue game with their own symbol, the other played with their friend’s.Analysts were then able to test the effect of self-similarity “without confounding it with familiarity,” Lucas said.So what? So, this indicates that having an avatar resembling someone you know personally may be just as good as having one that looks like you.“The new findings reveal how important it is to carefully consider the extent to which high fidelity self-similar avatars align with the purpose and structure of an interactive experience before deciding whether it is worth the investment of time and money to implement,” according to USC ICT.Instead of creating individualized icons for each student in a classroom, for example, everyone can benefit from one avatar that looks like the teacher. (Or you can just stick with the familiar plumber in a red hat.) ‘Astral Chain’ and Other Dumb Nintendo SongsHands-On: ‘Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020’ Seems Fine Stay on target Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.