Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators (Amazon.com, .ca, .co.uk) is a cool concept book, presenting the phenomenon of the contemporary avatar-the virtual characters gamers choose and design to engage in 3D worlds online. Portraits of gamers from the United States, Europe, China, and Japan (including leading figures of the gaming world) are paired with digital images of their alter egos, graphically dramatizing the gap between fantasy and reality.
With an introduction by one of digital culture's leading observers, and a glossary of relevant terms, each of the seventy pairs of images are accompanied by detailed gamers' profiles. Sometimes hilarious and always visually exciting, Alter Ego also serves as a guide to the new world of the avatar and is a serious contribution to the debate about the future of society in the digital age.
Robbie Cooper (not pictured) is a photojournalist. Born in London in 1969, his essay about Somalia was awarded the United Kingdom's leading young photographer's prize in 1992 (the Ian Parry scholarship). He now works regularly for magazines including Esquire, GQ, Geo, Liberation, and The Sunday Times Magazine.
Julian Dibbell (not pictured) is a contributing editor of both Wired magazine and the website Feed. Author of My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World (1999, described as "quite simply the best book written about the dynamics of online life"), he writes regularly for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and TIME magazine on topics such as hackers, online communities, music pirates, and the philosophical questions of the digital age. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.
Old BBC News article (Oct 2004) on Cooper's earlier exhibit.