Playable Self

My project, TamagotMe, further distorts the Tamagotchi effect of Artificial ‘Intelligence’ by using natural language processing (NLP), an AI field used to help computers understand human speech, analyze Facebook text and create user personas that then fuel a Tamagotchi personality with remnants of our digital past. In the beginning, I will use my own Facebook posts to develop a prototype, then I will invite users to a workshop that will allow them to upload their social media data to create their unique virtual ‘TamagotMe’. Any public use of participant data will be anonymized or deleted directly after the workshop.

This experiment tests whether virtual pets feel more ‘intelligent’ if they act as we would, and how that affects how tightly we hold onto them. Like Tamagotchi, social media networks like Facebook are designed to engineer a net intimacy amongst users, yet the more we play into virtual intimacy, the more we distance ourselves from tangible reality. Now that we live in the influencer age, I believe these playable forms of critical thought are necessary to incite discussion around the social media driven image of ourselves, and why we give our lives to keep them alive.

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