Avatars are now a common part of the online experience, from thumbnail images used in instant messages to full-blown animated 3D characters with histories and property. The number of avatar users is over 200 million worldwide, and the number of people creating new avatars doubles every nine months. Avatars fight with virtual swords, build virtual buildings, have virtual relationships, have virtual babies. These online identities are separate from the real world, but sometimes the line between virtual and real blurs. People fall in love, real money is made, and human trafficking occurs . Artist and digital-pioneer Mark Stephen Meadows examines the phenomenon of avatars and how they affect, and are affected by, the unique and still-evolving social structure of virtual worlds. The book looks at how users of online worlds, chat boards, and other social media work, talk, relate, and learn. It illustrates how avatars are an emerging market of consumers; why avatars are so important; what shapes their identities; how they are used; the future of avatars; and also compares the similarites of social systems (FaceBook, Google, Second Life, World of Warcraft). And as the subject matter is so intensely visual, the author presents it in a gorgeous graphically rich style, to emphasize the way avatars are experienced by those who use and interact with them. The book will leave the reader with an understanding of why virtual environments are important, dangerous, and what it means to be a citizen of these new worlds.Meadows, Mark Stephen is the author of 'I, Avatar', published 2008 under ISBN 9780321533395 and ISBN 0321533399.