An excellent editorial piece from journalist Akela Talamasca:
"Identity is a fluid concept, particularly in today's Internet Age. When your self is displayed by an avatar whose image is infinitely mutable, the potential for mischief is great -- as is the potential for true representation. Some people use their avatars as masks to hide behind, while others see them as a means to finally show the world what their real selves are like.
In games, however, there is often a more limited set of choices available to the player. Massively multiplayer online games offer a wide range of options, and non-MMOs usually have far fewer. When you're playing a first-person shooter, for example, regardless of the ostensible story, you are the gun, not an actual character with a personality. The question is, then, does it matter if you don't get to play as yourself? How important is the concept of identity in a game?"