Mechanisms of identification and social differentiation in player–avatar relations | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1757-191X
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1928

Abstract

The connection between player and avatar is central to digital gaming, with identification assumed to be core to this connection. Often, scholarship engages single dimensions of identification, yet emerging perspectives reveal that identification is polythetic (PID) – comprising at least six sufficient (but not necessary) mechanisms. The current study investigates the intersections of polythetic identification mechanisms and two different approaches to player–avatar sociality (as a marker of differentiation): general types of player–avatar relationships (PARs) and discrete dimensions of player–avatar interaction (PAX). Secondary analysis of an existing dataset of gamers revealed two main findings: (1) players reported overall diminished identification when they engaged in non-social relations with their avatar, and (2) increased liking and perspective-taking were most likely with human-like social relations, which require differentiation from rather than identification as the avatar. These findings are interpreted to suggest that player–avatar identification and differentiation are conceptually independent relational phenomena that are experientially convergent – some relational orientations and dynamics are associated with distinct combinations of identification mechanisms.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1386/jgvw_00028_1
2021-03-01
2024-05-24
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

References

  1. Banks, Jaime. ( 2015;), ‘ Object, me, symbiote, other: A social typology of player-avatar relationships. ’, First Monday, 20:2, https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5433. Accessed 11 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Banks, Jaime. ( 2017;), ‘ Of beard physics and worldness: The (non-)effect of enhanced anthropomorphism on player-avatar relations. ’, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 6:4, pp. 38193.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Banks, Jaime,, Bowman, Nicholas D.. ( 2013;), ‘ Close intimate playthings? Understanding player-avatar relationships as a function of attachment, agency, and intimacy. ’, Selected Papers in Internet Research, 3, https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/spir/article/view/8498. Accessed 11 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Banks, Jaime,, Bowman, Nicholas D.. ( 2014;), ‘ The win, the worth, and the work of play: Exploring phenomenal entertainment values in online gaming experiences. ’, International Academic Conference on Meaningful Play, East Lansing, MI:, 16–18 October, http://meaningfulplay.msu.edu/proceedings2014/mp2014_submission_85.pdf. Accessed 11 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Banks, Jaime,, Bowman, Nicholas D.. ( 2015;), ‘ From toy and tool to partner and person: Phenomenal convergence/divergence among game avatar metaphors. ’, Selected Papers in Internet Research, 5, https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/spir/article/view/8621. Accessed 11 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Banks, Jaime,, Bowman, Nicholas D.. ( 2016;), ‘ Emotion, anthropomorphism, realism, control: Validation of a merged metric for player-avatar interaction (PAX). ’, Computers in Human Behavior, 54, pp. 21523.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Banks, Jaime,, Bowman, Nicholas D.,, Lin, Jih-Hsuan Tammy,, Pietschmann, Daniel,, Wasserman, J. A.. ( 2019;), ‘ The common player-avatar interaction scale (cPAX): Expansion and cross-language validation. ’, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 129, pp. 6473.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Banks, Jaime,, Bowman, Nicholas D.,, Wasserman, J. A.. ( 2018;), ‘ A bard in the hand: The role of materiality in player-character relations. ’, Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 38:2, pp. 6181.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Bowen, Murray. ( 1978) Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, New York:: Aronson;.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Bowman, Nicholas D.,, Banks, Jaime,, Downs, Edward. P.. ( 2016;), ‘ The duo is in the details: Game genre differences in player-avatar relationships. ’, Selected Papers in Internet Research, 6, https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/spir/article/view/9032. Accessed 11 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Cohen, Jacob. ( 2001;), ‘ Defining identification: A theoretical look at the identification of audiences with media characters. ’, Mass Communication & Society, 4:3, pp. 24564.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Downs, Edward,, Bowman, Nicholas D.,, Banks, Jaime. ( 2019;), ‘ A polythetic model of player-avatar identification: Synthesizing multiple mechanisms. ’, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8:3, pp. 26979.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Epley, Nicholas,, Waytz, Adam,, Cacioppo, John T.. ( 2007;), ‘ On seeing human: A three-factor theory of anthropomorphism. ’, Psychological Review, 114:4, pp. 86466.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Eyal, Keren,, Rubin, Alan M.. ( 2003;), ‘ Viewer aggression and homophily, identification, and parasocial relationships with television characters. ’, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47:1, pp. 7798.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Fox, Jesse,, Bailenson, Jeremy N.. ( 2009;), ‘ Virtual self-modeling: The effects of vicarious reinforcement and identification on exercise behaviors. ’, Media Psychology, 12:1, pp. 125.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Grodal, Torben. ( 2000;), ‘ Video games and the pleasures of control. ’, in D. Zillmann,, P. Vorderer. (eds), Media Entertainment: The Psychology of Its Appeal, Hillsdale, NJ:: LEA;, pp. 197213.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Hoffner, Cynthia,, Buchanan, Martha. ( 2005;), ‘ Young adults’ wishful identification with television characters: The role of perceived similarity and character attributes. ’, Media Psychology, 7:4, pp. 32551.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Kim, Changsoo,, Lee, Sang-Gun,, Kang, Minchoel. ( 2012;), ‘ I became an attractive person in the virtual world: Users’ identification with virtual communities and avatars. ’, Computers in Human Behavior, 28:5, pp. 166369.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Klimmt, Christoph,, Hartmann, Tilo,, Frey, Andreas. ( 2007;), ‘ Effectance and control as determinants of video game enjoyment. ’, Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10:6, pp. 84548.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Klimmt, Christoph,, Hefner, Dorothée,, Vorderer, Peter. ( 2009;), ‘ The video game experience as “true” identification: A theory of enjoyable alterations of players’ self-perception. ’, Communication Theory, 19:4, pp. 35173.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Klimmt, Christoph,, Hefner, Dorothée,, Vorderer, Peter,, Roth, Christian,, Blake, Christopher. ( 2010;), ‘ Identification with video game characters as automatic shift of self-perceptions. ’, Media Psychology, 13:4, pp. 32338.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Lewis, Missy L.,, Bowman, Nicholas D.,, Weber, René. ( 2008;), ‘ “They may be pixels, but they’re my pixels”: Developing a metric of character attachment in role-playing video games. ’, CyberPsychology and Behavior, 11:8, pp. 51518.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Li, Dong Dong,, Liau, Aien Liau,, Khoo, Angeline. ( 2013;), ‘ Player–avatar identification in video gaming: Concept and measurement. ’, Computers in Human Behavior, 29:1, pp. 25763.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Little, Gregory. ( 1999;), ‘ An avatar manifesto. ’, Intertexts, 3:2, http://www.gregorylittle.org/projects/avatars/avatars_raw/ava_text.html. Accessed 11 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Lombard, Matthew,, Ditton, Theresa. ( 1997;), ‘ At the heart of it all: The concept of presence. ’, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 3:2, https://academic.oup.com/jcmc/article/3/2/JCMC321/4080403. Accessed 11 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Mar, Raymond A.,, Oatley, Keith. ( 2008;), ‘ The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience. ’, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3:3, pp. 17392.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Marmura, Stephen. ( 2013;), ‘ The mediation of identity: Key issues in historic perspective. ’, in R., Luppicini. (ed.), Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in a Technological Society, Hershey, PA:: IGI Global;, pp. 13756.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. McCroskey, James C.. ( 1991;), ‘ Perceived homophily measure. ’, in R., Rubin,, P., Palmgreen,, H., Sypher. (eds), Communication Research Measures: A Sourcebook, Mahwah, NJ:: LEA;, pp. 27881.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. McDonald, Daniel G.,, Kim, Hyeok. ( 2001;), ‘ “When I die, I feel small”: Electronic game characters and the social self. ’, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 45:2, pp. 24158.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Nakamura, Lisa. ( 1995;), ‘ Race in/for cyberspace: Identity tourism and racial passing on the internet. ’, Works and Days, 13:1&2, pp. 18193.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Nass, Clifford,, Steuer, Jonathan,, Tauber, Ellen R.. ( 1994;), ‘ Computers are social actors. ’, in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Boston, MA, 24–28 April, New York:: ACM;, pp. 7278, https://dl.acm.org/doi/proceedings/10.1145/191666.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Nowak, Kristine L.,, Rauh, Christian. ( 2005;), ‘ The influence of the avatar on online perceptions of anthropomorphism, androgyny, credibility, homophily, and attraction. ’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11:1, pp. 15378.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Park, Hee Sun,, Dailey, René,, Lemus, Daisy. ( 2002;), ‘ The use of exploratory factor analysis and principal components analysis in communication research. ’, Human Communication Research, 28:4, pp. 56277.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Raney, Arthur. ( 2004;), ‘ Expanding disposition theory: Reconsidering character liking, moral evaluations and enjoyment. ’, Communication Theory, 14:4, pp. 34869.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Ratan, Rabindra. ( 2013;), ‘ Self-presence, explicated: Body, emotion, and identity extension into the virtual self. ’, in R., Luppicini. (ed.), Handbook of Research on Technoself: Identity in a Technological Society, Hershey, PA:: IGI Global;, pp. 32236.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Schneider, Ralf. ( 2001;), ‘ Toward a cognitive theory of literary character: The dynamics of mental-model construction. ’, Style, 35:4, pp. 60740.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Sherry, Alissa,, Henson, Robin K.. ( 2005;), ‘ Conducting and interpreting canonical correlation analysis in personality research: A user-friendly primer. ’, Journal of Personality Assessment, 84:1, pp. 3748.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Skalski, Paul,, Tamborini, Ron,, Shelton, Ashleigh,, Buncher, Michael,, Lindmark, Pete. ( 2011;), ‘ Mapping the road to fun: Natural video game controllers, presence, and game enjoyment. ’, New Media & Society, 13:2, pp. 22442.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Steen, Francis F.,, Greenfield, Patricia M.,, Davies, Mari S.,, Tynes, Brendesha. ( 2006;), ‘ What went wrong with The Sims Online: Cultural learning and barriers to identification in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. ’, in P., Vorderer,, J., Bryant. (eds), Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences, New York:: Routledge;, pp. 30724.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Suh, Kil-soo,, Kim, Hongki,, Suh, Eung Kyo. ( 2011;), ‘ What if your avatar looks like you? Dual-congruity perspectives for avatar use. ’, MIS Quarterly, 35:3, pp. 71129.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Trepte, Sabine,, Reinecke, Leonard. ( 2010;), ‘ Avatar creation and video game enjoyment. ’, Journal of Media Psychology, 22:4, pp. 17184.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Trepte, Sabine,, Reinecke, Leonard,, Behr, Katharina-Maria. ( 2009;), ‘ Creating virtual alter egos or superheroines? Gamers’ strategies of avatar creation in terms of gender and sex. ’, International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 1:2, pp. 5276.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Turkle, Sherry. ( 1984) The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, New York:: Simon & Shuster;.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Turkle, Sherry. ( 2007) Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, Cambridge, MA:: MIT Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. van Looy, Jan,, Courtois, Cédric,, De Vocht, Melanie,, De Marez, Lieven. ( 2012;), ‘ Player identification in online games: Validation of a scale for measuring identification in MMORPGs. ’, Media Psychology, 15:2, pp. 197221.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Wulf, Tim,, Bowman, Nicholas D.,, Rieger, Diana,, Velez, John,, Breuer, Johannes. ( 2018;), ‘ Video games as time machines: Video game nostalgia and the return of old gaming content and technologies. ’, Media and Communication, 6:2, pp. 6068.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Yee, Nick. ( 2006;), ‘ Motivations for play in online games. ’, CyberPsychology and Behavior, 9:6, pp. 77275.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Zillmann, Dolf. ( 1994;), ‘ Mechanisms of emotional involvement with drama. ’, Poetics, 23:1&2, pp. 3351.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Bowman, Nicholas David,, Banks, Jaime, and Downs, Edward. ( 2021;), ‘ Mechanisms of identification and social differentiation in player-avatar relations. ’, Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, 13:1, pp. 5573, https://doi.org/10.1386/jgvw_00028_1.
    [Google Scholar]
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1386/jgvw_00028_1
Loading
/content/journals/10.1386/jgvw_00028_1
Loading

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error