I am (not) my avatar: A review of the user-avatar relationships in Massively Multiplayer Online Worlds



Literature currently presents many studies on the self in the context of Massively Multiplayer Online Worlds, many of which have explored both the self of the user (offline self) and the avatar (online self). Nevertheless, a review of the results obtained by these studies has never been conducted until now. The present work aimed to fill this gap, analysing forty-three empirical studies with the specific purpose of detecting the kinds of user-avatar relationship that have been identified by literature and of exploring how these kinds of relationship are related to other psychological variables, e.g. game addiction. Results showed that literature explored the user-avatar relationship by investigating four self-dimensions (i.e., physical aspects, self-concept, self-needs, and identifications). Two kinds of user-avatar relationships recurred more frequently: actualisation and idealisation, of which, considering the correlations with other variables, idealization appears to be riskier. The theoretical contribution and practical applications of this work are discussed.

Self; avatar; MMO; online worlds; review

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