The Relationship of Players to Their Avatars in MMORPGs: Differences between Adolescents, Emerging Adults and Adults

Vol.2,No.1(2008)

Abstract
Typically, MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) are persistent virtual worlds falling within the fantasy genre, in which the player controls his or her character which subsequently becomes a part of the online fantasy world. The study focuses on the aspects of player's relationship with the character while searching for differences in these aspects between various age groups, especially adolescents (12 – 19 years) and young adults (20 – 27 years). A sample containing 532 players was obtained upon contacting players in discussion fora, where they were asked to fill in a web-based questionnaire in English. A battery of 12 questions was tested dealing with the various aspects of relationship between the players and their avatars. The results identified three dominant factors. The first one dealt with identification, i.e. not distinguishing the player from the avatar and the younger the player the stronger the identification. The immersion factor, i.e. daydreaming and emotional feelings towards avatar, was found to be important on the same level for all age cathegories. Among adolescents and emerging adults, the results show a higher similarity in the identification and compensation between the player and the avatar, while the relationship (and its components) was found to be weaker among adults.

Keywords:
MMORPG; avatar; adolescence; emerging adulthood
Author biography

Lukas Blinka

Author photo Lukas Blinka is a Senior Research Fellow at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University. His present research interests are related to studying effects of new digital media use and overuse on well-being – that includes excessive online gaming and gaming addiction.
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