Creating Virtual Alter Egos or Superheroines? Gamers' Strategies of Avatar Creation in Terms of Gender and Sex

Creating Virtual Alter Egos or Superheroines? Gamers' Strategies of Avatar Creation in Terms of Gender and Sex

Sabine Trepte (Hamburg Media School, Germany), Leonard Reinecke (Hamburg Media School, Germany) and Katharina-Maria Behr (Hamburg Media School, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2009040104
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Abstract

Who do people want to be in virtual worlds? Video game players can create their avatars with characteristics similar to themselves, create a superhero that is predominantly designed to win, or chose an in-between strategy. In a quasi-experimental study, players’ strategies of avatar choice were investigated. Participants created an avatar they would like to play with for five game descriptions and two gaming scenarios by choosing from a list of (pre-tested) masculine and feminine avatar features. Additionally, participants chose their avatars’ biological sex. The results reveal a mixed strategy: On the one hand, the avatar’s features were chosen in accordance with the game’s demands to facilitate mastery of the game. On the other hand, players strived for identification with their avatar and thus preferred avatars of their own sex. Participants rated those game descriptions and gaming scenarios more entertaining which required avatar features in line with their own sex role.

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