Conjuring the Ideal Self: an Investigation of Self-Presentation in Video Game Avatars
Self-presentation in online spaces has recently attracted a significant amount of attention in psychological literature. Video games allow players to create a detailed, unique character to represent themselves in the online social world. Research has found that there is a relationship between self-esteem and online self-presentation. However, little research has examined gender differences within this topic. The study aimed to address this gap in the literature by specifically examining gender differences in avatar creation, plus how this extends to gameplay choices, while confirming the previously noted effects of self-esteem on avatar creation. 40 participants created an avatar in The Elder Scrolls Online and completed questionnaires on General Self-Esteem, Body Self-Esteem plus an evaluation of their avatar. Results found that self-esteem predicted perceived avatar similarity, males and females engaged in the same amount of self-presentation, and gender affected class choice. Limitations and directions of future research are discussed.
Amory, A., & Molomo, B. (2012). Gendered Play and Evaluation of Computer Video Games by Young South Africans, Gender, Technology And Development, 16(2), p177-196
Arkin, R. (2013). Self presentation styles. In J. Tedeschi, Impression Management Theory and Social Psychology Research (2nd ed.).
Axelsson, A. (2002). “The Digital Divide: Status Differences in Virtual Environments.” In R. Schroeder (Ed.) Social life of Avatars: Presence and interaction in Shared Virtual Environments (pp.188-204). New York: Springer.
Bainbridge, W. (2015) World of Warcraft, The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society, p1–4.
Bargh, J., McKenna, K., & Fitzsimons, G. (2002). Can You See the Real Me? Activation and Expression of the “True Self” on the Internet, Journal Of Social Issues, 58(1), p33-48
Bessière, K., Seay, A. F., & Kiesler, S. (2007). The ideal elf: Identity exploration in World of Warcraft, CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10, p530-535.
Bibby, P. (2008). Dispositional factors in the use of social networking sites: Findings and implications for social computing research, Lecture Notes in Computing Science, 5075, p392-400
Brenner, J. (2013). Pew Internet: Social Networking. Retrieved 5 June, 2015 from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/
Bromley, D. (1993). Reputation, image, and impression management. Chichester, England: Wiley.
Burgess, M. C. R., Stermer, S. P. & Burgess, S. R. (2007). Sex, lies and video games: The portrayal of male and female characters on video game covers. Sex Roles, 57, p419-433.
Caspi, A., & Gorsky, P. (2006). Online deception: Prevalence, motivation and emotion, CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9, p54-59.
Cheng, L., Farnham, S., & Stone, L. (2002). Lessons learned: Building and deploying shared virtual environments. In R. Schroeder (Ed.), Social life of avatars: Presence and interaction in shared virtual environments. New York: Springer.
Companion, M., & Sambrook, R. (2008). The Influence of Sex on Character Attribute Preferences. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(6), p673-674
Cornwell, B., & Lundgren, D. C. (2001). Love on the Internet: Involvement and misrepresentation in romantic relationships in cyberspace vs. realspace, Computers in Human Behavior, 17, p197-211.
DiGiuseppe, N., Nardi, B. (2007) Real Genders Choose Fantasy Characters: Class Choice in World of Warcraft, First Monday, 12(5)
Ducheneaut, N., Wen, M., Yee, N., & Wadley, G. (2009). Body and mind: A study of avatar personalization in three virtual worlds. Proceedings of CHI 2009.
Ellison, N., Steinfield, C., Lampe, C. (2006) The Benefits of Facebook “Friends”: Social Capital and College Students, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), p1143-1168
Entertainment Software Association. (2014). Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Games Industry. Retrieved 5 June 2015, from http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ESA_EF_2014.pdf
Fischer, P., Kastenmuller, A., Greitemeyer, T. (2010). Media violence and the self: The impact of personalised gaming characters in aggressive video games on aggressive behaviour, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(1), p192-195
Franzoi, S.L. & Shields, S.A. (1984). The Body-Esteem Scale: Multidimensional structure and sex differences in a college population, Journal of Personality Assessment, 48, p173-178.
Goffman, Erving (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.
Hartmann, T., KIimmt, C. (2006) Gender and computer games: Exploring females’ dislikes, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11, p910-931
Heron, M., Belford, P., & Goker, A. (2014). Sexism in the circuitry. SIGCAS Comput. Soc., 44(4) p18-29
Jayanth, M. (2014). 52% of gamers are women – but the industry doesn’t know it | Meg Jayanth. the Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/52-percent-people-playing-games-women-industry-doesnt-know
Jellison, J., Gentry, K. (1978). A Self-Presentation Interpretation of the Seeking of Social Approval, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4(2), p227-230
Jones, E.E. (1964). Ingratiation: A social psychological analysis. New York, New York: Appleton-Century-Croft.
Kramer, N., Winter, S. (2008) Impression Management 2.0, Journal of Media Psychology, 20(3), p106-116
Leary, M. (1995). Self-presentation: Impression management and interpersonal behavior. Social psychology series. Madison, WI, US: Brown & Benchmark Publishers
Leary, M., & Kowalski, R. (1990). Impression management: A literature review and two-component model. Psychological Bulletin, 107(1), p34-47
Lien, T. (2013). No girls allowed. Polygon. Retrieved 19 May 2015, from http://www.polygon.com/features/2013/12/2/5143856/no-girls-allowed
Manago, A. M., Graham, M. B., Greenfield, P. M., & Salimkhan, G. (2008). Self-presentation and gender on MySpace, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, p446–458.
McKenna, K., Green, A., & Gleason, M. (2002). Relationship Formation on the Internet: What's the Big Attraction?. Journal Of Social Issues, 58(1), p9-31
Nadkarni, A., & Hofmann, S. (2012). Why do people use Facebook? Personality And Individual Differences, 52(3), p243-249
Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Sa, J. (2010) “I feel more connected to the physically ideal mini me than the mirror-image mini me”: theoretical implications of the “malleable self” for speculations on the effects of avatar creation on avatar-self connection in Wii, Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, 13(5), p567-70
Schau, H., & Gilly, M. (2003). We Are What We Post? Self‐Presentation in Personal Web Space. Journal Of Consumer Research, 30(3), p385-404
Schlenker, B. (1980). Impression Management: The Self-Concept, Social Identity, and Interpersonal Relations. Monterey, California: Brooks/Cole.
Shaw, A. (2011). Do you identify as a gamer? Gender, race, sexuality, and gamer identity. New Media & Society, 14(1), p28-44
Strano, M. M. (2008). User Descriptions and Interpretations of Self-Presentation through Facebook Profile Images. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 2(2), article 1. Retrieved 5 June 2015, from http://cyberpsychology.eu/view.php?cisloclanku=2008110402
Stuart, K. (2011). Game changers: the women who make video games. The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/dec/08/women-videogames-designing-writing
Subrahmanyam, K., Greenfield, P. (2000). Computer games for girls: What makes them play? J. Cassell, H. Jenkins (Eds.), From Barbie to Mortal Kombat, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, pp. 46-71
Surratt, C. (1998) Netlife: Internet citizens and their communities, Nova Science, New York
Taylor, T. L. (2002). Living digitally: Embodiment in virtual worlds. In R. Schroeder (Ed.), The social life of avatars: Presence and interaction in shared virtual environments (pp. 40–62). London: Springer-Verlag
Thomas, A. G., & Johansen, M. K. (2012). Inside out: Avatars as an indirect measure of ideal body self-presentation in females. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 6(3)
Toma, C., & Carlson, C. (2015). How Do Facebook Users Believe They Come Across in Their Profiles?: A Meta-Perception Approach to Investigating Facebook Self-Presentation. Communication Research Reports, 32(1), p93-101.
Trepte, S., & Reinecke, L. (2010). Avatar Creation and Video Game Enjoyment. Journal Of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, And Applications, 22(4), p171-184
Turkle, S. (1995) Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet, Simon & Schuster, New York
Wallace, M., & Robbins, B. (Eds.) (2006). IGDA 2006 casual games white paper [online] Retrieved 5 June 2015, from https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.igda.org/resource/collection/BCB11E9B-13E6-40D0-B390-952B5E11D35A/IGDA_CasualGames_Whitepaper_2006.pdf
Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23, p3–43.
Walther, J. B. (2007). Selective self-presentation in computer-mediated communication: Hyperpersonal dimensions of technology, language, and cognition. Computers in Human Behavior, 23, pp.2538–2557
Whitty, M. T. (2002). Liar, liar! An examination of how open, supportive and honest people are in chat rooms. Computers in Human Behaviour, 18, p343-352.
Yee, N. (2006). Avatar and Identity in MMORPGs. Nickyee.com. Retrieved 24 February 2015, from http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/gateway_identity.html
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Copyright for papers and articles published in this journal is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the University of Glasgow. It is a condition of publication that authors license their paper or article under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence.