Avatar Customization, Emotions, and Self-Identity in Role-Play Games
As online gaming technologies continuously advance, manufacturers and service providers increasingly emphasize the quality of visual effects. In virtual environments, players select avatars upon entering a game, in which their appearances and features both reflect the players and their desired values. This study examines how the customized details of an avatar affect players’ emotions in Role-Play Games, which aspects of avatars do players prefer, and how does a customized avatar affects the development of players’ self-identity. Results of this study provide further insight into how the participants displayed their emotional responses through various control levels in a customized avatar scenario. By adopting the conceptual frameworks of role theory, avatar, emotion and self-identity, methods such as user diaries and interviews are used to collect data and shed light on how avatars might affect players’ performances. This study used experimentation, user diaries and interviews. According to the study results, players with more controls of customizing their avatars will have more positive emotions and higher avatar identities in terms of three stages (role-expectation & role-conception, role-acceptance, and role-performance) of the role theory than players without controls of customizing their avatars. Closely examining the user diaries of game-playing in a longer term, it reveals that players who are able to customize their avatars prioritized the unique appearances, skills and personalities as primary factors to affect their self-identities. Players continuously improve their avatars during the game to achieve a sense of becoming a complete individual. This observation correlates with the former experimental findings, in which customized avatars lure players to the game and trigger more positive responses. Results of this study are expected to provide game developers the design guidelines of how to design avatars in a role-play game environment to enhance players’ emotions and self-identities.