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Think about the last avatar you controlled in a video game. What did he, she, or it mean to you? Was it just a tool that you used to get from one end of a maze to another? Was it a richly detailed character that might have been pulled from any given movie, television show, or novel? Or was it something that you created, tweaked, and customized from whole cloth –well, digital whole cloth– to look just how you wanted and behave exactly as you thought appropriate?
Among different kinds of media, video games are unique in how they allow us to interact with and develop something approaching real interpersonal relationships with characters. So it’s an interesting question for those in the realms of psychology and communications research to ask how exactly this works. What determines what kind of relationship you will have with your avatar? What characterizes those relationships? And what effects do they have on our enjoyment of the games or other outcomes?
These are the kinds of questions that I will tackle with the help of my guest expert, Dr. Jaime Banks, on this episode of the podcast.
More About This Episode’s Guest
- Participate in the Players and their Avatars project
- Dr. Banks on Twitter
- Dr. Banks on Google Scholar