Who Are You Online? a Study of Gender, Race, and Gaming Experience and Context on Avatar Self-Representation

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Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited. The authors conducted an experiment to determine the effects of gender, race, online video gaming experience, and the experimental context in which participants played the video game (online vs. offline vs. no information control) on avatar selection. The qualities of the avatar compared were based on eight objective differences between avatars and individuals: attractiveness, skin tone, height, girth chest size, waist size, hip size, and height. As predicted, those with online gaming experience selected avatars that were taller, thinner, and more attractive relative to their real selves than did participants with no prior online game experience. Non-white participants selected avatars with lighter skin-tones, whereas white participants selected avatars with darker skin-tones. Surprisingly, male participants selected shorter avatars than female counterparts did.