The Identity and avatar similarity in games: an exploration of flow and enjoyment
 
Student researchers

Tanner Cooke (Graduate Student)
Kayla Booth (Graduate Student)
Lauren Alwine (Graduate Student)
Nilima Kumar (Graduate Student)
This paper was based on a project as part of the “COM M 506” course.

FACULTY SUPERVISOR:

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

INTRODUCTION

This study incorporated ideas from entertainment, new media, and social desirability research. A general curiosity developed around avatar characters in video games, thus the focus of this study is primarily on such games. An avatar is a digital representation of you and thus begs the question about possible relationships with common variables in new media and entertainment research.

RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES:

RQ1: what is the relationship between salient identity traits and perceived avatar similarity?
RQ2: what is the relationship between perceived avatar similarity and the resulting state of flow?
RQ3: what is the relationship between perceived avatar similarity and users’ enjoyment?

METHOD

This research was conducted with a survey methodology. Participants were recruited via Mechanical Turk, Facebook, and Twitter. After agreeing to the implied consent form participants were able to answer questions regarding an avatar which they played video games with. First were demographic and background questions, then questions about the variables. Self-report and Likert-type scales were used.

RESULTS

One-way ANOVA for EULA comprehension by presentation version yielded insignificant results (F=0.68, p=0.51, df=2), so H3b and H4b were not supported. However, one of the specific comprehension items revealed a marginally significant difference in favor of the Bernstein-style EULA (F=3.19, p=0.02, df=2). Moreover, there were mediating effects for normalized time spent reading the EULA, self-reported reading of the EULA, and self-reported ease in understanding that favored the Bernstein-style presentation. Lastly, we repeated our analysis with versions 1 & 2 coded as one category. In doing so, we identified interactions between version, normalized time, gender, and power usage.

DISCUSSION/ CONCLUSION

We witnessed a series of interactions that painted a picture of a clearly preferable EULA presentation. Participants spent the longest amount of time looking at the Bernstein-style EULA. Those participants who observed the EULA for longer had higher comprehension. Similarly, those who self-reported reading the EULA (most of whom were assigned versions 2 and 3) had higher comprehension. In addition, participants found the Bernstein-style EULA more visually appealing and easier to understand than the alternatives. Finally, participants who viewed the Bernstein-style EULA rated their comprehension of the agreement higher than in the other conditions.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at sss12@psu.edu or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University