Player-avatar identification, interaction, and relationships

Nicholas David Bowman, Jaime Banks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Some argue the entertainment potential of video games lies in interactivity—exercising agency over on-screen content. This potential is perhaps best represented by the avatar, which stands as players’ de facto representative in digital worlds. The player-avatar bond is often studied through the lens of identification: a process by which players recognize and temporarily adopt properties or perspectives of another. However, identification is only one way that players can experience avatars. Evidence suggests that player-avatar relationships are variably social, ranging from completely asocial and functional (avatars as “pieces on a gameboard”) to fully social and richly emotional relationship (avatars as “people in a world”), with identification processes (avatars as “just like me”) situated within that sociality continuum. This chapter outlines conceptual and empirical arguments related to how video game players identify as, relate to, and interact with game avatars in order to
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlayer-avatar identification, interaction, and relationships
PublisherOxford University Press
StatePublished - 2020


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