Some assembly required: Player mental models of videogame avatars

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In playing videogames, players often create avatars as extensions of agency into those spaces, where the player-avatar relationship (PAR) both shapes gameplay and is the product of gameplay experiences. Avatars are generally understood as singular bodies; however, we argue they are functional and phenomenological assemblages—networks of social and technological components that are internalized by players as networks of knowledge about the avatar. Different PARs are based on different internalizations (i.e., mental models) for what an avatar is and why it matters. Toward illuminating nuances in PARs, we examine the content and structure of players’ internalizations of avatars as evidenced by descriptions of those digital bodies. Secondary analysis of N = 1,201 avatar descriptions parceled them by PAR type (avatars as asocial Objects, psychologically merged extensions of Me, hybrid me/other Symbiotes, and authentically social Other). Aggregated descriptions for each PAR type were
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)no. 701965
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 2021


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