The duo is in the details: Game genre differences in player-avatar relations

  • Nick Bowman West Virginia University
  • Jaime Banks West Virginia University
  • Ed Downs University of Minnesota-Duluth
Keywords: videogames, avatars, player-avatar relationships, game genres


Emerging research has suggested the player-avatar relationships (PARs) can be best understood in terms of the sociality: from non-social to parasocial to fully social. Moreover, both social and ludic dimensions are known to impact how players take up their avatars as social others (or not) in player-avatar interactions (PAX). While past work has focused exclusively on massively multiplayer online games (primarily, World of Warcraft), the current study explores the potential for PARs and PAX to vary as a function of videogame genre. Secondary analysis from two online data sets found no variance in the frequency of PAR types across five popular videogame genres, but found significant differences in the relative importance of emotional investment (most importantly for action RPGs), anthropomorphism (least important for MMORPGs), and sense of control (high overall, but significantly less important for action-adventure and first-person shooters). These data suggests that while genre characteristics can impact the relative importance of discrete relationship dimensions, PARs are not inherent to or typical of any given videogame genre.
How to Cite
Bowman, N., Banks, J., & Downs, E. (2016). The duo is in the details: Game genre differences in player-avatar relations. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 6. Retrieved from
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