How avatars create identification and loyalty among online gamers

Ching-I Teng (Graduate Institute of Business and Management, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan) (Department of Rehabilitation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Linkou Branch, Taoyuan, Taiwan) (Department of Business and Management, Ming Chi University of Technology, New Taipei City, Taiwan)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Publication date: 31 October 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Online games are popular electronic commerce platforms in which gamers use avatars to interact with others. Avatar identification (the extent to which gamers regard avatars as an extension of themselves) is known to be related to online gamer loyalty. However, few studies have examined how avatars could be designed to enhance avatar identification and online gamer loyalty, indicating a gap. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to contextualize self-affirmation theory into online gaming contexts, identified key theoretical elements and examined how they are related to avatar identification and online gamer loyalty.

Design/methodology/approach

This study surveyed 1,348 massively multi-player online role-playing game players, and their responses were analyzed using structural equation modeling.

Findings

The analytical results indicate that irreplaceability within a team and avatar customization are positively related to unique avatar image, while avatar customization is positively related to positive avatar image. Moreover, avatar physical attractiveness and avatar ability to achieve are positively related to positive avatar image. Both unique and positive images of an avatar (as perceived by the user) are positively related to avatar identification, and further to online gamer loyalty.

Originality/value

This study proposes new constructs: irreplaceability within a team, avatar ability to achieve, unique avatar image and positive avatar image. Such new constructs provide insights to aid electronic commerce managers in avatar design, thus instilling gamer identification with avatars, and thus loyalty.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author thanks Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 106-2410-H-182-005-MY3) and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (BMRP644) for financial support for this study.

Citation

Teng, C. (2019), "How avatars create identification and loyalty among online gamers", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-05-2018-0222

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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