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How do avatar attractiveness and customization impact online gamers’ flow and loyalty?

Gen-Yih Liao (Department of Information Management, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan) (Department of Nursing, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan)
T.C.E. Cheng (Department of Logistics and Maritime Studies, Faculty of Business, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
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

Article publication date: 28 January 2019

Issue publication date: 9 April 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Avatars are known to be influential in gaming communication. However, little is known about how avatar attractiveness and customization impact online gamers’ flow, i.e., the experience of total concentration with intrinsic enjoyment and loyalty. Grounded in social identity and flow theories, the purpose of this paper is to construct a model to explain how avatar attractiveness and customization can impact online gamers’ flow and loyalty.

Design/methodology/approach

The responses of 1,944 online gamers are collected. Structural equation modeling is used for analyses.

Findings

The analytical results indicate that avatar attractiveness and customization are positively related to avatar identification, which is positively related to flow, and then to online gamer loyalty. In addition, avatar identification and flow are important process variables in the above relations.

Originality/value

This study is novel in being the first attempt to apply social identity and flow theories to explain how avatar attractiveness and customization contribute to online gamers’ flow and loyalty.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC96-2416-H-182-002-MY3) and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (BMRP644, BMRP745) for financial support. The funding organizations supervise the ethical aspects of this study. The authors are grateful to Dr Brian T. Ratchford for his helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper.

Citation

Liao, G.-Y., Cheng, T.C.E. and Teng, C.-I. (2019), "How do avatar attractiveness and customization impact online gamers’ flow and loyalty?", Internet Research, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 349-366. https://doi.org/10.1108/IntR-11-2017-0463

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited