Avatars in video games

Player avatars are a crucial part of many genres in the video games industry. Not only do they give the player a sense of power over the game and its characters, they can also allow the player to choose the protagonist’s appearance, styles, and in some cases their personality as well. For example, the Mass Effect series merely gives the player’s characters a name (Shepard). From there, the player is given absolute freedom to choose the characters gender, looks, and make moral decisions for them throughout the game that shape the character and the story. In many cases, avatars are vital in allowing the player to see the character’s progression in a physical form. For example, in RPG titles such as Skyrim, the character will advance in skill and in turn, the player will constantly altar the characters appearance through upgrading the characters equipment.


“Studies have shown that, in general, people create slightly idealized avatars based on their actual selves,”-Nick Yee, research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Centre.

In my years of playing games, I have notices that games that utilize the first person aspect, even those of an RPG nature rarely incorporate character creation, Skyrim being the only exception due to the player being able to toggle third or first person. This is mainly because there would not be much point as all the player really sees in FPS games is their weapon. However, being in first person does give a sense of seeing the events of a game through the players own eyes, which does add to the immersion level.

Madigan, J. (2013) The Psychology of Video Game Avatars [Online]. [Accessed 8th January 2014] Available at http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2013/11/the-psychology-of-video-game-avatars/


PBS Idea Channel (2013) Controlling vs “Being” Your Video Game Avatar | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios [Online]. [Accessed 8th January 2014] Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLkyNzFmlHA

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