Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 8:26PM
Self Players see themselves in their avatars and identify strongly with them. They are more likely to refer to their avatars in the first person, placing their own identities within the game and the game environment. The concept of the idealized self would be the strongest with this group and they would tend to see gaming as a means of reaffirming self-identity. Players in this group might focus on how attractive their avatars are and avoid avatars they find have too many inhuman characteristics or unattractive features, or who are too different from their own offline life identity. Socializing would be a means of connecting in relation to physical world lives, where they would share accurate information about their offline lives and personalities. Because of their strong personal attachment to their avatars, they are likely to be the group least aware of the limitations placed on them by in-game representations, especially in terms of the hypersexuality often associated with female avatars.
Role Players embrace the role-playing aspect of the game, creating a different identity and back story for their characters. They might see the avatars as part of their own identity but only in a minimal way because their primary goal is to create a new, alternative identity. They see their avatars as separate identities that they can take on or off, and the performance of these fictional characters is the primary attraction to the game, and especially to MMORPG gaming since they are likely to find others with similar interests there. These players would be more likely to discuss their avatars in the third person and often have long, detailed fictional back stories supporting their character’s identity and appearance. They would desire social interactions that allow for active role playing, where there is a clear line between themselves and their avatars, and the same is true for those they game with. This group is perhaps the most psychologically sophisticated of the three primary groups discussed because of the performance of identity inherent in role playing. They are also more comfortable with cyber-drag, as discussed in a previous chapter, because there is a long tradition of gender bending in all variations of role playing games.
Mastery Players do not necessarily see a connection between their identities and their avatars or create separate, fictional personalities or back-stories for their avatars. They are likely to be more interested in the game mechanics or in certain achievements, getting to a place where they demonstrate high levels of mastery over the game itself. They might be described as more “hardcore” gamers as it is the game they are most interested in engaging with rather than the social aspects of gaming, especially the social aspects of MMORPGs. Mastery Players are more likely to switch back and forth between first and third person pronouns as they describe their avatars because they are not aware of or do not care about the differentiation between self and avatar that is paramount to the other categories. For Mastery Players, the game is not a metaphor for life and in-game achievement is not symbolic of other aspects of their identity; the game is simply a game, an arena where mastery and status are achieved for the game itself.
Subcategories: The subcategories are combinations of each of the above groups: Mastery/Self, Role Play/Self, Mastery/Role Play.
Typology Breakdown: The largest group, by far, in the interview pool are Self Players. Of 28 interviews, 12 coded as Self Players, five Mastery, four Role Play, three Mastery/Role Play, three Mastery/Self, and one Role Play/Self.