Navigation Links
Can you tell a person's gender by their video game avatar?

This news release is available in French.

Montreal, May 6, 2014 A sexy wood elf with pointy ears. A hulking ogre with blue skin. An intimidating heroine with a buxom breastplate. When it comes to computer games, players can choose to be anyone or anything. But gamers don't always mask their true identities with online avatars.

According to a new study by researchers at Concordia University, Colorado State University, Syracuse University, Hofstra University and the University of Toronto, a male gamer who chooses to play as a female character will still display signs of his true gender.

In the study, which was recently published in Information, Communication and Society, researchers examined the online behaviour of 375 participants as they played a custom-built quest in World of Warcraft a massive multi-player game set in a fantasy world where players battle warlords, dragons, demons and each other to gain strength and abilities. The investigators' goal? To see if gender differences in online behaviour align with the offline social norms that govern "appropriate" behaviour for men and women.

Twenty-three per cent of the study's male participants chose avatars of the opposite gender, and seven per cent of its female participants did the same. As they played, their online movement, chat and clicks on interactive objects were recorded.

"Avatars can convey a player's sense of humour, displeasure, intrigue and interest through cues like gestures, movement and language, which can reveal real-life identity," says Mia Consalvo, one of the study's authors and a professor in Concordia's Department of Communication Studies.

"We looked at things like language use and online movement to see if, among those who played a character of the opposite gender, a player's real-life gender would be revealed."

The researchers found that male gamers with female avatars used more emotional phrases and employed smile emoticons more often than those with male avatars. They were also more likely to choose an attractive avatar.

It was with respect to movement that the male gamers with female avatars ultimately gave themselves away: they moved backwards more often and stayed further away from the group than women playing with female avatars.

"Movement is less conscious than chat, so it can be an easier 'tell' for offline gender," says Consalvo, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design.

Men playing with a female avatar also jumped an average of 116 more times than their female counterparts. There could be a number of reasons for this seemingly odd finding:

  • Gender switchers might be trying to signal their offline gender by jumping more than they would otherwise.
  • Because men sometimes use female avatars to get attention or kinder treatment from other players, jumping may be a move to attract attention.
  • Jumping may be a way to use the avatar for entertainment rather than for the more "serious" work of fighting in-game enemies. Frequent jumps may show that the gamer intends the avatar to play a less serious role in the game.

Ultimately, the study has implications for gender theorists and gamers alike.

"Our findings support feminist theories suggesting that although gender is a powerful social category, there is a range of ways it can be performed," Consalvo says.

"Men may not necessarily try to mask their offline gender when they use a female avatar, but our study shows they do reinforce idealized notions of feminine appearance and communication."


Contact: Clea Desjardins
Concordia University

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers identify impaired new learning in persons with Parkinsons disease
2. Kessler researchers find aerobic exercise benefits memory in persons with multiple sclerosis
3. Hausdorff to receive GSAs 2013 Excellence in Rehabilitation of Aging Persons Award
4. Highlights on women, minorities and persons with disabilities in science and engineering
5. Diet may not impact certain health outcomes in older persons
6. Kessler Foundation marks 20th Anniversary of International Day of Persons with Disabilities
7. Smartphone app helps mentally ill persons
8. Study examines characteristics, risk factors among HIV-positive persons born outside the US
9. APA task force recommends treatment guidelines and position statements on transgender persons
10. Interpreting the Avastin-Lucentis study for persons with macular degeneration
11. Gender may contribute to recovery time after concussion
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... The moment you ... for not only fulfilling the needs of advisers and clients but going above ... and providing top-tier customer service. However, there's always room for improvement, which is ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... CBD College is ... Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) awarded accreditation to its Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. CBD College ... as only one of twelve colleges and universities in the state of California make ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... Dr. Thomas ... Associates, Inc. and Dr. Tucker Bierbaum with Emergency Medicine at St., Joseph ... that both STEMI and Sepsis conditions present in similar ways and require time-critical intervention ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Indosoft Inc., developer ... incorporation of Asterisk 11 LTS (Long Term Support) into its Q-Suite 5.10 product ... Q-Suite 5.10 up-to-date with a version of Asterisk that will receive not only ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... Inevitably when ... Many customers choose to buy during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday ... don’t need to search the Internet high and low to find the best massage ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... the "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ... Testing Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, ... their offering. --> ) ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Nov. 26, 2015 Research and Markets ... "Advanced Wound Care Market by Type (Dressings, Therapy ... User (In-Patient Facility, Out-Patient Facility), and Geography - Global ... --> --> The ... definition and forecast of the global advanced wound care ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... PUNE, India , November 26, ... --> --> ... Research Report" and "Investigation Report on ... 2019 and 2021 forecasts data and ... library. . ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: