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Can you tell a person's gender by their video game avatar?
Date:5/6/2014

posite 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."


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Contact: Clea Desjardins
clea.desjardins@concordia.ca
514-848-242-45068
Concordia University
Source:Eurekalert

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