Author

Melissa Watts

Graduation Year

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Scott S. Liu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roxanne Watson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jameson Hayes, Ph.D.

Keywords

avatar, communication, identification, MMORPG, self-esteem, social capital

Abstract

This study explored the relationship between people who play massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) and their avatars, as well as the impact on players’ self-esteem and perceived social capital in the real world. To examine these influences of online video gameplay, this research investigated gamers who play the popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft (WoW). This study employed an online survey made available on Reddit, a widely-used news, entertainment, and social-networking website, in which all the content is user-generated. The research questionnaire was intended to reveal the bond between MMORPG players and their avatars; the study examined how this relationship could influence MMORPG players’ confidence in themselves and advance their network of relationships in the real world. The strength of the WoW players’ identification with their avatar did have some impact on their self-esteem in the real world; however, there was no significant relationship between avatar self-identification and perceived social capital in the real world. Additionally, this research did reveal a substantial correlation between self-esteem and perceived social capital in the real world.

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