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Hiding or Priding? A Study of Gender, Race, and Gamer Status and Context on Avatar Selection
Unformatted Document Text:  GENDER, RACE, GAMING, AND AVATAR SELECTION 10 player games. The third paradigm is that of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which will be addressed in the following section. Within the first paradigm, the most basic level, one finds stand-alone games. These are primarily single-player games that feature no social interaction and a rather restrictive gaming environment. Personal avatars are usually not an option. Computer versions of card games and board games would fit into this realm. The second paradigm is that of local area or wide area networked games. These games can be played solo (single-player) or with up to 16 players at the same time in the same gaming environment using often restrictive avatars. Most of these games are combat driven and feature rather limited social interaction. Many include both a narrative-driven game for the single player and a separate competitive PvP game for multiple players (Nieborg, 2006). Such games would include first- person shooter blockbusters like Halo. Given the lack of social connectivity or very little connectivity, it is doubtful that single- player games will engender the kind of identification between player and avatar that games with more connectivity will. For instance, Schleiner (2001) argued that the popular single-player game series Tomb Raider is unlikely to provide male players controlling the female titular character of Laura Croft the experience of dressing in drag as there is no social interaction with which to glean feedback. Moreover, if players know they will not be engaging in social interaction, there is no impetus for them to engage in self-presentation or impression management. A person can just be himself or herself as they would at home alone on the couch. It stands to reason that single-player games lend themselves more to para-authentic avatars. Thus, the first hypothesis is posed. H1a: Participants playing a single-player game will be more likely to select a para- authentic avatar than those playing an MMO game.

Authors: Dunn, Robert. and Guadagno, Rosanna.
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GENDER, RACE, GAMING, AND AVATAR SELECTION                                                     10
player games. The third paradigm is that of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, 
which will be addressed in the following section. Within the first paradigm, the most basic level, 
one finds stand-alone games. These are primarily single-player games that feature no social 
interaction and a rather restrictive gaming environment. Personal avatars are usually not an 
option. Computer versions of card games and board games would fit into this realm. The second 
paradigm is that of local area or wide area networked games. These games can be played solo 
(single-player) or with up to 16 players at the same time in the same gaming environment using 
often restrictive avatars. Most of these games are combat driven and feature rather limited social 
interaction. Many include both a narrative-driven game for the single player and a separate 
competitive PvP game for multiple players (Nieborg, 2006). Such games would include first-
person shooter blockbusters like Halo.
Given the lack of social connectivity or very little connectivity, it is doubtful that single-
player games will engender the kind of identification between player and avatar that games with 
more connectivity will. For instance, Schleiner (2001) argued that the popular single-player 
game series Tomb Raider is unlikely to provide male players controlling the female titular 
character of Laura Croft the experience of dressing in drag as there is no social interaction with 
which to glean feedback. Moreover, if players know they will not be engaging in social 
interaction, there is no impetus for them to engage in self-presentation or impression 
management. A person can just be himself or herself as they would at home alone on the couch. 
It stands to reason that single-player games lend themselves more to para-authentic avatars. 
Thus, the first hypothesis is posed.
H1a: Participants playing a single-player game will be more likely to select a para-
authentic avatar than those playing an MMO game.


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