"I’m attached, and I’m a good guy!": How character attachment influences (pro-social and anti-social) usage motivations

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  • 1. Nicholas David Bowman (WVU) Daniel Schultheiss (TU-Ilmenau) Christina Schumann (TU-Ilmenau) Why I do the virtual voodoo that I do! Bowman, N. D., Schultheiss, D., & Schumann, C. (2011, November). “I’m attached, and I’m a good guy!": How character attachment influences (pro-social and anti-social) usage motivations. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association, New Orleans.
  • 2. Background
    • Character attachment
      • Rooted in work on parasocial interaction and identification
      • In gaming, You Are The Character ; a “melding of minds”
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 3. Background
    • PRO-SOCIAL GAMING
    • Gaming as social experience
    • Gaming and social capital
    • Extraversion and gaming
    • ANTI-SOCIAL GAMING
    • Gaming and aggression
    • Gamers as narcissistic
    • Gaming and grief play
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 4. Research Questions
    • Driving question
      • Are there meaningful relationships between dimensions of character attachment and pro- and anti-social gameplay (MMO) motivations?
    • Controls variables include time spent playing, game skill, demographic variables
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 5. Method
    • N = 523 participants (n = 450 played MMOs)
      • 83% male, avg. age 22.68 (SD = 5.05), 14-49
      • 62% German, 25% US
      • 91% at least high school degree
      • Avg. gameplay of 14.5 hours weekly, Median of 10
      • Est. total gameplay hours of 3240, Median of 600
      • WoW was most popular (42%, n = 189)
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 6. Method
    • Character Attachment Scale (Lewis, Weber, & Bowman, 2008)
      • Identification, Suspension of Disbelief, Responsibility, and Increased Control
    • PCA reduction of existing scales (Yee, 2006; 2007)
    • Video game self-efficacy (Bracken & Skalski, 2006)
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011 Pro-Social Factors Anti-Social Factors
    • Seven items
    • Factor loadings > .600, cross loadings < .300
    • Similar to Yee’s “socializing”, “relationship”, “teamwork”
    • α = .82
    • Five items
    • Factor loadings > .600, cross loadings < .300
    • Similar to Yee’s “competition” and “(personal) advancement”
    • α = .80
    r = -.034, ns
  • 7. Results
    • PRO-SOCIAL
      • Increased sense of control
      • Increased time spent with favorite game
      • Increased skill
      • Lower education level
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 8. Results
    • ANTI-SOCIAL
      • Increased suspension of disbelief
      • Decreased sense of responsibility
      • Increased skill
      • Younger players
      • Male players
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 9. Discussion
    • Character attachment has been fronted as a multidimensional way to understand the connection between one and his/her avatar
    • Different types of attachment can explain self-reported pro- and anti- gaming behaviors
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 10. Discussion
    • Anti-social gamers were often:
      • Suspenders of disbelief
      • Lack of responsibility for characters
      • Younger
      • Male
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011 Bandura?
  • 11. Discussion
    • Future research should
      • Replicate and refine the pro-/anti-gaming motivation metric (CFA, more dimensions, etc.)
      • Experimental control for causality
      • Extending beyond MMOs (yet acknowledging MMOS place heavy(ier?) emphasis on character development/character attachment
      • Extend beyond games (trolling, AR studies, etc.)
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 12. Conclusion
    • “ The relationship between individuals and their virtual interactions seems to be related to the strength of the relationship between individuals and their virtual selves.”
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011
  • 13. Thank you!
    • In progress research , so for information:
    • Nicholas David Bowman, Ph.D.
    • Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
    • West Virginia University
    • [email_address]
    • @bowmanspartan
    11/11/11 (c) ND Bowman, 2011