How do avatar characteristics affect avatar friendliness and online gamer loyalty? Perspective of the theory of embodied cognition

Kai Li, Huynh Van Nguyen, T. C.E. Cheng, Ching I. Teng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: As technology-created gamers’ representations, avatars are influential in communication among online gamers. However, there is scant research on how avatars’ characteristics impact gamers’ friendly behaviour via avatars, i.e., avatar friendliness, and how avatar friendliness is related to online gamer loyalty. The purpose of this paper is to develop a research model grounded in the theory of embodied cognition to examine the impacts of perceived avatar appearance agreeableness, attractiveness and height on avatar friendliness and online gamer loyalty. Design/methodology/approach: The authors collect 1,384 responses from online gamers and use structural equation modelling for hypothesis testing. Findings: The authors find that perceived avatar appearance agreeableness and attractiveness are positively related to avatar friendliness, while perceived avatar height is negatively related to avatar friendliness. Avatar friendliness, in turn, is positively related to online gamer loyalty. Research limitations/implications: This study assessed gamers’ perceptions using a cross-sectional design. Future works could use a big data approach to collect behavioural and longitudinal data. Moreover, future works could measure avatar height using pixels. Originality/value: The authors contribute to the e-commerce literature by inventing the new constructs of perceived avatar appearance agreeableness and avatar friendliness, and conducting the first study of using avatar friendliness to explain the impacts of the three avatar characteristics on online gamer loyalty. The findings also provide novel insights for e-commerce managers to effectively build a loyal gamer base.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1121
Number of pages19
JournalInternet Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2018


  • Avatar
  • Customer loyalty
  • Friendliness
  • Online game
  • Structural equation modelling
  • Survey
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

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