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The Daily Grind: Does your MMO character reflect you or the other way around?


Last summer, we reported on research that suggested people's behavior changes because of the proportions of the characters they were assigned to play. This week, we saw related results from a Stanford/OSU team that posed a similar question in relation to sexualized avatars in online settings like MMOs. The researchers tested the "Proteus effect," finding that subjects who were assigned hyper-sexualized avatars in a virtual setting "internalized" their avatars' appearance, focusing more on body image and expressing more "rape myth acceptance" than the control group.

Setting aside the obvious implication that playing a sexed-up toon in an MMO might temporarily darken our mental health, I have to wonder what other bad habits we might be learning from our characters. How much control do we really have when we roll up a new avatar in an MMO? Did I choose to roleplay a snarky pirate in that last game because it would be fun or because I have a problem with authority and a rude attitude I needed a way to express? Worse, did her negative traits and wardrobe rub off on or change me?

Do you think your MMO character reflects you, or do you think you subconsciously reflect your MMO character? Have you ever found yourself picking up or dwelling on the attributes of your characters?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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