It's a Matter of Perspective

The perception and use of an avatar – as the primary means of agency in online environments – might be expected to be shaped by the motivations for participating in the environment. In particular, goal-oriented users may be more likely to treat avatars as tools/pawns to achieve goals, thereby encouraging a preference for 3PP that objectifies and externalizes the avatar, whereas relationship-oriented users may be more likely to treat avatars as representations of themselves in a social environment, thereby encouraging identification and treating the avatar as the self through 1PP. This would also be supported by the age differences given that younger players tend to be more achievement-driven. In other words, I argue that more fundamental motivational differences are driving the gender and age differences. —Nick YeeIt’s a Matter of Perspective (Terra Nova)

Interesting data… Male users were more likely to prefer third-person perspective, while female users were more likely to prefer first-person perspective. Older users were more likely to prefer first-person perspective, while younger users were more likely to prefer third-person.

How much of this is simply becasue it’s much easier now to render 3-d worlds on the fly, and to rotate these worlds or make parts of it transparent, so that the player’s perspective isn’t blocked by walls or other obstacles? Thus, those of us who played graphic games in Ye Olde Days were playing on systems that forced designers to conserve resources whenever possible, and hiding the player (except for an animated shield or sword sweeping through the frame) freed up precious resources for the animation of opponents.

Of course, if it’s true that the old gamers included a higher proportion of men, is it significant that new gamers are more likely to prefer the perspective more frequently favored by women? Does it matter whether the men are playing perhaps a half-naked elf babe, as opposed to a muscle-bound, attack-abosrbing brick who wasn’t designed with aesthetics in mind?

I just noticed in the discussion at Terra Nova that women are actually more prevalent among the older gamers. Go figure.

I’ve been playing Morrowind in brief snatches… when I’m up close and in person with the bad guys, I find it disorienting when they slip around behind me or sidestep. I haven’t thought of switching to 3PP for battle sequences, because I’m playing a mage and thus would prefer to shoot fireballs from a distance. Still, the occasional rat who scurries about my ankles is annoying enough that maybe 3PP would help.

It looks like the charts on the site were initially posted incorrectly; they’ve been corrected (according to Yee) but that makes some of the first comments confusing.