Fostering intrinsic motivation through avatar identification in digital games

Max V. Birk, Cheralyn Atkins, Jason T. Bowey, Regan L. Mandryk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


Fostering intrinsic motivation with interactive applications can increase the enjoyment that people experience when using technology, but can also translate into more invested effort. We propose that identifying with an avatar in a game will increase the intrinsic motivation of the player. We analyzed data from 126 participants playing a custom endless runner game and show that similarity identification, embodied identification, and wishful identification increases autonomy, immersion, invested effort, enjoyment, and positive affect. We also show that greater identification translates into motivated behaviour as operationalized by the time that players spent in an unending version of the infinite runner. Important for the design of games for entertainment and serious purposes, we discuss how identification with an avatar can be facilitated to cultivate intrinsic motivation within and beyond games.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI '16 : Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-3362-7
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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