Study replicates avatar effects on gamers' physical activity in the real world

Does your avatar's size effect your physical activity?

In a recent study published in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Professor Jorge Peña and graduate students Subuhi Khan and Cassandra Alexopoulos show that men assigned to an obese avatar in a tennis video game showed decreased physical activity in the real world compared with those assigned to a thin avatar. This occurred regardless of the player’s actual body size.

Participants also showed social comparison effects including decreased physical activity when their avatar was perceived as more obese than the opponent character. Overall, this implies that exergames can be leveraged to increase physical activity among gamers.

This replicates a previous study by Dr. Peña showing a similar effect among women. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication is ranked 2/76 in communication and has a five-year impact factor of 3.799.