Mediating roles of self-presentation desire in online game community
commitment and trust behavior of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games
, Namho Chung
School of Business Administration, Sungkyunkwan University, 53 Meongnyun-Dong 3-Ga, Jongno-Gu, Seoul 110-745, Republic of Korea
College of Hotel & Tourism Management, Kyung Hee University, 1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea
Available online 9 August 2011
Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), which allow simultaneous participation of
several gamers, have attracted a great deal of attention recently. Since MMORPGs can be categorized as a
type of online community, the behavior of MMORPGs users needs to be considered as the general behav-
ior in online communities. However, previous studies of online communities did not pay enough atten-
tion to MMORPGs, in which users can express themselves by interacting actively through games and
game avatars. Understanding the characteristics of MMORPGs as online game communities where users
communicate and interact will allow games to be vitalized and users to be immersed in games in a more
positive way. Hence, using self-presentation theory and social identity theory, this study examined the
factors inﬂuencing self-presentation desire and the mediating role of self-presentation desire examined
in terms of trust of and commitments to online game communities. The results showed that the interac-
tivity in the spaces of MMORPGs had the biggest impacts on self-presentation desire; personal innova-
tiveness and game design quality also was inﬂuential. The results also indicated that self-presentation
desire caused trust of online games and eventually led to even stronger commitments to gamers.
Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The advances in the internet and computer networks enable
people to communicate without the constraints of physical space
and time. Generally speaking, people have a continuous interest
in self-images, and they expect to build images in self-satisfying
or socially desirable ways (Leary & Kowalski, 1990). These expecta-
tions also apply to online spaces; people expect others to see them-
selves as the images they want in online activities, and thus invest
time, costs, and effort to form positive online images (Schau &
Gilly, 2003). Superﬁcially, self-presentation on the internet are
tools people use to express themselves, but ultimately, they are
also symbolic self-identiﬁcation subjects. For example, people tend
to symbolically identify themselves with avatars, which basically
are for self-presentation (Mitchell, 1999). For this reason, online
users try to make their avatars exhibit the images they desire by
dressing their avatars in clothes and accessories as if they were
adorning themselves. In addition, people tend to compare them-
selves socially with others to judge their abilities. They may
compare their ‘‘mini-hompies’’ (mini-homepages) with those of
others and try to express themselves in a different way using
mini-hompy skins, background music, or other digital items. Such
self-presentation desire in online spaces is a key driver that
induces commitments to online communities or instills trust in on-
line games (Bauer, Grether, & Leach, 2002; Brignall & Valey, 2007).
Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs),
which allow simultaneous participation of several gamers, have
attracted a great deal of attention recently. MMORPGs are charac-
terized by their enabling of easy self-presentation in online spaces.
Moreover, users cannot only entertain themselves playing games
but also interact socially and be involved in monetary exchange
activities. The cyberspaces of MMORPGs, where all relevant
activities take place, endure continuously regardless of users’ login
status, and there are no constraints on changing the gender, age, or
appearance of game participants (Yee, 2006). In other words, users
can choose the spaces as they want, generate any activities or
events they want, and form a story in which they play the main
roles of the game characters. In short, avatars, as characters of
MMORPGs, offer enjoyment and fulﬁll self-presentation desire at
the same time.
However, most previous studies did not consider MMORPGs as
a type of online community where self-presentation and interac-
tivity take place using the game as a communication tool, but
rather as one of many types of online games. Considering the char-
acteristic of MMORPGs as enabling multilateral social activities,
the behavior of game users needs to be examined in relation to that
of online community users in general.
0747-5632/$ - see front matter Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +82 2 961 2353; fax: +82 2 964 2537.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (S.-b. Park), email@example.com (N. Chung).
Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 2372–2379
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