1. Nowak KL, Rauh C. The Influence of the Avatar on Online Perceptions of Anthropomorphism, Androgyny, Credibility, Homophily, and Attraction. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 2005;11(1):153-178. Available at: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.tb00308.x [Accessed May 26, 2011].
Paper represents 'static' avatars - that don't move or represent person in realtime. Not unlike ours should be.
URT - mentions a 1997 paper. Is that related to online use? (Infante, Rancer & Womack, 1997).
Woot! "Different types of avatars have different effects on person perception." (Koda 1996; Nowak, 2004; Nowak & Biocca, 2003; Taylor, 2002).
Credibility, attraction and homophily important in communication process (McCroskey, Hamilton, & Weiner, 1974). Credibility one of the primary predictors for things like attitude change and trust.
Their findings on androgeny are all well and good, but I'm not sure they designed any androgenous yet anthropomorphic avatars. Not to mention I find this disturbing: "Interface designers who wish to elicit attraction in users might consider anthropomorphic, non-androgynouse, feminine, child characters for their interfaces." They found evidence that people choose avatars that are of similar gender and type - which in this case just means human - so postulate that means that they might also tend to choose other characteristics that are similar to their own. I'm not convinced that holds true. In my experience, there is a definite variance between avatars and people's actual appearance that is greater than can be explained by the options available.
I think this is interesting in relation to GR, because in our game the avatar is indicitive of the class of character the player is playing (e.g. man or woman) rather than the underlying gender of the player. It provides more insight into the goals of that player than it would in (for example) world of warcraft where the gender is a choice and the class (warrior, healer, etc) is the clue to the player's motivation.
Again, my problem with her paper is that I would not want any of the avatars she is testing to represent me in any game. In fact, if that were the range of characters, there's a good chance I would be put off playing. I could just about cope with figure f3 in that list.