A Bard in the Hand: The Role of Materiality in Player–Character Relationships

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Despite the increasing convergence of digital, physical, and immaterial dimensions of game characters, little attention has been paid to the role of materiality in how gamers connect with the characters they play. This study evaluated potential differences in character identification and interaction in a gaming context affording various character materialities: the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Multimethod analysis of online survey data (N = 1,135) reveals that character identification and interaction dimensions were invariant across primary character-representation mode (figurine, physical image, digital image, written, and imagined); however, post-hoc analysis suggests that multimaterial assemblages and social factors are key in how character representations are linked to character relations. Following, we argue that game characters may be more appropriately understood as subjective experiences rather than varying according to a given digital or physical manifestation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-81
Number of pages21
JournalImagination, Cognition and Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • bricolage
  • characters
  • games
  • identification
  • materiality
  • relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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