Communicating age in Second Life: The contributions of textual and visual factors

Rosa Mikeal Martey, Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Mia Consalvo, Jingsi Wu, Jaime Banks, Tomek Strzalkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although considerable research has identified patterns in online communication and interaction related to a range of individual characteristics, analyses of age have been limited, especially those that compare age groups. Research that does examine online communication by age largely focuses on linguistic elements. However, social identity approaches to group communication emphasize the importance of non-linguistic factors such as appearance and non-verbal behaviors. These factors are especially important to explore in online settings where traditional physical markers of age are largely unseen. To examine ways that users communicate age identity through both visual and textual means, we use multiple linear regression and qualitative methods to explore the behavior of 201 players of a custom game in the virtual world Second Life. Analyses of chat, avatar movement, and appearance suggest that although residents primarily used youthful-looking avatars, age differences emerged more strongly in visual factors than in language use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalNew Media and Society
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 17 2015

Keywords

  • Age identity
  • Second Life
  • avatar appearance
  • online behavior
  • virtual worlds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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