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Starting from the selection of fashion appearance by MMORPG players, this blog analyzes the influence of social factors on the choice of fashion and outfits. Having socialization significance, players will consider the social image they present when choosing fashion appearance.

Yongcheng Liu, Blogger

June 27, 2023

5 Min Read

How outfit shapes a player’s social image

One of the reasons that players love playing games is because games provide them with an opportunity to satisfy psychological needs. For MMORPG players, social needs are an important factor that drives them to the virtual gaming world, where we can choose to play completely different roles and interact with others.

And some players think that premise of "role-playing" is "personalization". In many games, outfit appearance is one of the most direct personalization systems.

How players dress up their characters is also a part of self-expression in social interactions. Therefore, players' demand for in-game fashion appearance may also reflect their expectations for the image of the characters they control in social situations. So in MMORPGs, what is the relationship between players' choice of fashion appearance and their self-expression needs in the gaming world?

  1. “valuing personality more than good-looking outfits”

With the upgrade of the overall quality of nowadays games, character appearances in MMORPGs are becoming more and more beautiful and realistic. Players also have more ways and channels to pursue beauty and personality in game. For example, in most mobile MMORPGs, players can customize the colors and patterns of certain costumes, presenting different styles through their own ideas with the same outfit. Players can also trade in the store and earn coins by selling their own creative work.

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In such a highly customizable system, some players have begun to pursue another extreme of aesthetics (as shown in the picture below). The left side is the clothing designed by players through dyeing and printing basic clothing on the right side. Why do these players pursue the same style and even share pictures of them?

Because the unique and unconventional style does not necessarily imply a lack of aesthetic sense, but rather, it is a way for some players to pursue social recognition.

As mentioned earlier, personalization is an important prerequisite for social activities in games. In a situation where almost everyone is as beautiful as a fairy, extreme unique outfit becomes more eye-catching and more memorable. Such behavior is no different from the pursuit of "showing off the limited mount to the entire server" - both are self-expression in socialization. The former tries to seek recognition by showing personality because such a dressing conveys the message of "I am interesting, I have so much personality".

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It is worth noting that there is a subtle difference between the above personalized customization and the so-called "ugliness". In fact, others can see that the eye-catching appearance is intentionally done by the player, rather than a lack of aesthetics. You can see that the players' costumes in the picture above actually took a lot of effort. The male character with fluorescent yellow on the right had to adjust the tone and color temperature of all the color blocks on his body to achieve a harmonious "ugliness", while the player on the far left, who took reference from the "Flower Jacket", carefully chose the appropriate patterns of flowers and adjusted their positions for each part of the clothing.

On the contrary, appearances like the one in the following picture that make it difficult to distinguish between "intentional" and "aesthetic" choices are rarely chosen by players as a symbol of their personality.

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  1. “Just Loving White color”

In stores of different MMORPGs, there is always a white outfit that sells well, and discriptions like "ethereal", "elegant", and "noble" seem to be eternal keywords. In player research projects, we found that when players evaluate the attractiveness of outfits/skins, they are more concerned about the temperament displayed behind the outfit. While the pursuit of personalization explodes, why do many female players have such similar preferences?

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Because while wearing white clothes, players tend to leave a positive image on others, ultimately gaining public (social) recognition.

Most Chinese MMO games are based on various Wuxia and immortal novels. And many Chinese MMO players are born in the 80s and 90s, who are deeply influenced by famous Wuxia writers such as Gu Long and Jin Yong. They have a stereotypical understanding of the martial arts world. For example, when it comes to the portrayal of beautiful lady in the Wuxia world, even though there are no single word as “white clothes”, readers can imagine the writer is describing a lady with white outfit and long black hair. When the entire group is exposed to a certain cultural influence, there is a possibility of individual aesthetic preferences being affected as well.

From this perspective, in many films or TV series, white-clad swordsmen represent justice, and women dressed in white are more easily recognized by the public. Therefore, wearing white clothing could be more attractive to others, and may receive recognition from them in game. Of course, this process is not necessarily conscious, that is, players do not necessarily buy and wear white outfit to seek social recognition, but as a form of self-expression, and gaining recognition is one of the influencing factors of personalization.

In previous MMORPG player research, we classified outfit style and confirmed their preferences through player choices. The actual sales of relevant costumes and player preferences for fashion style have confirmed and expanded the above conclusions: in addition to the "Fairy White Clothes", some "non-white clothes" designs with "elegant", "noble" and "classical" style are also deeply loved by many female players.

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Overall, outfits with elegant colors, flowing skirt hems, and high-quality fabrics are more likely to be favored by female gamers. At the same time, it is necessary to outline the slender and beautiful body of female characters. Many players are opposed to bulky designs, such as thick skirts and sleeves, and fluffy fur collars and shawls.

  1. Summary

Starting from the selection of fashion appearance by MMORPG players, this blog analyzes the influence of social factors on the choice of fashion and outfits. Having socialization significance, players will consider the social image they present when choosing fashion appearance.

User and player research will not be a combination of independent features. Players' needs, behaviors, and habits all influence each other at different levels. Understanding and explaining players' behaviors from different perspectives can help us establish a more comprehensive understanding towards their gaming preferences.

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