Avatars of a Feather Flock Together: Gender Homophily in Online Video Games Revealed via Exponential Random Graph (ERG) Modeling

Shiyu Zhang, Sander Bakkes, Diederik Roijers, Pieter Spronck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Increasingly more scholars have regarded the virtual worlds of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) as a social laboratory, and have paid research attention to the online interactions between its large number of players. In the present study, we examine a widely observed real-life phenomenon—gender homophily (i.e., people of the same gender flocking together)—in this virtual context. Specifically, we investigate how collaboration networks in an MMOG (Destiny) are shaped by the adopted gender of the avatar characters. This focus is
interesting, as avatar gender in video games is generally a choice that is less constrained than it is in real life. To investigate the effect of gender in online video games, while controlling for the effects of several confounding factors, we employed a technique called exponential random graph modelling. Mirroring
how interpersonal relationships are often gendered in real life, and despite common phenomenon such as gender swapping, we found evidence supporting gender homophily in the MMOG environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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