Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Shane Murphy 

MSc Cyberpsychology

Shane is a Learning Experience Designer at Meta. Before Meta and living in Dublin he worked in the French Edtech startup world in Paris. His experience included designing bespoke mobile apps, gamified learning experiences, VR/AR experiences, and interactive museum installations for a variety of clients. Through the Msc in Cyberpsychology Programme, he developed a passion for UX Research in the realm of avatars, identity and the unique relationship between avatars and humans. The individuals and profiles that draw his inspiration and curiosity are his fellow queer and autistic communities.

Queer Player & Avatar Identity in the Metaverse

This study examines the concepts of identity in relational to Queer players and their unique and custom avatars that they built in Second Life. Understanding Queer Player-Avatar Identity in avatars remains significantly unexplored. 106 Second Life users participated, that were above the age of eighteen and from various Second Life community spaces. This quantitative study uniquely compared real-life player identity demographics to the unique identity demographics of participants' avatars and measured the impact to identity by using a monothetic model (Van Looy et al., 2012) that measures: similarity identification, embodied presence, wishful identification, group identification, and game identification. Participants answered a questionnaire that had three sections: demographic questions about them as the player, demographic questions about their avatar, and then the Player Avatar Identity Likert scale (Van Looy et al., 2012). This study found that the monothetic model was not significant when predicting player and avatar identification and further examines future discussion for polythetic identity modelling (Downs et al., 2019). However, it did find that there were significant relationships between player and avatar gender, player sexuality and gender, trans players and avatar gender, trans players and avatar sexuality, player ethnicity and avatar gender, player ethnicity and non-humanoid species, player ethnicity and avatar ethnicity, player age and avatar age, player sexuality and avatar descriptives such as hair colour, player physical build and avatar physical build, and player sexuality and avatar sexuality. This study argues that the concept that digital spaces could potentially create new configurations of gender, sexuality, and identity that solely exist in digital spaces as stated by van Doorn (2011) could expand existing theories on identity.