Player-Character Congruity and Flow: An Integrative Model on Loyalty in Gaming
51 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 30, 2018
Brand loyalty in the gaming context takes many forms, including conscious selection of brand, intention of continuation, positive word of mouth, recommendation, or even active recruitment. As games may be played multiple times, player loyalty is essential to fostering an on-going relationship between brand and consumer. This study tested a conceptual model that integrated the theories of self-congruity and flow to demonstrate their impact on brand loyalty in the gaming industry. The model was implemented through a self-reported survey with 512 respondents. Results supported prior researchers’ findings, such as the relationships between player-character identification and flow as well as flow and loyalty. Yet, we found that ideal congruity may be a stronger indicator of loyalty as mediated through flow, while actual congruity may in fact inhibit the relationship. The results of this research provide a theoretical contribution by adding self-congruity theory to the flow and loyalty body of knowledge in the gaming space. Furthermore, the self-congruity measurement model provides an alternative measurement method to the previous player-character identification model. From a managerial perspective, the study results support an approach to game design that encourages character design suited to players’ ideal selves rather than mimicking their actual, “real world” selves.
Keywords: gaming, self-congruity theory, flow theory, player-character identification, brand loyalty
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