For Science: A deeper look at the Proteus effect and Toronto’s game dev mental health summit


We once more have a couple of science and gaming news pieces to share, so let’s bundle them up like last time and get smart, shall we?

If you took a look at our science-minded roundup this past July, you are perhaps now familiar with the Proteus effect — the idea that people behave differently according to their avatar’s appearance. An article from psychologist Jamie Madigan offered an extra look at this effect, which cites a couple of study sources for how gamers’ digital personae affect their overall behavior.

One such study found that test subjects who spoke with attractive avatars in a virtual reality game were more likely to give personal details and stand closer to them in digital space, while those who played taller avatars were more aggressive in a negotiation exercise. A meta analysis of 46 separate studies of the Proteus effect further found that this behavior is a reliable phenomenon, though only a facet that makes up a whole of psychological behavior.

On the subject of mental health, there’s going to be an International Gaming Summit on Mental Health on October 9th through the 10th. This first-of-its-kind summit for video game professionals will seek to discuss mental health in games and the games industry, and in online community interaction.

The event is being put together by Mark Chandler, whose time in the games industry includes work with Epic Games and organization of GamesCon in Toronto. “It’s really important to gather people together in the same place and brainstorm,” said Chandler, “We’re going to have game industry people sitting on the same couch as somebody from the mental health profession, and they’re going to be able to have a conversation.”

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