The Proteus effect in Fallout: investigating gender-conforming behaviours in videogames

Szolin, K. ORCID: 0000-0003-2494-3719, Kuss, D.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8917-782X, Nuyens, F.M. ORCID: 0000-0002-8125-5229 and Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, 2025. The Proteus effect in Fallout: investigating gender-conforming behaviours in videogames. Entertainment Computing, 52: 100765. ISSN 1875-9521

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Avatars are often a key component of many videogames, and users can frequently develop relationships with these virtual characters that can impact their gameplay behaviour. The purpose of the present study was to explore the Proteus effect (PE) and the impact that avatar gender can have on an individual’s gameplay experience in Fallout: New Vegas, a videogame environment that has not been present in any previous PE research. A total of 353 participants were recruited using an online survey measuring three previously unexplored gameplay behaviours, comprising (i) number of quests completed, (ii) number of locations discovered, and (iii) number of non-player characters (NPCs) or enemies killed. The results of the present study indicated that players controlling an avatar of the same gender to their physical selves demonstrated a significantly greater performance across the variables of quest completion and location discovery than players controlling an avatar of a different gender. Furthermore, a newly identified potential PE consequence was found in terms of the number of NPCs or enemies killed, with players controlling a female avatar achieving a significantly higher score on this measure irrespective of the physical world gender of the user.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Entertainment Computing
Creators: Szolin, K., Kuss, D.J., Nuyens, F.M. and Griffiths, M.D.
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Date: January 2025
Volume: 52
ISSN: 1875-9521
Rights: ©2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 17 Jun 2024 10:32
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2024 10:32

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