Training scenario design to employ the Proteus effect

The EU-SENSE project assumes conducting training sessions on the use of a novel device for detection and identification of chemical hazards. In the time of COVID-19, such a training can be digitally enhanced, or can even replace exercises in the real field, depending on a situation. In such circumstances, the design of the training scenario may harness the phenomenon of the Proteus effect. It is a tendency according to which an individual, within virtual worlds, is changed by the characteristics of a digital alter ego. This effect is often used for the improvement of a learner’s performance. However, one key aspect should be taken into account – gender. For instance, in male dominated military environments, perception of masculinity, which is often associated with stereotypes, seems to be important in effectiveness while performing tasks and duties. The research on this topic revealed that the relationship between avatar features connected with masculinity was significant in case of gamified didactic activities based on competition and command[i]. The Proteus effect was evident when players adopt masculine avatars. Therefore, to increase the task engagement and motivation of military learners, training designers who employ the Proteus effect, should take gender-specific traits into consideration. The appearance of a digital alter ego should be analyzed and designed in accordance with learners’ preferences, whenever possible. The findings can be useful for instructional designers who create well-tailored and personalized learning experiences.

[i] Małgorzata Gawlik-Kobylińska (2021) The Proteus effect on security and safety exergamers, Interactive Learning Environments, doi: 10.1080/10494820.2021.1898988