Prior research in non-VR narratives has shown that readers connect to a character less when that character belongs to a different out-group (ie. gender, sexuality, race, etc.) than them. However, when these differences are revealed later in the narrative instead of at the beginning, research has shown that reader’s empathy towards that different out-group increases. Tiltfactor was interested in studying whether or not this is true for VR (Virtual Reality) narratives and if the nature of VR makes the effect stronger.
In particular, Entangled aims to study whether VR narratives can reduce male participants’ biases towards women in science by having participants play as a woman scientist, whose gender is not explicitly revealed until later in the game. Over the course of solving the puzzles in Entangled, the player eventually sees a reflection of their avatar. At this point, it is revealed to the player that Dr. Alex Smith, the character they are playing as, is a woman. Tiltfactor then studied how differences in when the avatar’s gender was revealed effected participant’s attitudes towards women in science.