E25 Dr. Jorge Peña on VR Milgram shock experiment, Westworld, Black Mirror and the Metaverse

In this episode, host Robby Ratan speaks with Dr. Jorge Peña, associate professor at the University of California, Davis. They cover themes in "Westworld," "Black Mirror" and countless video games. And relate the themes to his research on a virtual recreation of the Milgram shock experiments, a study on how avatar identification affects acceptance of out-group members, and the theoretical underpinnings of the Proteus effect.


The duo also brainstorm study ideas that build on these concepts and connect to notions of the Metaverse and cross-platform avatars. Peña's fascinating research is pushing the boundaries of the field and is highly relevant to the future of work, play and everything between.


Along with his role as Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Peña is the director of the Virtual Interaction & Communication Technology Lab. Researchers at the lab study how video games and virtual environments affect online and offline experiences and how those experiences can improve lives.


Peña is also vice-chair of the National Communication Association Game Studies Division and is on the editorial board for the "Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication."