Dealing With Harassment in VR


Excerpt from this article:

I didn’t realize the article was about us when I first started reading. But of course it was about us; it was about the entire VR development community, after all. The link I followed read, “I was sexually assaulted in virtual reality. This is a big F*cking problem,” and was about a woman’s experience being harassed in a virtual environment. As someone deeply involved in the growth of VR, this was extremely unsettling for me.

In her article, the author commented that the feeling of the original encounter remained with her for days afterwards – I can absolutely understand this. Even for me as a passive participant reading the article, I felt that anger and vulnerability carry with me. This highlights for me the potential and dangers of VR itself. The medium should force us to really think about how the sense of “presence” changes interactions that would feel less threatening in a different digital environment.

… Perhaps “power gesture enabled” can be a concept that’s part of the VR development language – the 911 gesture of protection and safe space, be it against sexual harassment, bullying, or any other form of unwanted confrontation. So when things don’t go well, when something happens that we as developers can’t predict and shield our players from, there’s always a safe place to be found – hopefully not just in QuiVr – but in VR in general.