We Need More Safe Spaces in Virtual Reality
Technology is powerful and this power can be harnessed for good or for evil depending on who is using it. Our human nature guarantees that we find ways to abuse anything that has the potential to be abused. Virtual reality technology is not exempt from this abuse and people can exploit it for their otherwise twisted ideologies or fantasies. Even people who aren’t naturally terrible, for lack of a better word, will still have these menacing tendencies in a world where there are no consequences.
Harassment in Gaming
Take gaming for instance, it doesn’t take too long before a new gaming technology is turned into a public menace. You find shocking clips of “virtual rape” in games like Grand Theft Auto and these abuses of technology have an eerie realism about them that is breathtaking.
These despicable acts in virtual reality can only get worse especially with the advent of virtual reality with its very realistic renditions of different scenarios. The Oculus Rift and similar devices provide hyper-realistic, immersive and interactive gaming experiences but this realistic renditions will be exploited negatively with the horde of horny 12 year olds that occupy these virtual spaces and you have a deteriorating state of abuse.
Efforts to Curb This Menace
There is hope though and thanks to brave people like Patrick Harris of Minority Media who have demonstrated the horrors of harassment in virtual reality, people can now see that this is more than just fooling around. At this year’s game developer’s conference, he made the demonstration by actually sexually harassing a woman in virtual reality with a video of himself playing a VR demo with an unsuspecting woman.
He intentionally made her uncomfortable by groping and playing with phallic objects. With everybody grossed out, Harris advocated for an optional invisible safe space barrier between the user and other players which will protect everybody and put an end to creepy harassment such as the one he demonstrated. He’s not alone in his quest though as insufferable pop culture blog Fusion has also called for these VR safe spaces.
The author took particular aim at the game AltspaceVR where you play as either a blocky person or a blocky robot and you interact with real people online. Already equipped with an ignore function which can mute players and freeze them In place, the creators of AltspaceVR are still working on including more ant-harassment features to better protect players. These proposed invisible screens and barriers will probably become widely used and available in virtual reality games as developers continually strive towards fighting the menace of harassment in virtual reality.
The barriers will have its effects on the immersiveness of the virtual reality experience and compromise the whole product a little but the bright side is that everybody will feel safe, especially in a place where nothing can do you harm. We need more of these spaces and surely users of this technology will not mind losing a bit of the experience to better protect themselves. The number of creeps out there nowadays are too many not to have these anti-harassment features in place.