Women Sexually Harassed in Virtual Reality
Altspace VR is a “cross platform virtual environment” which was released on the Oculus Rift this April. It’s set to be a large company as it offers immersive multi player experiences including the multi player experience of “The Sims”.
Gamers are able to venture into the virtual reality world and have “real world social activities” with other gamers. They can do everything from playing games to shopping together in virtual stores to watching films and more. It’s a pretty insane idea and it’s clearly generating real interest as AltspaceVR has obtained over $15 million in funding from well known venture capital firms who believe in the mass potential.
Unfortunately though, not everybody is loving AltspaceVR’s virtual world, especially several women who say that they’ve been harassed many times within the virtual environment. There was a thread that was created on Reddit recently that was named “AltspaceVR might need a toggle for personal space.”
One of the users in the thread, Galaxy345, talked about how AltspaceVR is not a safe place for women as many times men who are in the game harass them.
Many times people will get in other people’s faces, particularly with the Vive controllers and leap motion, even when a user asks another user not to get closer.
This seems to be even worse when a girl walks into a room for example and so there really should be some sort of feature to enable people to have more personal space if they’d like.
One of the users on Reddit, named Ocululu, said, “I have seen so much sexual harassment in Altspace.”
Another user, Mannvlectro, said, “Yep I also witnessed a lot of sexual harassment in altspace”.
A game designer named Renee Gittins talked about when she was harassed inside of a virtual reality game. She said, “…A man turned to me in virtual reality and aggressively rubbed his character’s chest… his chest with his hands, while remarking over the voice chat, “Look at me! I’m rubbing my tits at you!”, I froze. The only response I could muster was letting out a small, insincere “heh” laugh…I was astonished by the discomfort I felt, though. It was palpable.”
As virtual reality platforms begin to hit the masses, there are going to be more and more multi player experiences.
However, clearly multiple characters in the same place involves risks too and since VR is so life like, people can legitimately feel scared and uncomfortable.