No matter how you activate it, the effect is instantaneous and obvious – a ripple of force expands from you, dissolving any nearby player from view, at least from your perspective, and giving you a safety zone of personal space. It not only provides an instant reprieve for harassment victims but allows them to actually embody their strength through a gesture that feels empowering.
virtual reality archery game, simulated constant groping of Belamire’s virtual body—specifically, rubbing at her avatar’s chest—and chased her through the game world heedless to her cries of “Stop! Some of the response—not least from the game’s developers—was encouraging.
But the internet’s id manifested itself in the comments on stories about the incident, heaping imprecations, slander, and abuse against Belamire.
If we analyze the content of these comments, we gain insight into why these assaults—and online harassment more broadly—occur, and what might be done to stop them.
We’ll have to grapple with some of the most toxic parts of our communities, and find new ways of creating and enforcing social norms in all the virtual worlds we’re creating.
“Feminists basically want it to be a crime for men to even approach a woman in the street, and now they want to do the same in virtual reality? Often, in a single comment, someone yells at Belamire for complaining about an “unreal” groping and then caterwauls about some forthcoming Orwellian regime in gaming.
One commenter actually tells Belamire to turn off the game, right before likening the idea of tracking repeat offenders to the Third Reich.
The VR community has just become a victim of the outrage brigade.” Several others, meanwhile, noted that Belamire writes romance novels and suggested she should “be above” the abuse, or claimed that she’s just seeking publicity.
“She writes an adult lesbian romance novel and feels harassed by digital gloves,” mocks one commenter.
Testers should include in this ongoing process efforts to identify ways players could harm each other.
Developers should deal with them the same way they do other problems in the game’s design.
They wrote a pointed article that explains why they not only believe Belamire but take personal responsibility for what happened to her.