What should I do if I am harassed and bullied in the meta universe? A “superman gesture” will solve it

By continuing to learn from our rich experience in the field of multiplayer games and discovering the community-driven, inclusive and empowering potential of VR, we can help build the digital community that we really want to be a part of. The quality of our VR life often depends on it.


1. In virtual reality games, many players have encountered harassment or bullying by other players and feel frustrated about it.

2. Under current circumstances, the laws in the real world are not always applicable to punish violations in virtual spaces.

3. Multiplayer online games have a wealth of experience in managing large communities, which may help to set preventive norms for Metaverse.

What should I do if I am harassed and bullied in the meta universe? A "superman gesture" will solve it

Tencent Technology News, October 21st, as “Meta Universe” gets closer and closer to reality, how to deal with harassment, bullying and other problems in it has become more urgent. In order to build a healthier community in the meta-universe, we must go beyond the passive, painless after-the-fact punishment mechanism and turn to a more proactive form of governance. In this regard, we can learn from the game field.

2016, Jordan Bellamy Seoul (Jordan Belamire) for the first time to experience the new fantasy virtual reality (VR) game “QuiVr”, when she was very excited. Under the gaze of her husband and brother-in-law, Bellamir put on a VR headset and was immersed in the beautiful snow scene. The digital avatar of Bellamir wears a hood, carries a quiver, and holds a bow in her hand. Her task is to fight the glowing monster with a weapon in her hand.

However, Bellamir’s excitement quickly became worse. When entering the online multiplayer mode and using voice chat, another player in the virtual world began to make indecent actions such as rubbing and pinching her avatar. Despite Bellamir’s protest, this behavior continued until she took off her helmet and quit the game. At present, the most common way to deal with harassment and bullying in the virtual world is to punish passively and without pain.

After analyzing people’s reactions to Bellamir’s description of in-game harassment, the researchers found that most people clearly lack a consensus on how to deal with harmful behaviors in virtual spaces. Although many people expressed disgust for the above-mentioned player’s behavior, sympathized with Bellamir’s experience, and agreed to classify it as a “violation,” other interviewees did not seem to take it seriously. They argued that there was no physical occurrence after all. Contact, and Bellamir can opt out of the game at any time.

In the existing social VR space and other virtual worlds, such incidents of sexual harassment are not uncommon, and many other disturbing virtual behaviors (such as theft of virtual items) have become commonplace. All these events make us unsure where the “virtual” ends and where the “reality” begins, challenging us to avoid introducing real-world problems into the virtual world, and how to deal with harassment or bullying in the digital domain.

Now, with Facebook’s prediction of the imminent “meta universe” and the proposal to transfer our work and social interactions to VR, the importance of dealing with harmful behaviors in these virtual spaces has become even more urgent. Researchers and designers in the virtual world are increasingly turning their attention to more positive virtual processing methods that not only deal with virtual harassment behaviors after they occur, but also prevent such behaviors from the beginning, while also encouraging More positive behavior.

Real-world law does not apply

The efforts of these designers do not need to start completely from scratch. Multiplayer online games have a long history of managing large communities (and sometimes even toxic ones). It provides a wealth of experience and ideas that are meant to understand how to cultivate a responsible and thriving VR space through a proactive approach What matters. By showing us how to harness the power of virtual communities and the implementation of inclusive design practice, multiplayer games contribute to the field of VR more beautiful good future to pave the way.

Real-world laws (at least for now) are not a good solution to real mistakes that occur in a fast-paced digital environment. Research on ethics and multiplayer games shows that players can resist “external intervention” in virtual affairs. In addition, there are some practical problems: In a highly mobile, globalized online community, it is difficult to know how to fully identify suspects and determine jurisdiction.

Of course, technology cannot solve all our problems. As researchers, designers and critics pointed out at the 2021 Game Developers Conference, combating harassment in the virtual world requires us to make deeper structural changes in our real and digital lives. However, if nothing is done, and if existing real-world laws may be inappropriate or invalid, then we must turn to technology-based tools to actively manage the VR community.

At present, the most common way to deal with harassment and bullying in the virtual world is passive and mild punishment, which depends on user reporting, and then the reported person will be punished by warnings and account bans. Given the huge size of virtual communities, these processes are usually automated. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) may process reports and perform actions such as deleting content or banning accounts, or take action after receiving a specific number of reports for a specific user.

Although such countermeasures can be effective in the short term and exhibit obvious consequences for disruptive behavior, they also have major problems. Because they are passive measures, they cannot prevent problematic behaviors in advance, nor can they support and enhance the capabilities of edge users. Automation can help manage a large number of users and data, but it can also lead to false positives and underreports, as well as further concerns about prejudice, privacy, and surveillance.

As another option, some multiplayer games have tried so-called “democratic autonomy”. Perhaps the most famous is that Riot Games introduced a court system that allows players to review reports against other players in the multiplayer game “League of Legends” and vote on their penalties. However, due to lack of accuracy and efficiency, the system was shelved a few years later. But Valve still has a similar system Overwatch in “CS: Go” and “Dota 2”.

The form of self-governance in VR has also attracted Facebook’s attention: Researchers working with Oculus VR recently published a paper indicating that the company is interested in promoting community-driven censorship in personal VR applications as a response to top-down governance challenges “Potential remedies”. Such systems are valuable because they allow virtual citizens to play a role in the governance of their own communities. However, letting community members do difficult, time-consuming and laborious review work for free is not entirely an ethical business model. If hate groups rise, it is difficult to determine who is responsible for these groups.

Hire a community manager to strengthen management

One way to solve these obstacles is to hire a community manager (CM). Community managers are often used by gaming and social VR companies to manage virtual communities. They are “visible people” and can help promote a more active and democratic decision-making process while holding VR users and developers accountable. Community managers can remind players to pay attention to the code of conduct, and sometimes they can warn or ban users. They can also feed players’ concerns back to the development team. Community managers may also have a place in the virtual world, but the premise is that we must figure out how to treat them appropriately.

Community managers are usually the first gateway to the game community. They are actually a virtual bridge that welcomes new players, hype around the game, and transmits information between developers and players. However, if you think their role is just marketing, it would be wrong, as the community manager can also help positive lines of the tree stand a good example, strengthening codes of conduct, and for the community to set the right tone, like The elderly in the community do in the real world.

Assigning community managers in the VR space can add empathy and vital “humanity” to the governance process. By enhancing the sense of belonging, responsibility, and humanization, community managers can help minimize the problematic behaviors caused by anonymity and automation, at least in theory.

Unfortunately, the role of community managers is currently severely underestimated, the training is insufficient, the salary is very low, and they often face death threats, rape threats, and other forms of abuse from the users they are hired to care for. If the community manager is to play a role in managing the VR virtual world, we must ensure that this basic work is better supported and compensated. An overworked and ignorant community manager is likely to do more harm than good.

Although best practices are still being developed, the Fair Play Alliance, an alliance of game companies aimed at nurturing healthy gaming communities, has shared a framework for disruptive and harmful behaviors in games, which is formulating penalties. At the same time as the reporting system, it provides suggestions on managing the community. Combined with adequate salary, evidence-based training and internal emotional support, these types of resources will help community managers in a better position to serve the virtual community in a sustainable manner.

The core of the VR space is the design space. Therefore, the mechanism of the digital environment is also the core of governance. More than a decade ago, Nick Yee, a social scientist and co-founder of QuantiFoundry, a game research company, believed that the rule framework and coding design (ie, social architecture) of multiplayer games can help shape our interactions in the virtual world. If we can design virtual worlds to achieve confrontational interaction, we can also design them to promote interaction in a harmonious society.

Such design choices can be quite subtle and unexpected. Yee pointed out that in the multiplayer game “EverQuest”, players who died in the game lost their loot and had to return to the place of death to retrieve it. Yee believes that this design helps promote altruistic behavior, because players must ask each other for help when retrieving lost items. In a less fun VR space, one way to guide this effect (and more protective measures) might include encouraging users to ask others for help with virtual tasks, such as boarding a ship, walking through or changing the environment, or getting virtual The gift of image gives users the opportunity to realize their more positive values.

A gesture to block the harasser

To some extent, we have begun to see that the unique experience of VR is benefiting users through other ways of designing. In response to Bellamir’s description, the “QuiVr” developers implemented a powerful gesture: a gesture similar to a “superpower” that would open a personal bubble, mute the avatars of unpleasant players nearby, and remove It disappears from the user’s sight (and vice versa) until the user chooses to close it.

Although this is largely symbolic, this gesture shows how important it is for developers to take these issues seriously. In the VR field, it is important to control a person’s personal space. Simple and intuitive gestures allow us to immediately control the people or things we see. This allows users to be in the real world in any VR space. Realize self-protection in a way that is simply impossible. To be sure, some forward-looking design methods that work in games may not work in the more serious VR space.

However, VR still has room for further exploration of non-traditional methods. For example, if we sentence the avatar who violated the rules to perform virtual community services, or receive virtual counseling or consultation, what will happen? The idea of ​​using real-world punishments to stimulate reactions in the virtual world may sound absurd, but this method is not completely unheard of.

The game platform Steam disclosed the information of players who were banned for cheating, and in 2015, the president of Daybreak Game Company invited cheaters to apologize publicly for their actions to lift the ban on the game “H1Z1”. Just like in the real world, virtual public humiliation and imprisonment raise particularly noteworthy moral issues. However, through careful review, more rehabilitation and recovery responses to violations in the virtual world may also occupy an important position in the governance of the meta-universe.

As we explore how to manage users in VR, it is necessary to solve a crucial question of who might be excluded from these spaces. Existing prejudices can sneak into our technical design in an unpleasant way, preventing certain groups from entering the virtual world or being hostile in it. The physical requirements of VR may make it difficult for people with certain disabilities (such as visual impairments) to participate. Avatars can be regarded as anchor points through which people connect and navigate virtual spaces, but game research shows that their design methods tend to distort and exclude people of color. As Bellamir’s experience tells us, the interaction in VR is particularly harmful to women, which makes them reluctant to participate at all.

Those who are excluded from the virtual world are often underrepresented in virtual world research and design teams. Therefore, we must acknowledge the barriers to inclusion that people face and promote different voices early in the development process. The good news is that people are working harder and harder to build more inclusive games, and these games are also being transformed into VR. For example, The AbleGamers Charity is working with the gaming industry to make it easier for people with disabilities to play games. These concentrated efforts are essential to help us avoid the existing gaps and inequalities in VR.

Despite these challenges, we must embrace the social responsibility that needs to be shared, that is, to cultivate a prosperous and vibrant VR community. Like real-world laws, a balanced approach to restrictions and punishments can also play an important role. But we must be careful not to rely too much on automatic audits, suspensions, and bans, which are only part of building a healthy virtual world. “Out of sight, out of mind” is not our motto for living in a virtual world. As our rich history of managing communities in multiplayer games shows, virtual governance can (and must) go far beyond that.

By continuing to learn from our rich experience in the field of multiplayer games and discovering the community-driven, inclusive and empowering potential of VR, we can help build the digital community that we really want to be a part of. The quality of our VR life often depends on it.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/what-should-i-do-if-i-am-harassed-and-bullied-in-the-meta-universe-a-superman-gesture-will-solve-it/
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