Social VR Bystander Intervention — and an Invitation a Free Training

Register for next training here

In previous research, I documented the prevalence of harassment in social VR. It’s something that both men and women experience and deters some people from even engaging in social apps.

A theme of people observing harassment also started to emerge:

“Witnessed multiple instances of dudes being gross with female avatars.”

There were other stories people told of trying to intervene when they saw harassment, but they became the targets instead:

“The two other guys started harassing her and saying lewd and rude things, and when I asked them to leave her alone, they started cussing me out.”

These anecdotes and others demonstrated there’s a discomfort in being a bystander, but directly confronting people can escalate conflict. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to intervene when witnessing harassment and many of them are very easy. I decided to adapt recommendations from meatspace bystander interventions [here, here, and here] and equip our avatars with proven tactics.

I taught the first social VR bystander intervention training this week and this is what one participant had to say about it:

Like many people I’ve been confronted with harassment in VR and been unsure how to help. After this class I have several concrete ideas and a real plan.

— Jeremy Nickel, SacredVR

There are two more upcoming trainings in July and I hope you will attend one of them. They will be held July 3rd at 1pm Pacific and again on July 10th at 2:30pm Pacific inside of the High Fidelity platform. The event is free and here’s how to sign up:

  1. Register for a High Fidelity user name here (if you don’t have one already)
  2. Sign up on the Eventbrite here
  3. On the day of the event, log into High Fidelity to access the venue

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Culture, Behavior, and Virtual Reality @theextendedmind

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Jessica Outlaw

Jessica Outlaw

Culture, Behavior, and Virtual Reality @theextendedmind

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