The developers of QuiVR, Aaron Stanton and Jonathan Schenker, acted quickly once they heard that one of their players had been chased and sexually harassed while playing their game. The woman had written about her experience and published it on Athena Talks. She describes how during a multiplayer session, a different player chased her around the space making grabbing and rubbing motions at her chest and crotch.
Stanton and Schenker both read the article and immediately went into work mode to try to fix the issue. Originally their game had included a “personal bubble” space which made other players’ hands fade out if they tried to block your view. Their initial response was to simply extend that personal bubble to include the player’s whole body. But for Stanton, that didn’t seem like the whole solution.
Stanton posted his thoughts and their ultimate solution. Instead of just having a setting that a player could switch on and off, he wanted to “dramatically and demonstrably” give power back to the person being attacked. So they made a change to the personal bubble setting, where before it had been a selection made by going to a menu, now the player can activate it physically and visibly.
“Now, though, activating your Personal Bubble is more like engaging your own superpower. You can still turn it on via the settings, but you can also activate it by what we’re calling a “power gesture” – putting your hands together, pulling both triggers, and pulling them apart as if you are creating a force field. 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’s an instant creation of control.”
Stanton went on to say that he hopes that this contribution to VR can help make the medium a more safe place for players. And with that thought in mind, their team is giving their code for the personal bubble to the open source VR Toolkit. They hope that other devs will be able to use it constructively and to help them create a safe space for their players.