Representative Image: The Guardian
Despite not having any physical effects, there can be other devastating effects of virtual reality. One US based lady named Jordan Belamire (name changed) has faced the darker side of VR recently.
Belamire complained that she was sexually assaulted by another player while she was playing a virtual reality game in Redwood City, California.
Here’s what she accused the other player of.
“Last week I was groped in virtual reality — did you know that could happen?”she wrote in a blog post on Medium.
“I didn’t, but now I’m all the wiser,” she added.
At the moment of the incident, Ms Belamire was was playing a game called QuiVr on her brother-in-law’s HTC Vive VR.
QuiVr is a game where the players traverse to the virtual world and is given a task to shoot down zombies using bows and arrows.
Belamire chose the multiplayer mode of the game and another user named BigBro442 started playing along with her. In the game’s multiplayer mode, the players can talk to each other using the head set.
The players are given an universal avatar of a disembodied helmet in the game, but BigBro442 could easily have found out that Ms Belamire was a female by her voice.
“Suddenly, BigBro442’s disembodied helmet faced me dead-on,” she said.
“His floating hand approached my body, and he started to virtually rub my chest.”
Ms Belamire immediately asked BigBro442 to stop as she felt uncomfortable but he didn’t stop. She even tried running, but because of her lack of experience with controlling this game, she was being chased down.
This was followed by grabbing and pinching motions towards her chest, and then he started rubbing her virtual crotch-area. According to Ms Belamire, the experience felt like it was happening in real life.
“Of course, you’re not physically being touched, just like you’re not actually one hundred feet off the ground, but it’s still scary as hell,'” she wrote.
In an interview with CNNMoney, she said, “I’ve been groped in real life, once in a Starbucks in broad daylight. I know what it’s like to happen in person.”
“The shock and disgust I felt [in QuiVr] was not too far off from that.'”
She felt violated by this encounter. Although she admitted some people might find it absurd that she felt like an actual sexual assault victim while inside a videogame, she feels she has a very sound argument for justifying her sentiments.
Read on to know what her reasoning is.
She feels it’s easy for people who haven’t experienced what she did while playing the game to judge her, but warns they should not do so without actually going through what she did.
‘This sounds ludicrous to anyone who hasn’t stood on that virtual reality ledge and looked down, but if you have, you might start to understand,’ she continued in her post.
“The public virtual chasing and groping happened a full week ago and I’m still thinking about it.”
This is an interesting perspective and leaves much to discuss when it comes to virtual reality and boundaries. It’s already common-knowledge that people can be downright abusive in public chat, but when you add another layer of realism things start to get a bit weird. Have you ever been on the receiving end of a creepy encounter in a game that went too far, to a point that you were genuinely uncomfortable?