Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.



  • http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/25/technology/developer-sexual-assault-virtual-reality/

    This article just popped up in my news feed, and it's worth sharing here.

    Of note:

    Because video games are largely developed by men, harassment of the sort that Belamire experienced might not be top of mind in a game's design. Stanton said that's true of he and Schenker; while they'd given careful thought to the ways in which players might get in each others ways in the virtual world, they hadn't considered that players might be harassed.
    "If VR has the power to have lasting positive impact because of that realism, the opposite has to be taken seriously as well," Stanton and Schenker wrote in their op-ed.
    The benefits of virtual reality are frequently touted. At the WSJ Digital Conference in Laguna Beach on Tuesday, Sheryl Sandberg said Facebook thinks of it as "the ultimate empathy device."
    Stanton agrees that "virtual reality is powerful."
    "We do everything we possibly can to encourage that belief," he said. "But you can't have that kind of power and say that anytime something bad happens, it's not your responsibility."

    While I'd say this is more dramatic in VR, it's also quite directly applicable to our hobby.

    Some of the related articles note how this is not an issue until a female player suddenly appears -- and her in game appearance/avatar doesn't have to be any different from all the others (they're all identical) to suggest any sort of 'bait' or 'she must have been asking for it' logic, (which we see a lot of any time someone chooses a PB that doesn't look like ten miles of bad road in our hobby, and is about as classy as the 'but she was wearing lipstick, clearly she wanted it!' crap always is :/ ).

    Definitely worth a look, and definitely worth some thought.


  • Admin

    I think I need to credit MSB at least for helping me understand better how different an experience women get compared to men online. It's not always obvious (or it wasn't to me) how things work; I mean in the hobby, being what it is, flirting is commonplace but I've seen things that made me scratch my head. There's an aggression, an urgency involved on behalf of people. I don't know if I never perceived it on Shang in the past when I was playing there or if it's actually worse on non-adult MU* for whatever reason but some of the pages I was shown were pretty openly manipulative and very single-minded.



  • @Arkandel A really good friend of mine used the analogy, 'for a guy, a shortcut through a dark alley is a quick route home or an adventure, for a woman, it's the looming threat of a sexual assault waiting to happen.' He isn't wrong.

    It's also amazing how the very same person doesn't see how, sometimes, games can be precisely the same way. Show up alone and on your own as a dude, and there's a world of possibilities. Show up alone and on your own as a chick, and too often, you're considered easy prey by the less savory folks in the community. (Lack of reporting and lack of staff willingness to take action even if someone reports further exacerbate this issue.)



  • Honestly, I think the women who are all "I'm a girl and I don't know how to play games, plz give me things. Teehee! I'll fuck if you buy me a mount!" do more to hurt how women are perceived in gaming more than anything else. Not that I have the body for it, but it's while I'll never be a bikini streamer. I want people to watch my playthroughs because of the game, and hopefully I'm entertaining, not because I have boobs. I mean I have to be entertaining because I sort of suck at games, even if I love them. I feel bad enough when people gift me games that they want to see me play. Even when they are games on my wishlist so I would have played them anyway. On one hand free stuff is always good. But did they send it to me because I'm entertaining, or because I have boobs? It's always in the back of my mind.

    It puts me in a weird place when people comment on my voice; on one hand my ex really shot my self esteem down the toilet and all the way to China, so when someone compliments my voice, for the longest while I couldn't take it. Now I'm comfortable with it, I can even laugh it off at work if someone thinks I'm not old enough to know what a cassette is. But I don't want people tuning in because of my voice. But I stream and record and if I could actually make a living on it I absolutely would! So I need views... And like I said, I kinda suck at games so at least my voice is something? But it's still really weird to have someone say my voice is sexy. At the same time people keep telling me I should do an ASMR video... even Youtube suggests them now. But I'm worried about it being a gimmick. But you have to have some sort of gimmick to be able to make a career of it.

    Luckily my moderators are gentlemen, and they will shut that shit down usually faster than I can see it if someone comes into the channel and is all Tits or GTFO or are just rude in general.

    Then I just decided to have fun with it. I started doing Let's Plays and Streaming because I talk to myself anyway, so why not record it? I play what I want and try to ignore subs. Until I look at them and get bummed because I'm not getting them because I'm not actively trying to use my sexuality to get them.

    Catch 22, really. Pretty much why I never use voice in games, unless I am playing with people I know.


  • Admin

    @surreality said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    A really good friend of mine used the analogy, 'for a guy, a shortcut through a dark alley is a quick route home or an adventure, for a woman, it's the looming threat of a sexual assault waiting to happen.' He isn't wrong.

    Yeah. I've had a conversation about it recently since I've been going to a 24/7 gym very early in the morning (when it's essentially empty) and it's completely different for a man compared to a woman; my biggest concern is waking up at an ugly hour and hope I don't have to fiddle with the safety pins on the rack. The idea someone might follow me inside the place where no one can see/hear me call for help and where no one could even manage to enter without a card to help out in the first place is just not a concern on my radar.

    @Insomnia said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    Honestly, I think the women who are all "I'm a girl and I don't know how to play games, plz give me things. Teehee! I'll fuck if you buy me a mount!" do more to hurt how women are perceived in gaming more than anything else.

    How about this: Recently a female player's PC met a male's one time on the grid. They didn't know each other OOC beforehand and the scene was completely neutral. Within a couple of days that person was sending them pages when she was playing with other people, pestering her with pages, etc. This was happening just a bit under the threshold of actionable harassment (possibly by design) but the player in question was perfectly capable of handling it on her own, setting limits and cutting that person off.

    However... he is still there. Someone else equally unwilling to go along with this misadventure might either buckle under the pressure and go along for the ride or simply stop logging on. Either way this is a scenario where everyone loses - the game is out a player or the person in question doesn't is put in an unpleasant position to begin with since even having to reject the advances isn't exactly fun, nor is knowing a guy's keeping track of her whereabouts.

    These are iffy circumstances. I know folks will just hop in here and suggest the banhammer but between non-reporting and false positives (the line between 'hey, wanna play?' and 'hey, why did you play with him instead of me?' isn't always conveniently phrased clearly) nuking from orbit it's not a panacea at all.

    But what is a better way to address such situations?


  • Politics

    @Insomnia said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    Then I just decided to have fun with it. I started doing Let's Plays and Streaming because I talk to myself anyway, so why not record it? I play what I want and try to ignore subs. Until I look at them and get bummed because I'm not getting them because I'm not actively trying to use my sexuality to get them.

    I just do not understand why any man watching women playing video games would come to the conclusion that they are trying to use their sexuality to "get them."

    I just don't.

    That's just the stupidest conclusion I can think of, honestly. I know it happens, but I don't know why. I just wonder at what point gamers ever thought that it was a reasonable conclusion.


    @Arkandel said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    But what is a better way to address such situations?

    You said that the player in question was capable of handling herself. I presume that means she knows when her threshold has been reached, and she contacts staff to demand action. So, yes, I am one of those banhammer people, but I'd probably opt with a stern warning to stop haranguing people with pages.

    A better way to address such situations is to remind players of acceptable behavior on a regular basis, regardless of what's going on.

    The best way is if people stop being page-harassers. That'd be fucking nice.



  • @Ganymede said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    You said that the player in question was capable of handling herself. I presume that means she knows when her threshold has been reached, and she contacts staff to demand action. So, yes, I am one of those banhammer people, but I'd probably opt with a stern warning to stop haranguing people with pages.

    A better way to address such situations is to remind players of acceptable behavior on a regular basis, regardless of what's going on.

    The best way is if people stop being page-harassers. That'd be fucking nice.

    There's a really fucked up mentality out there that goes roughly like this: "I am interested in you, therefore you are obligated to return that interest in me." It is not often a conscious mindset, but it is one hell of a pervasive one.

    I remember a long argument in the way-way-wayback days on WORA (or possible SWOFA? I don't recall and it doesn't actually matter which) that went roughly like this:

    "I played all the romance stuff the girl likes, so she needs to make with the TS."

    People actually, in all seriousness, argued both sides of this as though there was an argument to be had on that issue. Really. No matter how stupid, it is very telling re: how prevalent this kind of mindset is that there was even an argument about this at all.



  • How about this: Recently a female player's PC met a male's one time on the grid. They didn't know each other OOC beforehand and the scene was completely neutral. Within a couple of days that person was sending them pages when she was playing with other people, pestering her with pages, etc. This was happening just a bit under the threshold of actionable harassment (possibly by design) but the player in question was perfectly capable of handling it on her own, setting limits and cutting that person off.

    Honestly? I would totally RP more male characters, if I could actually RP male characters. But I'm not male, so whenever I try they become obvious caricatures and it would defeat the point of playing a male character not to be noticed as a female anyway. Just so I could get some RP.

    Or I could play a lesbian, I suppose. But there is just way too much porn out there. Tangent: If in sex or RP you aren't willing to do a thing, don't assume I will want to do a thing because you ask me. Guys who want a threesome with two girls because it would be cool damn well better be willing to have a threesome with two guys or gtfo. And that's why playing gay and female doesn't work because those guys who page because you are female probably assume all girls secretly love the cock anyway.

    But as to what to do about it? Women (But anyone really) needs to feel comfortable to be able to say no. Once you've said no and it continues, take it to staff. I'm not saying someone has to be banned, but if it doesn't stop I'll remove myself from the situation.

    But as I said at the beginning, I'm not a fan of females who perpetuate the poor helpless female stereotype. I mean, sure, you be you, but it just makes the rest of us look bad and doesn't help anyone but yourself. Stop telling all guys it's okay to treat all women that way. That's what pisses me off. Just because it's okay for some, it's not okay for everyone. It's not jealousy or anything because I'm not as attractive as the girls who do streams in bikinis, and I'm certainly not telling people to be someone they aren't, but you have to be aware of the message you are putting out there.

    Sorry, getting ranty, obviously something I deal with a lot and am passionate about.

    TL;DR what do you do about it? If it bothers you, tell the person to stop whatever it is that bothers you. You don't have to explain why; if you aren't comfortable, you aren't comfortable. If they can't respect that, escalate.



  • @Ganymede said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    @Insomnia said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    Then I just decided to have fun with it. I started doing Let's Plays and Streaming because I talk to myself anyway, so why not record it? I play what I want and try to ignore subs. Until I look at them and get bummed because I'm not getting them because I'm not actively trying to use my sexuality to get them.

    I just do not understand why any man watching women playing video games would come to the conclusion that they are trying to use their sexuality to "get them."

    I just don't.

    That's just the stupidest conclusion I can think of, honestly. I know it happens, but I don't know why. I just wonder at what point gamers ever thought that it was a reasonable conclusion.

    Them in this case was views / subscribers. Sorry if I wasn't too clear.

    But if I had to answer honestly, I would have to say when people started offering a mount for a mount. It's titillating and wish fulfilment and doesn't have the stigma of watching porn?


  • Politics

    @Insomnia said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    I would totally RP more male characters, if I could actually RP male characters. But I'm not male, so whenever I try they become obvious caricatures and it would defeat the point of playing a male character not to be noticed as a female anyway. Just so I could get some RP.

    I play male and female characters. In some way, they are all based off of another character from another source. Of my most successful PCs in recent history, the Shrike is an amalgam of Ciri (The Witcher III), Ellie (The Last of Us), and Daredevil, and Cai Maddox was an amalgam of Joel Miller (The Last of Us) and Logan. I'm not sure who got more action. Not sure if anyone's figured out my gender from what and how I play, but I like to think that I can slip into the personae easily.

    Or I could play a lesbian, I suppose. But there is just way too much porn out there. Tangent: If in sex or RP you aren't willing to do a thing, don't assume I will want to do a thing because you ask me. Guys who want a threesome with two girls because it would be cool damn well better be willing to have a threesome with two guys or gtfo. And that's why playing gay and female doesn't work because those guys who page because you are female probably assume all girls secretly love the cock anyway.

    Frankly, I tend to attract the female PCs, no matter who I play. I think the last male PC that tried to date one of my PCs was Count on The Reach, but that didn't go well (partially because he was feline and Clarice was a mouse).

    Bottom line: I don't know why, but I don't get harassed. I know it's out there.



  • @Ganymede This is because while not all women are totally into the dick, we can appreciate good balls. ;) You most assuredly have balls (said in the most complimentary of all possible ways), and that is very much awesome.


  • Pitcrew

    I definitely play more male characters than female character on MU*s (online tabletops it tends to be 50/50, RL tabletops it's almost exclusively female), and it's solely because I have significantly different experiences when I play male characters than when I have female characters, and one of those differences is the lower amount of page creepiness, /even when I play a flirtatious male character/. And, not in the harassment realm but still interesting, is that the opening page from people tends to be different when I'm playing male than female. When I play a female character, a majority of opening introduction pages tend to be somehow focused on the PC's appearance. Either "Oh, she's cute" or "Oh, wow, a female PC who isn't <insert various-degrees-of-derogatory here>". Whereas, with a male character, people's first pages tend to be more about what the character does or is, rather than how he looks (or doesn't look).


  • Admin

    Do you think code could help with our social issue here?

    Would voluntarily listing whether a character is single or not help dissuade this kind of behavior?


  • Politics

    @Insomnia said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    But if I had to answer honestly, I would have to say when people started offering a mount for a mount. It's titillating and wish fulfilment and doesn't have the stigma of watching porn?

    Look, maybe my experience is different than yours, but I'm pretty sure I prefer it from behind because men look fucking odd from up top. Women look very pretty when they are moaning, but men look as if it they are ready to vomit ectoplasm.



  • @Arkandel Sadly, I don't think so.

    Too many people will assume someone is still 'open for business', simply not give a shit, start talking smack about the partner/start trying to undercut the partner, or spout the 'you are not poly-friendly and therefore you are an inferior monogamous being, I will liberate and enlighten you with generous applications of my ginormous dong!' bag of bullshit.

    I do like how KD's wiki and some other L&L games mention relationship status. Something in prefs/etc. could mention this sort of thing as well.


  • Politics

    @surreality said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    Too many people will assume someone is still 'open for business', simply not give a shit, start talking smack about the partner/start trying to undercut the partner, or spout the 'you are not poly-friendly and therefore you are an inferior monogamous being, I will liberate and enlighten you with generous applications of my ginormous dong!' bag of bullshit.

    I don't really care about competing for partners, but is the latter part really a thing any more? Seriously?


  • Admin

    @surreality said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    I do like how KD's wiki and some other L&L games mention relationship status. Something in prefs/etc. could mention this sort of thing as well.

    That's pretty much what I had in mind. I don't know if it will do much but I'm trying to think of a way out of this really bizarre situation, where sex/relationship based games like Shang or KD seem to do way better on the harassment front than MU* where such things aren't thematically emphasized.



  • @Ganymede The last bit? Oh, how I wish it wasn't.

    But it is.

    It so is.

    Hilariously so.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Harassment in VR, there's something we can likely learn from this.:

    Do you think code could help with our social issue here?

    Would voluntarily listing whether a character is single or not help dissuade this kind of behavior?

    Not with the kind of subtle page creepiness that I was talking about, because my honest impression is that most people do not realize that they're doing it. You have some dedicated manipulators and harassers, but honestly, I've always picked those out real quick and cut them away. It's more of a social thing.

    And, I'll agree with @surreality that relationship status wouldn't help, either, because for a lot of people, being hot/charming/awesome enough to woo someone away from their partner is part of the appeal. And, also, because the default relationship in a MU* lasts until you meet the next hot boy/girl. so "currently in a relationship" is no indicator of actual availability.



  • @Pyrephox Yup, that. For some folks, 'taken' just means "not only will I get the object of my interest, I'll get one over on someone else on top and prove I'm superior!"



  • I think part of the problem with men who are a problem to women online is wish fulfilment, and they might not even know it. Because at the end of the day it's anonymous. There is also a novelty to it, which is silly. Woman as gamers make up something like 48% of gamers, and i'm not even thinking about mobile games. We're out there but we hide so it seems like there aren't any. But they aren't told any better. Or they are given examples of how it's okay.

    And then you have the guys like Rex who are just assholes and actively seek out women to treat badly, because they are assholes. It's separating the two that is the issue. And really that shouldn't be up to the woman who is being bothered to sort it out. The problem is that unfortunately the real problem is that women generally don't feel comfortable being able to say no which... I don't know how we can fix that. It's easy enough to say "well speak up." but yeah... my last relationship it would have been easier had he hit me. I could have easily left. Sometimes speaking up just doesn't feel like an option. or even worse doesn't even register as an option.

    How to fix it? Don't be a dick. Everything would be so much easier if everyone was just Excellent to each other.


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