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How to Discourage Trolling in Social VR Experiences

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Google’s Daydream Labs is experimenting with social interactions in VR that could have you high-fiving and playing poker with dogs.

Just how the internet today always seems to be filled with trolls, we can almost guarantee bad behavior will also make its way into social VR experiences in the near future. That’s why Google VR is sharing some of their latest social VR experiments, hoping to show how developers can help to create more positive and welcoming environments for us all.

Different from web trolls who may deliberately offend and upset others with written word, virtual trolls could take advantage of room-scale VR and get extremely close to others, leading to uncomfortable violations of one’s personal space.

One experiment Daydream Labs is playing with to prevent people from invading other’s personal space is to discourage negative social behavior before it even starts. In one demo, the team shows what happens if a player, in this case poker playing dogs, leaves the table by desaturating the environment they see as well as have their avatar disappear from the other player’s view. Although a simple approach, the Daydream Labs team has found that “it’s enough to prevent a player from approaching their opponents to steal chips or invade personal space,” Robbie Tilton, UX Designer at Google VR said on their blog.

There are also simple things that can be implemented to reward positive behavior in social VR experiences as well. And it can be as simple as a high-five sound effect and visual signal.

The team showed how by just adding a fireworks animation and audio signal of a loud slapping sound when two users high-five or fist bump at high speeds, can nudge social interactions in a more positive direction. Meanwhile, if you tried to do something more aggressive, like punching an avatar’s body, nothing would happen.

Daydream Labs is a way for the Google VR team to explore different applications and interactions for virtual reality, pairing engineers with designers to rapidly prototype concepts. The team has already shared some insightful experiments with the community, including multiplayer collaboration, typing on a keyboard and 3D animation all within VR. So far they have stuck to their promise of sharing what they’ve learned monthly and we can’t wait to see what they’ll share next.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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