Panel – Forging the Cyberfeminist Multireality

Panel – Forging the Cyberfeminist Multireality


welcome to forging the cyber feminist
multi reality here at VR for change I’m the panels moderator Cecilia Don the
stasi oh I’m a senior reporter with Kotaku we’re here to talk about
aspirations for a future that all of our talented and accomplished panelists here
are forging in engines like unity in research labs and in boardrooms and that
future is not one where everybody in their grandmother is donning an oculus
forever plugged into some escapist multiverse it’s a future where social
engagement and specifically around feminist issues is the norm and it’s a
future that in ways we’ll discuss virtual reality might help empower will
also discuss potential obstacles to this vision like anonymous harassment in
social vr the wealth of male gazey VR experiences and the problem of selling a
commodity with the promise of social change each panelist here is working in
the field of VR and their feminist contributions to the field may be overt
in the form of eye-opening content inspired by issues women face or covert
by simply existing and thriving in such a male-dominated environment so without
further delay I’m excited to introduce Sofia Dominguez the CEO and co-founder
of SVR F is surf surf the first search and discovery engine for VR content she
also founded all things VR a weekly newsletter that highlights virtual
reality news and content previously Sophia was the entrepreneur in residence
at Rothenberg ventures and was also the first person to travel the world with
Google glass and document how people reacted to seeing and experiencing it
for the first time that’s really fun yeah Clorama Dorvilias fellow both
as a UX researcher at Code for America and a VR creator oculus launch pad
well Rama discovered VR in the summer of 2015 while researching technology to
develop empathy to combat social bias for her MA thesis in London she realized
VR as potential to shape cognitive behavior and self taught with unity3d to
develop prototype demos for the oculus dk2 since 2016 she’s been bouncing her
love for VR and UX for social impact by freelancing in VR development Alice lay George a principal at Robinson Robinson Elmen
(RRE) ventures in New York who helps the firm explore emerging technologies
such as the blockchain machine learning and computer vision robotics VR and AR
and new space she led the firm’s investments in the wave VR and 8i where
she is a board absorber Alice is previously a Brookings Institute fellow
worked in investment at Bridgewater associates and began her career at The
Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong so hark fear a new york-based media artist
working in experimental video interactive art and VR this year she
released testimony an interactive documentary for virtual reality that
shares the stories of five survivors of sexual assault and their journey to
healing her artistic practice employs nonlinear narratives and traditional
cinematic techniques and features expanded interactivity Kaffir has shown
her work internationally in galleries festivals and conferences and has been
reviewed in major publications so I’ll get started I promise no more reading of
anything and I invite the panelists to jump in and respond to each other if
something strikes you if you had a similar experience to another person or
a drastically contrasting experience great let’s start with Behrami that’s
okay you have a phenomenal resume and civic
engagement and have described yourself as a humanitarian so I’m curious what
drew you to the field of VR which is often marketed as entertainment yeah so
when I was undertaking my master’s in interaction design I thought it was I
had started doing a career transition from doing saving saving engagement work
working in the public sector to like realizing okay there’s like this gap of
making an impact in in civic engagement or in the so in the public sector field
with that I thought technology could help fill but it was being underutilized
so I decided to transition into tech I started learning to code and looked at
masters interaction design that will I thought it was going to be like how to
make better websites because I felt like websites or building communities online
can help to build communities in the neighborhood to help increase activism
or engagement in general so I actually took that masters by mistake I thought
it was like how to make better websites but it was all like super physical
computing how to experiment with new technologies to solve world problems
which was like a really great was the thing yeah so but interestingly enough
so I had done this in London and I was only the only woman of color and in my
course and I noticed I was getting receiving microaggressions from whenever
from our technical assistance for the class and they were constantly saying
things to me that were almost as if like made me feel like I wasn’t really that I
didn’t really get in there for merit I was there just for numbers and we’re
constantly like it just I felt like I was being underestimated on a regular
basis and and sometimes the comment that they would make we’re super over like
it’s gonna be too complicated for you but like and I would get ignored and I
was like what is happening you’re like I was like happy like this Missile Crisis
I was like I might trigger like like I never I’m known to be an overachiever
especially being from Silicon Valley like that’s just in my blood to like
like okay but we have a problem let’s solve it so when I was getting that type
of response I was like kind of trying to figure out what it was our thesis was
solve a world problem with using technology it was that broad and I was
like okay well this is clearly a problem that I started researching it and I
learned I discovered their terms implicit bias unconscious bias
microaggressions and I was like oh my gosh it’s like speaking to me in terms
of what I was going through doing my my masters so I was looking for like okay
well what’s the solution to that and I saw that there was a lot of articles
written around empathy and this is a 2015 so I think Ellen pals case in
Silicon Valley just started getting big so though a lot of those words were
starting to get thrown around I was all the way in London and reading those
articles and I was doing this initial research I was like okay I think this
could be solved if my and I was thinking of my um the technical assistance
for our course and the professor this if I start professors if they can empathize
with me like and not see me other but see me as the rest like like
the rest of the peers and see something in me that they can resonate with that
they can believe in my potential and my capability
instead of writing me off immediately based on physical visible appearances
which became apparent was the case then maybe I can begin to address it so I was
looking at technology that could help to develop empathy land it on TV TED talks
I was Chris milks TED talk on VR and empathy which had just been released
like a month before that and I was like huh this is it virtual reality we
happened to have our thesis course had like a DK2 sitting there collecting
this nobody had touched it nobody you wanted to like it was just kind of a
thing I was like I’m just gonna try out and see how far I can get but I feel
like this is a potential technological tool or a piece of technology that can
help develop empathy I want to explore how we can use empathy strategically to
target experience to VR if you had never had a VR experience that would lead you
to believe personally and viscerally that VR could inspire I started
exploring when prototyping and building for it learning how to build for it
without having ever tried before Wow yeah just because I believed it I think
the idea of being immersed in it and being embodiment and there was some
research University of Barcelona I had done some research in using VR suits
where people can see themselves it was I think it was a group of like 30 white
woman in Barcelona I think those some of them part of the studies took the
implicit bias test on from that Harvard created and then put on the body so you
and then saw themselves as a black woman in this space yeah I’m saw people of
different other races passing by them in this VR space then took off like it was
like about five minutes then went into the Bliss and biases and they saw a
significant drop in the biases that that they I guess had shown yeah I’ve seen it
I’ve seen a lot of studies like that yeah
I’m curious whether anybody else on the panel had a specific experience or even
read a study that led them to believe that VR could be a good medium to help
inspire empathy women’s or issues women face I mean for
me with creating testimony I mean the main reason that I wanted to create this
project in VR was a I see VR is like a commitment so you put the headset on and
you’re committed to watching the materials so for me it was a way to
confront people with testimonies of sexual assault survivors so people
aren’t like locked into the situation and can really like listen face-to-face
I mean they can take as much as they want from the experience but even if
they watch like two minutes from someone’s experience and gain this
empathy so I mean so what I’m gathering from you is that like Kurama this was
something that you wanted to build for yourself but that you hadn’t necessarily
seen in the world yet yeah I mean it was basically a custom-made application that
I wanted to design for storytelling for this topic yeah
did you have an intended audience in mind when you were trying to enact this
vision well I mean it’s made for or actually why don’t you describe
testimony a little bit before we talk about its audience
okay so testimony is an interactive web documentary first iteration is in gear
VR and we’re developing web PR platform that will launch in September the gear
VR version shares testimonies of five sexual assault survivors four women and
one men and it’s constructed in an interactive fashion so people can choose
their own subjects and in a way I didn’t want to lock anyone into a linear
experience so you can choose what you want to watch and have a moment to
breathe if something is becoming too emotional or sensitive and the project
premiere at Tribeca and gained a lot of attention and we’re planning to start a
tour in September and campuses to use it as an educational tool and the web
platform will have an option for people to upload their own testimonies whether
they’re video audio and texts so it will be is the web VR experience and also as
a desktop experience so what I’m curious about is that I tried testimony last
week and it was it was wonderful it was really powerful I was
because you’re talking about the fact that you can’t look away when you’re
experiencing this in VR but you’re also talking about the breaks that you can
take between hearing women’s hearing about these women’s traumas can you
explain why you think VR was the optimal medium to hear about survivors
experiences with assault so my main thought when consuming the project was
that with VR I mean putting the headset on is a commitment to watch something
and I don’t think anyone would pop a Netflix queue and watch like a sexual
assault documentary on a weekend but so yeah I mean once you’re committed to
experience you’ll watch some of it but structuring it as an interactive way I
didn’t want to do it in 360 because people are still locked to it in your
experience so each person is asked five questions so there was like little you
can imagine like fragments floating around you and with the gaze control
it’s a very simple and intuitive navigation so as you gaze at someone
they come closer to you and when you move your head away they will float
backwards so it’s a very intuitive way to listen so anyways like a listening
mechanism for VR so you’re saying that this the actual putting on this hardware
is the commitment something I’m curious about and I and I’d like to ask alysus
actually is that it’s hard to get people to put on the hardware when they don’t
have access to it and and you’ve made it your job to talk about talking
optimistic terms about the mainstream adoption of VR I’m curious how do you
how would you pitch VR to somebody who’s never tried it and how do you especially
pitch VR experiences that are helping people understand women’s issues yeah I
mean it’s it’s definitely tough when you when you look at the numbers and
especially there have been studies of women in particular and I think Arntzen
young put out one that they surveyed women and said would you be willing or
interested in trying VR and 65 percent said I saw that study – no way they
don’t even want to try it so like I think that’s the first barrier is being
open-minded I think there’s this concept that it’s sort of oh it’s geeky it’s
from its four guys and so I’m not a geek I don’t want to strap something to my
face there says I want to get sweaty and be stuck but you know what they’ve also
found is that if there’s a specific use case women tend to be more interested so
I think where they’ve tested would you be willing to do sort of VR for
something like Fitness yeah right then then then women are more willing to try
it when there’s something specific and it’s not it’s not sort of aimless but no
I think it’s you know the headset numbers distribution is still you know
in the low millions and so we’ve got to work up and and as it’s this sort of fly
we love the more headsets you have the more content you have the more headsets
you have and so it’s where do you trigger that chicken-and-egg and so from
the investment perspective you know we need great content out there and so
that’s that’s a large part of I think getting the flywheel going and having
great women creating is a big part of it because I don’t want to just try
first-person shooters I love games but first-person shooters are not for me and
I definitely don’t want to do them in VR I have a very low threshold for
horror and I don’t like pull out specific experiences but I’m done in VR
but okay I did do one where like I’m terrified of dinosaurs ever since
Jurassic Park you like trapped on an island with with velociraptors and t-rex
is attacking you and you basically just have a hatchet or I was bad at switching
the weapons and really couldn’t find the machine gun in time like velociraptors
are okay there may be women that love that but for me but you know it’s like
and I never had good intentions and creating these things but you know
another example from that and I’m just rounding but you have two choices of a
body at the beginning man or woman so okay I’ll switch I’ll switch on them you
know woman’s body and load up on my weapons and I look down and I had like
this massive cleavage because it’s not a lot of the time especially in MMOs like
World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy 14 a lot of the time it’s
it’s people who identify as male who are playing female body avatars because they
you know they they figure like oh I’m gonna be looking at someone’s butt the
whole time yeah I’d rather be a little sexy right so I don’t know I was like
well I’m a woman looking at a different woman’s body if I was a man how would I anyway so kind of long-winded you know
answer to your question but ya know I think that getting women and now is so
important one of the things that we were talking about before the panel started
was that there were several kind of VR experiences intended to generate empathy
for women’s issues that are not yet listed on any sort of oculus website not
on Steam you can’t download them there’s one about the experience of getting cat
call there’s one about the experience of getting date-raped and I’m curious how
are you working to help make these VR experiences not only accessible but
appealing yes ascending up of what you guys are talking about before so Cerf is
search engine for immersive content and I come from I found it all things VR
which is one of the longest-running virtual reality newsletters and so the
appeal of all things VR was we’re trying to break down or educate people about
the virtual reality and augmented reality industry and appeals to people
who aren’t already in the industry and give them further insight into like
what’s happening what’s important and through this process of running the
newsletter for about a year started to realize that like finding content it was
really really difficult and really really strenuous some people like I was
getting burnt out from the process because there was a content section and
so we were like okay there’s something here we can make it easier for people to
find good content like what is the definition of good content and so we
started building surf and like the whole thesis behind that is that one of the
biggest problems that a lot of people don’t have headsets and so we were like
making it accessible and so everything that you could view you can view it on
the web and we also we also have a Chrome extension and then also an
Android app and the idea is that like we can scale as industry scales and kind of
get more people access to this stuff to make it more approachable so like I
actually didn’t know about those female content pieces I mean maybe it’s in the
database I will but I’d like I would love for people to
email us like hey like this just this just came out can you index it or
something like that for us to be aware and like we can make collections about
this thing kind of bring like more visibility to these experiences and make
that a huge part of what our platform is to make it more accessible so that
people when they do get a headset they’re like oh I know exactly how to
find content so I’m curious to what extent you’ll be doing any curation
because there are several VR experiences that one might describe as kind of
antagonistic to feminist goals there are a lot of games and experiences that are
being put out you know in Japan like summer lesson there’s this like young
woman fawning over you her teacher you know and it’s it’s very kind of male
gaze II there’s a lot of problematic VR porn is this are you going to be listing
these things as well so we don’t do games that’s just one area just because
like steam and oculus are definitely optimized for that whereas we are not
but that’s something that we’ve actively talked about we’re not promoting any of
that stuff right now like that actually gets a bad rating a lot of the cattery
categorizers are actually women so we have machines that tell us what bad
content is but then we have humans look at and I mean there’s a whole wide range
of stuff from like that resolution to jump cuts to speed and like other things
that we can train algorithms on but good content is very difficult you use
computers to do it and half of the categorize our team are female and they
tell me a lot of different things like this made me feel uncomfortable and I’m
like okay then that should get a lower rating and so we’ve actively talked
about that stuff haha so it’s all about especially for VR and they are like how
do you feel and a headset like does it make someone uncomfortable and it makes
someone uncomfortable then like that doesn’t deserve to be rated as good yeah
yeah I’m curious what experiences you’ve had not only as somebody who is a woman
working in the VR field as someone who curates maybe overtly or covertly
content mm-hmm so what is the question is that I guess the question is to what
extent have you and your opinions sort of influenced your environment as
someone who works in VR I think I mean I I think when I’m making VRI you have to
be very intentional and the elements that you incorporate you want it to I
always consider okay what is the subtle messaging that’s being received here
because it has a real impact on our cognition cognition and our brain is
taking that input and reading it as this is real and adding that to the pattern
library unconsciously so that then they act on in the real world so I think it’s
more like when I’m creating I’m always mindfully creating I’m thinking about
the social impacts of the characters putting in when I’m if I’m gonna do an
embodiment what body body should I use should I give an option like and
considering it and especially from a UX standpoint you kind of always want to
consider the users experience to be I mean I guess I have like a higher like
what is the ideal world for anybody to come into if social construct didn’t put
anyone at a disadvantage or doesn’t privilege or whatever what can what what
would that world look like and what can I create that kind of strives that that
takes us there and then at the same time mindful you might proactively help to
encourage a more positive or conscious social perceptions or and that they can
take out with them into the real world yeah does one of the challenges from
what I’ve heard from VR developers is that sometimes the tools itself that you
can use to make VR programs are male coded I heard that for a while unity and
please fact check me on this that unity only had the option to have kind of
hairy large hands when you look down in VR are there any sort of impediments
like that you face designing yeah I mean well so far I mean I’ve just started
working with the ouvea the OVR avatars oculus released like which is like green
like see-through hands which are amazing and I feel like those kind of work
really well but yeah I mean it’s always just concerning when I enter a game and
the gate the the default and that’s that’s a thing it’s when I see the
default character and I have to even if I even if they allow for modification
just that messaging of your the default there’s some games where
yeah there’s like this one robot one where it cuts off your head and you
you’re entering you’re in this body a female body and on the bed and he’s like
I forget what the name of it but he’s like kind of like telling you like he
basically loves humans he loves them so much that he’s gonna fix them because he
knows that they have problems and he’s like about to chopper me it’s like this
like suspense thing and you see your body and I was like oh this is not my
skin color like and it’s like as much as it’s real but then I’ve learned to see
past that and that’s just something as growing up being a minority you learn to
see yourself through other people’s like you went to overlook that but
unfortunately it does I don’t think it really works the opposite way like I
think if a white male were to put on a game and see themselves as a black woman
they might might be more of a shock that happens ya know I know but there was
there was a video game recently those released I can’t remember the name where
it actually randomized people’s race and gender and the outrage was incredible
yeah people were really angry yeah just like crazy too because like I
spent my whole life seeing myself as different people so I’ve learned to be
like okay all the physical stuff is is redundant it doesn’t really matter as
long it’s the spirit or like their personality like especially when you’re
watching movies like I’m a huge superhero geek so I see myself in the
main super here’s all the time I’m not really too worried about representation
but then I realized there’s a messaging that being happen that this type of
person when I go into the space is believing like I’m gonna be like
Superman in this game I used to be obsessed with spider-man so like like
and if I’m if I’m carrying those traits or if I believe in myself to be able to
do something that I feel like I mostly it’s a tribute to white males I’m looked
at in a certain way like who do you like what are you doing like this is not your
area like I get a backlash from that which I don’t feel like which is it’s
more of an external thing it’s just a social construct from society where we
believe that certain people are more capable based on physical parents that’s
fed to throw us into the idea that we consume about I’m curious about
capability so before I ask a question about that
show of hands how many of us would prefer to have a female avatar in the
social VR setting or even in an RPG we are I think it depends on the
experience okay one of the words used in this panels description is cyber
feminism which is a term we attribute to Donna Haraway and she argues that
technology will present so many opportunities for women to
self-actualize because of how fluid women can be when they are embodied in
technology vr is kind of described as the apotheosis of that so if we’re going
to talk about if we’re if we’re gonna talk about these incredible fantasies
that we might have what are each of your fantasies for how you could be in a VR
program who’s the person you would want to be most oh that’s another big
question and there’s there’s many ways answer that but I thought I’d just jump
on the on the Donna Haraway thing because it’s sort of central to this
panel and you know I think the the main thing there that she sort of gets up at
it’s like the classic Cartesian mind-body divide is which we’ve been
talking about and thinking about for so long maybe finally possible with VR
because we really can be the mental side we don’t have to be female in our brains
we can be whatever we want in a virtual space the issue with this is you know
and so one thing we had talked about earlier is like the Star Trek bridge
experience so I wanted to bring that up I’ve gone in it as a man as a woman and
had certain experiences as a woman that I didn’t have in there as a man so for a
lot of a lot of the time I’d probably rather choose a man right now especially
as relates to the capability question and they presume you’re really terrible
which you might be if you haven’t done the training but but I think that
allowing allowing for that like full full mind-body divide to happen is
really exciting the only thing that you just can’t get past is voice right now
so like even when I’m in a male body I speak as a woman and so you know a
couple minutes in they’re like oh okay know who you are so at a certain point I
think maybe a voice becomes a mask then you get that full freedom
I don’t omit the or whatever it might be but right now there’s still that final
limitation yeah I also be into the idea of like being an animal and just because
sometimes like I don’t want to be a woman or man like I would like to just
be I don’t like a cheetah or something and I think it would just be cool I can
in VR you can do anything and so like I played Star Trek on Alice’s account last
night and I look down and yeah I had larger breasts and I’m like then
normally and I was like this is kind of confusing cuz I know this isn’t my body
but I also don’t want to be a man and like why can’t I just be any like
couldn’t I just customize like whatever I want to be and didn’t have to be
either I think there’s something in that which obviously there’s social vr
platforms that exist today where you can be an animal and I wouldn’t say that
that would be like the normal of what people would want to be but I like that optionality i remember when i first tried all space and everyone was right and I
first I was like that’s so weird like you can’t customize your avatar you’re
just a robot but it kind of made everyone the same and that wasn’t a nice
in a way lady talk yeah yeah I mean I look back and I’m like I kind of miss
the like when everyone kind of looked the same and it was just like I buy your
conversation and there’s something to that
and then maybe it’s because like being a woman in VR like you can get harassed
and there’s like all of these things that make it more difficult to go into a
social VR that I’m like craving to be an animal or like mask my identity it’s
really hard to extract myself from the situation just because it’s like how I
feel in it right now but in the future as alice is saying maybe if the voice
could be masked or things like that we wouldn’t have to deal with that but then
are we just masking the problem and I really yeah yeah I mean either day and
ideally it shouldn’t matter what you look like what your voice sounds like
whatever there shouldn’t be physical this shouldn’t be like associations with
personality or capability or whatever it assigned to physical traits like that’s
absurd it’s not rational at all there is no basis in science or research that
shows if you have darker skin you can you’re more capable of doing XYZ that’s
not the case it’s all environmentally we’re at all a social
mental factors influence that not physical traits but until humanity wise
up to that I don’t know I think the social and obviously the social context
in societies are different from culture to culture like you might not see that
like I just actually just came from this over this weekend and to see like I saw
security guards where a woman were equal to men and security guards they were
wearing like lacy stockings and they were all required to lately stockings
but they’re still treated and respect like respected as equal security it was
like oh that’s so interesting to see like feminized security guards expected
to be feminine but still also holding that same power as the males which is
something that you would not see here like if you saw female security guards
of police officers with lacy stockings and sano in heels we’d immediately
immediately devalue them or devalue their authority like like that’s just
how like that’s just how our culture is engrained to think which is something we
need to get past person and right now fortunately VR will only highlight the
problems and until we figure out as a humans how we want to solve it VR will
only amplify that yeah yeah it’s funny in 1995 a sociologist
named Lisa Nakamura published this essay about how do you know lambda mu it’s
just like a text based RPG but inland people were spouting all this rhetoric
you know embodiment digitally will be you know the emancipation of everybody
there will be no more race there will be no more gender and she saw in this RPG
that so many men were trying to be these very sort of like kind of geisha
characters these subservient asian women and she was talking about how so long as
bias exists in real life it will exist in these spaces I’m curious so hard
because you you are bringing real-life bias into the space of VR but do you
have any sort of empowerment fantasies for women that you would like to explore
in the future with testimony or in general I mean in general and VR I mean
just to piggyback on this because I’m not a big gamer but
always wonder like why there is like the gender bias in a game like why is there
an avatar does it stem from like the fact that like toy stores will have like
the boys toys and the girls toys like what would happen if we’ll have a good
game of just everyone is a white blob it will be less intriguing to play this
game if we don’t have an avatar at all and everyone is the same
like it’s all of the most popular veep VR programs right now are basically
pretty gender neutral some burn all these puzzle games I think to your point
I think like the the thing that people forget and it’s it’s it’s easy for us to
talk on all these topics but the reality is VR mimics the real world right and so
that just the technology may change the media may change so but our fundamental
like human behavior we’re governed by the same human behavior and it may be
different culture to culture but that’s just going to be as you say maybe
amplified in VR so for me it’s not about you know I don’t think we’re gonna
remove human nature from the virtual world it’s more about what’s the
proportionate control that like the trolls or the outliers will have and you
know when we look at the internet and we think about like the comments section on
the Internet like we can think about that and how that may play out in the
virtual environment like what wait will that have in the virtual environment that to me is
like the crux of it because you know from you know in-person to phone lines
to faxes to internet it’s always been human behavior and VR’s what’s the next
step but it’s really more about you know you’re you’re going to find I think like
you can go to there’ll be websites where the comments section are really uncivil
right if you go to down there belly of the internet or you go to the 4chan
whatever there’s a certain type of speech going on there and I think it’s
good to have free speech I think the more freedom we have the better we need
contrarian thinking and if you go to the FT comment section it’s gonna be like a
little more civil I think that’s probably going to be the same thing in
VR you’ll find there’s social spaces that are more welcoming and others that
are not but it’s just about the proportion I think it’s something we
were talking about earlier was like is there a mute button in social or like
should also should be our platforms have a mute button so if someone’s like
really annoying you or something like that
them and maybe the avatar disappears or like what does that feel like like I
know some companies I forget which have a personal space bubble so like if
somebody gets too close then the person disappears and therefore archery game
quiver whoever we are yeah and I think that was developed because yes the woman
from quiver was sexually harassed and what they realized was that they needed
this leg like base block essentially so then that way somebody couldn’t like run
into you and make you feel very very awkward or like just harassed
essentially and I think like to amplify on that like that’s gonna be so
necessary for VR and I know that that’s not a requirement for social VR
platforms that really should be yeah the the thing that I liked especially about
that tactic where they use a bubble where like if you’re about to be
harasser you could see that you can use that bubble to like send them off into
space and you can’t hear them and they can’t see you like that was designed
thinking like okay in the real world we have limitations humans limitations
someone’s harassing me I can’t push them I can’t whatever what could we do VR
there are no there are no limitations you could do anything
so they design that in mind with like thinking if they if you could do
anything what could you do and that still empowers the victim whatever at
the same time amplifies their ability to defend themselves so that was born from
that type of thinking of like in this world where there are no limitations
what is the ideal way someone can handle that situation and I think yeah that’s a
or like on reddit the moderators and like you can ban somebody from the
subreddit and like I think that’s interesting when you think about in
terms of like VR spaces like could somebody be banned for like improperly
treating someone and like does that have a negative effect on an overall score or
something like that and I haven’t seen any of those situations occur in a
social VR experience but I’m sure that the people building these are
looking into it because reports that harassment are definitely like
definitely happen yeah that’s a good way to think of it like what if we could
control that in any way shape or form a deck flashed VR will give us that what
is the way that we would want to shield ourselves from that or to make it stop
happening that’s the person to be penalized yeah
to you I mean so they’re doing it to other people you don’t want that to
happen mm-hmm yeah it’s interesting just we’re talking right now about escapist
experiences that aren’t aren’t really escapist at all and I asked you guys
about empowerment fantasies and we turned the conversation toward kind of
harassment and things like that in ways VR can be male coated so it was the
solution to kind of helping to forge a feminist future through VR more viable
through women actually working in VR and having these jobs and just showing up
and I think going off of what I’m most saying earlier like she’s thinking about
this stuff and she works and Beyond is designing for VR experiences so we need
more hers out there because if a man is just designing experience maybe he’s not
like a man or somebody who’s not a minority like it’s not thinking about
these things and so the more diverse your team is the more people you inputs
you have about like how should this experience feel because we are so
feeling based that you need to have all these different opinions and to make
sure that like what you’re doing is necessarily correct but it is an
evolution of what’s already been started and and and will make people feel
comfortable and the burden should be on men to also help correct it so they
should do the research I had to research myself and and as women and as people
code we’re all still humans as well we all have our own flaws ways of thinking
we internalize biases as well and can be the worst in actors of this type of
harassment sometimes to each other so research at the end of the day both men
and female about it would be beneficial in terms of if you’re going to create an
experience see what the case studies are see what type of elements are out there
that help to trigger certain biases or deactivate some some of that like learn
about the different effects that your VR experiences can have that’s a really
vital component component to build an experience that will affect people
cognitively more directly than probably TV and anything so yeah and VR look
strictly tighter like Silicon Valley Hollywood in gaming that are all like
very male centric so the question is like how can like women form kind of
like enclosures within that to empower themselves within like every like even
work should have like a women’s group meeting
and trying to kind of like solidify something even the women in the vr group
which is like super active has 20% mailing them so I mean I can see you
think that’s a bad thing or a good thing I think yes it will be much more
comfortable to just have like a women organized centers or groups that kind of
like feel free to discuss every workplace like upload the VR or any
other place that had problems with and should have like women meetups once a
month once a week for women to just discuss and like move things forward and
empower because when it’s only women there’s more empowerment I would add to
that too we should also create spaces where separately from the woman
environment where men can come in and be immersed in a more woman dominant
atmosphere the big Lord knows they could use more of that whereas that’s
something we’re subjected to on a regular basis we were constantly
male-dominated and I think that can balance out too and at the end of the
day also is that I mean there’s no better empathy development tool than
real life right yes we can create that yeah we are just supposed to supplement
so or technology’s just as supposed to supplement so creating spaces where
women could be dominated or have own the space and men are invited to like
participate and learn and share and get a better understanding also would be
important to have so while it’s great that yeah woman have you always been
amazing for me to as a female I feel like I can put things out there without
having to worry about yeah but yeah and then having a co-ed like knowing that
you know we’re here to this is as a community altogether where women like
let us have the floor a bit but you guys are invited to share and partake in our
discussions it’s also I think it was just as important in the women in VR
group so when upload was sued for sexual harassment and then people were posting
out about it in the group weren’t the other like male people commenting like
oh there’s no way that like the founders would do that and like it was it was
supposed to be a community that was like supporting women and
you’re like inside of the community that’s supposed to be supporting women
then a woman who’s suing the founders for sexual harassment or is like being
attacked yeah I thought that that was interesting
um I mean I actually I don’t have facebook so I can’t participate in the
community but I just remember like people are sending me screenshots of
like I can’t believe this is happening right now in the group this is just like really awkward and I think that speaks to like the bigger problem of
like even though we are creating these groups are still like a societal problem
and like we’re still trying to figure out like if someone if a woman is suing
somebody protectable harassment like not attacking the woman is like the first
step like as a vr community who’s like everyone always talks about we need to
get more women into VR and then this happens and it’s like then the first
thing that people do is attack the woman who’s suing protection harassment it was
just like okay be yes we’ve come a long way and like I’m really happy to be in
the VR community but there’s still a lot of issues here and I don’t necessarily
know like what to do to address those problems like people who wrote a lot of
blog post about it and then they started like saying like don’t attack her this
is a problem but again this is like translating into VR which then if
somebody is sexually harassed inside a VR than like who does the woman go to
it’s like someone real life is saying hey I was sexually harassed and she’s
getting back comments mm-hmm so it’s like it’s a strange you know yeah I
think it’s part of the obviously we’ve seen been seeing all the headlines about
Silicon Valley and it’s part of a bigger shift but as an investor I think like
there’s this ripples going through the investor community right now around
harassment so it can valley and we’re seeing different VC funds get shut down
and you know I think there’s a few more coming that are currently being
investigated and I think it who knows you know if it’s if it’s just a sort of
you that take the fall or if it will actually trickle out but I hope that
that will have repercussions down to the companies as well you know
responsibilities about how your CEOs and senior management
are behaving and I think investors have a responsibility to know as well as
users but so I’m hoping that something positive will come from it so with five
minutes left I’m curious about now that we’ve discussed how actual escapist
experiences developing for VR and the culture on VR can be influenced by
misogyny we face in real life almost no-holds-barred I’m curious
let’s end the conference on the note of what are ways to help forge this cyber
feminist future through developing for VR or working in VR I mean through this
I just had this idea so maybe it’s a really bad one be it bear with me
but something that I I try to experience a lot of different social VR and I’ve
never been in a social VR experience I was like specifically women
and like we all talked about this and I be good tests amongst each other like
hey that feelin maybe like men could join as well but it’s just about hey
let’s like do a user session like in different platforms of like what feels
good and what doesn’t feel good and like we can give that information back to the
creators and like make it more of a topic because like the time only times
that we really hear about it is like oh I was harassed or like this like some of
this bad thing happened to me but like what can we do as a community to like
prevent those things from happening and I like I’ve never been a part of a
social vr women group but maybe that’s an idea or yeah I will suggest that so
one of just to pump one of my companies that was up there earlier The Wave VR
it’s an awesome experience they have a party every Wednesday I describe it very
shorthand because we only got three minutes as a virtual Burning Man it’s a
lot more than that it’s a it’s a performance platform but I often am one
of the only women in there it’s hard to tell because everyone’s like robots or cats but
generally and I think that’s something I will suggest to them I think that it
would be worth having like because they can actually run simultaneous like
instantiation of parties next to each other where you’re not you’re in
different groups and you don’t know who the other live groups are in power
so this is something I think we could try and we could also start raiding
games to in terms of comfort just like how you were saying for what you guys do
it I think that’s like a really great way to positively encourage and reward
games that make it comfortable for anybody to play and not have to worry
about unwanted actions behavior so like like it’s like my like I’d love
first-person shooter games and multi player and dead unburied is one of the
ones that I really like and I’m usually also one of the only females but I’ve
never ever felt uncomfortable and never felt worried about being uncomfortable
whereas other games like like I was saying to you guys I really like a lone echo or
Echo Arena I don’t know anyone play that but like that one you like on a
conscious level you feel like you’re not safe like you feel like you can be
subjected to unwanted event like actions really immediately and that makes you
uncomfortable while you’re playing so having like a way to know that before
enter the game like this game is perfect like it’s been really like really
comfortable for I think maybe it could be a notifications I’m mostly on Steam
can you are you just human avatar is an option to be another avatar for me that
would be like a good signal before I went in could I be another avatar that’s
not a body I think that would almost solve a lot or a genderless buddy I mean
yeah there should be more well the the intentional design decisions and
everything sort of guidelines of like have an open but it was also to going
through a point like that sound like that you can have a genderless body but
if they can hear you and multi player that is in throughout your communicating
they know your giveaway filtered voice I mean yes everything is doable but the
question is like the design intentions that you implement yeah when you design
a game great well thank you all so much for coming and a round of applause for
our phenomenal panelists

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