Virtual Assault Becomes a Reality

With VR gaming reaching a larger and larger audience a very disturbing event has been made public. It concerns a case of sexual assault in virtual reality. In a blog posted on, the author Jordan Belamire reported of a sexual assault in cyberspace while playing a multiplayer game. In her blog post she describes that one of her co-players went to touch her inappropriately in the game after he became aware of her being a women, based on her voice. For a better description of the situation and what she felt I refer you to her blog post.

The whole event took place in a multiplayer version of the VR game QuiVR, which is more or less a first person shooter game.

Analyst Comment

Obviously this is a very bizarre case of sexual assault. There was no actual sexual assault happening, however the women in question definitely felt the intent and felt violated none the less. While most will believe that this is wrong behavior, the question of the legality of such actions is very different from the moral standard we adhere to. Lawmakers and courts will have to find a way of dealing with such situations.

Interestingly the author was very positive towards the VR gaming concept and felt it was a step up from normal games in terms of reality and immersion. In the end the immersion was so great that she felt the sexual assault as very close to real. This raises the question, “if someone plays such a game and has a heart attack as the consequence of actions from other people in the VR environment, who is to blame?” Well, there is the other player, the operator of the gaming platform and the designer of the game and the lawyers in the US will figure it out.

Going forward, VR will create a whole new set of acceptable behavior among users as the basis for its success. This incident is certainly not in the range of acceptable behavior. When we think how the smartphone enabled certain behaviors (driving while texting or divorce by texting) we should not be surprised that VR will face a similar situation. What is right or wrong will have to stand up to what is legal and what is not. (NH)