Meta has made the decision to develop a set of conventions for users who participate in their Virtual Reality world, Sansar. The rules are designed to protect both content developers and Sansar users from personal attacks that may arise during social interactions in this new digital frontier. While these guidelines seem restrictive at face value, Meta argues that it is necessary for the developer community to adhere to these guidelines so that Sansar can continue its growth trajectory without damaging legal issues further down the road.
Who Meta Is And Why They Matter
Before we get started, let’s give you a quick summary of who Meta is and why they matter.
Meta is in the business of making augmented reality a commercial reality. They have developed a set of tools, similar to Microsoft HoloLens, which allows users to experience AR tech without glasses or headsets. Meta is not a VR company. They are an augmented reality company, but their tech lends itself well to the VR world.
Sansar is the proprietary platform that will allow users to “create, share and ultimately monetize” virtual reality experiences. It is an open-world platform, similar to Minecraft or SecondLife, where users create unique experiences for other users. Sansar recently released its creator beta to the public.
Meta was instrumental in the development of Sansar’s Personal Bubble feature. Meta has long held the position that user safety is paramount when dealing with social interactions in AR and VR spaces. In the early days of Meta, they adopted a clear physical delineation between user space and developer space. Over time, as users became more familiar with their technology, these lines started to blend together until eventually, VR headsets came into the picture.
When VR headsets were first introduced, Meta found that developers would create experiences with the assumption that users would be able to maintain a safe 4-foot zone of personal space while engaging in a scene. Users who did not want to participate with a user were forced to back away if they approached them wearing their headsets. Meta found this uncomfortable at best and restraining at worst.
To combat this issue, Meta developed an algorithm that would detect the user’s headset and hold them to a 4-foot personal space. Any time a user would get closer than four feet to another user, they would be met with an invisible “force field” which kept them at bay.
As VR headsets became more common, Meta found that this was not accurate enough. The algorithm was developed to take into account both hardware and software when determining how close a user was to another. It paid attention to the nose size, eye distance, height differences, and other factors in order to make an accurate determination of how much personal space each user had. This 4-foot bubble concept has now become one of the founding principles which brought us into the world of Sansar.
Sansar recently announced their Personal Bubble and Moderation tools, which allow users to set personal boundaries with other members of the world. This tool has raised concerns for some creators about how they will be able to implement or maintain certain types of content without running afoul of users’ new protected space.
They have decided to create a list of guidelines for both creators and users which will help guide the community as Sansar grows. Here are some highlights from these rules
- Personal Bubble enables you to maintain your personal space, ensuring that other avatars won’t get uncomfortably close to you. If they approach you, the boundaries will push them back. This is not an invitation to violate another avatar’s personal space.”
- If someone does violate your Personal Bubble and you really feel uncomfortable, immediately report it via the in-world tools or use the Report Abuse link on this page.”
- Don’t touch avatars with your controllers or take away their Personal Bubble, even if you are playing a game with them.”
- We will continue to implement additional tools that allow safe social experiences like built-in text chat and audio communication. We encourage you to explore these features today!”
Meta wants its users to feel safe when they first log into Sansar, and they want this to remain a priority as the platform continues to expand.