On October 20 this year, Jordan Belamire posted an article on the Medium website detailing a recent experience she had playing the HTC Vive game QuiVr. In the game, she was 'virtually' groped and harassed by another player, moments after speaking in game - her voice identified her character as female, otherwise there would've been no way to know.
In her article, Jordan related that while she was not touched physically, she related that the groping felt just as real, and it started a heated conversation online as to the various factors around sexual harassment and sexual assault in the virtual space - can it be called sexual harassment if its virtual? What are the legal ramifications? Can someone be charged?
These are complicated concepts and questions and we needed some help to go through them, so we went to some of friends who are much smarter about these things: Avri Spilka, psycho-sexual consultant & educator and Pippa Tshabalala, our go to gaming expert, sat down with us to help us come to terms with what sexual harassment means, how this relates to virtual worlds, and how we might fix this in the future.
A note: we go to some pretty deep and dark places, and some people who may have had experiences with topics such as sexual harassment, assault and rape need to be aware of this.