Being social in VR was always going to be a tricky one. Unlike, say, online forums where there's a direct set of community rules, you're pretty much at your leisure to behave how you will.
This is something Google has recognised in its experimentation with Daydream Labs. In VR, you’re able to literally walk up to and ‘touch’ people or make their experience potentially uncomfortable, so Google’s looked at ways of encouraging positive behaviour.
In a new blog post which includes three video examples of experiments they’ve been carrying out, Google outlined what methods they’ve been looking at to nudge people toward behaving in a good way.
First up was an HTC Vive experiment, where two people in VR tried on various sunglasses and hats. As there was no limits to where you could wear the items, one player had another place the hat over his eyes, and they couldn’t get it off so were forced to end the VR experience.
Potential scenarios like this one are the reason for the behaviour trials, to avoid instances of trolling.
“If we can anticipate the actions of others, then we may be able to discourage negative social behaviour before it starts. For example, by designing personal space around each user, you can prevent other people from invading that personal space,” wrote Robbie Tilton, Google VR UX designer.
As a result, Google tried some new methods out in a VR experience of poker-playing dogs. When a player tried to leave their seat and say, steal another player’s poker chips, the environment around them faded out to grey and the player was shown a ‘personal space bubble’ to return to.
In addition, it’s looking at what incentives it can offer players to encourage positive actions – such as high fives. Google played around with having ‘snapping’ firework-style sounds happen whenever a player performed a positive move, such as bumping fists.
When a player engaged in bad behaviour however, such as punching another player, the action was ignored.
It’s clear that social interactions in VR have yet to be fully ironed out, but there’s no doubt Google’s Daydream experiments will add to this.
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