As VR creators, we hold the unique opportunity to imagine worlds unbound by reality's constraints. When approaching the responsibility of constructing new social environments—regardless of how surreal they may be—we should remind ourselves to treat virtual embodiment with the same respect given to physical bodies. It is our responsibility to design safer virtual spaces and interactions, laying the groundwork for a future of more inclusive, secure and empowering VR communities.
And finally, when applying this methodology of virtual body sovereignty, remember that this is a singular framework, and not an end-all solution. As social VR matures, more opportunities will arise to translate real-world ethics into virtual ethics. We should be actively and continuously looking to real-world interaction frameworks and appropriating relevant ethical structures into our VR creations. A safe future is in our virtual hands.
This article is based on our experience authoring "Designing Safe Spaces for Virtual Reality"—a Facebook Research publication and chapter in the published anthology, "Ethics in Design and Communication: New Critical Perspectives" (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, London)—and the Facebook Horizon and Oculus Venues comfort and safety features it helped inspire.
Morrison, Julia Frances (2017), "Pedagogies of Consent: What Consent teaches us about Contemporary American Sexual Politics," Honors Theses - All. 1736.
Friedman, Jaclyn, and Jessica Valenti, eds (2008), "Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape," Berkeley: Seal Press.