Sansar Pick of the Day: Value in the Virtual at ArkDes

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A real-world art exhibition in Stockholm, Sweden has a virtual counterpart in Sansar. The Architect’s Newspaper reports:

…Value in the Virtual, an exhibit by London-based Space Popular, blossoms with a polychrome array of signs, patterns, and symbols. The show has just opened at Sweden’s national center for architecture and design, ArkDes, under its new director Kieran Long. A new feature of the museum is a smaller gallery space—Boxen, a steel box designed by local practice Dehlin Brattgård—inside one of the two main exhibition halls. It is intended for fast-paced architecture shows curated by former ArchDaily editor James Taylor-Foster, and Value in the Virtual is the first display of work by a contemporary design practice in the new setup.

Entering the exhibition space, you are invited to take your shoes off (to experience the printed carpets on the floors), and once inside, to put on a pair of virtual reality goggles. They are a window into Voxen, a parallel version of the same gallery space produced for Sansar, a social virtual reality platform. During the press preview, an online visitor had already found his way there for a peek. The avatar, dressed in a black bodysuit and a Daft Punk motorcycle helmet, showed up out of nowhere, mumbled a distorted “nice to meet you,” and soon disappeared.

In this realm, you get 3-D views of some of Space Popular’s scenarios: one is a version of Stockholm where public art is updated by the minute; in another the allegorical wall mosaics of the Nobel Prize venue are adjusted to tout recent scientific achievements; and in another a selective nightclub bouncer might actually let you in after all, if you upgrade to a nicer-looking “skin.”

The Sansar experience still seems to be under construction; there is a large empty area in the back. But there is already much to see and appreciate here.

The experience description in the Sansar Atlas reads as follows:

Welcome to the virtual experience of Space Popular’s exhibition at ArkDes in Stockholm.

The exhibition “Value in the Virtual” explores the challenges and possibilities for architecture, design and city planning as buildings and cities will soon get virtual layers when VR and AR devices are increasingly used in pubic.

Visitors can see the physical exhibition at in the gallery BOXEN at ArkDes in Stockholm between the 19h of September – 18th of November. Through the physical exhibition visitors can also visit the virtual exhibition through a headset available in the centre of the space creating the possibility for cross reality interaction.

ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.

Space Popular is based in London and led by Architects Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg.

Here’s a link to the Value in the Virtual at ArkDes experience.

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VRChat Institutes a New Safety and Trust System to Combat Griefers

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In response to high levels of trolling, griefing, and harassment, the VRChat platform is instituting an incredibly detailed Safety and Trust System:

The VRChat Trust and Safety system is a new extension of the currently-implemented VRChat Trust system. It is designed to keep users safe from nuisance users using things like screen-space shaders, loud sounds or microphones, visually noisy or malicious particle effects, and other methods that someone may use to detract from your experience in VRChat.

This system is designed to give control back to the user, allowing users to determine where, when, and how they see various avatar features that may be distracting or malicious if used improperly.

The Trust and Safety system is designed so that, even when left on default settings, the system will ensure that someone can’t attack you with malicious avatar features. Malicious users won’t have these features shown, so you can have a good experience in the metaverse.

Basically, every VRChat user is automatically assigned to one of six levels, based on their past behaviour (e.g. exploring, making friends, creating content):

  • Veteran User
  • Trusted User
  • Known User
  • User
  • New User
  • Visitor (the default rank for brand-new users)

Visitors will not be able to upload content to VRChat until they are promoted to the New User rank. In addition:

Additionally, there exists a special rank called “Nuisance”. These users have caused problems for others, and will have an indicator above their nameplate when your quick menu is open. Most of the time, these users’ avatars will be completely blocked. In a future release, users who are sliding toward the “Nuisance” rank will be notified.

Finally, there exists a “VRChat Team” rank, which is only usable by VRChat Team members. When a VRChat Team member has their “DEV” tag on, you’ll see this rank in the quick menu when you select them. If you have doubts that a user with a “DEV” tag is actually on the VRChat Team, just open your Quick Menu, select them, and check out their Trust Rank. If it doesn’t say “VRChat Team” under the avatar thumbnail, then that user is not a member of the VRChat Team, and is likely trying to confuse users. Feel free to take a screenshot and report them to the Moderation team!

For each level of user, you can set what aspects of their avatar will be visible/audible to you in an extremely detailed Safety System:

Safety” is a new menu tab that allows you to configure how users of each rank are treated in regards to how they display for you in VRChat. This affects many aspects of a user’s presence in VRChat:

  • Voice — Mutes or unmutes a user’s microphone (voice chat)
  • Avatar — Hides or shows a user’s avatar as well as all avatar features. When an avatar is hidden, it shows a “muted” avatar
  • Avatar Audio — Enables or disables sound effects from a user’s avatar (not their microphone)
  • Animations — Enables or disables custom animations on a user’s avatar
  • Shaders — When disabled, all shaders on a user’s avatar are reverted to Standard
  • Particles and Lights — Enables or disables particle systems on a user’s avatar, as well as any light sources. This will also block Line and Trail Renderer components.
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The New VRChat Safety System

There is much, much more information on the new Safety and Trust System in their blogpost. The team behind VRChat have obviously put a lot of time and energy into designing this system, and I can say that this is now the most comprehensive suite of tools to combat griefing, trolling, and harassment that I have seen in any social VR space or virtual world, and a model for other platforms to emulate.

After a huge surge in usage in the early part of this year (mainly due to the promotion of the platform by various well-known livestreamers), the number of simultaneous users in VRChat has stayed relatively steady at around 6,000:

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This makes VRChat the most popular of the newer social VR platforms. The new Safety and Trust system will go a long way towards improving users’ experiences in VRChat.

National Cyber Security Awareness Events in Sansar

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month. Maya, the Information Security Director for Linden Lab (the creators of Second Life and Sansar), invited me to meet with her in her new experience, a recreation of the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, India:

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She explained that this beautiful experience is the setting for a series of cyber security events taking place in Sansar, as part of National Cyber Security Awareness month.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (the organization behind National Cyber Security Awareness month), a non-profit founded in 2001, is a public-private partnership, working with the  U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), private sector sponsors (founding sponsors included Symantec, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and McAfee), and nonprofit collaborators to promote cybersecurity awareness for home users, small and medium-sized businesses, and primary and secondary education. For more information and tips on how you can improve your cybersecurity, please visit the Stop. Think. Connect. website.

The first event is on October 1st at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time/Sansar Time at The Taj experience, with a panel of speakers on cyber security. Everyone is welcome! Here is Maya’s tweet promoting the event.