Why Women Don’t Like Social VR: Interview with Jessica Outlaw

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Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Enrico Speranza in my RyanSchultz.com Facebook group alerted me to a very interesting podcast put out by ResearchVR, who describe themselves as follows:

We are three Cognitive Scientists discussing Virtual Reality and Cognitive Research, Industry News, and Design Implications! We actively research different aspects of the field, and are involved in various companies related to the topic of VR. With this podcast, we hope to use our commentary to bridge the gap between news and established science. We break down complex topics, discuss the current trends and their economical impacts, and broadcast our views on VR.

The podcast episode in question was an in-depth, 1 hour 15 minute interview with Jessica Outlaw:

Behavioral Scientist Jessica Outlaw is an outspoken Social Scientist in the field of VR User Experience Design. She recently published an Inductive Qualitative study with Beth Duckles, PhD about the experiences of “Millennial, tech-savvy women” in Social VR applications (Altspace, High Fidelity, Facebook Spaces, etc).

In this episode, we talk embodied cognition, implicit biases, gender differences in social behavior and navigation in an unfamiliar environment, as well as the questions the paper raises up about inclusivity and approachability in design.

This is a long, wide-ranging interview touching on a lot of topics. Of particular note is what Jessica has to say about her research on women’s experiences in social VR applications. She wanted to know what tech-savvy younger women, new to social VR, had to say about their experiences.

Most of them found the social dynamics to be very disconcerting. The women had no idea what the social norms and expectations were in the social VR experiences they visited over a thirty-minute period (Rec Room, AltspaceVR, Facebook Spaces). Many women felt unsafe; some women felt that their personal spaces were invaded by other avatars. Talking to another person in social VR wasn’t seen as an attractive alternative to other forms of communication.

One of the four recommendations Jessica makes in her research report is that privacy must be the default in social VR applications, for women to feel safe. Another recommendation was to make social VR enticing and fun to do, and let the community form around their interests, as this leads to better behaviour overall.

Near the end of the podcast, Jessica and the ResearchVR co-hosts discuss a recent news story where a woman was harassed in a VR application called QuiVR.

I was also interested to hear that Jessica also did some work on a project for High Fidelity last year, around the question of what makes people feel welcome in an online community, and what’s appealing to people.

Here’s a link to the ResearchVR podcast. And here’s a link to a card series on Medium that outlines Jessica’s research findings, with quotes from the women interviewed. You can also request that Jessica’s full research report be emailed to you at her website.

Jessica also talked about her follow-up study, a user survey where she got over 600 responses. I’ll be very interested to read what she learns from her ongoing social VR research.

Outfit Outlay: Free Medieval and Gothic Clothing by Solas

As Sansar’s first (and so far, only) fashion blogger, I have made it my mission to tell you all about the best fashions available in Sansar for your avatar.

Solas NaGealai, who is a well-known fashion designer in Second Life as the owner of BlueMoon Enterprise (SL storeblog) and the co-owner of Silvan Moon Designs (SL StoreSL MarketplaceFlickr), is one of my favourite avatar clothing designers. She puts a lot of time, energy, and talent into her clothing designs, and I wanted to showcase a few items that she is generously giving away for free from her store (her Sansar brand is called Lune Bleue).

First up is the beautifully detailed Lady Juliana Medieval Gown, which Vanity Fair is wearing at Nya Alchemi’s medieval tournament experience, S.L.A.R.P.:

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And, on the other end of the spectrum, we have Solas’ striped goth top and matching layer skirt, to which I have added black wristbands by C3rb3rus (free!) and black Eden Bailarina flats by Kokoia (for sale for S$150, which works out to about US$1.50/CDN$1.89; click on each of the pictures below to see it in a larger size):

Then, I have switched it up a bit by taking off the wristbands and adding black sunglasses by Snow (also free!) and a goth nose chain by Agustine (S$65, or about 65 cents U.S./82 cents Canadian):

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Be sure to pick up your freebies on the Sansar Store. Whether you are a medieval troubadour or a gothic rocker, Solas has got you covered!

Learning How to Use Modular Patterns in Marvelous Designer to Create Avatar Clothing for Sansar

Two very experienced Marvelous Designer users named MD-Angel and Vintorix are sharing their avatar clothing creation expertise with us on the discussions in the Fashion channel of the official Sansar Discord server. This information is much appreciated by newbie users of MD, like me!

One thing that I did not know until today, is that MD has modular pattern pieces stored in a library, which you can use as a starting point for your own garments. I was playing around with these today, just to see what I could make. The first thing I tried was a men’s dress shirt. Here is what my men’s white (untextured) dress shirt looked like on the first try. It still needs a lot of work to look better, but it’s a very promising start! It would have taken me HOURS of working my way up the learning curve to try and build such a nice-looking buttoned shirt collar on my own.

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The second garment I tried to make was an oversize women’s V-neck T-shirt, and it turned out so well that I am placing it for sale on the Sansar Store! Here’s what it looks like on Vanity Fair (see picture, below, taken in my own experience, Ryan’s Garden). Here’s a link to the T-shirt listed for sale on the Sansar Store. I’ve priced it at S$5, like my other clothing in the Store (except for a few freebies). I don’t think it’s fair to charge too much money for items made while I am still learning how to use the Marvelous Designer software properly. I also want people to buy my clothes, so I am deliberately keeping my prices affordable! I get such a thrill whenever I make s sale, and whenever I see someone wearing a piece of clothing that I made 🙂

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I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the very talented and experienced Marvelous Designer creators like MD-Angel and Vintorix, who are freely sharing these valuable tips and techniques with us! These people are working hard, for no pay, to provide truly helpful advice for the entire fledgling fashion designer community in Sansar, so please be sure to thank them when you meet them in-world or on the Discord channels!

Pick of the Day and Outfit Outlay: 2077

C3rb3rus, the grand prize winner of the Sansar Scariest experience contest last year, has completely outdone his previous work with the stunning achievement called simply 2077. Never have I been in any VR experience that feels so much like the world of the classic sci-fi movie Blade Runner!

I was actually able to get an early preview of this wonderful new Sansar experience, when I took most of these pictures. I added several more photos taken when Drax and C3rb3rus conducted an exclusive first tour of 2077.

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You actually spawn in the subway station, where a subway train that C3rb3rus showed us how he made takes you on a ride in a circle. Gindipple was the first one who stepped into the train, complaining (as usual) about not being able to sit down, and then, suddenly, whoosh! It took off like a bullet! And he was gone! It was never so peaceful 😉 and even better, Torley Linden got video:

One of the funniest moments of the whole tour!

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C3rb3rus led us up to street level, and then down again into a funky underground club. Here you can see Drax interviewing Strawberry Singh:

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The attention to detail of the entire experience is absolutely astounding.

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To match the experience, I decided to style Vanity Fair in a suitable sci-fi outfit:

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Vanity Fair is wearing:

  • the dragon blue animated skin by AnuAmun (S$10)
  • the flowers and copper armour top by AnuAmun (S$150)
  • the short bob hair by Snow (tinted blue to match; FREE)
  • and I don’t remember where I got the goggles from! I checked my purchase history and I have no record of buying them. I believe they were already in my inventory as one of the basic avatar attachment objects, which everybody got by default.

Outfit Outlay: Strawberry Singh Blogs (and Vlogs) the Sansar Store Freebies

Strawberry Singh has blogged (and created the following YouTube video) about the many clothing freebies already available on the Sansar Store (this last link will take you directly to the Wearables section of the Sansar Store, and sort everything there in ascending order by price, with the freebies first).

She also mentions today’s special Scavenger Hunt edition of the weekly Atlas Hopping livestream event she co-hosts with Drax. I plan to attend; hope to see you there!

Strawberry also very kindly mentions both this blog and my store on the Sansar Store, where I do have some free avatar clothing items available. Thanks, Strawberry!

Outfit Outlay: Ballet Flats by Kokoia

You can’t have high heels in Sansar yet; we are stuck with flat shoes for female avatars for now. But Kokoia has crafted some beautiful ballet flats in five different colours, which makes the lack of high heels bearable for now!

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They are S$150 (US$1.50, or CDN$1.88) each. They come in tan, blue, white, red, and black. They’re just one item among the many women’s clothes and home furnishings available for sale in her store.

Three Floral and Watercolour T-Shirts for Female Avatars

Well, I’ve been busy this afternoon making women’s T-shirts! I finally settled on a more comfortable, roomier-fitting T-shirt design, and here are three new shirts for sale for only S$5 each on the Sansar Store!

There’s a light blue floral pattern:

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And the same floral pattern in pink-and-red:

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And finally, my favourite, a watercolour pattern!

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