Japanese VTuber Nem and VTuber researcher Liudmila Bredikhina have recently collaborated to launch a large-scale survey on the state of harassment happening in digital spaces such as the metaverse. This marks the third research done by said VTuber researchers regarding user perspectives of the metaverse itself.
The new survey will tackle the reality of harassment within these digital spaces, accounting various factors such as culture, gender, and age into the research. This survey will focus on these key questions:
- Do users actually encounter harassment? If so, what kind of harassment?
- Does the user’s gender and sexuality impact their safety?
- How do users deal with unwanted behavior, and to what extent does it impact them?
“Our purpose is to visualize the reality of harassment in the metaverse and provide factual data to make our lives in the metaverse freer, safer, and more enjoyable,” the researchers said in a press statement.
The survey was officially launched on September 5 and will conclude on September 24. In a statement to NewsDrop, Bredikhina said they expect to release their official data in the middle of October this year.
Nem, who is an official ambassador of HTC’s VR headset brand Vive, recently published a book titled Metaverse Evolution Theory, based on data collected from their 2021 Social VR Lifestyle Survey, which asked about how they feel using digital spaces, including pros and cons.
Meanwhile, Liudmila Bredikhina is a well-versed researcher, having a degree of Master of Arts in Asian Studies. She has devoted her recent research into the aspect of virtual spaces and virtual influencers. Some of her published studies include Virtual Theatrics and the Ideal VTuber Bishōjo (2021), Designing identity in VTuber Era (2020) and Becoming a Virtual Cutie: Digital Cross-Dressing in Japan (2022). Her research, titled Babiniku: what lies behind the virtual performance, won an award from her alumni Université de Genève in Switzerland.
The large-scale survey is supported by multiple Japanese organizations and entities, including NPO Virtual Rights, PANORA, Metacul-Frontier, and VNOS Corporation.
The launch of said survey is timely, considering the rising number of harassment-related cases directed at people utilizing digital avatars and VTuber models. Multiple publications like The New York Times and MIT Technology Review have documented cases of harassment to users within the metaverse.