Cyberbullying: VR Events Hosts Speak Out

Educators in VR presents VR Event Hosts Speak Out, taking place on AltspaceVR on October 23, 2020, featuring Jeremy D. Nickel, MysterySteve, Andy Fidel, Chris Samuelson, Don Ainsworth, and Donna McTaggart. Together, this panel represents pioneers in social VR with over 3,000 cumulative hours hosting VR events.

Educators in VR Cyberbullying Event Hosts 2018 in AltspaceVR.The event is part of the second annual Cyberbullying Month by Educators in VR, raising awareness and offering training and support sessions covering bullying in the real world and cyber, especially in virtual reality social spaces. For information on how to RSVP and attend an Educators in VR event in VR, we have a simple guide for you.

This panel discussion brings together several passionate event experts/leaders who will share their experiences to bring more awareness regarding bullying at their events. We will discuss trolling, disruptions, bullying from the audience, their techniques and guidelines of the event experts to protect their events from attacks in a virtual space.

Over the years, many event organizers and communities in the social VR space often suffer from various harassment caused by children, trolls or drunks who thought it was funny to disturb others. Unlike web trolls that deliberately offend others and upset them with written words, individuals intend on disruption consider the challenge to use a virtual world on a room scale to disrupt in a variety of ways. Examples include targeting individuals, the host(s), or the entire audience by getting uncomfortably close, violating the person’s or the audience personal space and experience (Nafarrete, 2016) or disturb special event or meetings of online communities.

Educators in VR attendees.While better connecting the world and democratizing information, the internet has allowed individuals to hide behind masks of anonymity. Apart from the fact that more and more attention is being paid to different cyberbullying campaigns, statistics focused on online bullying show that this problem won’t be over very soon. For example, Google Trends data for 2020 shows that there’s much more attention focused on cyberbullying. The volume of worldwide searches for the word ‘Cyberbullying’ increased threefold since 2004. Besides cyberbullying at several social media platforms, bullying and embarrassment can also be a big problem in virtual spaces, like so on virtual events.

While you may think these disruptions, trolling, harassed and bullying from the audience are sadly enough very common in the world of organizing VR events, many social VR platforms like AltspaceVR have instituted event moderation tools and strong community standards and policies that remind users that there’s a real person behind every avatar. By introducing an empathic approach to changing behavior and changing attitudes, these platforms strive to change each other’s hearts and minds.

Educators in VR and their event panel of experts and leaders are excited to share different experiences to encourage others, give self-confidence and show that organizing is still exciting and fun.

Jeremy D. Nickel of EvolVR
Rev. Jeremy D. Nickel is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister, he currently serves as the acting Lead Minister of the UU Congregation of Boulder, CO, as well as being the Founder of EvolVR, the world’s first VR Sangha and Spiritual community. As part of his role at EvolVR he leads weekly Overview Effect themed meditations in Virtual Reality in which groups of people from around the world slowly float from the surface of planet Earth to a near earth orbit. When not in Virtual Reality he can be found in Boulder, CO with his wife, Rev. Nicole Lamarche, and daughter Eliza, where they enjoy spending as much time exploring the great outdoors as humanly possible.

MysterySteve, event host/co-owner, We Are ImproVR
Mystery Steve (Stevieboy) is a co-owner of We Are ImproVR, a company that produces improv comedy events in AltspaceVR. He cohosts 3 shows, including “Improv Night w/ Stevieboy and Shoseki,” “A Thing In A Place,” and “Loco And Stevie’s Talking Hour.” For over 3 years he’s been doing comedy in AltspaceVR with the amazing help of his fellow cohosts, wonderful family of moderators and everyone who decides to get involved. His goal is to help as many people as possible to see how interesting they truly are by giving them a platform to show off their life and skills during his events. When he isn’t hosting any shows, he often draws cartoons that more often than not are based off of the wacky ideas thought up by his friends from the aforementioned events.

Andy Fidel of #GetSocial
Spatial Network Evangelist Andy Fidel creates social experiences for remote communities. Founder of #GetSocial, a digital network for emerging technology enthusiasts and creators. This team has produced over 700 events across the multiverse with the aim to engage people in future conversations. They host fireside chats, summits, conference extensions, and experiential hangouts for community and enterprise. Making local conversations, global discussions. Andy studies the impact of VR/AR on digital communications and what the future holds for human connection. She and her team explore the social side of immersive reality hosting weekly chats on virtual identities, collaborative tools, multiverse communities, connected learning, and accessibility. She has collaborated with AltspaceVR by Microsoft, WXR Fund, Verizon 5G Labs, VRScout, YouTube VR Creator Lab, Educators in VR, and communities at large across the multiverse.

Chris Samuelson, event host, LGBTQ+ and Friends
Chris is the host of the VR LGBTQ and Friends Meetups. He ran this event for the last 3 and a half years giving the community a place to meet, hang out in a safe and fun environment. With multiple events throughout every week, he catered to the community from all around the world. Many of the groups’ members are highly active in the VR-community, supporting a wide range of events as volunteers and moderators, and they also organize meetings in the real world.

Don Ainsworth, event host/co-owner, A Think in a Place and Let’s Talk
Don Ainsworth is the co-developer of “A Thing in a Place” comedy podcast with Stevieboy, and creator of “Let’s Talk,” a unique virtual reality show about life, death, and everything in between. Don is famous for just pushing limits, in the real world and virtual, it doesn’t matter.

Donna McTaggart, Educators in VR, Live Loved
Donna McTaggart is the Event Coordinator, Conference and Production Manager, and Project Manager of Educators in VR. Her expertise in VR event production is unparalleled. She is also founder of the company, KAOS, and has twenty years’ experience working with small, international businesses to provide accounting and operational software solutions and implementation services including training, consulting, and mentoring of Microsoft Office products and other office software. She is the co-founder of the Social Media Breakfast in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and continues to lead this group over the past 10 years. She is also a longtime volunteer, coordinator, and get-things done leader with Calgary events and activities as well as a leader and member of the VRARA Alberta group, Educators in VR, Virtual World Society, and many other non-profit and social good organizations.

If you want to know more about this topic or how to handle cyberbullying while hosting an VR event, we invite you to join our panel discussion. We will be inviting questions to the panelists to ask them about their methods, techniques, feelings, guidelines, working with moderators, and on how to protect their events from attacks.

If you want to know more about this topic or how to handle cyberbullying while hosting an VR event, we invite you to join our panel discussion. We will be inviting questions to the panelists to ask them about their methods, techniques, feelings, guidelines, working with moderators, and on how to protect their events from attacks.

Educators in VR still maintains last year’s list of Cyberbullying Resources and Research, and hosts regular Cyberbullying Team Project Meetups in AltspaceVR that are open to the public for workshops and open discussions on cyberbullying, harm reduction, prevention, taking action, and how to protect yourself. Also see the research article, “The Extended Mind – Virtual Harassment, The social experience of 600+ regular Virtual Reality users” (2018, 04 03).

Educators in VR is dedicated to providing educational events, trainings, and workshops for educators and learners to prepare them for the future of spatial technologies in education. We offer weekly workshops, socials, and special events in AltspaceVR, ENGAGE, and other platforms featuring key educators, trainers, and developers in VR, AR, XR, and MR technology and education.

You may attend our events in VR or with a Windows 10 or Mac computer. For more information, see our guide on how to attend Educators in VR events.

Join our Educators in VR Discord group, Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for information on workshops and how to become more involved. Consider subscribing to our Educators in VR event subscription channel to receive regular reminders of upcoming events there. We publish member brags and news you can use about virtual reality in education across the entire spectrum of usage from childhood education to health and science to corporate.

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