Ethicist and researcher Lucy Sparrow further argues for the need for a “community manager” approach to moderation, with some moderators tasked with not just quietly managing content behind the scenes, but actively cultivating the wider community of players. I will repeat that call. Moderation is crucial and it is more than punishing.
It is important to note that these strategies must be used together. Individual-level tools only work in conjunction with effective oversight. A techno-libertarian approach It suggests that all the user needs is a “blocking tool” that will simply recreate the layers of hell that already exist on social media.
Virtual reality is reality, act accordingly
Existing laws may already apply to metaverse spaces. The crucial thing is to recognize that online interactions are genuine and meaningful. Stalking in VR should be treated as stalking in the physical world; the same should sexual harassment. While law enforcement rarely has any interest in really helping people, that does not mean that the companies that are responsible for various metaverse spaces have no responsibility to their users. Thus, even if a potentially illegal act is not referred to the police, it should still be subject to severe sanctions – perhaps through an observation list shared across all virtual spaces by a trusted third party, as an ethical collaboration.
Similarly, although the legal landscape remains globally divided on this issue, we need to stop any implementation of gambling mechanics in the bud.
The use of microtransactions in many games can be easily converted to gambling via systems like lootboxes, and platforms like VRChat already have a lucrative secondary market for avatars, costumes and other digital assets. At the moment, it turns out to be a mostly friendly and lucrative place for digital artists. In the hands of a company, it can become a casino. Existing laws around gambling, such as restrictions on sales to children or confinement of gaming mechanics to narrowly defined digital spaces, could theoretically be used to stop this before it starts. There is even the option to update or rewrite Interstate Wire Act for the 21st century.
Many game studios insist that the virtual nature of transactions, combined with the fact that “payouts” are always digital objects rather than real currency, sets them apart from “real” gambling. There is a reason for this: most existing restrictions on gambling in the United States turn on questions about whether the bet has “real value”. But we need to expand our understanding of reality to include these mechanisms, for virtual goods are undeniably valuable. And if VR ever becomes a bigger part of our lives – as big as the Internet already is – then claims about digital goods that have no value will look even more dangerously outdated than they already do.
Just say no to Crypto
The most obvious source of corruption in metaverse space right now is the risk posed by NFTs and cryptocurrency. In recent months, a number of Ponzi schemes and other scams, built around NFT properties, involved the creation of video games and virtual worlds, and many people remain eager to shoehorn NFTs into online games with wordplay promises of value to ordinary players .
While the ongoing cryptocurrency may address this issue, securing a viable future for virtual reality means ensuring that its early users are not tricked into losing their life savings. For some, the advent of the meta-verse is nothing more than yet another opportunity to buy various cryptocurrencies. But it would be toxic to the young garden of this creativity. Not only would it hamper the innovative spirit, but it would also – like the gambling mechanics I have already studied – create and nurture a predatory environment for users.