Meta has announced it’s adding a new Personal Boundary feature to Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues to protect people from harassment.
Personal Boundary creates a bubble of sorts around avatars that prevents players from getting too close to one another and maintains personal space. Meta joins the ranks of other VR developers as this feature appears to have been made in response to a recent harassment incident.
Meta explains that the feature ensures players’ characters stay around four feet from each other and that there will be no feedback when hitting that barrier. It’s similar to how video games put up invisible walls to prevent players from going out of bounds.
Actions that require characters to touch each other, like fist-bumping, are still possible. You’ll just have to stretch your arm out further.
Personal Boundary is currently rolling out to Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues and will be the default state. You cannot turn boundaries off. The company has stated that it plans to add controls for Personal Boundary settings, like changing the size of the bubble, but there’s been no mention of when this update might happen.
Recent reports have illuminated how harassment is an issue in these metaverse games. November 2021, a beta tester for Horizon Worlds claimed that her avatar was groped by a stranger and she felt violated. Older VR games, like Rec Room, have also implemented similar bubbles to combat harassment.
Other developers are implementing community guidelines and features to moderate this behavior as experts state harassment will continue in VR games. Meta hopes this move will set a new behavioral standard.