Women as guides for empathetic design in virtual reality

Games are not usually considered a women’s activity. Even in the name – the gamer is not known as a “girl gamer”. While this bias permeated early virtual reality communities, the accessibility of new devices and an increase in women jumping into virtual reality for FitnessImmersive experiences, and the chance to escape, change the dynamic.

While we are still far from being critical to the basic conversation versus the need for further study, we are getting closer as more women continue to engage with virtual reality each year. This trend can also be attributed to female developers as well as the increasing number of female players.

Empathic design in VR is here to stay

Perhaps the innate empathy in women drives the current rise of women in social games, building communities to support and interact with one another. This has Accelerated VR Adoption As a tool for communication and participation in the face of the challenge. Perhaps exacerbated by the challenges of socializing and meeting other like-minded people in the real world. This growing trend is evident to any developer involved in their community.

See also: Tamara Shogolo talks about the strength and struggle of black women in extended reality

The term empathetic design joins the gaming lexicon along with accessibility and representation in a way that enhances player thinking and experience. It is driven by women who want to see themselves, their experiences and their interactions reflected in the games they play. This is a smart tool to engage the masses. These women are just waiting for a chance to share what they want to see in it they Virtual and virtual reality experiences.

with a blast The multi-billion dollar VR marketthe widespread adoption of headphones, and the desire to connect in virtual worlds, “sympathetic design” is now a valuable tool for user acquisition.

Create safe spaces for virtual reality for women

women in “Oculus Quest Ladies” collection, which has a strength of 20,000 members, often cites the ability to explore and share safely as what drew them to virtual reality. As a member, I feel like an exclusive club that I can belong to just because I’m female (a rare experience, even in 2022). I see women are welcome and their opinions are researched and validated in my feed. This increases participation and advances the emotional experience.

Another reason for the rise of women in virtual reality is environments that offer real-world interaction with tools that ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. My company surveyed our female players about their experience in VR and found that out of more than 1,000 women who participate in VR, 46% said another player made them uncomfortable while in VR due to the actions of their avatar.

Although it is not yet a standard practice, moderation tools can be a selling point like any other feature of the game. While it’s not the most attractive and lucrative opportunity, the women we survey rank safety and moderation as the second most important feature in the game (it lags far behind the intuitive controls and even outperforms the in-game content).

Traditionally, women played as male or androgynous characters in multiplayer games or eschewed VOIP (where one’s natural voice is heard) to avoid harassment. Intuitive ways to block, mute, and fade out troublesome party members add a sense of security while allowing any player to create an avatar that expresses their individuality and their total immersion in their experience.

The Importance of Inclusion in Virtual Reality Games

In our survey, the emergence of lifestyle and fitness content is cited as the main driver of women’s adoption of virtual reality. This replication of real-world experiences in virtual reality increasingly caters to all types of players. From the 1v1 Sweaty Challenger to players just looking for a casual way to relax and engage. A player recently shared a story of a bowling game that was paused for a few impromptu rounds of hide and seek!

See also: Best VR Fitness Games

Game Developers It has to be intentional and purposeful about inclusivity, particularly when it comes to the player experience. While some players want interactive features to add a layer of silliness to their experience, others just want to play the game without distractions. The key is to be thoughtful when designing a feature for a specific launcher type. I suggest that developers design for the target audience, without detracting from the experience of others.

One idea to encourage inclusivity and discourage negative behavior, at the beginning of each game, is to think about having a consistent female voice championing the things that are important in games. I often see women’s voices capitalizing on the community’s feedback and experiences along with personal opinion in their comments.

Designed for every type of player

In the aforementioned survey, 42% of survey respondents shared that they had put the game down due to a game that lacked content that they felt was designed for them. We found that when we added more female-centric elements (designed by women), female participation in the game increased. I hope to see supporting data continue to emerge as virtual reality analytics improve, which is determining the scale of the value of thinking and even providing a base for the players.

While the lion’s share of the women we spoke to bought the device for themselves, 10% bought their own headphones for the purpose of communicating with friends and family. Go games tend to be led by sports, rhythm games, and social experiences.

Nearly 80% of respondents said they play VR headsets at least once a week, while only 75% consider themselves gamers. When we asked the women they play with in virtual reality, 50% played with family and 40% with real friends, while 42% also played with friends they met through VR . Gameswhether in the game or in virtual reality communities.

I hope the industry pays attention and won’t think of empathetic women-led design as a “cool thing” or a backlog. It’s becoming abundantly clear that when we, game developers, weave empathetic design into the DNA of our games, it’s a win-win for everyone.

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About guest author(s)


Lauren Quester


Lauren Quester

Lauren Quester Head of Marketing at ForeVR Games. In this position, she oversees all public relations, community, support, and all advertising and marketing efforts as the company grows its game portfolio. Great game and tech marketer passionate about building gaming communities and leveraging marketing, Koester’s previous experience includes roles at Amazon, Microsoft, Xbox and Unity Technologies.