VRChat did not respond to a request for comment.

After Ms. Siggens was abused while playing the virtual reality game Population One, she said she joined a virtual support group for women, many of whom also play the game. Members regularly dealt with in-game harassment, she said. In June, Meta acquired BigBox VR, the developer of Population One.

Another support group member, Mari DeGrazia, 48, from Tucson, Ariz., Said she saw harassment and assault in the first population group “two to three times a week, if not more.”

“Sometimes we see things that are against the rules of the game two or three times a day,” she added.

BigBox VR did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms. DeGrazia said the people behind Population One responded to their complaints and seemed interested in making the game safer. Despite the harassment, she said she has made a community of virtual friends with whom she regularly plays the game and enjoys these interactions.

“I’m not going to stop playing because I think it’s important that different people, including women, play this game,” she said. “We don’t let ourselves be pushed out, even if it’s sometimes difficult.”

In July, Ms. DeGrazia wore a haptic vest – which transmits sensations through hum and vibration – to play Population One. When another player touched her avatar’s chest, “it just felt awful,” she said. She noted that Mr. Zuckerberg has described a metaverse where people can be put on full body suits that allow them to experience even more sensations, which she believes is worrying.

Ms. Siggens said she eventually reported the user account of the person who scanned her through a form within the game in Population One. She later received an automated response stating that penalties had been taken against the user.



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