Jordan Belamire has been sexually assaulted three times in her life, she says. Twice in real life, specifically, and once in virtual reality.
Belamire (an alias) says she was playing a game, QuiVr, on her brother-in-law’s HTC Vive VR system when she was sexually assaulted.
She’s not saying she was assaulted in the room while playing the game, she’s claiming she was violated in the virtual world of the game.
According to Belamire, she was shooting zombies with strangers in QuiVr’s multiplayer mode when another player began to rub her chest.
Virtually, but she says it was just as bad as the "real" thing.
"I’ve been groped in real life, once in a Starbucks in broad daylight. I know what it’s like to happen in person," Belamire, 30, told CNN.
"The shock and disgust I felt was not too far off from that."
Another user, BigBro442, had caught on that she was a woman because her mic streamed her voice through to the virtual world.
Belamire yelled "Stop!" as BigBro442 grabbed her.
That only made the bad situation worse, she said, as "he chased me around, making grabbing and pinching motions near my chest."
"Emboldened, he even shoved his hand toward my virtual crotch and began rubbing," she wrote in a post that has gone viral online.
Not everyone is buying into her claim that this is assault.
"Please explain how someone can be assaulted in any form in VR. This seems to be someone whining just to whine," said one commenter.
Belamire temporarily suspended her Twitter as a result.
Saying she is "more disturbed by the backlash than the VR incident itself," she says she rejects the idea that this is someone harmless.
"It’s not real, therefore it’s OK; this is the amoral substructure of gaming culture," wrote sociologist and gaming critic Katherine Cross.
"This, more than anonymity, is the source of much gender and racial harassment on the internet," she says in her essay, "Ethics for Cyborgs."
Other women have described similar experiences in VR.
"I still tensed up and felt uncomfortable, and removing the headset didn’t take that feeling away," says one gamer of her own harassment.
Indeed, Belamire told CNN that the hand that stroked her body felt "very lifelike. You can make the fingers move in really realistic ways."
No, it’s not the same thing as real life, but it has an impact, she says, and one that’s severe enough that it should be taken very seriously.
Some industry critics suggest that there needs to be a code of conduct in VR since its psychological effects are still new and unknown.
Do you agree that this problem needs real monitoring?
Or is this much ado about (sorry) virtually nothing?