Here's how Google is planning to tackle trolls in VR

Google Daydream dogs
Does this dog want trouble?

Whenever a new platform opens up, one of the first challenges is dealing with those less-than-friendly users who want to ruin it. In virtual reality, you're dealing with trolls who aren't just slinging words on a screen - they're digital figures in an immersive world.

Google has some ideas about how to keep VR safe, as demonstrated in a new set of preview videos for its upcoming Daydream mobile VR platform. The scenario is a virtual poker game, and the characters are cartoon-style dogs.

If someone should feel the urge to move across to the other side of the table - to grab some virtual chips or throw a virtual punch - then they disappear from view as far as the other players are concerned, and their view turns to black and white. From there they only reappear when they return to their designated spot.

Virtual fight club

"We found it's enough to prevent a player from approaching their opponents to steal chips or invade personal space," writes Google's Robbie Tilton. "Everyone should feel safe and comfortable in VR. If we can anticipate the actions of others, then we may be able to discourage negative social behaviour before it starts."

Some other ideas Google's engineers have been working on include positive rewards for positive actions - like a fireworks show if you give someone a high-five. If you try and slap someone instead, then you don't get such praise in the VR world.

It sounds basic, but apparently it works, and we're going to need more software tricks like these if we're going to make VR a safe space to be. And if you really aren't comfortable with what's happening, just pull off your Oculus Rift and take a walk outside.

Make sure your gaming PC is VR-ready:

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.