Gaming

PlayStation VR: Sony patents a Shadow Ban system for its virtual reality headset

Virtual reality has been creating a new way of interacting with games and multiplayer gaming environments since its inception. Like any other type of game, it can also lead to inappropriate behavior or rudeness. In this context, it seems like Swe take steps to patent a system to ban players using the PlayStation VR improperly or exhibiting toxic behaviors.

The shadow banning, a.k.a stealth banning or ghost banning (in French, it could be ghost banishment) is a method used by developers to immediately and discreetly ban players from online communities without notification or warning. Often, affected players do not immediately know that they have been banned, hence the term shadow banning. It is also an allegedly common practice and known in the community of YouTubers, even the most famous like Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known under the pseudo of PewDiePie, seem to have been entitled to it. The latter regularly produce videos to explain that their audience figures are dropping strangely, as if the videos were no longer recommended. It is of course Google in this case which is directly targeted and which would hide certain videos that are not favorable to advertisers.

This also happens in many games like Overwatch or League of Legends. A general reason is given for the ban afterwards (via email), but players are either restricted or excluded from the gaming experience altogether. While similar elements exist in the area of ​​virtual reality, like inappropriate censored texts, it was difficult to fully implement them due to the nature of the experience which requires the whole body or at least the hands and face. It seems like Sony found a solution with this patent.

Sony recognizes that ignoring or confronting these players only increases harassment and that ghost banishment is the best method to deal with griefers. These are gamers who do malicious things in a video game with the intention of deliberately causing the annoyance of other gamers, either for their own enjoyment or for some other reason. These players are of particular nuisance in online gaming communities, as they often cannot be deterred by penalties. The term first appeared in the 1990s, when the popularity of online games grew.

The manufacturer goes on to describe how the technology will deal with phantom ban offenses, by detecting different types of movements and gestures, as well as the proximity of a player to another. Different factors will also play a role for players since they will get scores based on actions such as inappropriate language or touching. For each action that could lead to a block, a numerical score will be added to the player’s total score. When the score exceeds the safety threshold, a signal of shadowban is sent to remove the player from the game experience.

PSVRShadowban 3

The patent summary states:

Phantom banning of a participant in a social VR system includes: receiving and transmitting an identity of the participant, which can be banned without their knowledge; recognizing and following up on inappropriate behavior, including inappropriate language and comments, inappropriate gestures and movements; the reception and treatment of inappropriate behavior recognized and monitored by the participant; the generation of a security score based on the inappropriate behaviors treated; comparing the security score to a threshold value; and outputting a signal to tag the participant as a “griefer” and unwittingly ban him when the security score is above the threshold value.

The patent for the system of prohibiting access to PlayStation VR was filed on May 4, and at present, there is no indication of how and when it will be implemented. It remains to be seen how this will affect the experience. VR sure Playstation in the future.

The shadowbans are a delicate subject when it comes to gaming. While it is certain that they can improve the quality of the game and the general atmosphere of the game, they can also be a system that allows people to be banned for minor or minor offenses, or even false positives, especially considering the quality of tracking of PS Move. Similar cases in the field of non-gaming VR can often be observed, for example in League of Legends where someone does not necessarily harass, but expresses an opinion, and receives a warning or ban by an automatic system. But with so many details on the ban system of the PSVR, an implicit score to minimize false positives and the type of activity that can be perceived and seen in VR, it seems like Sony either on the right track to make our virtual reality spaces more user-friendly.

If the VR sure Playstation interests you and you are in too much of a hurry to wait until the arrival of the PSVR2, the first generation headset (PS5 compatible) is available without its controllers Move at our partner Amazon for 160 €. You can find a duo of PS Move also at Amazon at a price of 138.99 €.

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