This paper examines the potential social risks of the metaverse. Previous research has found that video games, including Virtual Reality (VR) ones, can be associated with violence normalization and objectification of women. Moreover, some studies have suggested that gaming platforms even serve as tools for extremist groups to recruit and radicalize vulnerable people. Nonetheless, these risks have not been further studied in the context of the metaverse. This research analyzed relevant cases from different gaming platforms including Meta Horizon Worlds. Moreover, the game VRChat was studied due to the similarities it has with the metaverse in terms of design and features. An evaluation of VRChat's user experience was carried out through an analysis of its most popular reviews. Though no signs of radicalization were found, an important number of these reviews expressed sentiments such as loneliness and depression, which make people more vulnerable to be radicalized. Additionally, a tendency for online harassment and sexual deviance was found in the game since 2018 and remained persistent to date. For further insight into the sexual misconduct findings, an interview was conducted with psychiatrist and sexuality expert, Dr. Zenteno. This research found that the game developers of VRChat have not done enough to address sexual misconduct effectively and protect its most vulnerable users. This research concluded that due to the lack of incentives that game developers have to regulate their platforms themselves for social good, further intervention of all the stakeholders involved is needed. This includes policymakers, parents, legal guardians, and educators.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Laura Ortiz