For security and integrity purposes, I have retracted some information to protect the event information and account information associated with the event. There have been some interesting unannounced changes to the event JSON file that is generated to provide the status of the state of events, worlds and users.
In this post, I will discuss my personal thoughts and opinions about what these changes could mean for AltspaceVR in the future based on what has already been announced and what has been teased or suggested.
There have been some interesting changes in the wake of the recent Altspace updates, and we know that Altspace is taking some steps to make sure the platform is safe for all users. I am sure Altspace recognises the social needs and desires for adult users to be able to access content that they would be interested in. The problem for Altspace is they need to keep younger users safe, and they have some responsibility as an organisation to try and control and keep their users safe. Particularly this applies to users who are between 13 and 18 years old who are still considered minors and are considered vulnerable in the eyes of the law in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, where our laws are very similar.
Changes to the Altspace event JSON file
Two new lines have been added one is labelled “allow_external” and “allow_altspace”, which suggests that maybe the Microsoft Mesh platform will have a cross-over compatibility to join AltspaceVR for events from within another Mesh compatible app. If this assumption is true, it could suggest that AltspaceVR could dance on a fine line allowing people to attend live events from multiple apps, maybe including possibly Xbox devices that are linked via Microsoft.
This could mean that AltspaceVR could exist within other apps or access AltspaceVR in a limited way and make it simple for new users to VR to experience a less confusing app interface but still be accessing the AltspaceVR platform. For the people already using AltspaceVR, it would be assumed we would be subject to updates or migration but could allow AltspaceVR as we know to continue to co-exist with other Microsoft Mesh compatible apps.
There are some other new values I haven’t noticed before, but one that is also of interest is the “mature” flag which could be a placeholder for an age-appropriate value. This is always a positive thing, and having a verified Microsoft account will not cause any issues for adults to attend events and allows us to have what might have been considered ‘restricted content’ be allowed.
Over the last year, I have seen more ‘Weed’ related rooms, such as the Shroom Room, and although these are beautiful rooms that fit into a culture on AltspaceVR, it might not be the best idea to have these events listed alongside corporate hosted events. That being said, it doesn’t make sense to remove content just because it is a little controversial in some parts of the world. And VR has, for some people, become a way to explore sexuality in a consensual and safe way and have seen all sorts of relationship therapy sessions hosted for empowering couples to reconnect. So putting a blanket over 18+ content and saying it isn’t allowed isn’t realistic to expect.
However, if Microsoft builds other apps, they can essentially filter events to exclude those sorts of rooms from appearing if the user account is part of a Microsoft 365 domain where they are accessing Mesh/AltspaceVR for work purposes and not for leisure. This would provide a clean and relevant event list but wouldn’t prevent the users from seeing those events if they were on a personal account.
It’s, of course, hard to speculate what might eventuate as AltspaceVR continues to grow, but what it certainly appears to look like is that the platform may be co-existing with Mesh rather than be shut down or even have a migration over.
And a reason why Microsoft would consider this as an option is that it demonstrates their technology to provide cross-platform Metaverse tech. All we know for sure is the next coming weeks will be breath-holding with anticipation until we know more.