Virtual Realities: Immersive Documentary Encounters // Project News // Jun 06, 2019.

Using Design Fiction to Explore the Ethics of VR 'In the Wild': A Workshop at ACM TVX’19, Wednesday June 5th, Manchester

In this half-day workshop, we explored the ethics of Virtual Reality (VR) through conversations framed around design fictions.

The workshop explored how, while affordable head-mounted displays (HMDs) and accessible VR content are now within reach of large audiences, many of VR’s most urgent challenges remain under-explored. In addition to the many known unknowns (e.g. how do we manage sensory conflicts and spatial limitations in VR?), there are many more unknown unknowns (e.g. what kinds of psychological, social and cultural impact will VR provoke?). By bringing together diverse fictional scenarios from workshop participants, and four bespoke ‘design fictions’ created specifically to explore the ethics of VR (‘Azanaband’, ‘Bakhtin’s Carnival’, ‘XR Creche’ and ‘EmbodiedV’), we facilitated discussions that sought to explore the utility of design fictions in this domain. We identified issues such as the utility of fictional timelines in developing design fictions, the different form factors and cost/benefit ratios of producing and using design fictions, the complexity of moral relativity in the immersive technology space and issues relating to the limits of the law as ultimate moral arbiter. For more information, please see