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V-VSS 2021 Gather Guide

A major part of the VSS annual meeting is the spontaneous social interactions and bumping into friends from all over the world. We heard the feedback from last year's virtual conference and are actively attempting to create an environment to enable these moments in the virtual world. This is why we have chosen to host our conference on Gather.town.

In Gather, you will be able to walk your avatar around and explore the conference space we created for you. You can talk to the people who are near your avatar, or walk away from a conversation you’d rather not be having. The aim of this reference doc is to help ensure that Gather enriches your conference experience. Here is the quick reference infographic if you're in a hurry. Read on for details on how best to enjoy the space!

Setting up Gather


The virtual conference space is open from May 19th to 28th, 2021.

If this is the first time you are using Gather, you'll be asked to go through a short set-up and tutorial, so it's strongly recommended that you set aside a few minutes to explore Gather before the conference begins.

Please enter the email associated with your myVSS account to access the conference (other attendees will not see your email). Next, in the Name box, enter your first and last name so attendees will recognize you. Then click the green 'Join the Gathering' button.

Remember to grant Gather permission to access your microphone and camera. A box like the one to the right will pop up near your address bar. Click allow to use your microphone and camera in Gather.

Conference badge

To set up your conference badge, click on your name in the bottom menu. It looks like the image below:

A new menu will pop up above. Indicate your affiliation in the text status box, it looks like this:

You can click on the smiley face to add an emoji to convey some additional information. Here's what emojis mean for this meeting:

🏄 (surfboard): VSS Board members

❓ (red question mark): VSS Staff

✨ (sparkles): VSS Volunteers

✏️ (pencil): Prefer to chat via text over audio

😃 (smile): Looking to meet new scientists

You can also change your avatar's appearance by clicking on your own avatar by your name.
A new window (shown below) will pop up.

Click on the left and right arrows to scroll through the options.
Click save when you're done.

Moving around in Gather

Here are some quick tips for moving around and interacting within the Gather space:

Leaving Gather

If you want to leave Gather, simply close your browser tab/window. If you want to stay logged in on Gather, but want to step away from the computer, please navigate to the Avatar Parking Lot so that other people won't be confused when they try to interact with you.

The Conference Space

Note that the conference venue is divided into 5 Gather spaces. You can only interact with people in the same space as you.

Space Constituent Rooms
1 Welcome area, Lobby, Avatar Parking, Portal Hub
2 Talk Room 1
3 Talk Room 2
4 Courtyard, Beach, Event rooms (Sawgrass, Sandpiper, Sea Turtle, Palm), Lounges (Gater, Mangrove)
5 Poster Sessions (Osprey, Manatee, Dolphin, Egret, Flamingo)

Whenever you are about to enter a new space, a message will pop up on the bottom of the screen. Press enter to be whisked to the destination space. It may take a few seconds to load so please be patient!

For the first time you enter each space, you'll have to set up your conference badge again. You be asked to enter your MyVSS email and name again. You'll also notice that you must re-enter your affiliation in the status notification. Please see the Setting up Gather section for more details. Subsequent times, you will only be asked to confirm your video and camera settings. Simply click the green 'Join the gathering' button to enter the new space.

Rooms by function

Session Rooms:

Main Social Areas:

Lounges (open throughout conference):

Other useful rooms:

Tips for using the conference space

Interactive Objects

There are many useful and fun objects in the Gather conference space. Some are just decorative, but interactive objects will glow with a yellow outline when you walk near them. Press 'x' on your keyboard to interact with them. When there are multiple interactive objects in your vicinity, you will interact with the object closest to you, which will be highlighted in yellow.

Here are some interactive objects you can find at V-VSS 2021:

 Map       Conference Program      Room/Exhibitor Schedule

Tetris battle

And many other hidden treats for you to discover!

Navigating poster sessions

There are five poster session rooms: Osprey, Manatee, Dolphin, Egret, Flamingo. All five rooms are identical in layout. The left of each room connects to the courtyard. The top and bottom entrances connect to the adjacent poster rooms. For example, exiting Osprey (the first poster room) from the south will make you enter Manatee (the second poster room) from the north. Similarly, exiting Flamingo (the fifth poster room) from the south, will make you enter Osprey (the first poster room) from the north. Using the north and south entrances will save you a lot of time because you can browse through all poster rooms without leaving the poster session space.

This is a poster booth.

Interacting with people

You can video chat with people standing nearby your avatar. Their videos will appear on the top of the screen. Your own video is at the bottom right corner. This is what a video pane looks like when you hover your mouse over it. Notice the three icons at the bottom left.

Outlined in red are the microphone and camera switches. If you click them in your own video, you will disable your own mic and camera for everyone.If you click them in someone else's video, you can mute or disable their camera for just yourself.

Tip:The icon does not distinguish between someone who muted themselves or someone who was muted by you. Whenever you can't hear someone, try to unmute them on your end as well.

If someone is bothering you, you can block them by clicking on the block icon on their video (third icon from the left in screenshot above). This will prevent them from chatting with you via video or text. The person you blocked will not be notified, and others will still be able to communicate with you and the person you blocked. You can also block someone by clicking on their name in the Participants menu on the left, click on the three dots on the top right of the user menu, and click 'Block'. Please notify VSS staff members ([email protected]) of any inappropriate behavior during the meeting.

Private spaces

Private areas allow you to talk only to the other people in the same private area as you, regardless of how far away you are from them. In V-VSS 2021, private spaces are indicated with rugs around tables and chairs or shadows around posters, exhibitor booths, and other interactable objects. Please make use of the private spaces scattered throughout the space so your conversations won't be interrupted by passers by!

When you enter a private space, you will get a notification message at the bottom of the screen, and the private space will be highlighted.

Here are some examples of private spaces at V-VSS 2021:

Text chat

The chat button is at the bottom left of the screen (highlighted in the image below). Clicking on it will open up the chat.

You can choose who can see your message.

Participants Menu

The participants menu can be opened by clicking on the icon that looks like two people on the bottom left. It will show you the list of people who are in the same space as you.

Looking for someone?

Use the search bar on the top of the participants list and type in their name.
If you click on a person in the participants list, you can see their user menu (below).

Tip: If the person you're looking for isn't on the user list, they may be in another space (see the Conference Space section above). The lobby and courtyard will have high foot traffic between sessions, so they're the best spaces to search.

Questions? Contact a staff member when you arrive at the venue!