P*rn in the Time of Virtual Reality: A Beginner’s Guide

It’s coming. Or, well. It’s here.

By The Editors

P*rn in the Time of Virtual Reality: A Beginner’s Guide
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05 April 2016

The world of pornography was always going to penetrate the virtual dimension.

Rule 34 of the Internet foretold it long ago.

In fact, the new era — while still in its infancy — has already begun. And the coming years are only going to get better (or worse, depending on your POV).

Here’s a brief introduction.

It’s obvious porn and VR would eventually hookup. But will they stay together?
All the major headset companies are sheepish to admit porn is a big numbers-mover: analysts forecast the VR industry will generate $30 billion by 2020, and $5 billion from porn alone by 2025. Other reports from SimilarWeb point to curious trends: between January and November of last year, of Oculus’ 16.7% referral traffic, 2.7% of it was from VR porn-related sites.

Headset manufacturers want to avoid cultural stigma, so they’ll never host porn propaganda on their sites; they will, however, encourage its proliferation. According to a Naughty America executive, VR headset manufacturers have a closed-door relationship with the industry providing “mutually beneficial back-channel information.”

So how do I enter the, uh, matrixxx?
Pornhub is streaming free BaDoink-produced 360-degree VR pornography on its spanking new VR platform — but only clips or trailers, not the full shebang. For full-length, you’ll need to pay for a subscription on the host site. Pornhub even handed out 10,000 VR headsets for instant gratification.

Their competitor, Naughty America, isn’t so loose with the purse strings but will offer subscriptions for $25/month. And other subscription-based video depots exist. Such as: BaDoink VR, Naughty America VR, VRPornMovies, VirtualRealPorn, VRSmash, VRBangers, and VRheadsetporn, to name a few.

Is it “real” porn or am I entering a video arcade?

Both. “Real” insomuch as it’s permitted. Most of the material is cinematic-reality-based and filmed with special cameras ranging from 120- to 360-degree experiences on various platforms. But since VR is still trying to figure itself out, don’t expect to be blown away. Essentially, you’re living vicariously through a “performer” via his POV. Think GoPro.

The sense of realism is somewhat captured by the tracking head feature and binaural sound — the moaning and groaning from other scenic activity — but mobility is generally limited. Depending on your proclivities, some selections may be limited (but growing).

The real immersive escapades will arrive when you have the ability to design your own fantasies. That’s — somewhat — what the virtual, non-human avatar worlds offer already. On sites  such as Red Light Center, consumers login into a virtual sexdom where they can personalize an alter ego and swing with other users. You can pick up other avatars or buy sex with a simulated currency.

Can I “interact” w/partners?
“You” cannot interact with them, but your virtual parts can when “they” want to; in other words, if you move your hands in reality, you won’t be able to touch someone’s virtual ass. But Holodexxx VR is a company that recognizes VR porn’s packaged experiences, so they’re engineering interactivity components into the software.  

Do I need a special headset?
Videos will play on various headsets, including: Samsung’s Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift and other devices.

How’s the quality?
It varies by the service. Videos are typically MP4 format and resolution depends on the chosen headset. For instance, VRheadsetporn videos range from 3200 x 1600p resolution for Oculus Rift, to 2160 x 1080p for smartphones. Most, if not all, offer 120-, 180- and 360-degree selections. VR Bangers, for instance, already channels 4K resolution material with 360-degree panoramic viewing.


Behold, the Kissenger in action

Will I actually be stimulated?
Maybe but not literally. To feel a simulated sense of touch artificially, you need to strap into a sex machine. Called “teledildonics,” the classification sounds more like the study of its application than the contraptions that comprise it. But with virtual reality breaking down barriers, haptic technology is augmenting the experience. The Hug Shirt and Kissenger are two timid examples where users can feel these experiences from a distance; on the other end of the spectrum is Lovense, a company that sells interactive vibrators and dildos that can be virtually powered.

Conclusion: we don’t have Johnny Mnemonic or Neuromancer cyber-sentience yet, but proto-virtual erotica is better than going hungry.

— Eric Brown

Main image screengrab from Pornhub + BaDoink Free VR TV Ad

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