Ela Darling is an adult entertainer who is collaborating to create Holographic 3D VR Porn with a couple of technologists that she met on Reddit. Porn and VR is something that is often cited as something as an inevitability, but I suspect that the ultimate strengths and direction of where VR porn goes is likely going to surprise a lot of people. Specifically, Ela sees that one of the strengths of VR porn is that there’s going to be a lot more interactive experiences that are more about cultivating intimacy and emotional immersion.
You can check out some of the actual video on demand VR experiences on Ela’s VRTube.xxx (NSFW). They did some early experiments with 360-degree video, but found that it both felt a bit creepy and that there was an entire world around you that really wasn’t all that interesting to take a look at. So they decided to use the Kinect V2 in order to capture the depth data, and create a 3D hologram from that information. You can check out this WIRED article about VR Porn to learn more about Ela and her partners.
Porn and VR is often cited as a marriage made in heaven, and somewhat as an inevitability. Perhaps it will be inevitable, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a sure bet after talking to Ela about the economics of the porn industry. Adult entertainers have suffered from the rise of torrent piracy and Tube sites where there’s a bit of a cabal of large-scale porn producers who use TubeSites to promote their paid sites and turn a blind eye towards pirated material. This has made it harder to make a sustainable living within the adult film industry, and cultivated an environment where a lot of people in the target VR demographic has been conditioned to not ever have to pay for porn.
Ela cites the cam world or interactive experiences with adult entertainers through web cams as a viable way to make a living in the industry. This type of interaction tends to focus more on emotional intimacy and interactive engagement rather than objectively watching sex acts. It’s from this experience that Ela has found a real desire and need for intimacy within the porn industry, and sees that VR porn has the possibility to start to provide interactive and gasified interactions that go beyond skipping right to the sex.
She talks about her dating simulation experiment where the user has to court and seduce the performer by choosing amongst four different options for what to say. If you’re too forward, then you lose and game over. But if you’re able to successfully navigate this interactive portion, then you’ll learn more about the adult performer and then be treated to a sexy scene at the end. In the end, the type of immersion that VR provides has the opportunity to provide some of these more engaging experiences that go beyond what you’d be able to experience within a 2D film.
Ela and I also discuss some of the implications of VR porn, and what it might mean to relationships for men to have interactive VR cam experiences with adult performers. Given that VR experiences can feel more like actual memories, then will be there new lines in terms of what’s considered “cheating?” Ela says that this is a conversation that people need to have within their relationships in order to explore what’s acceptable and not acceptable. She says that porn is often treated as the scapegoat for failed marriages, but that porn is merely a symptom of a relationship dynamic where there’s fundamental lack of clear communication about sex. If the existence of VR porn inspires a lot of couples to have a candid conversation about sex and porn and their agreements around that, then that’s going to be a lot better than treating as a taboo topic that needs to be hidden and felt ashamed of.
There’s a lot of interesting new technologies with teledildonics and the possibility of how technology could help enhance the physical experience of either 1:1 intimate and erotic encounters between long-distance lovers, as well as interactive porn experiences. People often cite porn as one of the technological innovators by looking at the history of the VHS vs. Beta max, the rise of streaming video on the Internet, as well as online payment systems to be able to pay for porn cites. But Ela actually agrees with Palmer Luckey in that Porn has lost that competitive edge to gaming. It’s not because of porn that we have VR headsets. It’s because of gaming. And if anything, porn is going to be following the market leaders of which VR gaming platform is going to be the most compelling rather than driving the market decisions.
If anything, porn may suffer being shut out of being accepted onto some of the walled garden platforms, and there may need to be technological hacks like Mark Schramm’s SideLoadVR signature injector in order to get porn applications to run on devices like the GearVR.
One area that will be interesting to watch in the realm of VR porn is how kink communities adopt the technologies and how much haptic feedback might be able to be included within various sensation play experiences. There’s a large psychological component that can be involved with kink that plays with power dynamics, and there doesn’t necessarily even need to have physical sex involved. It’s these types of more social interactions that could lend themselves really well to playing various different fantasies and kink scenes within a virtual environment.
Finally, Ela talks about some of the future applications of VR in terms of education and medical experiences. She also sees that VR porn could actually been seen a therapeutic application of VR to help provide more intimacy and reduce levels of isolation and loneliness.
VR porn will certainly continue to be part of of the VR landscape, and I personally will be interested to see what types of surprising insights that VR porn will provide. Just as you can’t take a 2D film or 2D game and just do a port to VR and expect it to be a compelling experiences. Instead, the best practice is to look at the strengths of the VR medium and build something from the ground up. It sounds like Ela and her VRTube.xxx team are early pioneers on that journey, and I’d expect that there’s going to be a lot of interesting surprising results from that journey. For example, if you would have told me that VR porn would result in the cultivation of deeper intimacy and perhaps better sex in real life, then that would’ve been really surprising for me to hear. But yet, that’s what seems to be the direction that Ela and her team are going.
Of course, the world of pornography and adult entertainment is a huge and vast world. It’s likely that there will be a whole new range of new and different experiences that people create that are genre-busting and truly innovative. One of the best places to track the latest trends and developments in this realm is probably over at the OculusNSFW subreddit.
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