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Tech & Sex: What’s The Appeal In VR Porn?

Sex tech is a booming sector with multi-billion-dollar profits that has seen advances in products designed for both male and female pleasure.

The ‘untapped’ female sexuality has seen increased attention from the sex industry with the production of customisable male sex dolls, while men have benefitted from the development of sexual health apps that measures their impotence.

But a new form of controversial pornography is emerging that capitalises off the use of Virtual Reality technology – where users are able to place themselves at the scene through the use of a headset.

(Photo: Slutever Host Karley Sciortino wears a VR headset. Credit: Vice)

‘VR porn, in the most basic sense, is live action pornography scene but it’s shot using special cameras and special techniques, so that you feel as if the person is standing in front of you or looking at you or that you’re a part of the scene,’ Anna Lee, President of HoloGirlsVR, told Vice’s Slutever.

Viewers who watch VR porn, however, do not need the expensive equipment just to experience voyeurism. All that’s needed is a cheap headset with an inserted smartphone which would showcase the VR video footage.

‘I think VR appealed to me because I’ve always been a dreamer… Things get boring after a while so with VR I can try new things and I can do whatever I want in my room,’ a 19-year-old VR porn fan told the program.

‘It broadens what I can do… With VR, you can try different genders, different races, you can find animated porn, monster porn, you can be anything you really want.’

(Photo: Slutever Host Karley Sciortino wears a VR headset. Credit: Vice)

Virtual Reality porn may be increasing in popularity, but it hasn’t come without its controversies.

Previous scandals have seen the technology plagued by accusations that users are using the images of popular models, actors and even their exes for sexual gratification without their consent.

And there’s little people can do, with sales of animated, customisable VR animations being sold in masses online in Reddit forums or marketplaces like Patreon.

‘I use it to fulfil my sexual fantasies or replicate sexual encounters with my ex-girlfriends,’ one user commented on a subreddit.

‘From now on, we need to make sure we ask girlfriends to pose a few different angles with a blank expression and flat lighting for a few photos and then import them into VaM… Oh, and I find it amusing to alter reality and give them boob implants, etc. ;),’ another user wrote.

(Photo: Reddit user comments on a VR porn thread)

But John Danaher, a senior lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland Galway and co-editor of the book Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications, told Motherboard the images and representations users are creating online could be viewed as revenge porn if consent is not given by the individuals replicated.

‘Is this something the other person wants? Is it mutually desirable/pleasurable? I don’t think anyone should be creating representations of this sort without the consent of the real person… I also think anyone who might want to make such an image of themselves should think about the possibility of the representations being stolen, shared, and used for malicious purposes at a later point,’ he told the publication.

Social and ethical implications of pornography has always been a topic of discussion for researchers, psychologists and law makers – but the emergence of VR porn, which has been growing rapidly since 2017, has made the conversation even more complex.

VR porn is now being developed and produced away from big companies, which are at risk of regulation from law makers and governments, and into the hands of shady individuals on the internet, often protected by anonymity.

(Photo: A VR porn studio set up. Credit: Vice)

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