Virtual reality is the inevitable next step for pornography
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. January 20, 2016
Not only are we at a point where pornography is at the tips of our fingers, we can now be fully immersed in it. It doesn’t matter how you feel or whether you yourself will ever partake in this new form of adult entertainment, what matters is that it will undoubtedly be one key driving force in the virtual reality development.
In July 2015, Naughty America, one of the leading adult entertainment providers, launched a relatively new genre in the catalogue: virtual reality. With the advancement of virtual reality hardware such as Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, consumers are now able to dive deeper into their fantasies.
Since the beginning, technology has always evolved to accommodate porn. From the days of printed magazines to VHS to DVD to streaming to whatever is happening now, porn will push tech in the direction its consumers want it to go. We can almost be confident in saying that the correlation between virtual reality’s successes is very much in the hands of porn watchers. Whatever porn watchers want, they will get—that’s the name of the business.
The technology is still very much limited. At this time, consumers are only able to view what is in front of them, not 360 degrees. In addition, unlike virtual reality for video games, which enables the users to operate the being inside the headset, the porn is not interactive. But soon it will be.
I, however, have yet to experience virtual reality or this brand of porn, so my take on it is still up in the air. What I do worry about is the disassociation between the virtual being and the self. Porn, let’s admit it, is inauthentic—like all things filmed, it is composed, designed to appeal to viewers as much as possible. Real-life people don’t talk like porn stars.
I digress. When you watch porn on a screen, you have one more level of separation than you do with virtual reality. When watching porn on a screen, your brain is still functioning, creating the space for you to fantasize. However, with virtual reality, you are the character. It will look as though you are having sex, but you are not. You are one step closer to just hiring a sex worker.
What I’m worried about is that slippery slope between entertainment and obsession. Porn is such an addictive thing that if we don’t carefully distribute it, it can end up harming lives the same way drugs and alcohol do. Porn is everywhere. Porn is free. Now, you are living the porn. Even if the technology is ready, I don’t know if the human psyche is. But I’ll try everything once.