Virtual sex: the futurist perspective

Ross Dawson is an Australian futurist, prolific public speaker and creator of frameworks that assist in understanding trends. I’ve spoken on virtual worlds at a couple of get-togethers he’s organised and he certainly understands the field broadly. He’s recently launched Future of Sex, devoted to the future trends in sex. Virtual worlds feature as a key component but the site covers a lot more than that. Whether it’s interspecies virtual sex, robot unions or teledildonics, the site is focused on covering it.

Ross himself is up front on one of the main reasons he’s created the site:

As a publisher, we look for where there is a solid business model. Just over 5 years ago now I wrote a blog post about massively multi-player sex games, commenting on the broadening scope of virtual worlds. Since then, continuing until today, I have received thousands of visitors a month to that post from Google searches on related topics. Since we put into the post an affiliate link to the largest virtual sex world Red Light Center we have been making some very healthy pocket money off just that one post.

There’s no doubt virtual sex is only going to grow in both financial and public awareness terms – and as always its likely to drive innovation in virtual worlds as well as push the boundaries in areas such as avatar rights and the right to expression.

Lawyer as Husband

A lawyer married a woman who had previously divorced ten husbands.

On their wedding night, she told her new husband, “Please be gentle, I’m still a virgin.”

“What?” said the puzzled groom.

“How can that be if you’ve been married ten times?”

“Well, Husband #1 was a sales representative: he kept telling me how great it was going to be.

Husband #2 was in software services: he was never really sure how it was supposed to function, but he said he’d look into it and get back to me.

Husband #3 was from field services: he said everything checked out diagnostically but he just couldn’t get the system up.

Husband #4 was in telemarketing: even though he knew he had the order, he didn’t know when he would be able to deliver.

Husband #5 was an engineer: he understood the basic process but wanted three years to research, implement, and design a new state-of-the-art method.

Husband #6 was from finance and administration: he thought he knew how, but he wasn’t sure whether it was his job or not.

Husband #7 was in marketing: although he had a nice product, he was never sure how to position it.

Husband #8 was a psychologist: all he ever did was talk about it.

Husband #9 was a gynecologist: all he did was look at it.

Husband #10 was a stamp collector: all he ever did was… God! I miss him! But now that I’ve married you, I’m really excited!”

“Good,” said the new husband, “but, why?”

“You’re a lawyer. This time I know I’m gonna get screwed!”

At the bar

McGurky walks into his local pub with a big grin on his face.
“What are you so happy about?” asks the barman.

“Well, I’ll tell you,” replies McGurky.

“You know, I live by the railway.

Well, on my way home last night, I noticed a young woman tied to the
tracks, like in the movies.

I, of course, went and cut her free and took her back to my place.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I scored big time!

We made love all night, all over the house.

We did everything, me on top, sometimes her on top, every position

“Fantastic!” exclaimed the barman. “You lucky guy. Was she pretty?”

“Dunno…Never found the head…”

Virtual sex steps up a notch: JoyRiact

Today whilst completing out weekly news roundup, I stumbled across a press release from a Swiss company promoting the late 2009 release of a suite of net-connected sex toys under the banner JoyRiact. The press release contains the usual healthy dose of hyperbole, but it seems Second Life is key market and JoyRiact claim to have some events planned in-world.

The demo video explains it all pretty well really:

The press release also rightly recognises there are already options available in this area – it’ll be interesting to see if this product captures a significant share of what’s a fairly hard to quantify, but likely significant market.

Sexual expression in virtual worlds – is normalcy achievable?

From our sister site, Metaverse Health:

For many, the Christmas / New Year period is a time when there’s more regular social contact with people. It’s certainly been the case for me and it’s emphasised a well known virtual world conundrum – personal boundaries. Over the past month I’ve had the occasion to discuss virtual worlds with a handful of people who have no experience with them at all. In each case, the issue of virtual sex would arise – no surprise there. What did surprise me in its regularity in being raised, was the belief that real-world personal boundaries shouldn’t apply in virtual worlds.

One friend, who’s got a postgraduate education, said to me “if you can’t get immediate and free sex in Second Life, why would you bother?”


It’s not an uncommon opinion by any means. It actually sits on the opposite end of the continuum from “virtual sex is wrong / funny / worthy of ridicule”. In the middle is a limited amount of work being done by health professionals and educators on promoting sexual health, particularly in Second Life. Until there’s further work done in the area of establishing the ‘normalcy’ of sexual expression online (with the usual caveats around unacceptable behaviour / child pornography / extreme sexual violence etc), opinions like my friend’s will continue to hold sway. Some would argue that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and there’s still not enough evidence to determine whether acceptable online sexual expression if harmful, beneficial or both.

There’s obviously some appeal in a different set of personal boundaries, it’s just defining the groundwork for alternate approaches that’s challenging.

Sex in Sony’s Home?

The YouTube video below has been doing the rounds of the social media sites. If very close dancing and the odd suggestive comment equals sex, then indeed Sony’s new virtual world for the PlayStation 3 is a hotbed of fornication:

Thanks to numerous sources for the link, including Dizzy Banjo and Pavig Lok.

Will Internet censorship soon include Virtual World censorship?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no direct relationship between Australian and American laws. Australians are not afforded all the protections that the American people have access to by law, although in some circumstances Australian society works as though those protections existed. Americans are protected from governmental censorship by the First Amendment to their Constitution. Even though Australian law does not guarantee that governmental censorship will not occur, many Australians assume that we have that protection, and for the most part, this has been borne out in practice, if not in law. Here is a list of rights that are protected by law in Australia.

Stephen Conroy would like to see both law and enforcement of law be enacted with regards to “Internet” censorship.

Senator Conroy is a Catholic, and socially conservative. It is likely  that his wishes will coincide with a minority of users of the Internet, both because the way in which the law is to be enacted is unadvisable, and due to a generalised belief in the right of all Australians to free speech, misplaced or not, especially as regards material available across the Internet.

It is not yet clear from the Senator’s statements who will be in charge of deciding the parameters surrounding the law: what material will and will not be allowed to be transmitted across the Internet, and whether “the Internet” in its entirety will be censored, or whether they are referring only to web pages available over the Internet.

According the the Wikipedia entry concerning Internet censorship, Australia is in the OpenNet Initiative (ONI)’s nominal category as of 2008; content classified “RC” or “X18+” may not be hosted within Australia, and content from outside Australia may be blacklisted.

The filtering aspect is of great concern.

  • The blacklist will not be made available for public consumption.
  • Filtering technology is of very little practical use at this point. A blacklist of every site containing banned or age-limited content would need to be kept.
  • Current filtering boxes slow all Internet traffic, on average, by 30%.
  • The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of the proposed national internet filter. Source.
  • Finally, this one’s a real doozy – a private company will have access to a record of all traffic passing through the filtering boxes that they provide: essentially, all the Internet traffic in Australia. Interestingly, the government will not necessarily have access to that information.

There does not yet appear to be any information regarding restrictions on content provided by services other than the Web. One wonders how services such as some of the virtual environments might be restricted – except for cutting off access entirely. Banned content from virtual worlds such as Second Life cannot be separated from allowable content by a third party. Perhaps, as with the legislation in Germany and Britain, it will become the responsibility of the individual to keep child pornography and other banned content off their screens; this is the case for all online and print media in these countries. More likely, the Australian legislation will expand to encompass virtual worlds in some way, probably circumventing the whole issue by cutting off access to such worlds altogether. Much as it would be preferable to see better education of our youth regarding these topics, in preparation for becoming responsible, Internet-using adults, it seems more likely that the government will choose to to do the work for us, much as the Chinese government does for its people.

Censorship of the Web has already arrived; how far behind can the censorship of other services be? How disruptive could the censorship of virtual worlds be?

Virtual sex brings ’em in

Over the past few days Second Life has reached a new peak concurrency of more than 76 thousand.

The reason being cited is recent stories on a divorce resulting from virtual adultery. It’s not suprising and it’s backed up by an Australian Second Life resident who spends a significant amount of time mentoring new users. In a brief discussion with him this afternoon he confirmed a surge in new users needing help and that the UK-driven story seems to be the catalyst.

Mainstream media rightly get pilloried at times for their sometimes uninformed coverage of the full gamut of the virtual world experience. There is an upside though: growth for the virtual worlds themselves. How ‘sticky’ these users will be in always uncertain. Wagner James Au sums it up nicely:

How many of these new users are interested in committing virtual adultery… and how many of them are real life partners of now-suspicious SL users, looking to catch them in the act?

A lot of people on their first glimpse of virtual sex will tend to react along the lines of ‘why would you bother?’. The reality is a significant proportion of these people go on to engage in virtual sex regularly and in forms arguably more varied than real-life.

What are your thoughts – are we about to see droves of new people looking for virtual options for sexual expression, followed closely by another group seeking to catch them out? I think it’s a little too simplistic an assumption but sometimes the simplest explanation comes in closest to the truth.

Sex and Google’s Lively – the darker side

I wince sometimes at some of the stuff the Second Life Herald publishes – it’s an individual taste thing – but their expose on the darker side of Google’s Lively is well worth the read. The Herald’s Pixeleen Mistral posed as a 13-year old avatar and was subjected to some unwanted attention.

Any 3D chat experience is going to attract deviants – the challenge for Google is how they manage this.

Christian Orthodoxy and Sexual Purity – A Second Life seminar

An interesting announcement came to my attention today from the organisers of a ninety minute seminar. It’s being held by the UK-based University of Plymouth at 6am Friday morning Australian Eastern time. The full details as announced:

Fathers Johann Barak and Joshua Tuchs (these are SL avatar names), who in RL are two Eastern Orthodox priests in USA, together with Presbytera Anna Hirschel (again, SL name–she is also in RL Eastern Orthodox and based in USA) will be holding a 60-90 minute seminar at our SIM in Second Life® this Thursday, 1 May 2008, at 1:00 PM PDT/SLT = 9 PM BST (GMT+1) about ‘Sexual Purity and Healthy Relationships: A Christian Orthodox Perspective for the 21st Century’.

The event will take place at the University of Plymouth Sexual Health SIM.

Our three speakers will be holding an open discussion along the lines of this video – we will be showing a short segment of it in-world at the start of the seminar. They will be responding live to your questions in-world. Fr Johann Barak, Fr Joshua Tuchs, and Presbytera Anna Hirschel believe that Orthodox Christianity has a strong and very important and practical message for the whole world, especially these days with the very recent announcement of the US CDC that 1 in every 4 American teenage girls has a sexually-transmitted infection (HPV) that can lead later in life to cervical cancer (

About us:

The University of Plymouth Sexual Health SIM in Second Life® is a novel Sexual Health Public Education and Outreach project funded by Education UK Island .

The combination of sex and religion always makes for interesting debates so if 6am isn’t too early for you, this one may be well worth a visit.

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