This is the first in a continuing monthly series on virtual sex and the products that make it possible. Each month we’ll explore virtual worlds that allow you to have sex with other real people, but in a virtual environment. We’ll also look at the latest in remote controlled technology that allows you to pleasure a partner from a distance.
This month we’ll look at the oldest virtual world that provides sexual exploration (along with a whole lot more. It is called Second Life, and it has a current population of around one million users.
There are a number of online worlds created in 3D software that you can explore. Some of them have been designed for sexual exploration, and some have allowed enough freedom to users so that they drifted in that direction, at least in some of the darker corners.
When we first began designing Erotic University, we had envisioned a world you could move around in, walking from place to place. While that level of freedom is fun, and the root of many video games, it also did little to provide an educational experience. For our purposes, walking around in our campus would be a bit of a time waster with no real educational benefit.
The entire campus is designed as a fully realized 3D world, though. The buildings have interiors and rooms, although many of the rooms are still empty for future expansion. While we render out the rooms as still images, it would be possible to eventually add the ability to look around a room in 360 degrees, or move through a building. If we decide at some point that that adds value, we will do it. For now, our current interface allows you to explore the campus more quickly and get to what you want.
There are some elements that do make our world more dynamic. The scenes change depending upon the time of day, and the stars in the sky come out at night. Clocks on the wall show the correct time, a wall calendar will show today’s date. And, of course, each room has a lot of elements you can click on to explore them in more detail.
Another advantage of our approach is that we can provide higher quality imagery than what you can get from having to render it all out in real time. The quality of the graphics is not dependent on having an expensive 3D card.
Still, the experience of moving through a 3D world with real-time rendered graphics can be compelling, and a number of interesting experiences are currently available. Erotic University is limited to our virtual campus, but commercial online virtual worlds are massive. Most have been around for awhile and have developed rich and detailed worlds. The most significant feature, and one that we hope some day to add, is the ability to interact with other users. That is a key feature of these types of virtual worlds, that are less sex game than a form of virtual social interaction.
The granddaddy of them all is what was originally known as the Sims Online, an expansion of the popular life simulation game The Sims. The Sims, introduced in 2000, was basically a virtual doll house inhabited with artificial people. Creator Will Wright described it as a parody of modern consumer culture. It did not take long for people to figure out how to add sexual elements to it. The Sims Online was added in 2002, but never really took off. It did have the element of having its own economy, but it did not work very well.
Linden Labs was also working on Second Life around the same time, and in March 2002 they opened it to the first resident. Despite renaming the Sims Online to EA Land, they never stood a chance. They created a sanitized teen friendly world with many limitations. Second Life was the wild frontier, where anything was possible and there was no censorship. EA Land soon sank beneath the virtual sea.
Second Life is still here. It has a well functioning economy that translates into the real world, making money for both Linden Labs and entrepreneurial Second Life citizens. In 2015, users redeemed $60 million from Second Life businesses. Second Life as a whole has a GDP of around $500 million.
Like the early versions, it still has lots of sex. In fact, it has some of everything. Its openness is what keeps its appealing. You can use it to create anything. Thanks to the Linden Scripting Language and easily created graphics, you can add almost anything you can imagine to this virtual world.
Not surprisingly, a lot of what people imagine is rather sexual. As writer Emanuel Maiberg
noted in an article for Motherboard, “If you let users make whatever they want, they’ll make a lot of sex stuff.” Still, that is just one part of what has become an amazingly expansive world. It is a big and important part to a lot of users, though.
So, what does it cost? It is free to sign up, and you can join using your Facebook account. Just go to Second Life, pick an avatar and a username. For free, you get a customizable avatar and the ability to explore the world. Premium memberships start at $6 a month, and give you a home you can customize, money (Linden Dollars), building rights, exclusive areas, and other bonuses. Once you sign up, you download their software to use to interact with the world. It is currently around a 50 meg download.
Second Life is essentially a virtual environment for social interaction. It turns out that people like sex in their social interactions, especially when it can all be done anonymously. Because users can create their own environments, and because Second Life has been around so long, there are an astonishing number of sex themed environments. There are literally hundreds of sex clubs, BDSM clubs, swinger clubs, pickup joints, nude beaches, escort services, and much more. It boggles the imagination.
For example, there is Mysterium Masked Mansion (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/FourthLife/200/63/24), a swinger club. It is the detail that went into it that may surprise you. You go through the gate and walk up a fog shrouded woodsy path. The mansion itself is highly detailed, with luxury cars outside. The interior is richly furnished.
It is a popular place, and there is a dress code. You must wear a mask. You socially interact with the others here through a chat window. It provides your avatar with a nickname so that your Second Life identity remains unknown.
There is a main room for socializing, but also other areas to explore, including a pool, hot tub and a shower. There are many rooms in this mansion. Yes, you can have sex with the other avatars assuming they are mutually inclined.
So, how does the sex thing work? First of all, it does not have to be in chat. There is also a voice option. Then you might want to have functioning genitals, which you can purchase with Linden dollars along with some sexy clothes. You might also want to purchase an attractive skin texture. By the way, you put on your penis when you need it, otherwise it sticks out through your clothing.
Here is where it begins to get a little complicated. You need to purchase or get some of the free actions that can then be triggered for your avatar. One of the most basic is a hug, which allows you to hug another character. A kiss is also quite popular. Actual sex actions can be much more involved. You can program your own actions with the Linden programming language, but most will purchase or otherwise acquire actions.
Some furniture has actions scripted into them. A pose ball appears above the two characters as they sit on a bed, for example, which provide a list of things you can do. Poseballs might be in the room you are in, and if so, you can attach to them and use them.
Linden dollars can be converted into real dollars, so there are many sex entrepreneurs offering all sorts of products. Sex furniture is very popular, with one designer making $3,000 a week. There are people who make a living designing things for Second Life and selling them. A few have even become millionaires.
There are online stores like Xcite! that offer all sorts of sexual items. It is a good place to visit to get an idea of the types of sexual items available and the kinds of things you can do in Second Life. The prices are in Linden dollars, so that penis does not actually cost $300 real life dollars. You order online with your avatar name, then finish the purchase in Second Life by visiting their kiosk and paying in Linden dollars.
Xcite and others also offer sex toys that link to your computer via bluetooth and can be controlled from within Second Life. This brings the virtual into the real.
People who do cyber-sex use a technique called chat emoting. This is where you describe what you are doing to your partner via text (or voice if that is what you are using). This allows you to add the extra details that you may not have an animation for.
Second Life is truly astonishing. It can be overwhelming when you first jump in. You will need to read some tutorials and it will take a little bit of learning and time to get it figured out. You can even hire a prostitute who will help you figure out the sex stuff and how it works.
As with in the real world, there is appropriate etiquette you need to practice. Harassing or being obnoxious with other avatars does have negative consequences. Mutual consent is just as important as in the real world.
You can learn the basics with a few Google searches. There are tons of tutorials and lots of general information on the Second Life site. A good starting place is the Second Life Destination Guide, which describes the amazing number of places you can visit. The Adults Only section currently has 119 listings. You should also read the Sex in Second Life wiki.
In 2017 Linden Labs will introduce Project Sansar. This is the next generation in virtual worlds designed to be experienced through VR headgear. It was just released to content developers a few days ago, so little is known about it at this point.