Even Better than the Real Thing

Occasionally something leaps out at me from my conversations with Twitter with the capacity to change thinking completely. Last night, @_thunderspank linked a trailer for the new PS4 game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, making extensive use of the Unreal 4 ‘engine’ which, for those of you who don’t do gaming, is a software framework in which it is possible to capture and create completely believable virtual versions of reality. This is a system used both by commercial companies and the military to run simulation tech. With the help of a combination of other specialist organisations, motion capture has finally become possible with the minimum of inconvenience to an actor. Sure, there’s a phenomenal amount of work to get to the stage where an individual can manipulate their virtual avatar, but the results… well, they’re amazing.

Viewing this trailer last night it was only at a minute in that I realised I wasn’t watching a real actress.

Things have come a long way from the early days of pixelated avatars: one only needs to look at Mario in his current incarnation to realise the differences and improvements that have been wrought by better processor power and higher resolutions. However, the consequences of this ‘format’ wielded by a true independent member of the game world could allow the door to open for more organic developments of the technology, possibly along unexpected lines. Certainly the game that allows you to play as yourself cannot be too far off, and with the current obsession with image that many people possess and flaunt on a daily basis online, the consequences of going down that path are enough to make me feel distinctly uncomfortable.

However, I suspect the porn industry will be looking at this tech very closely indeed, because with the ability to create hyper realistic humans that can be controlled in real time? The future has to be VR Sex without a single Robot Woman in sight.

This is one of those moments where gaming is at a crossroads: a large proportion of the industry appears obsessed with esports and monetising the planet to exploit that, whilst others have a more theatrical and artistic vision of the future. I know which version I’d like to ascribe to, especially as the former appear to have only passing interest in diversity or anyone over the age of 30. Once someone has the common sense to float a ‘Senior’s esports league, or actively encourages women to take part? Then I’ll listen. For now, the future for me will be gaming where I’m the one who dictates the action. This then raises the question of whether I’d even want an adventure where I was able to be myself.

In retrospect, I don’t find any enjoyment in simulations of reality. What really drives interest and longevity for me is the ability to be someone else, or something… in fact, anything EXCEPT what I am. Virtual reality will require an investment from the user in the exact same way any normal game would hope for. The longer you are prepared to invest in a virtual world, the more likely you are not only to succeed within it but get an equal amount of enjoyment in return. Hyper-realism is great, to a point. Like most concepts, it will very much rely on the quality of material provided by developers in order to produce an engaging product.

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My favoured escape is about to launch its latest round of online content next week. One upon a time this would be enough to have me excited, but now there is simply a quiet acceptance of time passing, and the ideals I signed up for effectively becoming insignificant. As long as I remain able to enjoy myself, I’ll keep playing. As to what will drive people to play and spend money in the future?

I can pretty much guarantee I won’t be the target audience.

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I understand how the Internet works. I realise that this place is not all rainbows and love. Many people use anonymity and HQ graphics for stuff that we don’t talk about with kids in the room, that only happens between consenting adults. That farmyard activity. It is the elephant in the room, trunk metaphor upstanding. However, as a woman, I feel perhaps I get a raw deal in all of this, and that’s precisely why there’s a problem, on oh so many levels. One small blog post cannot do justice to the wealth of issues that are tied to this particular table, so be ready with your safe word, because I don’t intend to offend here, simply slip this into conversation and walk away on my four inch spiked heels.

I get why Pornbots on twitter are female, but where are the male ones?

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I made a tweet yesterday which included the word ‘classy’ which, I discovered a while ago is like Pornbot catnip. It means it is time to go through my Twitter Lists again this morning, after I’ve written this, and remove myself from any I don’t remember being told I’ve joined or that include any pictures of ladies lovely mammaries. Don’t get me wrong, these are spectacular breasts, but I don’t want this in my face. If I did, I’d ask for it, and I’d sure as fuck not do it where I work. However, I keep wondering why men don’t sell services like this. I get the basic issues with erectile tissue down below, but there’s some practical considerations to be factored in here. Most women will never be impressed with a Dick DM, and if you want to show you’re classy? Not really the way to go ever, even when in a serious relationship. However, a well honed, muscular chest is a thing of true beauty. You can sell amazing numbers of things with the right six pack. Why are there not male pornbots doing this right now?

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I don’t even need the ‘angel’ or the ‘sexy kiss’ emojis, I can happily fantasise just with the picture. The reality, of course, is that according to all these experts who write the books on what arouses women and men will smile politely and point out that visual stimulus for a man matters far more than it does for a woman. We like the idea of a relationship with the person we’re pretending to fuck, that somehow it’s more about caring and consideration and not stress relief and let’s stop the bus here, fellas. I hate to break it to you, but I like to wank as much as you do. There, I said it. The fact that an increasing number of women aren’t either afraid to admit this and indeed do just this on a daily basis is not news either. It’s been going on for THOUSANDS OF YEARS or else there wouldn’t be a whole industry around the dildo, Ben-Wa balls and everything else that women use to keep themselves happy.

Oh yeah, we’re supposed to have a man for that, aren’t we? Well, many of us do, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in thirty years with the same bloke. This desire for male chest on demand is not because I’m lacking anywhere, far from it. What I’d like to understand is why, when the motivation for sexual urges are far more complex than a couple of surveys and the odd BDSM mainstream movie will suggest, women are the ones doing all the selling. Oh right, it’s because it’s a white male world. Gotcha. Except its not, and the Internet (of all places) is where diversity is far more front and centre than you’ll ever find down the local pub or in your community centre. I feel there’s some mileage in trying to investigate further, but there’s always a bit of reticence in doing such research once you know Government’s decided to start logging your internet use in case at 50 I decide to become an extremist.

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The future, it seems to me, ought to be whatever you want, whenever you want it, but with the ability to say no. The annoyance of pornbots is the fact I don’t get a say. Ironically, when I want to look at lovely bodies, there remains very few places where ‘ethical’ porn exists, that isn’t about exploitation or money laundering or soft focus and less money shots. This desire is probably why the naked bodies of certain actors have always been an exploitable commodity, and that’s not something that sits particularly well with the mother of two kids in me. It seems impossible to find what must exist as a happy medium, and makes me wonder if the androgyny that is often favoured in youth isn’t a pointer to how this is going to work moving forward. Sexual should always be a choice and never a demand, always personal and never specified, and most importantly cannot be forced on an individual by another. Consent, ultimately is the key, and that’s why the pornbots are removed.

If you want to shove breasts in my face, you need to ask permission first.

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Then there will be those of you who’ll want to argue the merits of control and dominance, and that’s when I’ll realise I’ve answered my own question. I know why there’s no male pornbots, there’s just no money in it. If you’re prepared to pay to wank to the image of a stranger, that’s what you’ll pay for regardless. What I’m craving is a choice that already exists, just without a suitable delivery system, and if it mattered enough, I’d go find it anyway, but it doesn’t. Hell, if it really mattered enough I could set up the business, but a woman exploiting men is too much like the Conservative Party right now to be either sexy or worthwhile. For the record, I wouldn’t do that, I’d pay all my lovely six pack guys to lounge on chaise lounges and eat grapes whilst staring into the middle distance whilst Paul Oakenfold mixes played. However, there would be those who’d rightly argue this isn’t porn, but art, and they’d probably have a point. I could go down the V&A and stare at statues instead, and that’s a cheaper setup.

I’m not done with this subject, I’ll warn you now. There’s a lot here to consider, and I realise this is the tip of a very large and pretty deep spreading iceberg.

Leave it with me.

The Day After

Yesterday was as important as I thought it was. Today, as a result, seems a little more shiny. It *could* be the good weather, of course, that’s probably helping, but in reality it is far more to do with the grasping of inescapable truth. Life is really yours to control if you choose to do so. No more, no less. So when you do that, stuff happens. Not all of it is good, I’ll grant you, but the truth is that you hold your own future in your hands, albeit briefly. However, at least from where I am standing, this is almost akin to Christmas and Holiday Time happening simultaneously.

I just love the idea of not being swayed by the stuff that really doesn’t matter.

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The Internet, on most days, is a ridiculously cess-filled pit of perpetual slapfests. The fact I can happily identify most people slinging mud at me by now makes this now very easy to rationalise, because the truly random’s never been an issue to begin with. Once that’s removed from the equation it becomes remarkably easy to filter out all the other sources of extraneous noise. Applying logic to situations becomes not only fun but actually entertaining. It’s almost as if I graduated to adult classes overnight, whilst not losing the right to wear the uniform. I’m a big fan of uniform, but as others aren’t, there has to be a halfway house. Accommodation is the key. Except for many, it’s far more fun to start the fights and run away. I know this because I can often be that person too.

So, what do you do when your mentality perennially falls between two stools?

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That’s when you pick your friends and stand by them. It’s when you decide to just let the issues go. The day comes around and you then become confident to start the fire and guard it until it finally goes out, as a beacon to those who feel the same way but can’t abide the means by which some people make that point. I’m watching that play out now with, of all things, costumes for the Power Rangers movie. This is because unless you give the pink and yellow outfits breasts, no one will remember they’re women. As it transpires they’re really lovely, well proportioned breasts, but that will be lost in a sea of righteous indignation. As it happens? I really like the costumes, and when you don’t have the desire to jump on the Feminism Bandwagon for every perceived injustice? Nobody likes you.

Well, that’s just tough jubblies, isn’t it?

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Pick your battles, people. Even women can be dicks. Don’t be that, ever. In the end, it’s a short life, you’re only human and eventually, everyone finds out the truth.

When they do, you’d better be damn well prepared to defend yourself if required.

Oops! I Did it Again

Yesterday, I was pointed by a friend to this blog post: a free virtual reality channel is going to be offered for the Oculus Rift (that’s the headset, pay attention) that’s nothing but porn. Now, if you’re even remotely interested in gaming you will know that VR’s about to enter its third coming (no pun intended) and that anybody and their myopic relative’s gonna want a VR ‘unit’ for a console/PC. Except those of us with vision issues are already backing away slowly from the possibility of this whole new world, because we’re just not interested in that kind of immersion. For everybody else? Yes, you can get as excited as you like, just remember to clean up afterwards. Seriously, however, having porn on VR is inevitable, and not really as depressing as you might think. Because, slowly but surely, sex is undergoing a revolution that means, in time, it won’t just be the heterosexual blokes being stimulated over 360 degrees.

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These are female sex toys. The thing on the string is the modern (and remote controlled) equivalent of the ancient Ben Wa balls, the circle with the hole is a clitoral massager, and the lovely pink item shaped like an apostrophe is a ‘couples toy’: it shouldn’t take a genius to work out how that operates. The market in female ‘pleasure’ has always existed, it’s just that when you mention porn, it’s always considered in the same breath as being a men only pursuit, which is so not true it’s actually amusing. Pornhub however is unlikely to be immediately offering options for both sexes and every flavour in between, but you can guarantee other people will. Because if there’s one thing the internet is good for? Yeah. We all know that, your kiddie search pretends it doesn’t exist and the rest of us take our chances. However, what VR now opens up, should this actually be the time it takes off, is a way for two people to have a relationship over distance without any of the unpleasant side effects that normal sex offers: you know, pregnancy, disease, all that nasty stuff if we’re doing it ‘traditionally’ and if we’re not… well, here’s the thing.

VR could make virtual sex between consenting partners a reality.

Most smart people know the most important sexual organ you possess is your brain. Bodily functions come a poor second when you can’t make your head aroused, and what VR has the biggest potential for is to fool us into believing that actually, that person does actually want to fuck us. That means that there will come a point where software exists that allows you to use VR to copulate and believe you’re with someone else, because the potential market for this just doesn’t need to be explained. Chat rooms stop being you staring at a person and asking them to be sexy for you, they give you a vessel in which to complete the act and not have to worry about the Walk of Shame afterwards. People don’t have to ever leave their houses to go on first dates… and hang on, there’s a fine line being trodden between acceptable and dystopia. Except, for the people who understand that a healthy sex live does involve being in the same room as your partner for sex? VR will still have value, because it will allow people to be apart and still be together. You’ll be able to go on business and spend your nights in bed together.

Mostly, it gives plastics and electronic manufacturers another excuse to plunder natural resources for high end devices that will replicate the actions of someone else. Trust me when I say to you this is big business, and does not come cheap. Also believe that people are already exploiting this to within an inch of both decency and expectation. Don’t be offended or surprised. Sex has sold for thousands of years, and nothing is likely to change on that front for many thousands of years to come.

I’d lie back and think of England.

[PS: If you want lovely (albeit expensive) sex toys? lelo.com have you covered :D]