vendredi, janvier 12, 2007

My avatar, myself

Clad in a PVC mini-dress, fishnet stockings and studded knee-high boots, Cheri Horton leads me through the corridors of her Gothic castle. We stop to chat for a few minutes about the architecture of the building, before she takes me to bed, undresses me, and we have sex...

Actually, we didn't have sex-I can't stand studded knee-high boots on a woman.

In fact, this little fantasy sequence was described by Celeste Bevier in a June 2006 edition of 'New ScientistTech". The simulated 3D sex is part of the online game Second Life. In the world of Second Life, gamers interact through animated characters called avatars. Those without the computer geek smarts to dress (or undress) their own avatar, or to have them engage in cybersex, can buy sexual positions and erotic toys from other players. The possibilities are dizzying. They can also be expensive-in the Second Life virtual "red-light" district, players act as "escorts"and charge for their services.

"Simulated 3D sex is fun and erotic for me due to the fact that you can explore fantasies that may not always be as practical or possible in real life," says professional dominatrix Horton-or rather, Noche Kandora, the flesh-and-blood man who controls her" said the New ScientistTech article.

Got that? A female reporter doing a story on cybersex has a simulated sexual encounter in a game with a 3D dominatrix created by a guy-wonder how she got the assignment?

Why are they making it harder and harder to be hip nowadays?

When you think about it (and I have to admit last night was the first time I'd thought of having sex with an animated 3D character-I'm so boringly conventional) it was only a matter of time before sex became a part of these virtual communities. Second Life (fascinating title) is much more than an outpost of BDSM Inc. The article noted that in this virtual community, where the content is created by the players themselves, users have formed political factions, protested high taxes and held workshops on engineering airplanes and designing clothes. And, oh, what clothes!

After all, sex is a part of life, isn't it? Just as in life, it's also difficult to get a date on a Saturday night-the sex rooms are tough to find-and the hot guys don't always accept you.

Whether these games are the private pleasure of the truly unconventional, or whether there will soon be mass-produced avatars you can download to your cell (the cute banker on the commuter train may already have one), it is a fact that electronic communication continues to affect almost every aspect of our lives. The line between what we keep private and what we expose (literally and figuratively) continues to shift, creating both possibility and risk. On the one hand, sex addicts will find the possibility of avatar sex one more reason not to stop their compulsive behavior-always looking for the next frontier, never satisfied. On the other, computer geeks finally have a place to go at night !

In our next installment we'll take a look at good ol' "normal" cybersex. Does its availability spell a real threat to intimacy, love and romance?

Comments invited-keep it clean, though.

PS-In the interests of investigational journalism, I have now joined Second Life. Not to look for dominatrixes-but to see what goes on the virtual reality world. After all, my children spend lots of time on Toontown and I have a duty to find out what's happening in virtual realityland. Will report back if I see Cheri-once my server lets me on.

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