Making an Environment Conducive to Cybersex

Since it's release last week, Google Lively has been getting a decent amount of attention for being a bit "too lively." At any given time a handful of rooms on the constantly updating popular rooms list are sexual in nature. Some example: "Bears: Gay bears and cubs. Hairy men,” “Pussy room. Let’s talk about…sex,” “Europe Sex Friends: Have Fun and Meetings in Real Life.” At first glance it would appear that Lively--which is little more than a 3D chat program--has already become a cybersex haven.

Heading into Lively for cybersex reveals another story, however. I write a weekly cybersex advice column for The Village Voice, so I'm often exploring new locales for internet trysts. Having heard about Lively's liveliness, I was excited to settle in with the new world this past weekend. To my disappointment, despite trying a number of rooms and a number of chat partners, I could never get a proper session of cybersex going.

Heading into Lively for cybersex reveals another story, however. I write a weekly cybersex advice column for The Village Voice, so I'm often exploring new locales for internet trysts. Having heard about Lively's liveliness, I was excited to settle in with the new world this past weekend. To my disappointment, despite trying a number of rooms and a number of chat partners, I could never get a proper session of cybersex going.

I don't blame my potential partners--who, in keeping with the generally frenetic air in Lively's rooms, had little to no attention spans. I don't blame the embedded videos, which were awkward to watch instead of sexy. I don't even blame the fact that finding a partner who spoke English was next to impossible. Instead I blame the game's chat program, which makes private chat such a pain that it would drive any cybersex enthusiast running.

Lively's lack of liveliness brings up an interesting question: what elements of a virtual world make it more or less conducive to cybersex? Emergent sex will pop up in any game that gives players even minimal freedom of speech. Still, some worlds lend themselves to it--like Second Life, where chat is uncensored, building pose balls is easy enough, and finding a private space is as simple as wandering into 95% of the world, which can often feel abandoned. Other worlds, like Club Penguin, have all but eliminated sex by carefully controlling communication and imagery.

Though Lively offers its users a good deal of freedom (at least in what they say; there's no nudity in the game), it seems to have quelled its potential sexiness with an annoying chat system. Then again, maybe other people are suffering through. Have any Terra Nova readers or writers have sex on Lively yet?


Comments on Making an Environment Conducive to Cybersex:

Nicholas Chambers says:

I'm not exactly a specialist or even practicioner of CS, but what is the problem with Lively? Could you please be a little more specific?

That being said, my "Lively" is still stuck loading the room.

Posted Jul 16, 2008 7:18:03 AM | link

BonnieRuberg says:

Certainly. Instead of bringing up text boxes that present multiple lines of chat, Lively avatars talk line by line using text bubbles. This is frustrating in and of itself, since it's hard to keep a conversation going visibly. In addition, every time you want to send a private message (or a "whisper") you have to select the option from a drop-down menu. Forget and you'll end up talking about sex out loud in front of the other users.

Posted Jul 16, 2008 12:24:56 PM | link

SusanC says:

Forget and you'll end up talking about sex out loud in front of the other users.

In some VW's, you'll see players occasionally embarass themselves by sending to public chat something that was meant to be private (this is a clear sign of a problem with the user interface). On the other hand, some chatrooms deliberately don't provide a private chat facility, in order to promote a certain ambience (usually coupled with "orgy" in the room title...)

Posted Jul 16, 2008 4:31:45 PM | link

BonnieRuberg says:

It's true that that atmosphere of public sex can be both functional and appealing. I've had encounters in public chat rooms like those on Adult Friend Finer, for example, in which we could have gone off and found an empty corner of cyberspace, but we instead decided to act out our scene in front of the other members of the room. There's an element to cybersex like this that's both performative and exhibitionist. At the same time, if multiple people were to be having public sex in one chat room, things would get confused fast. Plus, Lively still lacks a traditional, line-by line chat format--and without it even following a private conversation becomes a pain as speech bubbles disappear.

Posted Jul 16, 2008 4:38:35 PM | link

SusanC says:

I've also noticed that chatrooms usually don't support 3-way private conversations. You can have a private conversation with one other person, or you can talk to everyone in the room, but there's nothing in between.

For cybersex, the lack of 3-way messaging may not matter too much (depending on how adventurous your sex life is...), but there are other reasons apart from sex for wanting private conversations.

Posted Jul 16, 2008 4:42:37 PM | link

BonnieRuberg says:

It's very true. The Adult Friend Finder adventure I mentioned was actually a cybersex three-way, which worked somewhat well in a public format since the more of us were involved the larger percentage of the overall room we presented. In Second Life that's overcome by heading somewhere private and then using public chat. Still, good point. It raises a whole sub-question: which environments are conducive to *what types of* cybersex?

Posted Jul 16, 2008 4:46:46 PM | link

Lachek says:

Given this opportunity, I have to ask this question of those more knowledgeable and experienced than myself:

A picture might be worth a thousand words in some cases, but these aren't exactly Rembrandts we're dealing with -- or even Hustler.

So what benefit do these graphical virtual worlds with crippled text chat functionality actually provide, compared with old-fashioned text chat clients? Do the enhanced immersive qualities of watching vaguely cartooney, low-res people awkwardly getting it on -- rather than reading well-written prose detailing the action -- actually make up for the cludgy chat interface?

I'd have thought a purely text-based VW like MU*s, or even IRC/IM, would be preferable to something like Lively or SL.

Posted Jul 17, 2008 9:30:11 AM | link

c3 says:

http://tiessam.blogspot.com/2008/07/lively-is-anything-but.html

suggest all read this post and its linkage...seems what you want is EVIL..lol

googles VR "launch" project is another prime example of why Bruce feared a "winter"..lol

i suspect a few start up vc backed "virtual worlds" will be scuttled after the full feedback on this google sized "mistake"? of a service/product/ market 800 lb gorrilla attempt-- run by a few 20% ers with corporate "blessing"-- comes to into full public light..

i expect lots of Press releases soon , all trying to clean up a badly- "meta-created"- public outing.

maybe the " post first--- examine later-hide behind new age cyberrights " isnt such a good idea...

c3

Posted Jul 17, 2008 9:45:30 PM | link

Nicholas Chambers says:

Regarding the hyperlink above:

Ahh... yes, the "sex police" is coming. I guess Google decided to replicate the 1984 society in their VW. Now they'll just need to introduce the "Hour of Hate" towards Yahoo and Microsoft.

Posted Jul 20, 2008 5:21:55 PM | link

Bonnie Ruberg says:

More on this topic from Regina Lynn and AVN:
http://www.reginalynn.com/archives/512

Posted Jul 21, 2008 2:54:21 PM | link

Andy Havens says:

Bonnie said: "In Second Life that's overcome by heading somewhere private and then using public chat."

You can create multi-user, private IMs in Second Life now, regardless of what space you're in. They have to be on your "friends" list; you ctrl+select multiple friends and then click on (I think) "invite to conversation" or something similarly worded. Works pretty well, though takes some time to ping the invitees and have them switch over.

It is, in fact, quite fun to be dancing or hanging out in a room full of folks and to choose to have a quiet conversation with a few friends. It's also fun to have a multi IM going with several people who are in very different locations. Makes the idea of "place" in a virtual place even more combustible.

Posted Jul 21, 2008 6:07:00 PM | link

Gayathri says:

It looks interesting but the situation is little bit busy,But the content makes us satisfied.

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GAYATHRI

Addiction">http://www.addictionrecovery.net/tennessee">Addiction Recovery Tennessee

Posted Jul 23, 2008 11:04:04 AM | link

Dilshi says:

Looks great to see.

__________
DILSHI

Social Media Marketing

Posted Aug 20, 2008 9:20:55 AM | link