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Jul 25, 2006



You could replace a lot of that with "roleplay" (in an MMORPG context, not a sexual context") and it would be nearly as true. When a roleplay scene is over, other than possible chat logs, what remains? The collaborative story has been told and isn't necessarily to be repeated in a later performance (unlike a play script, as you reference above).


What Kupyi says is pretty much true. Cybersex (or TinySex, to use a more MUD-centric term) is just a subset of roleplaying, and roleplaying is all largely ephemeral, except for what logs survive. That doesn't detract from whatever artistic merit there might be there. All of the performing arts are inherently ephemeral.

That said, we do not tend to treat sex chat as art, because most of it is crafted with the wrong intent. It's not made for the "right making" of the opus, but rather for strictly prurient reasons. Thus, the vast majority of what's out there is not going to be any more artistic than tying your shoelaces in the morning.

I get the somewhat ironic impression that the lack of quality detracts from its effectiveness, for many people. A little artistry might be considerably more satisfying. Unfortunately, higher brain functions seem to be incompatible with one-handed typing.


I agree with Kupyi (are you the same Kupyi that played SWG?) and Tess's last paragraph is spot-on.

I always found it funny that people would get all weird about role-playing in a game environment, but wouldn't think twice about spending some time in that same environment with a member of the opposite sex, engaged in, well, role-playing!

Quality certainly detracts, and maybe it's just that I'm a writer, but to me online love should be poetry, even when we're engaged in the naughtiest of naughties -- your text should be alive and damn-near dance off the screen.

Then again, with as many people that are just "into it for themselves" in the flesh, should it surprise us that they don't put in the extra effort online?


IndianaJones9828> Slang names and exaggerated statements about body parts belong in a museum!


Let's face it, chatspeak, 1337, d00dsp3k3, they're all functions of simplification of language and in-crowd behavioural posturing.

And, of course, to write well pretty much has previous extensive reading as a prerequisite. Engaging in chatspeak shows a preference to simplify the words we use, not to revel in them.

It's really not any wonder that the online population is virtually clumsy. Once one also takes into account stereotypes such as visual-based stimuli preference of men, it becomes less surprising.

Or maybe i'm being biased because of a firm belief that anyone who gets off on swapped strings of text needs a life even more than they need an education.


Anyone looking for GOOD cybersex (and this included you too, Bonnie), I highly recommend checking out the TinySex has practiced on the Furry and Anime-themed MUCKs and MUSHes of today. There is a long traditional of quality that has evolved from earlier Tiny days, and from what I've seen of various logs it remains some of the best real-time erotica out there.


"Disappear?" Hm. Well, MIRC certainly allows you to log chats. As do most IM clients. Mind you, I expect a cybersex chat log probably holds as much interest for non-participants as an RPG expedition write-up. Which is to say, little or none.


A lot of participants don't even log their own chats, for fear they might get seen by someone else, which would not only embarass you, but also the person you were with. Many people do not log cybersex without the other party's permission for this reason.


"You could replace a lot of that with "roleplay" (in an MMORPG context, not a sexual context") and it would be nearly as true."
Very true. Good point, Kupyi.

"Unfortunately, higher brain functions seem to be incompatible with one-handed typing."
Which makes you wonder, does cybersex always have to go with masturbation? Of course, there are the obvious reasons. But, without getting too heady, does anyone else feel like role-playing is a climax of its own?

"To me online love should be poetry, even when we're engaged in the naughtiest of naughties."
Well, of course, a writer would say that :-). I totally agree, but that's me. And I think what's more interesting, in the overall, is to look at the non-poetry that comes from people who aren't actually thinking about quality of writing. It's more revealing, in a way.

"Or maybe i'm being biased because of a firm belief that anyone who gets off on swapped strings of text needs a life even more than they need an education."
Ouch. What makes text sex any more or less "sad" than porn? In sex chat, at least there's another person involved; it's the tiny version of a real sexual interaction. And trust me, there are plenty of highly educated people out there getting off.

"There is a long traditional of quality that has evolved from earlier Tiny days, and from what I've seen of various logs it remains some of the best real-time erotica out there."
Ooh, exciting, I will check it out! What, do you think, started the tradition?


As to the masturbation question, I've known more people who don't masturbate to the sessions than those who do, but it's hard to say for sure, since most of those who DO masturbate don't admit to it. Some people still have "real life" sexual hangups despite their VR encounter, so while a straight guy may suspect or even know that the female he's cybering with is another guy in real life, he doesn't want to hear about that other guy MASTURBATING to what they are doing, or then it becomes "too gay" for them.

As to the tradition of quality on MU*s, I'd say that the addition of the pose command was the first big differentiator. Also, with the advent of special MU* clients and in-game editors, the old 256 character input limit of early telnet was surpassed, allowing for people to make longer descriptions and also longer, more descriptive poses.

There is still a lot of bad TinySex out there, but if you know the right people, and you know what particular fetish you're after, you can usually meet someone who is very skilled textually at what style you're looking for. If you're looking for "poetry" and purple prose in the more romance novel vein, you can find it, but I'm thinking more of the hard core variety of a good Internet sex story (or at the very least, a really good Penthouse letter).


I have noticed that in virtual worlds, especially those without subscription fees, the average "gamer on the street" frequently has very poor English writing skills. 1337 / shortspeak can mask this, but if it comes to "verbal" (textual) confrontations, I've found my technical facility with the English language allows me to verbally triumph over someone whose reasoning and linguistic skills are still at the 4th Grade level.

If you want your cyber-erotica to be more memorable, why not start a "Hall of Fame" website for it, posting exceptionally skilled textual erotic encounters, perhaps with screenshots if those will contribute to the setting and situation.

I also believe that the old guard "RP" community, loose and ill-defined as it may be, values skillful writing and effective communication, be it erotic or otherwise.


In Second Life, the set (expectations and associations), the setting (the artfully-crafted furniture, usually a fountain or water sources, the Japanese silk screens, etc.) and the pose balls (which animate the avatar) are the grammar of the sex story, the elements of style.

The text is a mere add-on. You're still thinking of the text as the main story; the setting and the pose balls and the avatars are the main story, and they are happening in 3-D. You already have the romantic narration and setting -- it's in the 3-D visual world. If you were to tape the actual conversations of 2 people having sex in RL, you might get something even worse than that bad English text you just cited, something very unartful and unimaginative.

Text can be more or less important for people depending on how literary they are and other factors. Unfortunately, in SL, the pixelated sexual attachments are also scripted to talk, and some of the less expensive ones even have stock phrases that sound ridiculous, like "XCITE PLAY SEXY *** I GET EXCITED WHEN YOU TOUCH ME* -- as if real people would actually talk like that, rather than machines.


Prokofy makes a great point; when graphics are in play, text becomes secondary. That's true in game RP chat, too, of course. When your avatar is cleaving a monster in twain or to an amorous partner, it tends to do two things; a) distract from text because of "game" elements, and, b) reduce the non-ridiculous effective textual possibilities; that is, if your avie is not licking your partner's avie's ear, texting, "I'm licking your ear," seems, well... stoopid.

I've never thought to save the in-game IM strings from RP sessions. I have, though, saved hundreds of pages of play-by-email games I've taken part in over the years, and they are art; decent writing, some good character development and some fine storytelling at times. Partly because "the text's the thing."

In a graphic environment, it's not gonna happen, unless you really, really work at it. Which is possible. I've had poetic conversations in SL... but they tend to be when we're sitting there doing almost nothing else. Triggering appropriate animations and looking around and "doing stuff" all at the same time while trying to type... yoips. Doing that while wanking? Double yoips. I'd imagine. I admit nothing.

| )

(That's the smiley of "going happily blind")


Le sigh.



qDot: Great post/article; thanks for the pointer. But blogging about online virtual sex and capturing cybersex conversations as a form of writing aren't the same thing, necessarily. They could be. Blogging is usually a journal-type exercize -- "this is me writing about stuff." Now, you could obviously write about and post cyber sessions... but I see "blogging about cybersex" and "the text from the cybersex session itself" as two sepearate forms. Dance vs. filming of the dance, as it were.

Also... in your post you say: "Virtual worlds can allow one to teach themselves how to write erotica by handholding them through a situation." I disagree. You can certainly learn all kinds of stuff from virtual encounters, but not how to write. Learning how to write (well) requires two things -- constant reading and constant writing (with review and editing by other, hopefully equal-or-better writers/editors).


I'll disagree about text becoming secondary, though I will agree that it *can* if you. I know from my experiences in SL that while we may set the scene, use a pose ball or two, and maybe use Xcite or other add-ons....

They only serve as a jumping off point for what takes place in text. There's too much "game play" in hopping from pose to pose, and over-use of xcite is anything but exciting.

But good text while our avatars are doing something interesting/cute/sexy/touching is the make or break for me, and from my experience, my partners, also.

Now, is every session mind blowing erotica? No, obviously not -- but the goal is always to have fun, and blow each others minds, regardless. And that, again in my opinion, will never happen with the graphical tools alone, text is essential and has to be the primary focus.


"Still, it’s one of those a chicken-and-the-egg dilemmas: Did sex chat become throw-away because it’s thoughtless (as in, more often than not, there seems to be no thought involved), or did it become thoughtless because of it’s throw-away medium? If we had to write all our smut down on paper, would it be more dear?"

I'd have to say... maybe.

You're applying a very common phenominon to cyber-sex, but this is pretty much a common thread in the way modern people communicate. That is to say, they communicate badly. Lots of people treat every single communication as throw-away, probably because it is now effortless to communicate. You don't save up your most potent words and painstakingly write them down in ink on a piece of paper and then pray that it actually makes it to its destination in three months. People today have the luxury to slapdash everything they think onto a computer screen and they know that it will be delivered in less than a second.

None of this needs to be treasured because if that line gets lost, well you just slapdash off another one. I think this has much less to do with the fact that it's sex and more to do with the fact that talk is now infinitely cheap.

Especially when it is live chat. I roleplay a lot in MMOS and I do not save the chat-style roleplay because much of it is off the top of my head. I do remember the choice bits and incorporate them into longer stories that I write about the situations, which are then put up for public consumation.

Those stories are "art" at least on some level, and I put much more care into them, because I have time to think about word choice, and some other party isn't waiting on my response.


"So why don’t we think of our sex chat as art?" I don't think it's because it's "fleeting", or because it's "meant to satisfy prurient interests". A number of people DO save the logs of their most memorable sessions, and there's even websites people have posted their favorite ones on.

I think the primary thing is, although it takes a form (written words) that we know can be used to produce amazing art - we're not looking at just the community of professional writers here, we're looking at the general public as a whole. Some erotic writing will be very good, most will not be. Remember Sturgeon's Law. It's also worth remembering that the majority of people probably aren't fussy enough to look for the very most refined and exquisite of art - or they might not even like it, preferring more "down to earth" entertainments. The Hershey's Bar will always be more popular in America than an exquisitely crafted belgian chocolate from Daskalides. (Check out their website, they do mail order!) But I know which one I'll always prefer.

Why did the MUCKs and MUSHes become the home of a lot of higher quality erotic writing/roleplaying? I suspect a lot of it had to do with the fact that they evolved in the "early adopter" days of the Internet, the early 90s when mostly it was just people at high-tech research labs and college students using the thing. A crowd that was disproportionately smart and creative. Ever since the web hit big in the mid-90s, the demographics of the net have been heading towards the mean. But the floods of average people coming in weren't drawn to the text-only parts of the net nearly as much as the stuff with graphics. So the MU* culture remained mostly intact.

I do agree that the addition of graphics, animation, sound, and video make it less likely you'll find people focusing their attention on the text part of their interaction as much. The audience for the older media become kind of like the people who like books and radio in a world dominated more by tv and movies. Both have their place, of course. I am pleased that our style of graphics in Furcadia doesn't seem to detract from rich text interaction for most people, and I think we've inherited some of the culture from the MUCK/MUSH world. (Of course those games were one of our primary inspirations when we were starting out.) If you want to find more literate "research" I might mention The Golden Tether club in Furrabian Nights. Though I'm sure I officially know nothing of such matters and I am shocked - SHOCKED to discover that there is sex going on in this establishment!

I do always want to decry, actually, the demonization of the prurient in our American culture. I think it's a factor in why you don't find more poetic "hot chats" going on, and also in why most pornographic video is raunchy, crude, and not terribly sensual, subtle, erotic, artistic, etc. Why can't artistic talents of the highest order be applied to satisfying someone's taste, interest, or desire simply because it's a prurient taste, interest, or desire? Is the desire to eat some delicious candy a lofty, philosophical, uplifting, educational, altruistic one? Or is it a base, lusty desire as well? And yet we have not only simple sugary lumps of candy but also elegant pastries, cakes people work hours on... We have not only fast food burgers but fine french restaurants with expertly crafted culinary creations.

The desire for comic strips is simple, decadent, and fun, not terribly likely to double your earning potential, inspire a cancer cure, or lead to the genesis of a more enlightened society. And yet we've had gems produced by such luminaries as Windsor McCay, Bill Watterson, etc.

Why should the erotic be banished to the realm of the banal, vulgar, and "not to be discussed in polite company"? I think it's simply an accident of history and of the values of our puritan founders still lingering in echoes centuries later. In places like India, you can find erotic art without shame going back millenia. You know - maybe that explains their continuing population explosion?

Anyway don't sell the quality of people's written conversations short just because you've seen some poor ones. Yes admittedly, people don't speak as carefully in real-time chatting as they do in email or on message boards. I think you'd find the same thing in telephone conversations vs. letters people mail each other. But here and there throughout cyberspace, you'll find the most remarkable artistic surprises springing up everywhere like unstoppable wild flowers that some might call weeds. But to me, anything that blooms is a flower, regardless of how mankind might oppose its presence. :) People falling in love and getting married after getting to know each other through text chat goes back at least as far as the 1870s, when telegraph operators would chat in morse code during the long downtimes between sending telegrams. Both men and women got hired for that job, so I guess some wedding were inevitable. Was there any 19th century steampunk cybersex, in those more restrained times? I guess we'll never know for sure - the equipment wasn't set up to save logfiles back then!


I Mucked and Mushed for 15 years. I logged EVERYTHING (barring system crashes, etc). I've written erotica and been paid for it. I have about half a Gig of logs from those years of which about 50% or so are probably tinysex or heavy flirting. There's a lot of VERY good as well as sexually arousing text in those logs and a lot of damned fine storytelling.

The people on Mushes I found were, in general, both very bright and very skilled in writing. I think the love of words, stories and social interactions, which all of them seemed to share (otherwise they were on MUDs with no pose command) were the driving forces behind flowing and very explicit prose.

It was like a writing workshop. If the game standards were 2-3 sentences and not more than 2-3 minutes to compose them and you didn't meet those standards, used poor grammar or couldn't spell, well you didn't get a lot of TS. Poeple learned and became better writers for some value of better :)


I have never read actual "erotica" before, but agree with much of what you say. Sensuality, in many ways, is lost in this world.
Honestly, I think that part of that is born of the very early connections we make, as children and teens, between the concepts of "sex" and "dirty". Since many people's first knowledge of the subject is garnered in secret discussions behind a teacher's/nun's back or snuck in under fear of discovery by a parent, people start to link "dirty" with "sex" to such a degree that something MUST shock them (and perhaps even make them feel slightly guilty) for them to be aroused by it.


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