I recently picked up an Oculus Go headset and decided to check out VR porn.
“But wait,” you say, “you’re asexual, so… What?”
Exactly. That’s what makes this experience worth talking about.
The promise of VR is that it’s immersive. You’re not just a passive viewer. VR puts you in the center of the scene as an active participant.
(At least, that’s what they claim…)
So, then, what happens when you take an asexual person and put them as an “active participant” in all manner of sexual situations? Would I flee in terror of naughty bits thrust in my face? Would I be converted to the delights of sexual splendor?
Mostly, I just got slightly queasy. And really annoyed by the technical ability of the people producing VR porn.
1080P is nowhere near high enough resolution for VR, unless you want foot high compression artifacts all over the place. Never move the camera in a direction that’s not directly forwards or backwards and try not to move the camera at all. Understand where your stitching lines are and avoid violating them in the blind spot. Never get too close to the camera and never never never never block the view from only one eye. Do not violate the Z order with a watermark, subtitles, or other overlay. Learn about stereo separation and how it can make objects appear larger or smaller than they are and know when it’s the right time to apply the effect. Don’t suddenly go from a black screen to a white one because you’ll burn the viewer’s retinas. Make sure your video is aligned and synchronized. If you’re filming with a 2x 180 camera, there will be a section around the edge which is impossible to converge, so avoid putting anything important in that zone or, better yet, adjust the window to crop that out. And that’s not even mentioning the videos that were sideways or the wrong aspect ratio or the one that was a weird warped 3D fisheye ribbon of video that I can’t even figure out how they got so wrong. I mean, seriously, people: Watch your video in 3D on a headset as intended before releasing it to the world or you will make them sick.
Okay, so anyway, leaving aside the technical aspects, back to the ace watching VR porn.
I was curious what it would be like. Would I feel like everything was actually happening?
[Uh, pardon me, ma’am, but would you please move back a bit?]
Would it be a turn on, allowing me to experience sex in a way that I hadn’t before?
[Sir, could you not put that right there?]
Would I be enthralled by the experience and overcome by the erotic?
[And would you please keep it down?]
Would this be the thing to finally awaken me sexually?
No. No, it did not feel like it was really happening. No, it did not allow me to experience sex in a new way. And no, the erotic definitely did not overcome me.
Mostly, it was just disconnected from reality. Yeah, the 3D and partial head tracking was novel, but that’s where the immersiveness ended. Look around and it looks like you’re there, but move side to side or forward and back, and that illusion is ruined. And there’s absolutely no sense of proprioception involved. I’m sitting in a chair, but the video shows “me” laying down or standing or with a body that’s entirely the wrong size or even just sitting in a different position, so there’s no physical connection between “me” and me. When I can’t connect the most basic body positioning in the video with my own body, everything else falls apart.
A lot of that is just the fault of this kind of VR. I’ve played some games on the PSVR headset, which has full positional tracking within a 3D world, and I have been drawn in. I’m in the forest, watching the little mouse walk along. I’m on the surface of an alien world, running through the dust to give a giant spider a mouthful of laser shotgun. Physically, I know I’m just sitting in a chair, but everything else works, so I can believe. But with this, I know I’m not there, that it’s not happening.
But even beyond that, there was very little going on that I wanted to be involved with. It was the same problem I have with 2D porn: Most of it’s boring or unappealing. They just changed the camera angle. Making it 3D and so I can look around doesn’t really help that much, it just means I’m looking around at the furniture in the room or trying to see out a window. It’s hard to be overcome by the erotic when there’s very little that’s erotic about any of it…
Is this proof that I’m asexual? Is this a definitive test? Is having 3D genitals of various shapes and breasts of various sizes waggled around just virtual inches from my face and my response being largely “Nah, still don’t get it” complete and total confirmation of my orientation? Or would a number of non-aces also be riding the Nope Train in this situation?
There were a couple of bits that were interesting, though. There were times when I felt warmth on my face when someone (or something) got close enough, which leads me to believe that wind may be an entirely imaginary phenomenon. On a few occasions, the “Danger! Kiss Incoming!” alert was triggered in my brain. And there were a few almost-acceptably-”real” moments where the performer would be at the right distance or would lean in to whisper something, that maybe it almost was believable. Usually this also required that no part of “my” body was visible in the video to break the reality.
It’s sort of disappointing that it wasn’t all more believable. I could see this technology being useful for aces who might be curious about what sex is like to be able to explore in a safe environment where the power button offers an instant way to get out if the situation becomes even slightly uncomfortable. And I could also see this as being a useful tool for exploring what it would be like to have a different body type.
Maybe it’s just me that it didn’t work for, though. Maybe other people will have better luck in trying to overlay the screen action onto their own body.