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Interactive Porn

Using Interactive Technologies for Porn Delivery and Distribution

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Updated May 10, 2011

One could argue that any engagement with pornography is interactive since it involves a viewer/reader interacting with a visual or written text and responding to images and ideas that engage them. More recently the term interactive porn has been used to describe the application of interactive technologies to the delivery of porn, most often visual porn. While the goal of most pornographers is simply to make money, from a theoretical and sexual health perspective, the goal of interactive porn could be understood as trying to create a more immersive or interactive sexual experience.

So far most interactive porn is still made of up pre-produced content. The viewer can only see and experience what the porn producer or computer programmer created for them. They may be able to choose from several possibilities, but ultimately their choice is defined by the options made available by the person who made the porn.

Most interactive porn works like a “choose your own adventure” story. The viewer is able to watch sexually explicit material and make choices about what they see, or what happens, next. How much control they have, and how they interact (e.g. voice, text, touch) depends on the kind of interactive technology being used.

Interactive DVDs
The most basic form of interactive porn uses DVD technology that allows the viewer to make choices about what sorts of sex they want to see, how long it lasts and in what order it happens. The DVD is set up such that the viewer chooses what to do “with” the female porn star next (e.g. perform oral sex on her, receive oral sex, grab certain body parts, etc…) Most interactive porn DVDs are shot in “point of view” style so the viewer (who is always assumed to be a man) can watch the action and insert themselves into the scene. In most cases there are female actors having sex who we see but the male actors face is never seen, instead the viewer sees their body from the point of view as if it were their body.

Often these titles feature well-known porn stars and market themselves as an opportunity to have sex with a porn star. Interactive DVDs don’t offer much more interactivity than any other DVD porn, and are mostly a marketing ploy.

Interactive Computer Games
There are a handful of products called sex video games, 3D sex video games, or interactive sex video games that lack any significant attributes of games and are really an opportunity for people to create, engage in, and watch their own pornography.

These games feature avatars, and allow the viewer/player to create avatars of different genders, ages, ethnicities, body shapes and sizes, etc… Once the viewer has customized the characters in a particular scene they can then have the characters interact sexually, choosing the kinds of sex, the physical setting, the order of sex play and when it ends. They can usually control the angle from which they view the scene they have just created (including viewing it from a “point of view” angle to make them feel as if they are in the action. The scenes that are created can often be “videotaped” and stored so you can watch it happen again.

For people who can project themselves into a virtual environment, particularly through avatars, this content can feel more immersive. For those who want to see live action with real humans interactive sex games come up short. Either way, the games are more creatively engaging as they offer people the opportunity to create the kind of pornography they want to see within the limits set by the programmers.

Interactive “Bots”
Some pornographers have integrated “bot” software into the delivery of virtual and live action pornography. Here the idea is that you can interact (via text or voice) with a character (who is either a real person on video or an avatar customized by the viewer) and ask/tell them to do things. When you give the command you’ll then see a pre-produced scene where the character does what you ask. If you ask them to take off their clothes, they do it. If you ask for a certain kind of sex, in a particular position, you’ll see “yourself” having sex with them in that position. Depending on the sophistication of the software you can program it so specific words trigger specific scenes to play. This is by far a more immersive experience than interactive DVDs, but like those products, what you can see is limited by what the pornographers shot or what the programmers created digitally.

The Bottom Line on Interactive Porn
Interactive porn is still quite new, and it hasn’t yet found its place among mainstream porn consumers. More sophisticated interactive technology is found outside of porn where sex is a part of the experience but not the focus. Whether you like or dislike the idea or reality of interactive porn, it raises a number of interesting questions.

If the goal is greater immersion, what it is that makes us feel more immersed in any sexual experience? Could the answer to this question have relevance for what makes us feel immersed in real life sex?

If you could make your own pornography what would it look like? If you could change the program you're using how would you?

If given a choice do people want a pornographic experience that is separate from other entertainment experiences, or should the goal be to integrate sexual content into other forms of adult entertainment?

As bots and artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated how will sexual ethics and ideas of consent and sexual coercion be dealt with in interactive pornography?

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