Here’s everything you need to know about virtual reality sex

Call it a cyberpunk dystopia or a sci-fi utopia—either way, we’re living in the future. Virtual sex is a thing now. And it’s given birth to a new form of adult content that, for lack of a better term, we’ll just call virtual reality sex.

While virtual reality is still in its early days, adult content creators and sex workers have already pushed the genre to its limits. Is there a long road ahead for VR porn? No doubt. Can you have VR sex? You bet. And increasingly, companies are experimenting with smart sex toys, letting users experience up-and-down motions in tune with the porn they watch.

Of course, VR sex is new to many, and it’s a little strange to get used to at first. But if you want to enter the wonderful world of erotic virtual reality, read on. You’re in for a fun surprise.

What is virtual sex, and what does it have to do with VR sex?

Virtual Sex and VR Sex Colton Vond/Flickr (CC-BY)

“Virtual sex” may sound like a novel idea, but it’s just another term for something most of us are already familiar with: cybersex.

Traditionally speaking, virtual sex is “any kind of sexual activity that people do with/on the internet,” according to Planned Parenthood Toronto’s Teen Health Source. This ranges from sexting and erotic role plays to phone sex and online kink play. However, the advent of sex tech, advanced artificial intelligence, realistic adult video games, and virtual reality has complicated “virtual sex” as a term. One paper for the International Conference on Love and Sex with Robots equates virtual sex with human-robot relationships in both the real world and in virtual ones. Wikipedia now defines virtual sex as “sexual activity where two or more people—or one person and a virtual character—gather together via some form of communications equipment” for sexual interaction. That change only dates back to December 2018.

Today, virtual sex and VR sex are sometimes used interchangeably. But it’s better to think of the former as an umbrella term in which the latter sits. In fact, VR sex can be considered the ultimate form of virtual sex: it relies on a mixture of audio-visual data, user interaction, and, in some cases, internet-of-things sex toys that react to online adult content.  Wikipedia calls it “a technology that allows the user to receive tactile sensations from remote participants, or fictional characters through the use of computer-controlled sex toys,” although this is arguably a little too specific. In short, VR sex is as any form of virtual sex in which virtual reality technology is integral to sexual interactions between another person or a fictional character. The key word here is interaction: VR porn videos are just porn videos, but VR porn games generally feature groping and penetrative sex.

So how can you have VR sex?

Virtual Mate VR Sex virtual sex Virtual Mate

In its simplest form, VR sex requires three things: a virtual reality device, interactive media, and something that you can interact with (or something that can interact with you). If you have a VR headset and can touch or manipulate onscreen content—preferably through controllers—then you have all you need to experience VR sex. Even a mouse and keyboard will do, although at this rate, you soon won’t need anything else but your headset. Oculus, for example, is already working on hand-tracking mechanics for its standalone Oculus Quest.

Traditional VR sex relies on teledildonics, or sexual devices programmed to interact with users via the internet. Teledildonics come in various forms, from masturbators and butt plugs to dildos to vibrators. Today, these toys are best known as internet-of-things sex toys, with companies like Kiiroo, We-Vibe, and Lovense marketing their products for both private use and long-distance relationships (privacy issues aside).

Not all of these toys are designed to work specifically for VR sex, although some do quite well. On its page explaining virtual sex, Lovense offers two toys that work in conjunction with VR porn: the Lovense Max 2 and the Nora. These toys “sync with body-to-body contact” and contract in “sync” with the actor or actress’ movements. The most well-known VR sex toy by far is Virtual Mate, an upcoming “virtual intimacy system” that pairs a smart masturbator with a titular VR porn game. VR headsets aren’t required to play, although the experience is best enjoyed with one.

Additional VR-ready sex toys include the Vstroker and the Kiiroo Onyx. Of particular note are We-Vibe’s Reina and Rey, a touch-sensitive vibrator and interactive masturbator, respectively. They’re ideally designed as long-distance sex toys, but both can be used alongside VR porn. Alternatively, you can try a DIY immersive VR sex setup. One Japanese engineering student created a VR sex machine that lets users engage in virtual sex with either a fictional character or another partner. Of course, for the average user who can’t tell the difference between a motherboard and a hard drive, we don’t recommend trying this one at home.

How do I get started with VR porn and virtual sex?

Depending in your preferences, you can find a wide assortment of virtual reality games, technology, and porn that are ideal for experiencing VR sex. For virtual reality fans interested purely in VR porn videos, a number of sex tech devices work in conjunction with adult clips to provide an immersive virtual experience. Vstroker hosts an enormous library of HD porn videos, interactive games, and even a VR camming site. Subscription porn video service Virtual Real Porn hosts a video library with teledildonic synchronization via FeelConnect. Devices like Kiiroo’s Onyx or Fleshlight Launch are a perfect match for this kind of experience. And if you’re interested in something a little more DIY, check out buttplug.io, an open-source software project for adding teledildonic support to applications.

https://twitter.com/buttplugio/status/1147732932829700097

VR porn games are the most popular introduction to virtual reality sex by far. For a quick entry, check out the online adult game 3DXChat, which pairs with the Vstroker. More advanced users may be interested in buttplug.io’s selection of games, which offers a plug-in for immensely popular adult VR game Virt-a-Mate. Additionally, Virtual Mate is set to host its initial launch in January 2020, although customers who miss the early bird deal will have to wait. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in BDSM, one of the best virtual reality porn experiences available is Dominatrix Simulator by Deviant Tech. In this case, teledildonics don’t necessarily factor in; instead, virtual sex comes through the erotic experience of posing for your dommes, with scenes ranging from servitude to strap-on sex to impact play. Download the game’s opening section on Steam for a quick look, or pledge to Deviant Tech’s Patreon for ongoing builds.

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Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.