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A porn company’s new virtual reality experience will let users choose which adult film stars live or die, raising questions about the ethical nature of the project. The interactive video, known as Stolen, was announced Oct. 16 by porn producer VR Bangers.
Set to be released in parts until the grand finale arrives on Halloween, the project, described as a psychological thriller, will allow viewers to alter the story by voting on who survives and who is killed.
You have the power to choose who you want to save In our New VR horror experience! 4 girls, only one will stay alive, all you have to do is go to https://t.co/gi3qJ6hnVP to our Halloween page and vote for your favorite girl!— vrbangersofficial (@vrbangers) October 17, 2018
You liked @chloecherryxxx trailer? Go and save her now! pic.twitter.com/y2e9lhBH1U
VR Bangers announces Stolen VR porn
“Mysterious location. Four unsuspecting girls don’t know how they got there. They must face a number of perverted challenges from a maniac with a blood-chilling voice to stay alive,” the company’s website states. “But it’s not only about their skills and imagination, YOU can sway the scales of Life and Death by casting your VOTE to save one of our lost girls.”
VR Bangers says Stolen was filmed using the company’s “Horrible Head Rig,” a face mask with embedded cameras worn by the male lead.
In a statement published in the Mirror, Igor Zhivago, VR Bangers’ marketing director, praised the project as “the most elaborate VR porn initiative ever done in real time.”
“This is the most interactive we have gone yet, for the newest experience will be driven by the votes of our users, and will unfold differently depending on their choices,” Zhivago said
However, reception to the initiative hasn’t been universally positive.
In remarks to the Daily Dot, Dr. David J. Ley, PhD, a clinical psychologist, sex therapist and author of “Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure,” argued that Stolen appears to be “something intended to generate controversy and push buttons.”
“I suspect that this will generate quite a lot of hyperbole about sexual violence, pornography and the potential influence such material may have on the behaviors of viewers,” Dr. Ley said. “I do find it distasteful, but then, I won’t watch serial killer movies or television shows, because of the glorification of violence and death that is endemic in modern media. “
But while most men would unlikely be negatively affected or even interested in Stolen’s violent sexual content, Dr. Ley cautioned that “the very men who shouldn’t watch” such material are often the ones most drawn to it.
“It’s an unanswered, and largely unanswerable, question as to what impact this media endeavor might have on the viewers,” Dr. Ley said. “Based on existing research about the impact of sexually violent material and porn, there is a group of males who have high psychopathic traits, misogynistic attitudes and who are disinhibited due to drugs and alcohol, for whom such material increases risk of violence.”
Dr. Ley added, however, that more cultural harm is done by regular media than by “publicity stunts” such as Stolen.
“If we truly believe in preventing sexual violence, we should be doing more to combat the misogyny and antisocial modeling that pervades modern culture, politics and media,” Dr. Ley said. “There’s far more of that in mainstream daily media, exposed to far more people, than will experience this VR slaughterhouse.”
VR Bangers did not respond to repeated inquiries about potential ethical concerns regarding Stolen when contacted by the Daily Dot.
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.