Most of us thought that we were already reliant on technology, and then 2020 came along and truly pinned us to it. The whole world was put under a stay-at-home order due to the spreading of COVID-19, which made us turn to our electronic devices. Almost every industry went digital, not only for work, but leisure too—our sex lives included.
For those who hadn’t used a dating app before, 2020 was the year to test it out, because lockdown forced us to face our human need for companionship and maybe even our yearning for a more intimate connection. A lot of people out there were left hanging and horny without access to their regular booty callers’ touch. A pandemic doesn’t take away simple human needs, which is why we turned to tech. In fact, sex work boomed digitally, porn became our go-to video content and sex toys sales saw an impressive increase too!
According to a study relased by the sex toy company We-Vibe and featured in the New York Post, 28 per cent of the 1,000 participants that were asked about their sexual preferences, specifically robotic ones, admitted to being aroused by their Amazon Alexa. The calm and soothing voice is a turn on for many people—are you surprised? If you think about it, the smart speaker is in itself a sort of companion, especially for someone alone because, well, it talks back! That is bound to keep some amount of loneliness at bay, and in turn introduce an element of intimacy.
Technology and sexuality as a pair is nothing new, online pornography is estimated to be worth as much as $97 billion per year, and electric vibrators have been around for a hefty chunk of time, since the 1800s in fact. Before the global pandemic, dating apps were already popular and it is understandable that after the COVID-19 induced lockdowns were put into place and as real-life interaction was taken off the table altogether, we went back to our good old sex tech hidden under our bed.
Technology and sexuality, or ‘technosexuality’ is defined as being turned on by machinery, and it’s no longer a niche concept. Companies are literally merging the two further than words by creating sex robots, and they’re turning into quite the hot commodity.
These machines are eerily realistic, and some of the more advanced sex robots can blink, smile, moan, get goosebumps and even hold a conversation. Albeit based on an algorithm, which is besides the point, they are fully functional sex machines, and have been flying off the shelves since COVID-19 struck. One manufacturer called Gynoid made some of the most successful dolls, sold by Sex Doll Genie (SDG). They are silicone-based, and according to SDG’s founders Janet Stevenson and her husband Amit, they look and feel just like the real deal.
Their target market? “Lonely, middle-aged men who don’t necessarily want to stroll through the dating minefield again,” according to the SDG website. “There are handicapped and disabled folks for whom sex dolls are convenient and non-judgmental companions, then there are couples like us who wanna add another dimension to their love life without additional emotional baggage.” The company saw a spike of more than 51 per cent between February and March 2020, when lockdowns began.
The high-end, further technologically programmed dolls come complete with a full body and start at around $6,000 to $8,000. With a price tag like that, the demand must be very real. Sex robots are an extreme example of how technology has been harnessed for sexual gratification, but this price tag, the ethical concerns as well as the taboos that surround them mean that they still cater to a relatively small consumer pool.
However, dating apps, which started with websites targeting the same market audience that SDG mentions above, were also once just as criticised as sex dolls currently are. Now, they’ve become mainstream. Same goes with sex toys, which were also once regarded as quite embarrassing to have for their owners—owning one has now become common, and speaking about their usage is far less awkward. Will this one day be the case with sex robots?
Sex toys, which could arguably be called the ‘mini sex robot’, are starting to incorporate an ‘intelligence’ within their programming, allowing for voice-controlled vibrators as well as apps that track your orgasms, which have the ability to ‘train’ your toy to provide a more personalised and optimised experience. Virtual reality porn, or VR porn, is also becoming more accessible.
There are so many new ways being developed to incorporate technology into our sex lives, and it’s starting to look more and more like technology has the potential to become an integral part of our intimate interactions, although it could be considered that it already is. While some risks remain to be taken under consideration, the future of sex tech looks bright.
The global pandemic has forced us to realise that there are some clear advantages to adding technology into our sex lives. It allowed us to access sexual experiences in times of isolation—which for some could be a lifetime, but it’s also a way to spice up our sexual exploration with our partners and ourselves. What we want to avoid is an overreliance on digital devices for both social as well as sexual interaction, especially within the new generations that are now growing up alongside this digital wave. Here’s to hoping that humans are hardwired enough to continue to seek out other humans over robotics, even when the choice is there.
With the rise of technology and the many pornographic platforms that it brought with it, many people developed an interest in sex simulators, which are described as adult virtual and augmented reality interactive experiences or games where users can play with different characters in sexual ways. In simpler words, sex simulators are basically VR porn games—and people go crazy for them. But why is that and how big is the VR porn gaming market?
If you’ve never heard of VR porn games and other types of sex games before, it probably means you’ve never had a crush on a video game’s character. Never thought that Princess Zelda was extra cute in that white dress she wore for the first time in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Me neither, but as it turns out, many gamers did. To be clear here, I’m not kink-shaming, they can like whatever they want to as long as no one gets hurt.
In a way that is not so dissimilar to Virtual Mate, a virtual partner aimed at heterosexual male users that comes with a high tech fleshlight, VR porn games lets users discover a highly detailed gaming world through their Oculus Quest or another virtual reality headset and allows them to realise their own secret fantasies with whatever character they’re into.
The world of adult VR games is already wide and full of diverse options for potential players. From Femdomination, a simulation game where women are in control, to Mandy’s Room, a game where users can stay in the same room as the main character named Mandy while she plays, dances, and “gets naughty” or Besti, which is an interactive and very specific my little pony fetish VR game, it is safe to say that sex games enthusiasts can find whatever they’re looking for.
Waifu Sex Simulator is a VR porn game built-off a modified version of MocuMocuDance which lets users import and pose a wide variety of 3D models, whether to touch them or cast them into predefined animations. The game also supports custom model imports, which means players can simulate sex with any character, from Mario Kart’s Yoshi to The Legend of Zelda’s famous Princess Zelda.
Captain Hardcore is also well-known in the sex games industry. Developed by AntiZeroGames, the game tasks players with exploring the universe while also spending sexy time with the “hottest and most depraved space sluts” you can find out there. In other words, Captain Hardcore lets players customize female characters and play with them or use the “cyber-masturbatorium” to pose models in erotic scenes and watch.
While many of those sex simulators are still being worked on in order for them to be even more realistic, the industry of VR sex games is certainly one to watch. As more and more gamers feel like they can truly fulfil their sexual fantasies through their VR headsets, who knows? One day, we might all turn to sex simulators to search for new experiences too.