Even better than the real thing?

I just discovered an old but pretty interesting thread started by Kelly Rued of Black Love Interactive over on the site’s Sex in Games forums. The reason I bring it up is because I thought it was somewhat relevant to a topic I’ve been posting about on and off over the past several weeks: Photorealism in virtual space.

Kelly asks, Are toons sexier than the real thing? That’s a good question to throw out there. I suppose there is a pretty significant degree of appeal to a graphically rendered person who’s so recognizably made of pixels, perhaps partially due to the fact that real-life bodily imperfections are banished in favor of idealized physical traits. And like Bossgator commented in the thread, virtual incarnations can help us venture outside the everyday and immerse us in fantasy — I would say an experience akin to looking at the glossy pictures of the air-brushed models gazing out from the pages of adult magazines.

Regardless, as I’ve mentioned in the post below, the best damn digital depiction I’ve laid eyes on so far is the female dancer in DreamStripper. I’ve yet to see something like that inhabiting Second Life, and I am very skeptical as to whether it’s even possible to create an avatar in SL that is as convincing-looking, specifically in terms of skin texture, anatomical detail and authentic-appearing facial features. But I could be entirely wrong. In fact, I’d like to interview someone knowledgeable about skins in Second Life who also can speak about the topic with authority and some eloquence.

Rolling in Linden cash
Anyway, to take a drastic turn in terms of topic so I could end this post on a self-congratulatory note, I made L$1300 yesterday from a client at my Second Life BDSM dungeon, in what amounted to roughly an hour’s worth of sadistic beatings, verbal lashings and sex. The sum translates to a whopping $4.67 in U.S. currency, based on the Linden Lab (makers of Second Life) exchange rate earlier today. OK, so it’s chump change, but it was a personal best for me in terms of earnings from a single customer. And the total should even take care of about a week’s worth of land-use payments for my large, in-world property where my land-hog castle is located. :D


  1. Comment by Cinomed Tweak on May 7, 2006 7:47 am

    Heh, some of us enjoy drawn or rendered better than real when it comes to fantasy. I mean being a furry type makes that even more true for me…
    And while I agree that dancer was quite nice, there are better, if you are looking for realism, not in Second Life of course.

    And good job on the client. Poker tables have been mean. I may have to take up escorting, tired of being broke. I would be somewhat opposite of you though, more “Sub Kitty for hire.” *giggle*

  2. Comment by Bonnie on May 7, 2006 9:59 am

    I think, like Cinomed was saying, it’s not always a matter of photorealism. After all, if it’s photorealism you’re looking for, there’s plenty of RL pornography (albeit, non-interactive pornography) to go around.

    The thing I wonder, and I’ve raised the question over at Heroine Sheik a few times, is what makes the idea of virtually-rendered toons attractive? Why do some people prefer them? Is it because it’s farther removed from reality? If so, what makes that appealing, in a sexual sense?

  3. Comment by Candy on May 7, 2006 12:49 pm

    Well, to many, such as in one of the comments above, it’s a medium through which one can be more than themselves. The fantastic always has its draws - many people have fantasies which go beyond the bounds of reality. This is an extension of that.. an ability to be 8 feet tall and incredibly muscular if you wish - to truly be the animal you feel yourself to be - etc.

    In truth, real life is many times less exciting than fantasy, because of the boundaries placed.. all of which can be shattered with safety within a fantastic environment. But that’s my 2 cents.

  4. Comment by Noche on May 7, 2006 12:55 pm

    Bonnie: Like you said — the bummer is that porn is non-interactive. And even if it were interactive, I can’t imagine that the possibilities would be as broad as they are in a virtual world, where one can pretty much make anything happen, and in an environment of your choosing. Therefore, I would opt against that alternative because, among other reasons, it would just be too constrictive and tame. ^-^

    On a related note, I wanted to clarify my concept of an ideal avatar. Although I may have given the impression to the contrary, it would not look exactly like a real-life individual. Meaning, it would not merely be someone in the flesh transposed into a virtual world, (even though that sort of juxtaposition is somewhat intriguing). My ideal avatar would have to be at least digitally enhanced. Like I said, right now the babe from DreamStripper is the closest I’ve seen so far to what I envision, appearance-wise.

    The thing I wonder, and I’ve raised the question over at Heroine Sheik a few times, is what makes the idea of virtually-rendered toons attractive?

    Cool. I will have to look through your archives for that. I would be interested in reading the post(s).

  5. Comment by Noche on May 7, 2006 12:56 pm

    Cinomed: Yep, I agree that it all comes down to personal preference. Which is why I think inhabitants of any given virtual world shouldn’t have to be hamstrung in terms of how they can be represented in simulated space. Put simply, it sucks being stuck with something so blatantly toonish-looking if it’s not really what floats your boat.

  6. Comment by Noche on May 7, 2006 1:39 pm

    Candy: I agree. Like I said to Bonnie, I value the possibilities that a virtual world can afford, in terms of engaging in fantasy and breaking those boundaries that you referred to. (Otherwise, I would have no interest in Second Life, nor would I want to dedicate any time to maintaining this blog. :) )

  7. Comment by Bob on May 7, 2006 2:46 pm

    As the lead developer for RedLightCenter I can give you some ideas on some of the limitations on avatar creation. The biggest difference between DreamStripper (DS) and SL is; SL is a Massively Multiplay game, whereas DS only has to support 1 avatar. So the avatar in DS can be 30,000 polygons (As opposed to SL 1000 poly avatars) and the DS texture size can be many megabytes rather then the less then 1 megabyte that SL requires. SL is serious limited by the architecture that they choose. In RedLightCenter our high poly avatars (availible on to VIPs in the bed rooms) are 18,000 polygons and look amazing. We also support custom skins, clothing; tatoos and piercing(coming soon). Our sex system is good, and we are working on adding more interactivity soon.

  8. Comment by Noche on May 8, 2006 12:36 pm

    Thank you for that, Bob. It’s nice to have input from a professional. May I ask, how many polygons are the RedLightCenter avatars that are used by non-VIPs?

  9. Comment by Bonnie on May 15, 2006 8:34 am

    “Like you said — the bummer is that porn is non-interactive.”

    Where does something like “Slustler” come into all this, do you think? It’s not an interactive medium, nor does it show things that couldn’t be easily photographed (or found online) in real life. Is there something appealing about seeing yourself (in avatar form), or selves like you, in these pictures?

  10. Comment by Noche on May 18, 2006 1:04 am

    I think it may be an extension of the sexual experience in Second Life (or any similar virtual world were there a virtual porn mag like Slustler). I think I’d get off on it a little if Cheri were to appear in a photo spread. It’s like people are admiring your body by proxy. It definitely has an erotic component, which I know you weren’t refuting. I’m just saying…

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