One single post definitely can’t do this topic justice, but I did wrestle down a few thoughts as far as what sets the sparks to flying in a virtual world where users regularly partake in 3-D simulated sex via their avatars.
Human connection is a biggie, I think. More specifically, it’s ultimately the bonds that are formed with the people behind the avatars that provide the emotional fodder which fans the flames of impassioned cybersex.
But I don’t think that’s the only reason, considering the fact that there’s also a good degree of wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am going on in virtual environments like Second Life. These types of romps likely have no real emotional basis, but are primarily lust-driven. Maybe the chief aphrodisiac in these instances is the feelings of liberation from the guilt, worry and precautions that could put a damper on things in the physical world.
I mean, in meatspace (aka the physical world), one might have thoughts like, Oh boy, would I be a slut or burn in hell for all eternity if I just jumped into the sack with this person without even getting to know him/her first? Or: I’d love to have anal sex with that hottie, but what if I get HIV/AIDS? So yeah, surrogate fornication via avatar can help people relax a little and enjoy the more spontaneous side of sensuality, rubbing an itch that might go largely unscratched in the physical world.
But regardless of whether they’re shallow one-night stands or encounters inspired by deeper feelings, what is it that hooks us in from the outset? For me personally, a variety of factors come into play, including behavior, as portrayed through means such as avatar body language.
Indeed, I believe there is such a thing — it’s just a somewhat different phenomenon than it is in the physical world (and not all users inside virtual spaces know how to employ it effectively, if at all.)
For example, what type of animations is your digitally rendered love interest using while you‘re trying to chat it up? Are they scripted movements that depict cockiness or impatience? Modesty? Even if no animations are being used, is the avatar expressing restlessness by fidgeting, suggesting a lack of genuine interest?
I also try to get a take on the user’s personality (and intelligence) as it is conveyed through text chat. In addition, I place a lot of emphasis on uniqueness and unconventionality.
And of course, looks are part of my criteria, as well. And as far as males go, I find that I am generally repulsed and/or bored by the shirtless, jewelry-wearing, tattoo-laden types who seem like hyperrealistc hybrids of Fabio (the fashion model.) Simply put, male alter egos spun from the mold of a Ken doll just don’t do it for me. OK?
With women, however, I am much more forgiving, as I do not easily dismiss the ones who emulate Barbie dolls, which is interesting, because this also reflects my standards in the physical world, where I am much more picky and demanding about men as far as what I consider enticing. (Background info: I am bisexual.)
I managed to obtain some opinions on this topic from a few Second Life inhabitants, although I would have liked to have solicited more. Uniqueness seemed to rank high on the scale with which they weighed the appeal of avatars. At any rate, here’s what they had to say:
* Jolie Grant:
“Personally I’m not sexually attracted to SL avatars, nor am I interested in finding an online relationship since I have a committed one in real life. However, I can appreciate an attractive avatar based on good design - well made skin, carefully adjusted body shape, well fitting pretty hair, nice clothes, etc. It’s just that a pretty-looking avatar doesn’t turn me on. I’m also not the kind of person to be turned on by porn or yiff art as they call it in the furry fandom, I prefer the real thing. As far as being drawn to people in SL as potential friends, it’s all about behavior and having common interests.”
* Kara Timtam:
“The most intriguing avatar I have seen lately was a chimpanzee in a tutu, carrying and stroking a small pink pig. Evidence of intelligent whimsy at work! This got my interest faster than conventional prettiness of any gender. I don’t seem to be in the majority of this way of thought, more’s the pity. I alternate between two major avatars, a tall stacked blond ‘Supergirl’ and a short brunette, as much like my RL person as possible … Tall Blond gets MUCH more attention from shopkeepers and folks on the street, not just inside of clubs and such meet markets. Our looks-ist society at work.”
* Solaire Epsilon:
“I have one avatar, a unicorn woman that I created myself out of other avatars, that consistently gets notice. It’s very flattering that somehow I hit on something that seems to resonate with people erotically.
So, that said, here’s what I think does it:
Striking appearance (unique avatar) Something visually different from anything they’ve seen before. Steal from the best and then make it better. For me, it was taking off-the-shelf parts and fixing the problems. I created a color scheme for my unicorn (rich purple) that was accented by each of her elements, from her mane to her tail tuft and her costume.
Tall - My unicorn woman is very big, with Amazon-like proportions and aspects. Yes, big breasts, strong shoulders, generous hips. Not huge - only slightly taller than most characters, but built like Fort Knox. Go for a visual style that catches the eye in a good way.
The costume really makes it or breaks it here too. The costume you wear needs to have the right curves and shades built in to make your proportions work for you, make you stand out in a crowd.
Even then, it helps to be sharp and aware when you talk. Believe it or not, guys like women who are smarter than they are when the woman is also very nice and warm to chat with. Don’t be challenging or arrogant, be witty and charming. Laugh at their jokes and if they’re bad ones, make better ones yourself.
Anyway - to specify, yes, I’m a male, but I know what I like, and I don’t mind playing as her on SL.”
* Chris Senior:
“I do the cybersex thing in SL with a very lovely avatar. She’s my RL fiancé. I’m the one who convinced her to give Second Life a try. You’re probably wondering why we’re cybering instead of doing it in RL. Well, we can’t do it in RL very often. She lives in China while I live in Missouri. I’ve been there to meet her in person and we did have real sex. But until either my next trip to China or her visa is approved, SL is the next best thing. I helped her design her avatar. She’s drop dead gorgeous. I consider her av a monument to the RL woman who sits behind the keyboard, even though she thinks of herself as rather ordinary.”
* Vincent Doctorow (who commented in this post):
“I think… visually speaking, what turns us (or just me? ^_^) on about an avatar is the perfect ratio of real life beauty standards mixed with scandalousness not permissible in reality. Any glance in most places in SL tells you that the standards for bodily beauty that exist IRL are sustained for the most part in SL: large breasts, hour glass shape, long eyelashes, full lips for women, angular faces, muscular torsos for men (being a guy I guess I can say for more women standards XD). But what’s appealing about SL, and therefore about an avatar, is you can dress up this avatar in sexual, sensuous ways usually not possible IRL except in the most private of circumstances. A naked body with only ribbons and leather straps covering the private parts… in SL, you can go almost anywhere in that kind of clothing. I think a lot of people find that sexy.”
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