Users of virtual worlds vary greatly, especially depending on the world they choose to inhabit and the locations they frequent within it. Using a sex-specific world can help you to get a better idea of what other members might be seeking, but can be more expensive than a diverse world like Second Life, where adult activities are kept off the “mainland” and out of the spotlight.
Keep in mind that just as in real life, not everyone in the dating pool has the best of intentions and communication or sexual negotiation can be difficult as you are learning the in-game commands and functions. Sexualized violence towards avatars is not unheard of and can be an emotionally upsetting ordeal. Games like Second Life have clear cut anti-harassment policies which outline your avatar rights, how you can report another user and in what instances. Do no hesitate to report someone who is being abusive through avatar actions, text or audio chat. As with everything on the internet, be conscious of the information you share publicly and what information you give to others privately. Play safe!
Getting started might seem like a lengthy process, but it is well worth the time and effort. The learning curve may surprise you. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed too easily, or to take on too much at once. There is no need to completely redesign your avatar from scratch in your first logon. Take your time, learn how to get around and talk to people, then play around with all your options before deciding what will work best for you. Think of this as setting up a new tool to use for collaboration, learning, socializing and attending events. Virtual worlds are so much more than games…
Choose your World
Deciding where to get your start is probably the most important decision in the process. You can, of course, choose as many virtual worlds as you like, but remember that they aren’t generally cross-compatible, so you will want to start your avatar from scratch for each program you run.
The ultimate factor in deciding which world you choose will be computer requirements – be sure that your hardware can run the software before you start buying memberships to anything. Take a few minutes to try on a random avatar and run around to see how the world renders. Play with the settings a bit. Smooth, well-supported software makes for a much more pleasurable virtual experience.
The other most important aspect of your virtual world choice is your particular usage profile: what do you want to do in a virtual world?
Are you interested in making friends, chatting about shared hobbies, watching movies or going to parties? Do you want to shop? Do you have a virtual or physical-world product you want to sell? Are you interested in attending events, lectures, conferences and trade shows through a virtual portal? Are you intrigued by the virtual sexual functions and looking to explore the technical and animation capabilities of your avatar? Are you interested in exploring a kink that you might not yet feel comfortable or be able to indulge in with your physical partners? Are you a developer interested in creating devices or interfaces for controlling avatars with the body? Do you want to see just how complex an adult virtual world can be?
Pinpoint your purpose and follow that lead. Find a group you want to join, an event you want to attend, some people you want to meet, and use that as inspiration and a starting point in your new virtual life. Red Light Center is the largest adult virtual world available and a great place to get started, but you can find a review of the other major virtual sex worlds in the virtual sex directory in our Bizarre Bazaar section [NSFW].
Once you have chosen a platform, you still have an entire world to explore! Where to go first? When you feel comfortable logging in and wandering or teleporting around, head somewhere that will give you a chance to interact with a great number of different people, offer you the opportunity to chat and find someone who can help you learn as you go without pressure to perform. Try not to make this about “winning” and think of a virtual world as less of a “game” and more as a “platform” on which many different kinds of interactions can be built.
Image Source: TORLEY on Flickr
Check out or the Red Light Center Events blog to find out what’s going on in the Utherverse.
If nothing strikes your fancy right away or the entire thing just seems too overwhelming, check out online tutorials written specifically for the platform of your choice (like Getting Started with Second Life), or to your desires and interests (like this Second Life BDSM guide). If collaboration and socialization are more your style, this slide show for getting started in virtual worlds is especially useful for those wishing to use a virtual world for conferences and educational events.
Basically, virtual sex is great because, sex is great! Here’s the scoop: exercise and other “good stress” like sex improves cognitive function. The brain, incapable of distinguishing between a body actually having sex, and a brain releasing the chemicals associated with having sex, will respond with neural growth either way. When you are able to convince your brain is that your virtual sex is “real sex” it responds accordingly!
What’s most important about the science behind these is the relationship between frequency of sexual activity and anxiety. For most people, engaging in a sexual encounter with someone new is both cognitively beneficial and anxiety inducing. Generally speaking, the benefit potential outweighs the anxiety potential even for a once-in-a-lifetime sexual experience, but an increase in frequency results in a drastic decline in anxiety levels. In other words, the more frequently you have sex, especially with new partners, the less anxious you will feel during and after sex, and the greater the cognitive benefit!
If this cognitive benefit could be accomplished through virtual worlds, without the same dangers and difficulties involved in meeting the right person, in the right place at the right time, it could be life-changing for those whose social anxiety makes regular physical contact rare or impossible. Virtual worlds offer a safer place to explore anxiety inducing behaviors with a wide audience of people, many of whom may be in search of the same thing.
The possibilities at this point are virtually infinite! Pick your favorite adult virtual world, strap on a set of genitals, and enjoy! Check out the UNCP report, “Why and How to Get Started in a Virtual World” [pdf] if you still need convincing.