Is Virtual Reality Dating Going Mainstream?
Would you date someone you meet in the metaverse? The VR platform Planet Theta wants to give a virtual avenue for finding love.
What if we took dating further – to the virtual world? In adult entertainment, fields like pornography and live adult webcamming have evolved to encompass the VR segment in profitable models and evolving sophistication and realism. Virtual reality has steadily proliferated many other segments of digital life, so why not how we find love?
More than a VR headset
The next frontier in virtual reality is dating and cultivating a romantic relationship. Considering the current metaverse technology, the conditions for virtual, emotional, and physical intimacy already exist. Some platforms already allow users to integrate virtual reality headsets with teledildonic devices to synchronize and deliver a near-full sensory experience, including eye contact, responsive dialogue, and pleasure devices corresponding to the actual sex act that the model is performing in the pornographic VR film.
It is quite revolutionary, especially given that these types of experiences are enabled by mass-produced VR and teledildonic devices connected by low-latency Bluetooth and the internet. With this, users have one component of dating – the physical – essentially taken care of. But, there is a growing interest in virtual-reality dating as a way to get to know a new person from a safe distance without disclosing too much information or to fulfill the emotional gap felt by couples in long-distance relationships.
Dating in the metaverse
“We are building a platform that is limited to adults only, and [we] are using an age verification system requiring users to confirm their identity and age through their government ID,” Aurora Townsend, chief marketing officer of FireFlare Games, said in a new exclusive interview with Future of Sex.
FireFlare Games is the parent company of an adult virtual reality dating platform called Planet Theta. Set to officially launch to the general public on Valentine’s Day in 2023, Planet Theta is a platform marketed as a place to enable the “right to love.” Townsend, also the company's founder, presented Planet Theta at the 2023 CES Convention.
Dating on the Planet Theta platform
“Our vision has always been to be the first VR platform built for dating,” Townsend added. Like other virtual reality dating platforms, users create their own avatars to represent their personalities and physical attributes. These avatars are fully customizable and are focal points to the interactions between other users in the application.
Users, via their avatars, can socialize and flirt with each other in designated realms and worlds.
All the while, users can engage in “micro-dates” (a virtual speed dating format) or socialize organically with others online. Journalist Amelia Hemphill experienced a micro-date in the closed beta environment of Planet Theta. The micro-dates range in format to emulate real-world scenarios, from hikes in the Enchanted Forest to coffee dates at virtual shops.
Mainstream adoption of virtual dating experiences
“We absolutely expect mass adoption, in a very similar way to which swiping apps on your phone have been mass adopted,” said Townsend to end the interview. “There are plenty of people who do not use swiping apps, just like [how] some folks will have no use for VR dating.”
This mainstream adoption of virtual reality dating might be something that Planet Theta’s team expects. Still, one scholar who studies anthropology and sexual culture sees VR dating as an augmentation to relationships but not a total replacement to the practice or to in-person dating.
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“VR dating is so new that I think we’ll have to wait to see what trends emerge,” opines Laura Johnsen, a Ph.D. Candidate in anthropology at Binghamton University, SUNY, in New York.
“But so far, it seems like all of the platforms are promoting different ways of self-expression that go beyond what we can do in real life,” Johnsen explains. “I think VR dating has the potential to become really popular for a few reasons. Firstly, I think people are frustrated with traditional online dating apps and want to try something new. We’re tired of swiping, receiving boring or inappropriate messages, and being ghosted. VR dating potentially offers a different experience.”
Image Sources: Unsplash, Planet Theta