Virtualizing Base Impulses

I've felt for a long time that many cultural innovations ultimately stem from two very base impulses: sex and aggression. So it is no surprise to me that along with the military advances I have described recently, I bring you this story from the porn industry (via Wired):

If you've ever fantasized about having sex with Jenna Jameson, your dream is virtually within your grasp.

XStream3D Multimedia has released VirtuallyJenna [nsfw], the first iteration of a sex-simulation game that will eventually feature a number of adult contract stars from Club Jenna and Vivid.

The game has a deceptively simple goal: Bring Jenna to orgasm. You have several tools to help you achieve this, ranging from sex toys to male and female sex partners to a disembodied hand reminiscent of Thing from The Addams Family.

Of course, porn has very little to do with sex. Of course, porn has been at the forefront of almost every medium of communication invented, so its appearance in games is hardly a surprise.

The similarities to a sports videogame are striking: create a character from a menu of features, put it into action situations with a concrete outcome objective, and then control the action with uncertain outcome elements involved. One wonders if this design was intentional, given the demographics involved.

In Open Sky, Paul Virilio describes how the automobile driver, once upon a time in contact with the open air and engine cacophony, has been closed right into a tight cybernetic coupling with the machine. "How can we fail to see that the love relationship will suffer exactly the same fate, with the cybernetic steering of disunited lovers?" he asks, and the VirtuallyJenna game (along with other advances in teledildonics) seems to bear this out.

But that isn't the only thing at play here. Like other videogames, VirtuallyJenna allows the player to choose from various different camera angles — including a first-person look from the perspective of Jameson herself. This is consistent with the manufacture of digital identities I have discussed earlier, but raises an interesting question. There is a paradoxical quality to being able to shift back and forth from third-person to first-person perspectives: who is being manipulated and who is having the orgasm and what is the sense of Self during this process?

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