Chances are if you’re at all immersed in the virtual reality scene you’ve heard of Naughty America before. No, they’re not a game developer – they’re a pornography company. As it turns out, that joke about people checking out pornography in virtual reality isn’t actually much of a joke at all as many in the industry have begun looking at VR headsets seriously. Perhaps the most involved in this new space is Naughty America. The company is diving headfirst into VR with first-person point of view videos primarily for straight men to enjoy. The company majorly turned heads when it attended E3 this year. For many, it seemed a total mismatch.
I sat down with Ian Paul, Naughty America’s CIO, and inquired as to why the company were at a gaming-focused convention. After all, there are totally adult expos where they can (and likely do) show their new virtual reality videos. As it turns out, they weren’t simply there to cause a ruckus with the gaming community. The company was there to learn more about the gamer demographic, their tastes and further the acceptance of virtual reality in general. Naughty America may have quite a wide library available to subscribers, but it is all relatively “standard” in that it does not focus on things like BDSM or cosplay.
Paul spoke to his curiosity about what gamers may be interested in seeking out for pleasure. Sure, it’s safe to say that many gamers already indulge in porn, but to what degree might they be interested in content themed toward gaming? Perhaps the scenario could start during a gameplay session or at an arcade. Maybe the actress(es) could don cosplay similar to well-established characters? While these concepts might seem silly, it does bring to mind the recent Overwatch controversy. If people were that willing to flock to videos made from in-game assets, some of them would definitely flock to cosplay-based scenes with actual people.
It’s obvious that Naughty America wishes to continue to spread their name and content across all manner of platforms. For them, virtual reality is a necessary next step. They’ve gone so far as to create custom rigs for filming their 180 degree POV videos and support all current virtual reality headsets. They even want to support ones like the PlayStation VR. Despite the fact that Sony would outright never allow a Naughty America app, Paul was confident of the future of console porn. As long as the built in PS4 browser allows it, users should be able to browse to the Naughty America site to get their content.
Perhaps one of the most interesting topics Paul and I discussed was the potential of gamifying porn. He admitted that the current realm of “choose your own adventure” porn does not draw much attention. But that is due to the restrictions of today. Paul is a forward thinking guy who presented a more interesting view for game-like porn. Imagine that a scene begins with a group of people and that the one you focus your gaze on is the actress who then approaches you. While engaged in sexual activity, technology monitoring your heart rate or arousal level could then determine whether or not you’re actually into what’s going on. If not, the scene could advance toward something else instead. These are not choices made by the viewer explicitly, but simply understood by the technology.
Although not a game in a traditional sense, this interactivity is the sort that has been mostly restricted to the game domain all this time. One thing that simply must be remembered is that virtual reality will not succeed purely based on the merit of its games. These devices desperately want to be multimedia devices. That means people will use them to watch Netflix, Hulu, and yes, pornography. If porn flourishes on VR then it almost confirms some degree of long-term success for headsets. Don’t believe me? Just look back to multimedia battles of the past. When VHS supported porn and Betamax did not, the winner was decided. Not everyone with a virtual reality headset will engage with this realm, but it will remain in the conversation for as long as headsets exist.