Since it first appeared in the collective imagination in the 1930s thanks to a sci-fi writer named Stanley G. Weinbaum, virtual reality has dangled before humanity’s hungry mouth. Moving ever forward in the creation of technologies and tools to improve our quality of life, it’s only natural that humans would attempt to fashion a new world entirely of their own creation. It’s also only natural that some would view such technology as threatening.
Once the initial unfounded fears over virtual reality’s potentially damaging impact on users’ physical and mental health subsided and the technology became mainstream accessible, attention turned to the numerous benefits VR use can bring. Aside from the more obvious physically active apps and games one can enjoy in VR, some programs aimed higher than merely keeping users moving. Before you can run, however, you must walk.
Any Oculus Quest 2 user with an interest in fitness will no doubt already be familiar with Oculus Move, an app that tracks your in-game activity and delivers reports on your fitness whether an intense workout or just a little playtime. The most basic and direct way to connect a user’s physical activity to a reward system – even if that reward is simply seeing one’s own athletic progress – Oculus Move and its off-brand counterparts help with one of the toughest parts of any fitness regimen: motivation.
Even games that don’t require full immersion into VR can do wonders for encouraging physical fitness: Pokemon Go, Ingress, Jurassic World, and Pikmin Bloom all utilize GPS location tech to send players walking throughout their real-life environment, burning calories and making in-game discoveries along the way. For the user, augmented and mixed reality apps keep one foot firmly planted in reality, which can be critical when engaging in physical activity.
Claimed to be comparable to a game of tennis in its health and fitness benefits, Beat Saber very quickly became the VR game to beat upon its launch in 2019. Glowing colored cubes fly toward the player, who swings and strikes with their twin laser-swords, slashing the boxes to the pounding rhythm of accompanying music – and getting a notable workout in the process.
If you’re going to do something healthy and productive, there’s no reason it can’t also be fun. From fitness games to VR dancing to cybersex aided by tools, VR creators have already made strong connections between the tech and physical activity, with some of VR’s most successful apps and games being tied closely to user activity in the physical world. Beat Saber, nature hikes, and hot yoga in a roomful of other steaming bodies can all lead us to eroticism and sensuality. It’s devices like the Kiiroo Titan, a male masturbator the movements of which correspond to either professional adult videos or the device of a partner connected online, that truly bridge the gap between sexual health and virtual concepts.
Perhaps the easiest and most immediate way to combine exercise, entertainment, sex, and technology is to utilize one of VR’s strongest resources: virtual pornography. Some might initially find the concept of virtual sex a bit absurd but once engaged with it truly can change people’s perception of VR for the better. Staring into the eyes of a virtual partner, made of pixels though they may be, in an appropriately intimate situation can have a profound effect on new VR users, adding an emotional and mental component to an otherwise physical act (self-pleasure).
Virtual porn offers not only an exciting opportunity for physical exercise, it can aid psychological and emotional issues surrounding sexual preferences, identities, fetishes and desires, opening users to the endless ways others view and engage with sex. This, in turn, helps each VR porn user better understand themselves. As the tech develops and virtual characters become our closest companions, sexual exploration will remain a constant. After all, it’s only human nature.