Virtual reality porn can raise issues about consent: Study

| Updated: May 22, 2017 18:43 IST

London [UK], May 22 (ANI): According to a recent study, popularity of virtual reality pornography could cause a blurred line between real life and fantasy. As reported by the Independent, scientists at Newcastle University found that VR porn could make some of the more degrading and abusive elements found in some pornography seem more "real". The study was presented at the computing machinery conference CHI 2017 in Denver, Colorado. The researchers used a story completion method mainly targeting online writing communities including fan fiction and Reddit forums. They culminated with 45 participant-generated stories, 24 were by men, 18 female and three other. The majority (30) were heterosexual and 26 said they were not already users of VR porn. The participants were given an introductory sentence describing a man about to have his first experience of VR porn. They were then instructed to continue the rest of the story for around ten minutes. The results varied but the study noted that there was an apparent disjoint between 'virtual reality' and 'real reality' and a negotiation of the barriers between them". They even suggested VR porn was akin to cheating on a partner because of the "increasing reality". Researchers divided the stories into two groups, the first was branded a "perfect" scenario - where participants described a perfect sexual experience. The second group was labelled "precarious". Matthew Wood, study's lead author shared that the stories of the second group "often went beyond what would be acceptable in real life with sometimes violent imagery, featuring men performing degrading sexual acts on women or forcing themselves upon them." While, Dr Madeline Balaam, co-author of the research said, "Our research highlighted not only a drive for perfection, but also a crossover between reality and fantasy. Some of our findings highlighted the potential for creating 3D models of real life people, raising questions over what consent means in VR experiences. If a user created a VR version of their real life girlfriend, for example, would they do things to her that they knew she would refuse in the real world?" The researches feels that VR porn could provide an opportunity "to influence pornography and introduce some new rules" saying the future of the experience "could be more positive" if it was designed right. "In our research we also saw suggestions that VR could deliver more embodied sensory experiences, with more emphasis on subtlety and the relational aspects of sexual experiences," explained Wood. (ANI)

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