But problems arise, she says, when users “lose their ability to control” that behavior.
“One of the huge benefits is safety,” says Brenda Brathwaite, a veteran video game developer (whose credits include Playboy: The Mansion) and author of Sex in Video Games.
In addition to STD-free interactions, Brathwaite says virtual worlds offer users the ability to explore sexuality in an anonymous environment.
Still, says Machulis, teledildonics are “changing long-distance relationships for the better,” allowing couples to “finally be physical over the wire.” And, he argues, we “haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg” in the field of virtual sex toys.
Allowing separated couples to stay in touch, almost literally, is only one of the many positive aspects that virtual-sex advocates see in the refinement of — and increasingly widespread access to — cyber-sex technologies.
“Would you consider this cheating if I were playing this game? “But we can talk about it more over dinner.” And with that we’re back in the “real” world, leaving a vast population in the virtual universe to chat and caress their way into the night.