(Yes, yes, I know, I know, I said I was taking a break. You know how bad I am at keeping these sorts of promises by now, right?)
Before we get started, I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.
So, why am I writing about 3DX Chat? Well, as you will learn, I discovered that they have a free-to-access test version available for a limited time, so I decided to check it out. (I first heard about it from a Second Life blogger.)
Frankly, the very few adult virtual world platforms which I have mentioned before on this blog (namely, Utherverse/Red Light Center, LivCloser, and Oasis) have not impressed me very much. The biggest problem is that many of these newer adult/sex-based virtual worlds simply cannot compete with everything that the entrenched frontrunner Second Life, with a 15-year head start, has to offer:
- SL now has extremely attractive, realistic-looking mesh avatars (male, female, and any mythical creature you could ever dream up), with a near-endless array of avatar customization options (hair, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.). You can outfit your avatar to fit into any style or scene! No other virtual world can compete.
- In-world stores and the SL Marketplace sell tens of thousands of different animations (dance, cuddle, sex, etc.); again, there’s something to suit every taste. Again, no other virtual world can compete with the endless selection.
- Finally, Second Life offers hundreds of adult locations, many staffed with dozens of avatars who are ready, willing, and able to roleplay sexual scenes (via chat, voice, even webcam!). Again, no other sex-based virtual world comes even close.
Now I want to assure you (despite SL’s reputation in some quarters) that you can easily enjoy and appreciate Second Life without setting foot once in any of these adult areas. You can easily set up your client software to avoid showing adult-rated places to you under Places search, for example. But they are there, if you are curious. And some of these places are quite popular. Frankly, sex is one of the reasons that Second Life is still as popular as it is, for a certain minority of visitors.
I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to explore yet another sex-based social VR space/virtual world, called 3DX Chat (WARNING: ADULT CONTENT! This link is MOST DEFINITELY NOT SAFE FOR WORK! Consider yourself warned.).
Normally, you have to purchase a monthly subscription to visit and use 3DX Chat, starting at US$19.99 a month:
But, for a limited time, I discovered that they are offering free access to a new test client and server, so I decided that I would investigate. (WARNING: This link has pictures in it that are NOT SAFE FOR WORK! Again, consider yourself warned.).
So I put on my reporter’s cap and went to check out this new world (well, not so new; 3DX Chat is apparently already 5 years old).
The good news is that, at least compared to LivCloser, Oasis, and Utherverse/RLC, the avatars do actually look pretty good. Here’s what I able to pull together for a more modest look for my test female avatar:
It’s a very different pricing model than Second Life; your monthly subscription fee seems to include all possible options for body shapes and sizes, hair, makeup, clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. You can also tint your hair and clothing to any colour you desire. But all these options are still limited to about a dozen hairstyles, a dozen dresses, a dozen styles of footwear, etc., so most of the 3DX Chat avatars land up looking a lot like each other anyways. (Not to mention that most in-game women seem to prefer that starving, anorexic look. Get that poor woman a sandwich, pronto!)
You can also choose from several kinds of locales where you can meet, chat with, dance with, and have sex with other avatars, like this luxury yacht. At the highest settings, the environments are very attractively rendered, and you can control the time of day or night on all of them, everything from midday to sunset to midnight:
The experimental high-quality water setting is actually quite realistic-looking, among the best water I’ve seen in any virtual world:
But let’s not kid ourselves. Any socializing that does take place here is essentially foreplay. 3DX Chat is ALL about the sex. It’s not unusual to walk around couples and triples engaged in the act, wherever you go: on a sofa in a club, on a beach, in a prison cell, up against a wall or a stripper pole, etc. After a while, your eyes glaze over at all the non-stop sex.
(By the way, if someone is pestering you, you can simply click on them, and select Ignore from the menu that pops up. And poof! they disappear! It should be so easy to get rid of creepers in the real world!)
There is also an option to use 3DX Chat with an Oculus Rift VR headset, but I found navigation to be rather buggy and clunky. It’s not ready for prime time yet, in my opinion. However, you can move around well enough in desktop mode.
So, what do I think about 3DX Chat after my reporter’s excursion? 3DX Chat certainly offers better-looking avatars than Oasis, which is critical for a successful adult virtual world, but you still have far fewer options available than what Second Life offers you. For example, you only can choose about a dozen dances for your avatar on the dancefloor in 3DX Chat, as opposed to tens of thousands of dances available to you in SL.
I will close with a quote from reporter Susannah Breslin, from my blogpost on another product, CamasutraVR:
Susannah Breslin has written an article for The Atlantic about the current state of the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley, which also mentions CamasturaVR and the Uncanny Valley:
Whether or not people get turned on by VR pornography, the technology is changing the places where adult content has traditionally been created. Porn Valley is being displaced by porn’s uncanny valley—an X-rated version of the theory holding that a robotic or simulated entity that appears to be human, but not quite fully human, revolts us. Losing a connection to the material world—the skin and sweat of reality—may also lose what makes porn alluring.
She concludes the article by stating:
“Everyone wants to feel something,” Adam Sutra told me of his experiments in virtual pornography. He’s right about that. Porn isn’t about sex at all, I’ve learned. It’s about wanting to feel something. And until technology figures out how to make me feel the way that I do when I’m on a porn set, I’ll leave virtual-reality sex to the start-up boys.