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Will porn do for VR what it did for VHS, DVD and… the internet?

Will porn do for VR what it (allegedly) did for VHS, DVD and… the internet?

It's the classic technology seller. Porn. It made people want VHS then DVD players, the internet and HD displays, also driving image and video compression and the sale of smartphones – if you believe the salespeople.

But can three-dimensional, fully immersive pornography sell VR headsets to the masses?

Just think. You could look around. Underneath. Up. At the thing you're not supposed to be looking at, you sicko. The possibilities are endless and, according to the maker of Facebook's Oculus Rift headset, there won't be any rules or safeguards in place to stop developers creating and releasing realistic porn scenarios for headsetted PC users.

Not that it would be possible to "ban" anything on Oculus Rift anyway, with plenty of stilted, not-sexy porn demos already available for the dev units.

The OR system is nothing more than a mobile phone screen velcroed onto your head, remember, and not even today's authoritarian fun-hating government can stop people looking at rude things on telephone screens in the comfort of their own homes.

But is it right? Do we need it? And wouldn't it just be a bit terrifying having 3D porn inches away from your face?

Accident or happenstance

Over on Variety, reader Dwarzgarth Blostgat has thought it all through perhaps a bit too much. He explains: "There is no Oculus OS, they don't have an app store (and if they do then I suspect they will block porn apps). But realize the Rift is just an extra monitor to your computer. If you get on the web and go to a porn site no one can stop you from seeing it on your Rift. And if that porn site happens to be a VR augmented web site Oculus will have nothing to do with it."

And if that man's wife or partner happens to wonder why his cheeks are so red beneath the personal display he's got strapped tightly over his eyes so that only he can see what they're displaying, it's not his fault it was so easy to completely innocently happen upon VR porn.

It's all part of the ongoing illuminati attempt to pacify humanity, according to commenter Georgw, who explains that sci-fi has already predicted our screen-based demise, saying: "This VR stuff reminds me of a Star Trek Voyager episode where the crew was slowly being taken over after using an alien gift of a VR device that touched (stimulated) there pleasure center. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the hundreds of other time-wasting, spiritually and morally devoid preoccupations of mankind, we have opened ourselves up to being easily controlled, whether by government or other entities."

To which StarTrekNerd replies, somewhat inevitably: "It was not Voyager it was Star Trek TNG."

My funny fictional anecdote!

The Daily Mail managed to spin this non-news denial-of-nothing out across 1,400 words, also explaining the history of porn and providing many illustrations. Its always-outraged readers piled in, with reader and almost capable writer WinstonSmith posting: "Won't someone think of the children (and their shoddy parents who would buy the headset for their kids at the earliest opportunity to save them from being shunned by the other children in the playground, leading to a life of disappointment and resentment, and then later payback when they are placed in a home)."

We think he's comparing it to the iPad and saying he hasn't got one and his children play outside all the time even when it's hailstoning and dark.

And if nothing else, the arrival of porn on VR headsets will update the popular urban myth about being caught in the act of self-abuse for the modern generation.

Reader Captain Sensible is either lying or has been lied to, as he's already relating the predictable VR/porn anecdote of: "I know of someone who that happened to with a device I won't mention here. When he had 'finished' he took the headset off to see his (now ex) fiancee and her parents sat patiently waiting."

3D images or it didn't happen, Captain.

Gushing out

It's the latest step in the pornographisation of mankind, according to commenter DeeeNYV on Cnet. He posted: "Porn will put VR in the fast lane of development. Just like it did for the high speed internet, video streaming and compression, etc. I mean one can argue smartphone screens got bigger because of porn as well. I mean does anyone believe all that robotic engineering going on in Japan isn't because they're trying to build a sex bot?"

Imagine that. Facebook buys Japanese sex robot creator, streams in data from the profiles of the people you used to fancy who are on the social site, then, for a small fee, lets you whack on your headset and do what you want with them from the comfort of your own padded VR sex room.

Reader Volker Andrae is already planning the launch of some sort of VR dating site to cater to busy executives after a no-cables-attached remote fling, explaining: "The bigger perspective in my opinion are long distance relationships. Until teleportation becomes a thing a VR device on both ends coupled with some representative ... stimulation devices... might do wonders!"

Facebook to buy Fleshlight? You heard it here first.

Non fiction

The serious readers of Eurogamer saw through this attempt to get "porn" into headlines across the tech news world. Commenter SHPanda says this is not really news as nothing's actually happened or changed -- he's obviously not familiar with how internet news works.

He commented: "I don't ever see Apple being questioned if their MacBooks will block porn or if LG's TVs will prevent you from watching x rated videos on them. Same applies, this isn't a closed ecosystem like a games console (even then you can watch porn on them) it's a peripheral device used to display whatever content you choose. Absolute non-story."

Reader Arcam suggests it's only causing such a fuss because Facebook threw all the money at Oculus, meaning it now sits awkwardly alongside cat photos, polite messages from your dad and baby photos from people you once worked with and now maintain a civil but ultimately pointless and doomed friendship with, in the internet sphere – hence hardcore VR porn seems a strange fit in the Facebook product portfolio.

He explains: "with the Facebook connection, I guess some people assumed that Oculus will want total control over what goes on the system. I guess a more informative way of presenting this news would be to say Oculus remains an open platform as previously promised, although that doesn't sound that interesting and doesn't have the word 'porn' in the headline."

We'll give the last word to DeathbyStereo, who has single-handedly killed our passing interest in Oculus Rift rudeness with his question: "Any of you blokes up for some co-op?"