Play With Me

Joanne Cachapero
Jenna Jameson is turned out in black leather crotchless panties and paired up with Yuki, an exotic Asian in a latex miniskirt (no panties) and a spiked collar. The girls assume a gravity-defying doggy position, floating on an angelic background of fluffy white clouds.

Yuki's breasts sway suggestively as she invites Jenna's strap-on assault. Jenna tilts her head to look my way and demands, "Play with me."

Spinning to get a perfect angle on the action about to take place, I'm in complete control of every detail in the scenario — except no matter how many toys I click and drag into the scene, or how fast my mouse hand is, the only thing I can't seem to do is bring these virtual vixens to orgasm.

Just realizing that makes me want to play a little bit harder.

And that's the idea behind "VirtuallyJenna," the PC-based, adults-only online game created by xStream3D, and the only computer game built specifically to simulate explicit hardcore sex.

"I think a lot of people still haven't gotten over the fact that a sex game can be interesting, compelling and actually erotic," says Brad Abram, president of xStream3D. "Most of the things out there to date in adult have been just Flash; shooting a penis at the wall or whatever. This is actually Xbox/PS2 quality, and nobody else has really bothered to go that direction."

Built From Ground Up
Jeff Indom, who works in business development for xStream3D, adds: "Our game is the only one we know of built from the ground up specifically to be an adult game. Most of the others out there are using some sort of modified third-party system. There are limits to where they can adapt. If their video game engines were designed to do explosions really well, they're coming at it from an entirely different perspective. Ours was designed to do sex really well."

Sex-themed video games have been around since the early 1980s. "Soft Porn Adventure," a text-based interactive story from 1981, inspired Sierra Games to develop "Leisure Suit Larry," which is currently in its eighth incarnation with 893,000 units and $28 million in sales. And Mystique Games' "Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em" and "Custer's Revenge" were released in 1982 for Atari 2600 gaming systems.

Controversy about sex in video games was brought to the forefront in 2005, when players of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" discovered patch codes allowing access to a sex-based mini-game hidden within the program. Subsequently, "Grand Theft Auto" was recalled and re-released by publishers Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and Rockstar Games Inc., but it generated seven million units and $340 million in sales overall.

Other adult-themed games tend to focus on the pursuit of sex as the objective, but in "VirtuallyJenna," sex is the play mode. In a parallel between virtual and reality, the challenge is to try to have great fantasy sex.

Abram believes the next-generation adult entertainment consumer will be looking for highly interactive content and that adult gaming is the inevitable next step into virtual environments designed for the cyber-sex experience.

"Look at the demographics we're after — 18- to 34-year old males," he explains. "They've gone through their whole life in an interactive immersive environment, and that demographic thinks that DVD is old-school. They don't buy DVDs. They don't buy magazines. They consume all their media through their Internet portal."

Constant updating and use of leading-edge technologies attract customers from both the adult consumer and casual gamer sectors of the online market. The site is usually updated every six weeks with a six-pack of new features.

"We know that when we get adult traffic to the site, it converts better than regular adult porn traffic," Abram says. "But when we get casual gamer traffic, it converts phenomenally."

The "polygon budget" at xStream3D has gone completely to developing a bigger, sexier game engine while creating and adapting features based on feedback from usage statistics. Charting their "roadmap," Abram and Indom are anticipating advances in technology five or more years down the road.

"Our engine is not even using anywhere near full capacity," Indom says. "We need the consumers' computers to catch up. We can start turning on more of the aspects that are built into our engine, but right now, we have turned many of them off because the technology just isn't there."

Currently, users can interact with Jenna and a cast of several other female and male characters. Several ClubJenna girls have been added to the game's roster, and Abram says players' favorite setting is "the Beach."

"I think everyone has the fantasy of doing it on the beach," he says. "It's the most popular room in the game, yet in reality, having sex on the beach sucks," he laughs.

Other "rooms" include a Fetish Room, Room of Dreams, Hall of Ceremonies and a Locker Room. While controlling the action, players can customize clothing and body parts, as well as select from an assortment of sex toys. In the Photo Studio, characters respond to commands for facial expression and poses to create custom photo sets and animation that can be stored in a photo gallery.

Advanced Technology
Higher levels of control and customization hint at what's to come when advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology is incorporated into the game. To some extent, the skill each player uses in operating the game already prompts greater responsiveness from the 3-D seductresses.

"There's a whole AI basis in its infancy right now," Abram describes. "You can't just take a motion capture file and use it, as is, in a game. There's no way to interact with it. You have to have secondary reactions to those things. If the girl reacts — maybe she does a head tilt one way, or she does a roll of the eyes — you have to have all this low-level AI connected to animation cycles that respond to what the players are doing. These are really state-of-the-art things that have never been applied to Flash-based games or any of the other games that are in the adult space."

Taking the game to porno-Pygmalion proportions, Abram ups the slider bar on greater interaction by envisioning a way for players to create their own "perfect girl scenario."

"One thing that we've heard from our customers is that they want to have virtual girlfriends and boyfriends," Abram says. "They want to create their own customized character that they'll develop a virtual relationship with. So, to address that, we've actually got these new things coming out where you'll be able to customize her face and create your own look. Once we have customized characters, we can then hook them up to webcams. The webcams can do face-tracking, and the character onscreen will respond to what's going on in the webcam."

Advances in hardware, with the addition of plug-in sex toys and 3-D glasses or headsets, also are on the virtual horizon. By 2007, the company will actively start developing an online community for gamers — a place to hang out and exchange photos and animation taken within the game.

"Eventually, we'll have enough content to go multi-player online with this," Abram says. "Like 'World of Warcraft,' for lack of a better description, where you have hundreds of thousands of people coming to visit your world — then you go off into a private room and have full-fledged virtual sex with our engine."

For Abrams, gaming capabilities and community building are only part of the progression. He also anticipates expansion into mobile technologies.

"As soon as they allow uploading or downloading of content, then Pandora's box is open," Abram says. "The Nintendo DS Hand-Held just announced a browser. So it's inevitable that we will be in that world of the PSP, Nintendo and Xbox as soon as they start opening out."

Anticipating that personal computer technology will catch up by 2010, xStream3D is in it for the long term and has funded accordingly, with millions of dollars invested over the past five years.

The company also is willing to gamble that few adult companies have the infrastructure or financial wherewithal to create their own online game engines, and so xStream3D is positioned to be at the forefront for licensing its engine.

"There are a lot of people already interested in that," Abrams says.

And once the game world turns on to cyber-sexuality, the potential for adult virtual interaction may be virtually unlimited. As online culture connects more and more into web-based communities for cyber-camaraderie, photo/video-sharing and online relationships, how long before online users are creating their own erotic animachina with ultra-realistic computer-generated porn stars/girlfriends in 3D environments?

"Sex in video games is like the final frontier," Abram says. "You have sex in mainstream movies and it's an important part of the storytelling. We think it's going to be as important a factor in the storytelling of a game experience, and we will ultimately be the people who have all the libraries, all the content and all the ability to deliver that — it's pretty exciting for us in the long term."