Sex sells. This is one of the most basic premises of advertising
. Sex is used to sell a truly unbelievable amount of products. Sex is even used to sell computer games, so what would happen if we were able to sell sex?
Prostitution is called 'the oldest profession', so what if we treated it like any other profession in MMOs and started charging for it? The amount of people in MMOs today is truly mind-blowing
. With a combined player-base of that size, you can be sure that a good few people are cybering in-game
at any given time.
I'm not saying that everyone, or even most, of the people playing an MMO right now take part in cybering, because that's simply not true. Plenty of people rely on simple IM clients like AIM
or Windows Messenger
to find cyber-sex partners. But what if your game had licensed, regulated, well-run brothels staffed with reputable players? You might just find that people fall over themselves to start playing your game.
to allow you to run a brothel filled with staff of all races and genders. Catering to all tastes and fetishes, men and women alike could come and purchase whatever service their tastes ran to. Are you a man playing a female Night Elf who longs to be gently spanked by a burly Tauren dressed like a Gnome warlock? Pay the fee and a Tauren Brave will be waiting for you in room 103. Have fun.
Business could be conducted in private rooms where two (or more) players could go and cyber each other until they're blind or their fingers fall off – at least it would spare other players having to run in to them on the Deeprun Tram
Of course there are always people who take things too far
. Make the system player-controlled though, and players can restrict what is and is not allowed. If you find the thought of Tauren and Gnomes getting it on a little too weird (and who doesn't), then you can make it clear that kind of thing isn't allowed in your establishment. Employ 'secret shoppers
' to go undercover, pay a visit and ask for something outside of the Terms of Service to make sure everything is above board.
Alternatively, instead of player-run brothels, you could have brothels staffed with paid employees. Obviously, there are certain acts which are distasteful to everyone without serious psychological issues, so perhaps that might be the 'safest' way to run it – allowing the game's creators to establish clear and defined lines over what is and isn't allowed (making for an interesting EULA
), but taking it out of the players' hands isn't exactly allowing them to sell sex, is it?
We might not have true privacy in-game just now – conversation logs may not be actively monitored, but they're usually saved somewhere, even temporarily – but no-one would want to use an in-game brothel if you couldn't guarantee them at least a modicum of privacy. You would at least have to guarantee players that their actions behind closed doors wouldn't be actively monitored.
While under-age kids may well be cybering their little hearts out right now, the last thing you want to do is provide them with a situation where such activities are not only allowed, but encouraged to a certain extent. It's a tough problem to have to solve, one that I'm struggling to come up with a good answer for. I guess you could slap an 'Adults Only' sticker on your game, but I don't see many games voluntarily excluding large swathes of their possible audience that way.
Frequently clumsy and messy, and sometimes over disappointingly soon, real-world sex rarely resembles sex in the media. It is however, nothing to be ashamed of, and while I certainly don't advocate real-life prostitution, I think there's a case to be made for regulated prostitution in MMOs. So, in a few years' time if in-game brothels take off in a big way, just remember that you read about them here. Just don't expect to see me in one though – what kind of a pervert do you take me for?