Is the Situation in 'Black Mirror's' "Striking Vipers" Actually Cheating?
In a rapidly growing world of technology, many people believe that every major contribution to the tech world will all lead back to one thing: sex. 'Black Mirror' seems to agree.
On a dark and gloomy day, I don't know why I choose to add even more melancholy to the world around me and watch depressing and dark TV and movies, but I do.
My fiancée and I snuggled up on the couch, saw that Anthony Mackie was in an episode of Black Mirror, and decided, "Hey, why not give this a try, Falcon's in it?" Listen, the episode was good, but it was possibly one of the most awkward things I've ever watched in my life.
Not the natural kind of awkward like Napoleon Dynamite that makes you laugh, or not even the unsettling kind that makes you cringe. This episode puts you in a situation where you have to think about the exact same situation that characters are in and ask yourself, would you do it?
The story is based around two college friends who partake in a match of a new generation VR video game based off of Street Fighter called "Striking Vipers."
This isn't an old fashioned headset VR. This is some James Cameron's Avatar stuff. Your consciousness is transported into the game to control a character and play against your friends.
The two main characters, Danny and Karl, play as two Ryu and Chun-Li style characters named Lance and Roxie. The experience was so real for them that they decided to see just how real it can get.
Every sensation is the same as in real life. If you touch something, you feel it; if you eat something, you taste it; if you get punched, it hurts; and if you have sex, you have all the pleasures that come with it.
Well, Danny and Karl decide to live out a cosplayer's dream and use their avatars to have sex. Keep in mind, both are heterosexual men; Danny even has a wife and a son.
When watching this I asked two questions:
1. Could I have sex with my male friend whose consciousness is inside of an attractive female body?
Answer: No way in hell. I would never be able to take my mind off of who was on the other end of that string. To Danny's credit, he relents at first, but eventually knowing that he was kissing and sleeping with Karl slowly weighs on his subconscious.
2. Is it cheating to essentially have sex with a simulation, even if it's being controlled by another person?
Answer: Well, I think the answer is a little too deep for just yes or no.
What Is Defined as Cheating?
I'm sure this half of the article is about to be inspected and evaluated by my fiancée methodically.
This is tricky, because many people have their own definitions of cheating. I can only give my own opinion on it and try and look at it from an unbiased angle.
I define cheating as having either a physical or emotional relationship with another person while you already have a partner.
So, if you have sex with a person or even are sexting with someone you've never even met in person, you're cheating in my mind because you're engaging in a sexual experience with another person.
Paying for phone sex or paying to watch and interact with someone on camera? Yep, cheating.
But using a doll, or if you have one of these fancy new sex robots? No, because they're not a person, even if some creepily look like one. To me, you're having sex with a machine, and that's no different than using a vibrator or fleshlight. You've got way too much disposable income when you could simply get a vibrator or fleshlight, but whatever you wanna do, it's your body and free time.
Where Does Having Sex with an Avatar Controlled by Another Person Fall?
For some, this will fall into a grey area, and it's going to be a fun debate to watch play out when the technology for these games come out. I'm sure many marriages will be ended by it, or hell, maybe it'll improve some if you're a gaming couple.
For me, I view this as cheating, because while you may not be physically touching the other person, you're still interacting with another person pretty much directly and experiencing the same sensations as sex from them, and they're experiencing them from you.
But, as it turns out, I'm not God, and my opinion is simply that.
I can see how some people only view physical sex between two people as cheating.
I can also see how some people view watching porn or thinking of someone other than their partner when they masturbate as cheating. It's not something I would get upset about, but I can understand how some would.
We all have different comfort levels and values that we associate with our relationships. It's our goal to find people who share the same integrity.
"Striking Vipers" really fast-forwarded us to an issue that many relationships are going to face in the possibly not too distant future, and I really appreciate the conversation it brings up. My fiancée and I had plenty to discuss after the episode. Don't worry, we both agreed with one another, but it was fun to bounce the situations off of each other.