Experience Sex Ed in VR with Motherlode’s ‘Pillow Talk’

Traditional sex ed gets a whimsical twist in this education three-part series. Some images you may consider NSFW are included.

The infamous and heavily quoted “don’t have sex—you will get pregnant and die” scene from Mean Girls may have been a satirical quip, but the sad reality is that sex education across the country is lacking now more than ever. High school students today are receiving less sex education in schools than they were a decade ago. Many students are taught an abstinence-only curriculum despite research showing its ineffectiveness in both preventing pregnancy and the spread of STDs.

More progressive schools teach students about contraception and protection against STDs, but fail to include LGBTQ students. With little formal sex education to guide them, adolescents are turning to porn and the internet to learn more about sex—often leading to misleading or downright harmful ideas about the intimate experience. 

This gap in sex education led female developers Carol Civre, Isa Ghaffari, and Leah Roh of creative tech start-up Motherlode to develop Pillow Talk, a three-chapter VR experience exploring critical aspects of sex like gender identity, consent, and self-pleasure that are often left out of the classroom conversation.

The first chapter in the series, Lube River, takes users—called sex-plorers— on a technicolor voyage down a Lube River aboard a “va-gondola.” The river is populated by interactive, talking sex toys designed to get users thinking about pleasure in new ways.

If it all sounds a bit kitschy, it is—on purpose. Rather than address masturbation and self-pleasure in a clinical manner, the creators at Motherlode wanted to make things a little less serious. “The point is to redirect conversations on masturbation and pleasure so that they’re more fun and more inclusive — we believe that understanding pleasure can create a better and healthier overall sexual experience for one’s self and their relationship with partner(s),” spoke the creators in an interview with Teen Vogue. 

This desire to approach the conversation playfully was exactly what led the Motherlode team to create the experience in virtual reality. Computer-generated virtual reality allows for infinite possibilities when it comes to customizing environments, characters, and actions,” the team continued. “Not only is this type of education more engaging, but it offers a more playful approach to topics like sex education. This playful approach can be a useful teaching platform that celebrates sex instead of villainizing it.”

As queer women of color, the Pillowtalk creators wanted to create an experience that was inclusive for everyone. The team worked exclusively with female led companies, and the sex toys featured in Pillow Talk were designed for use by people of all sexual and gender identities. As ML said to Teen Vogue, “Sex ed needs to be less clinical, less heteronormative, and less binary. The road to creating an inclusive, comprehensive and universal sex education curriculum is long, which is why it is time to start thinking outside the box.”

Ready to think outside the box?  You can take your own journey down the Lube River in NYC starting on June 3rd.

Motherlode is responsible for a variety of other experimental VR projects from an immersive spa experience featuring VR massage table, to Broad Land, a “virtual retrospect of society’s sexist marketing practices and gender-biased gaming industry.”

Image Credit: Motherlode

About the Scout

Presley West

Emory University student, VRScout Writer, Storyteller, and Amateur Dog Walker.

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