This post is a joint review of RedLightCenter.com by Ruth and her partner Ben after several experiences with the website. Ben did the typing, but both of us were in on it. In the interest of full disclosure, both Ruth and Ben were provided with free temporary VIP memberships to RLC in order to review the full features of the site. They have not received any other sponsorship or compensation from RLC.
Product: www.RedLightCenter.com , a very explicit virtual world for Windows based computers. Mac coming soon.
Price: $20 a month for VIPs, free to try but you can’t get naked or hook up.
Last month we introduced you to one of the newest, exciting innovations in virtual sex. Red Light Center claims to offer a user-friendly 3D world where people can meet each other and engage in safe, exciting sexual interactions online. Well, after Ruth’s interview with Brian Shuster, we were provided with temporary VIP memberships to RLC in order to experience this world and report back to you! Does RLC live up to its name and provide a titillating online outlet without a steep learning curve? Find out, after the jump!
Getting started with RedLightCenter was pretty much as simple as it could be. Their main page has the link for the necessary engine download, and a welcome video introduces you to the world and some of the basic controls while the moderately sized installation package (a bit over 400MB) is downloaded. You can also use this time to set up your profile, if you’re so inclined: there are fields for anything from your gender and orientation to your kinks, favorite books, or just to add images and videos like a Myspace profile. And, of course, you can upload tons of naughty pictures of yourself! There is even a “points” system that gives you rewards for others viewing and rating your profile, or for highly rating your pictures in a Hot or Not sort of manner–evidently, in the future these points can even be used to buy rewards or prizes of some sort.
Once the Utherverse engine is downloaded and installed, you can login and immediately find yourself dropped into a 3D virtual world. Your avatar will start out somewhat generic and random, so you’ll first want to run off into a corner or private room and get started customizing; if you need help, there are usually guides hanging around the Welcome Center to give you some advice.
We were both somewhat surprised with the customization engine. Other than the obvious gender, you can choose heights which vary from somewhat intimidatingly tall to near-Munchkin, facial types, hair, skin tone (2 options available) and a plethora of clothes. I probably spent a good 30 minutes or so flipping through outerwear, tattoos, piercings, and the oh-so-important underwear before I felt satisfied with my avatar. There are some minor quibbles with the avatar-builder: so far, all avatars are the same build other than the aforementioned height, so there’s no options for waifish or big and beautiful characters, nor for customizing one’s more intimate attributes; there is a near-overwhelming amount of clothing, especially for VIPs, but the method for choosing one’s outfit is a simple “next/previous” system, meaning that it can take a long time to find a specific outfit, or to go back to one you passed earlier; finally, the more gender-flexible among us may be disappointed at the fact that there is evidently no option for male avatars to wear the females’ clothing and vice versa (though I’d like to acknowledge that I understand what an enormous amount of re-meshing for the clothing would be necessary for this last point). Men can create female characters, though, and we’re sure many do. These concerns are fairly minor, however; the avatars’ bodies are definitely attractive to look at, and the amount of options available makes it possible to really feel like you’ve personalized your avatar even with some of the more specific options left out (there’s even a few sets of animal face-paints and outfits for the furry crowd). The system is definitely user-friendly; I learned the whole thing in a few minutes just by clicking around without consulting any sort of instructions.
Once you’ve finally decided on whether you want the open-crotch chaps or the sexy harem-girl outfit, you can walk out of the Welcome Center and into the world. Everything about RLC is either fairly intuitive or easy to pick up with a line or two of instruction from a friendly local. Everything from movement to propositioning others can be driven with just your mouse (for those who might have a hand occupied). There are a ton of different buildings to explore, including dance clubs and bath houses, and there always seems to be a decent crowd of people online at any given time. Most of the people we interacted with were pleasant to talk to–RLC’s crowd seem to be friendlier than the usual types who hang out in sex chatrooms. Furthermore, most people were ready to get busy at a moment’s notice! And so we come (no pun intended) to the main features of RLC…
Okay, so, let’s get this out of the way: in order to participate in any dirty deeds beyond pure typing, RLC requires you to have a VIP membership at the cost of $20/month. If you’re going to invest any amount of time in RLC, this really seems to be the way to go, because the meat of this world is in its sex. Both Ruth and I were really surprised at the amount of thought and variety that has gone into the seedier side of RLC. Whether your pleasure is simple sex on a bed or whips and chains and strap-ons, two people of different genders or gay threesomes, it’s possible on RLC. And, like the clothing, the variety of possibilities within each type of sexual play is really astounding. There are even certain phrases that come with a pre-recorded voice clip (anywhere from moaning to explicit dirty talk and harsh BDSM-oriented chastisements) for “speed chatting” while you’re getting busy! All these features make sex interesting and arousing for more than just the first couple of encounters. They also provide a way for online sexual encounters to be erotic even if your partner isn’t necessarily a good typist or role-player (those who know the pain of attempting to find a cyber-partner only to be greeted with “omg ur hawt. asl?” will appreciate this). Either partner may change the positions or acts at the click of a button, and the sex can be as long or as short as you want. Ruth additionally notes that there’s a definite feeling of empowerment here, especially for women; there is absolutely NO possibility of having sex if you don’t want it. When you are propositioned (which can only happen when you are naked), you must consent to the sex before it occurs, and you’re given the option to not only say no but to permanently ignore the user propositioning you. This means that, unlike in a sex chat room where people may attempt to type about doing dirty things to you, if you want to do a sexy underwear-clad dance on a stage in RLC, you don’t need to feel like others are forcing themselves in on your fantasy if you don’t want it.
Our gripes were few, but here they are. We would like more skin tones, and the option to be fat’n’sexy. Some of the voices were cheesy, and so we’re hoping that a future version offers a choice of voices. This, however, would be a major feat and really isn’t bad as it is. Ben was sometimes distracted by a few jolty moments in the animations, like when avatars suddenly floated together to engage in slow dances or occassionally started humping piggy-back style while transitioning between positions. Ruth noticed, but wasn’t bothered as it happened rarely and didn’t seem like a big deal to her. Both of us would like the women to have more obvious orgasms when the “cum now” button is pushed. You can’t miss when a man gets off, of course. Lastly, women don’t have an option to be a dominant sex partner during bondage sex without using a strap-on. We would like the women to be able to straddle their partner’s face, ride cowgirl, etc. These concerns are mild, though. Really, they did not get in the way of our fun!
There’s a load more to RLC than what we’ve covered here; the possibility of earning in-game money (“Rays”) by working as a “Working Girl/Guy” and then converting your Rays to real cash; the opportunity to watch naughty movies in an in-game theatre or listen to tunes in one of the many dance clubs; or the ability to build up a large friends list that will tell you which of your prior acquaintances is online and where in the RLC they are. Ruth’s first experience on RLC was with a guy who was ready to be friends for life and they had a great conversation, in addition to trying out many of the naughty features in a tastefully appointed room. The best way to find out about it all is to try it for yourself. Plus, imagine the possibilities for long distance relationships, or spicing up things at home! A basic membership is free, and you can enjoy making your own avatar and chatting with the other denizens, even if some of the buildings and the joys of nudity and getting down-and-dirty will be off-limits until you upgrade to VIP. It’s a big virtual world to explore, and both Ruth and I recommend taking a ride through the RLC (pun definitely intended).