Note: I don't usually use slashdong as a personal blog like this, but as the page grows, there's a lot of interesting things that happen to the person running it. This post is about the realization of what being a sex toy engineer really means. After this, we'll get back to covering cock sucking machines and aluminum dildo thrusters, I swear. :)

Photography is a wonderful thing. Pictures that make you think. Pictures can combine seemingly unrelated objects and situations that when put into a frame, express some new meaning that would've been missed if it the moment were experienced in the flow of time. You know it's real, you know it hasn't been photoshopped, mainly because you were there, you are in the picture. Hell, it was taken with your camera. You remember the person that snapped it for you, thanking them for their time, and wishing you hadn't forgotten the USB cable so you could look at it and upload it right then. Life moves on, lectures to go to, dinners to have, advertising arrows to shoot...

Yet, when you get home, you look at the image, and wonder... Did that really happen?

Can you spot the dildo in this picture? How about the vibrator?

The last 10 days has been an absolute blur. It feels like I've been gone at least a month, but the relatively short time it took to catch up on my RSS feeds says otherwise. Here I am, back where I started, in front of a desk that's a clutter of wires and sex toys and the iPod I forgot to take with me. This is the first writing I've done since I got home, and it feels like a new beginning.

Before I go into a synopsis of what happened during my grand two stop, one continent WORLD TOUR, I should probably mention that this was really my first time out as what could be considered the "public face" of Slashdong. I started Slashdong back in January, and up until now, I'd never really met with anyone that knew me solely through the site. I joke about it with friends, but they'd all known me well before the site went up. Never had I met people that knew me solely as qDot, sex toy and teledildonics engineer. I was nervous and really had no idea what to expect or how to act (the correct answers being "anything" and "no need to act, just be myself"), as would become obvious later.

There were really a total of 3 events in the trip, though some of them encompassed multiple meetings: Meeting other engineers, the Linden Lab visit, and the Austin Games Conference.

The first meeting happened in San Jose, in response to the message I posted on here about being in San Jose and wanting to meet up with people. Some interested parties responded, and we met for drinks during the startlingly little free time that I had (I was there to work, after all :) ). This meeting was nothing short of amazing. Sure, I talk to ridiculously smart, interesting, and creative people all the time through email and instant message, batting back and forth drawings and schematics, and brainstorming about new things to be built. But facetime with these people is a whole other experience. It's so nice to have real conversations with actual people, on topics we're all almost obsessively interested in, with an amazing amount of diverse experience between us.

It was then I realized, I need to get out of Oklahoma.

I'm sure most everyone is wondering "Well, what did you talk about? What new grand orgasmic schemes were hatched? What amazing, life changing devices will be released?!" To those people, I say, show the fuck up next time. However, it's worth noting that the To-Do board here at NP Labs is now full of months worth of horribly naughty things to build.

The second visit was to Linden Lab, creators of the Second Life world that I'm currently enamoured with. Now, unlike the first trip, this was to a place where I'd done both sex oriented and "clean" projects, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

After a hasty drive from SJ to SF and paying a rather high amount for parking because I didn't want to deal with finding a space on the street, I hiked up the hill to LL (since every direction in SF is uphill apparently), got buzzed in, and then looked around like a deer in headlights until Vektor and Jeska found me and we started the tour.

I had no idea what LL knew of me. Sure, I do neat projects, but there's 60k+ other people in the world too, and they're busy trying to keep things running. How can they keep up with the exploits of a silly engineer with too much free time? Apparently, they never sleep. They either work or are in SL.

It was then I realized, I need to get out of Oklahoma, and work at Linden Lab.

There were two levels of employee reaction to finding out who I was, depending on the project mentioned. Assuming the LifeCycle was mentioned, it would elicit anything from a "cool, that was neat" to a "Oh, have you thought about (15 minute conversation about new ideas which happened REALLY fast since I only had 30 minutes to tour the place)." However, if the Sex In Second Life/Teledildonics projects came up, people seemed to get really giggly and excited, and were all like "DUDE, YOU'RE THAT GUY!!! AWESOME!". Apparently "Teledildonics" has become the Word of the Year at Linden Lab (I better get a plaque for that!).

Now, I suppose I should've expected this. It goes along with the basis of Slashdong. Everyone understands sex. (Almost) Everyone enjoys sex to one extent or another, and it's a hell of a lot easier to understand than all of the logistics of hooking up an exercise bike to a virtual world. I guess I just wasn't used to talking about that specific project in a place that I desperately hope to work someday.

By the end of the week, I'd totally be over that.

After the whirlwind tour of LL, I headed home, then drove out to Austin for the Austin Games Conference. A full writeup of this will be happening over on Nonpolynomial Labs, but I'll cover the Sex In Games talk here, as I'm sure that's what everyone is interested in.

She's the head of the IGDA Sex In Games SIG, and lead designer on the Playboy The Mansion Game. He creates sex toys for video games. They fight crime!

The Sex In Games talk featured Brenda Braithwaite, the chair of the IGDA Sex In Games Special Interest Group, and all around fucking awesome woman. We'd been talking quite a bit through email for the past 6 months or so, but we'd never actually met, so we both had no idea what to expect. Of course, I'd seen her on various TV shows before, but she'd only known me through email and my pages. Oh, the ways I could've turned out. However, we all know how incredibly intelligent, cool, and sexy I am, so the meeting went great. I had just planned on bringing hardware to have on the table while she did the talk, but she actually asked me to speak for a few minutes at the end of the talk.

Hyperventalation insued.

Her talk (or at least, what I saw of it while I was busy scribbling notes to myself about what I was going to say and having the violently nice Jeb Havens of Cyberlore reassuring me that I was going to come out of this alive) was very interesting and funny, covering the history and current climate of sex topics in video games. The crowd was both entertained and receptive. However, since I've got to write about it for at least 2 other blogs than this one, I'm just gonna go ahead and skip the fawning and get to my part. That's the fun of writing for the blogs I own. :)

Public speaking is one of the largest fears of the general population, moreso than death. There's supposed to be a million ways to get over it, including visualization of the audience in their underwear.

Me? I'm taking a butt plug on stage from now on. It's the ultimate equalizer.

If only the audience knew what was on that chair...

I used my 4 minutes of talking time to its fullest, explaining the idea behind Slashdong and the SeXBox, as well as giving a quick software driven demo. Reaction ranged from nervous laughter to laughter of disbelief. In other words, positive. Incredibly positive. No (audible) gasps, noone stomping out the door, just a room full of people having a good time and realizing that yes, you can turn any video game into a sex toy.

After the talk, I had many people come up and say they enjoyed the talk immensely, that it'd made them think about new ways of experiencing video games. Lots of interested press, with not one negative response.

This brings us back to the first picture in this article, as it was taken minutes after the talk ended.

I was smiling, I was happy. This was an awesome way to begin. The hardware worked, the software worked, the hastily prepared presentation worked. Yet, for some reason, all of this roaring success couldn't possibly get in the way of my screwed up self esteem. I'm still not used to walking up to people and saying "Hi, I make adult interaction products for video games." The line I usually use is that I make "Input and haptics research hardware," followed by a somewhat awkward discussion where I explain in painfully technical and geeky terms the products I'm trying to make with Nonpolynomial Labs, and the other person restates them in human terms until we either come to a point of understanding or else give up and talk about the weather. Why this is, I have no idea. I was at the conference to show sex toys, and that's what I did. No shame in it, nor should there be, considering all of the incredibly positive feedback.

This all revolves around the fact that I wasn't planning on Slashdong becoming the main hub of the NP Network, and I'm still coming to terms with not feeling like sex is a cop out for immersive environments for some reason. I was so wrapped up in doing things academically, in creating complex research hardware for universities and think tanks, that when the monster of Slashdong got horribly popular, I wasn't quite sure how to deal.

I was lamenting (er, fuck that, too emo, complaining) about this on the Second Life IRC channel earlier, saying how I was surprised at the fact that the SeXBox was getting so much press. Pathfinder Linden said something that really made me think... "Innovation is Innovation".

Now I realize, I just need to shut up and enjoy it. I'm a genius, and the world is begging for more. Why hold back?

So, with that...


My name is qDot.

I am a Sex Toy Engineer.

Prepare to die.

P.S.: Every Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends fan can thank The Woman for the artwork on the SeXBox at the show.