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S05.E01: Striking Vipers

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But what did Danny give Theo?  A box to put her wedding ring in?!

I thought he was giving her the same doo-hicky he used for the virtual game, the thing you stick on your temple. They both said "I want that back in the morning.

I'm not a gamer. What I want to know is, do straight male gamers frequently choose female avatars when they're gaming? Because Karl chose that avatar back in the pre-VR days too. Is that a common thing for straight guys? It struck me as odd.

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2 hours ago, shrewd.buddha said:

As others have pointed out: why would the game programmers create sexual options in the game? 

Even today, players create mods for games to add costumes, characteristics, and even bits of storyline. It doesn't seem far-fetched to me at all that players that are also programmers created a mod to allow you to have sex with a character.

18 minutes ago, 17wheatthins said:

As a female gamer who has played with many male gamers I can confirm that straight males do indeed play female characters in all sorts of video games. 

Yeah, my husband plays as female characters sometimes because they are given skills/traits within a game that the male players don't have.

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3 hours ago, shrewd.buddha said:

Yes, the concept of total physical sensation being transmitted thru a tiny dot placed on your temple was a huge sci-fi leap of logic. Did Karl and Danny have to 'clean up' afterwards? 

I wondered.  

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2 hours ago, iMonrey said:

I'm not a gamer. What I want to know is, do straight male gamers frequently choose female avatars when they're gaming? Because Karl chose that avatar back in the pre-VR days too. Is that a common thing for straight guys? It struck me as odd.

I'm not a gamer either.   But I remember the glory days of AOL, when it seemed half of the "women" lurking in the chat rooms were straight men looking for cybersex.  

Recently I saw an article about a popular Twitter personality who just outed himself for pretending to be his own wife.

When 'fessing up, he explained his his actions thus: 

I enjoyed the anonymity too.   It was very liberating, and honestly who would want to be a man on the internet?

Female Twitter Comedian Outed Themselves as a Man Pretending to Be His Own Wife, Who Is Now Leaving Him

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On 6/10/2019 at 11:45 AM, iMonrey said:

I'm not a gamer. What I want to know is, do straight male gamers frequently choose female avatars when they're gaming? Because Karl chose that avatar back in the pre-VR days too. Is that a common thing for straight guys? It struck me as odd.

All the time.  The majority of gamers are straight men and they pick the characters they feel most comfortable with and/or find more awesome.  Chun Li and Cammy of Street Fighter and Kitana, Milenna, Sonya, and Jade of Mortal Kombat are proof of that.  Also, there are characters such as Samus from Metroid and Bayonetta, who have male fanbases more for what they represent rather than their sex appeal (Samus is a space bounty hunter, Bayonetta is a gun wielding witch.)  And a good portion of these men have absolutely no romantic feelings for other men.  I've been around plenty.  There may be a handful out there (4chan types) that are resentful and hurtful toward women and those of other sexualities who would like more inclusion, but I think the vast majority of video game playing men are more accepting of such things than one may think.

Edited by bmoore4026
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5 hours ago, iMonrey said:

I thought he was giving her the same doo-hicky he used for the virtual game, the thing you stick on your temple. They both said "I want that back in the morning.

I'm not a gamer. What I want to know is, do straight male gamers frequently choose female avatars when they're gaming? Because Karl chose that avatar back in the pre-VR days too. Is that a common thing for straight guys? It struck me as odd.

I thought it might have been a key to a hotel room?

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Danny gave Theo a jewelry box in which to place her wedding ring for the night and Theo gave Danny the VR disc.

I think it was meant to symbolize an exchange of sorts......an exchange of vows. They're both getting something they want for that night

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On 6/7/2019 at 2:17 AM, SWLinPHX said:

They did purposely show the scene in the beginning (eleven years earlier) where Karl mounts Danny on the sofa after playing the early, more primitive version of Striking Vipers.  They must have shown that for some reason to indicate Karl was kind of into Danny in some way.

And before that, Karl makes the comment about Danny and Theo hooking up quickly just so they could get the big bedroom.  It kind of left me thinking that he wanted to hook up with Danny - and that was at the very beginning of the episode.

I have never seen anyone so transformed by a pair of glasses as Anthony Mackie was!  It's like two different people.

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Based on Danny's "I can't possibly accept this" reaction when Karl gave the VR chip to him, and Karl being a penthouse-living music producer, and the game being "new", I am guessing the game is super expensive so maybe that is why everyone was not doing it yet. Cuz yeah, addiction to the game would be a HUGE problem for society. 

Not one of my favorite episodes. I would like to have seen how they got from Danny admitting he was having a virtual sexual affair with his friend to an agreement for a trade where Theo will have a one-night stand every year. Are they equivalent "cheat night's?" How does it impact their marriage to know their hottest sex is with someone else? It's also hard for me to believe Theo would not want to try the game out or suggest she and Danny find more passion between them inside the game. At their anniversary dinner she talked about wanting more passion too, but she was clear that she believed in and stayed true to their commitment. 

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On 6/10/2019 at 10:01 AM, shrewd.buddha said:

As others have pointed out: why would the game programmers create sexual options in the game? 

Because they can? Because it will generate buzz/profits? Because at least some game programmers are social misfits?

In the real world, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a mini-game where players could have their avatar have sex with a woman he was dating. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Coffee_mod

I have no doubt that if technology gets to the point it is in Striking Vipers that a game would incorporate sex Easter Eggs.

And once the sexual aspect became known, why not have a cyber sex hook-up alternative without the pretense of a game (that they did not bother to play any more)?

Some people might want a more respectable form of hookup than straight-up porn. It's much easier to sell to one's wife that you're having fun playing Striking Vipers than NastySexFestorama.

The version of the game was Striking Vipers X. So by contrast, Mortal Kombat has been around for like 27 years and is on Mortal Kombat 11. So if it's at all analogous, there's a big pop culture place that the game would represent.

Some people might specifically want the fantasy of being one of the Striking Vipers characters rather than generic straight-up porn.

Also, who says they didn't bother to play the actual game at all? Maybe they still did as foreplay or whatever.

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On 6/10/2019 at 6:11 PM, Makenna said:

Danny gave Theo a jewelry box in which to place her wedding ring for the night and Theo gave Danny the VR disc.

I think it was meant to symbolize an exchange of sorts......an exchange of vows. They're both getting something they want for that night

So why would he say I’m gonna need that back tomorrow I mean it’s just a box .. an  empty box

 ... 🥴

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21 hours ago, JoeyCrown said:

So why would he say I’m gonna need that back tomorrow I mean it’s just a box

Because it's a one night deal. She puts the ring back on her finger the next day, returns the box to him. Symbolizing the "adventure" is over until next year.

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Not sure why it seems so important to some people that the guys were really gay for each other, but it’s so hidden and underlying and universal and, oh please. One of them jumped on the other 10 years ago so this means he really wanted him? So athletes that pat each other on the bottom want it too? The two of them bolted after that ridiculous kiss but they really wanted each other.  Seriously, get over the “everyone’s gay” or fluid narrative. The both of them were flat out freaked out that the cyber sex was so much fun with each other but trust me, if either one of those guys thought for one millisecond that it would have been like that in real life they would have simply done it long, long ago. No reason not to.

The one part that baffled me though was the one guy describing how great the sex was as the female and the other guy never trying it out. It’s virtual, you dope, let’s goooooo. Remember 11 years ago when you guys wanted to switch characters? Again, NO reason not to explore that.

Much of this episode lingered more on stuff not related to tech or other Black Mirror interest. Please don’t do that.

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Samsung already has a foldable phone/tablet in the works. 

aHR0cDovL21lZGlhLmJlc3RvZm1pY3JvLmNvbS8yAs for the episode, I guess the guys just liked having virtual sex as their avatars. Like others there is no way they wouldn't try other characters. I also wondered why they wouldn't just have a virtual sex game instead of using a fighting game. 

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Not sure why it seems so important to some people that the guys were really gay for each other, but it’s so hidden and underlying and universal and, oh please. One of them jumped on the other 10 years ago so this means he really wanted him? So athletes that pat each other on the bottom want it too? The two of them bolted after that ridiculous kiss but they really wanted each other.  Seriously, get over the “everyone’s gay” or fluid narrative. 

That's . . . kind of the whole point of the episode. That sexuality isn't black and white.

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This was a pretty typical Black Mirror episode, with near-future technology exposing long-existing human issues.  I thought it was pretty clever how the episode exploited my gut reaction at seeing a very hot scene of this girl and this guy grinding on each other in a video game while saying "ewww noooooo!!!!"  The story works because of the terrific performances of all three of the main actors.  Danny is happy but bored in his suburban life and clearly missing something.  Karl has missed his best friend for years since Danny got married, as the two have drifted apart, which often happens when one gets married and the other stays single.  Theo wants to grow a family and get some affection, which can lead to problems when the husband has lost his sexual attraction for her.  This is a natural development among long-time married couples.  The scenes between Danny and Theo at the restaurant and Danny and Karl in the rain were well-written and acted.  The episode did a good job at exploring the complexities of sexual desire and attraction.  Danny and Karl aren't gay.  Danny is attracted to a female in a video game, and Karl is excited at being a female in a video game.  So we have a straight man and a transgender.  And it's only with each other that they feel the intense connection because of their friendship and history with each other.  They know each other and trust each other like no one else.  Karl said as much when he talked about how he couldn't duplicate the experience with other people or a.i. online.

The ending was fairly practical, with Danny and Theo agreeing that they both need something outside the marriage, her with the occasional bar pickup and him with Karl in the video game.  So unlike other Black Mirror episodes, the ending wasn't especially astounding or revealing.  It's a scenario that plays out all the time in our own reality.  I still enjoyed it though.

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On 6/6/2019 at 2:09 PM, ScarletLetter said:

I think for both of them, their video game relationship was just porn/fantasy/a break from the real world, and not a romantic relationship. When they kissed in person, I believed them that there were no sparks there, because it would be hard to compare to the fantasy. Plus, there's all the real world complications - do they have to come out now? Is he going to have to leave his wife, his kid? I think that's why the wife also got to go out and have her fun - ultimately I think it's just sex, and Anthony Mackie's character and his wife (sorry I've completely forgotten everyone's character names) have the emotional connection and family that they want to preserve. Kind of a new take on an open relationship. 

I agree with this.  I don't think either one of them had any hidden sexual feelings for each other.   I think the episode asked a lot of questions:  What is gender?  What is heterosexuality?  What is homosexuality?  What is love?  What is fantasy?  What is commitment?  

I thought it was interesting how the show began and compare to "11 years later."  It almost seemed like we'd gone backward, it almost looked like the Mad Men era.  I thought it was interesting how the episode ended with Earl Grant's "Not One Minute More," a song from 1959.  And it makes me ask myself, why do we label people?  Gay, straight, trans.  Do we give these labels to make ourselves feel better?  

Another question I had was, did Danny's relationship with Karl exist before Danny's relationship with Theo?  Maybe Danny and Karl have a long history together, but could never have any kind of sexual relationship, they kissed in the real world but felt nothing; kind of like a person falling in love with a character from TV or the movies, but if they met the actor behind that character, they'd feel nothing.  

So many questions.

Edited by Neurochick
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On 6/9/2019 at 2:37 AM, JoeyCrown said:

I think it may have been a key to a hotel room or apartment?

I assumed she was holding onto the VR disc thingy - perhaps at his request - all year and he got access to it once a year for his birthday. No reason to keep the packaging it came in, so maybe she just kept it in a matchbox. 

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On 6/10/2019 at 10:55 AM, 17wheatthins said:

As a female gamer who has played with many male gamers I can confirm that straight males do indeed play female characters in all sorts of video games

I'm not a huge gamer but I've played as women several times. 

Edited by ganesh

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1.   Re:  Theo enjoying the one-night stand part of the new open relationship. Remember at the very beginning of the episode, Danny and Theo were pretending to be strangers at the bar, and Danny made a comment to Theo about how she really likes that roleplaying.  It set up the idea that Theo does like the stranger one night stand bit.  Again, when she is at the bar waiting for Danny for their anniversary and is hit on, she is very pleased, but has to tell him she's married.  Now she gets a chance to explore that.

2.  When I played Everquest and Warcraft, I knew a lot of men that played female avatars.  Some enjoyed being able to look at the usually sexy characters all the time.  Plus, they fooled quite a few other male players into giving them free stuff pretending to be female players IRL.

3.  I also had to wonder as to how much sexual satisfaction was programed into Roxi (and other female avatars) just by what appeared to be fairly normal straight sex without foreplay.  Seemed to be reinforcing a not really true for most women idea as to how to obtain satisfaction.

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On 6/10/2019 at 10:01 AM, shrewd.buddha said:

Yes, the concept of total physical sensation being transmitted thru a tiny dot placed on your temple was a huge sci-fi leap of logic. Did Karl and Danny have to 'clean up' afterwards? 

I was wondering this too.  I guess physical manifestations of arousal never showed, like erections.

I think Karl had more emotional ties to Danny than he admitted.  I think that if Danny had responded differently to the kiss, Karl would have as well.  And there was a genuine connection between the two of them through their shared history as friends.  Could be why Karl got the cat at the end, he was tired of being by himself and wanted something else to connect to.

Everyone had to compromise in the end.  Even though Theo gets to have a hookup for a night, it wasn't what she set out for.  She was willing to sacrifice desires for other men for her marriage, and she loved Danny enough to do it.  Karl only gets the "best sex of his life" once a year, and I'm not sure that he was able to really enjoy sex with anyone else.  He didn't "finish" with Mariella, and he said that the other versions of the players in the game didn't measure up for him sexually.  Danny was the only one who really got the best of both worlds; amazing sex, and a loving wife and child at home.

It was nice seeing Nicole Beharie on screen again, and she's still got the range.  She really owned the scene at the restaurant.  She deserves way more work than she gets.

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