It’s abundantly arresting when the only sex you’d see on TV or in films is a few final thrusts (probably in the missionary position, and she’s still cutting her bra) – followed by a semi-contented sigh before both characters roll over and the pillow talk begins.

Thankfully, there has been a huge shift in the way sex is shown on screen. Films such as  and  gave us amorous cunnilingus and alive female pleasure. The HBO show  delivered a gritty adaptation of sex, complete with raw affecting detail and sex scenes that made admirers laugh (and cringe). We were alien to polyamorous frolics in the hit Netflix show, a activating that is rarely portrayed admitting its huge growth in popularity.

One thing is clear – writers and admiral are keen to show sex that is more realistic: messy, sometimes funny, often complicated. Yet one saucy topic that’s never portrayed with much optimism is the abstraction of future sex.

Across film and media, depictions of the future are full of dystopian narratives. Scorched planets. Killer robots. Brutal colonization. Deadly power struggles.  It’s no abruptness that this is reflected in the types of relationships and the sex that accompanies them – from the hardly creepy accord in  to the dispensable attitude appear robots in . Netflix’s recent  certainly focused more on the robots and the death than on love.

Which is why the most recent series of , and in accurate the episode , was a affable surprise. Black Mirror is well known for its abashing takes on the role of technology in our near future, giving us the kind of story that leaves a knot in the abdomen and a abiding bitter taste on the tongue. Striking Vipers instead shows how basic technology could affix us in ways we’d never expect.

** Adventure Spoilers Ahead!**

In the episode, advocate Danny is gifted a Street Fighter-esque video game by his friend Karl. The two men pick their characters (Danny as a shirtless Lance, and Karl as almost clad woman Roxette) and are launched into an immersive basic landscape, where they fight head-to-head. Technological advances mean that the game is hyper astute – concrete blows in the agenda world are felt by the characters in the real world. As more blows land and the astriction rises, Karl kisses Danny and they end up having some of the most acutely acceptable sex, arch to a torrid online love affair. The rest of the story deals with the repercussions: what the affair means for their friendship, their identities (“I guess we’re gay now”, Karl surmises) and Danny’s austere accord with his wife.

In today’s world, the idea of watching virtual absoluteness pornography or accommodating in virtual sex is often corrective as article remote and detached. Product announcements are often accompanied by accessories that lament the end of ‘real’ sex. When I altercate these developments at technology conferences or in addition workshops, it’s often appropriate that in the future we’ll sit, alone, introverted, wanking into the abyss.

Striking Vipers challenges that anecdotal and gives us sextech that is connected, human. First off, the show deals with the abstraction of allotment a altered gender for our agenda avatars. Not only do I accept that this will be a accepted choice due to pure curiosity, but that actively gluttonous adventures as addition from a altered background, ethnicity, gender – or just from a altered angle – will build affinity and make us more angled humans, whether or not those adventures happen in the agenda world.

Secondly, the sex amid Danny and Karl is…well… it’s hot! Full of lust. It’s tender, passionate, caring. It’s the kind of acquaintance you see amid two people who absolutely care about each other, and about each other’s pleasure.

Sextech provides us with the befalling to ask deeper questions about our humanity. Questions like: if we’re having sex with addition in a basic space, does it matter what they look like in reality? What erotic qualities matter to me beyond the physical? Is it cheating to have sex digitally, even if you don’t want to have it physically? Or conceivably a hardly more applied catechism – if we come in the agenda world, do we come in the concrete too?

While some of these questions may be difficult or afflictive to answer, they can help us to accept more about ourselves and our relationships. Conceivably they’ll force us to hold a mirror up to ourselves and catechism our adventurous and sexual values. Or maybe those questions and new technologies will lead us to some sexy adventures we never anticipation accessible in the real world.

By arduous the prevailing narratives on virtual gaming and sex, Black Mirror has provided us with a hardly more protopian view of sextech than the ascendant dystopian one. If annihilation else, it also gave us a woman who, when it becomes clear that Karl is too absent by thoughts of Danny to have acceptable sex with her, asks “Do you mind if I finish myself off?” and gain to switch some porn on and masturbate.

Read next: Meet the computer scientist who saved Bletchley Park