Virtual Reality ‘Teabagging’ – an ‘unlaughing’ matter for hardcore gamers (study)

First popularized within Halo 2 multiplayer competitive matches, teabagging is a controversial practice where the player’s avatar repeatedly crouches over a defeated player’s ‘body’ in order to simulate rubbing his or her genitals over the avatar’s body” [our hyperlink]

By way of a recent essay for the academic journal Games and Culture, the first (and quite probably as yet the only) critical scholarship study of Virtual Reality Teabagging is provided by Brian Hunt Myers, who a doctoral student at the Department of Communication, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, US.

He informs that some ‘hardcore’ First Person Shooter (FPS) enthusiasts are often not amused by such practices – quoting a comment from a player :

“I think teabagging represents a lower level of FPS play. Time spent teabagging a player could otherwise be used to reach the next objective, defend the area, or go on the offense once more. Many times a second or two counts, so the player engaged in teabagging isn’t thinking of the big picture.”

Thus, when confronted with VR teabagging, it’s not uncommon, says the author, for ‘serious’ players to resort to ‘unlaughter’.

“Unlaughter is more than just the absence of laughter but is instead the conscious withholding of laughter in response to an invitation or demand to laugh.”

In conclusion, he adds, however :

“Alongside the derisive sneer or the silence of unlaughter, then, I optimistically assert that perhaps another kind of laughter exists, one that is gentler and more receptive. If nothing else, the example of teabagging demonstrates that those moments of laughter are not beyond the realm of possibility and that allowing for those moments can offer critical inquiry resources for new alliances and reparative practices.”

See: ‘Friends With Benefits : Plausible Optimism and the Practice of Teabagging in Video Games’ which is awaiting publication in a future issue of the journal Games and Culture. (A full copy may be found here courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.)

Note: For an overview of real-world (as opposed to virtual-world) ‘teabagging’ see John Waters’ 1998 film Pecker.

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