Naked Table, Private Dance, or Cuddle Sesh, anyone?
These are only some of the options available to you upon entering the Biscuits ‘n’ Milfs brothel in the popular online role-playing game Final Fantasy XIV. While they might sound like distant cousins of drinks whose names are based on sexual innuendos like the Pornstar Martini or Sex on the Beach, these are in fact virtual sex service packages provided by online escorts in exchange for in-game currency.
“It’s kind of like an OnlyFans for World of Warcraft,” a player tells Zack, a successful American Twitch streamer and YouTuber who goes by the alias ‘Asmongold’ and has produced a series of interviews with virtual escorts and club owners.
Not too dissimilar from the real world of sex work which has increasingly moved to online platforms during the pandemic, with the rise of sex workers and amateurs using OnlyFans as a relatively safe platform for their work, and even sex clubs like Killing Kittens hosting their orgy on Zoom, in-game brothels like Biscuits ‘n’ Milfs offer an array of sex services that go beyond straightforward pornography.
“I think people mostly look for our escorts to give them an entertaining time and to be able to just relax and enjoy themselves,” gamer and owner of Biscuits ‘n’ Milfs, who goes by the name Milf Mommy, tells me. “It’s always an escape from real life when we game and I think that heavily carries over into the ERP world.”
While the brothel also hosts traditional sex services such as Private ERP (erotic role playing), during which a character pays for the option to ‘play out their wildest fantasies’, their more peculiar service packages are Naked Table, which includes the option for your character to eat food off of another character’s body for ten minutes, and Cuddle Sesh, for those looking for 30 minutes of “cozy snuggling and calm conversation”.
The practice of erotic role playing and virtual brothels is said to have taken off in the online game World of Warcraft (WoW), but erotic role players and online escorts soon found a new home for their services in Final Fantasy XIV.
There are several reasons for this: ‘Mods’, who are part of the online sex work ecosystem, modify the game and create add-ons for other players to download, one example being nipples, because characters lack those in the basic game.
While not acting as escorts themselves, they are able to situate clients’ characters in erotic scenarios which they take screenshots of and sell for Gil, the in-game currency. Some even put characters into Blender, a free and open-source software, to create animations rather than static, erotic images for clients.
They tell me the preference for Final Fantasy XIV might be based on the wider availability of add-ons compared to WoW, allowing people more creativity in their costumes and overall appearance, also called ‘skins’.
Another aspect of the game which makes sex work so appealing for online escorts, is that many don’t feel the need to complete or even participate in the storyline of the game.
Milf Mommy tells me that they originally played WoW but turned to Final Fantasy XIV for the fun of designing an online venue and providing a space for others to come together to play just for the sake of ERP.
“I personally do not ERP. I just don’t like it for myself. It’s awkward for me and I just can’t get into it, but I love how passionate other people are about it and how much they enjoy it, so I was like, why not a brothel? I can manage it and fill in roles that aren’t ERP.”
It was their friend of nine years, called Biscuits ‘n’ Slooty, who told them about ‘the other side’ of Final Fantasy XIV, alluding to the nightlife of the game and range of venues for social outings.
At the time, only a small number of brothels existed in the game, most of the social spaces being limited to clubs and cafes. Shortly after, their friend introduced Milf Mommy to other venues to get an overview of pricing for services and what ERP services were already being offered.
“He’s the game knowledge and ERP knowledge behind it and I’m the everything else. It took me a few weeks to come up with everything, write it all, make the Discord channel, make the Carrd website, and decorate the venue. I literally got on the game to make this brothel.”
As one of the first strictly 18+ ERP brothels on the server, theirs is an all-ERP, sex and nudity venue, also offering food and drinks each of which have their own sexually explicit descriptions including ‘Cummies’, ‘Love Potion’ and ‘The Orgasm’. All the food items were designed to be aphrodisiacs, Milf Mommy tells me.
“I think a lot of people live out their fantasies in the ERP game world because it’s nowhere near as judgemental as in real life. And it’s sometimes a lot harder to find people to live those fantasies out with in real life than it is in-game, so for some it’s kind of their only release I guess.
“Most gamers would much rather spend their weekends in game worlds than the real one,” they explain.
Milf Mommy tells me that most places are LGBTQ friendly and welcome people from all walks of life. The anonymity of online gaming naturally turns the question of the player’s gender redundant, as a player tells Asmongold in another interview, the gender of the online character isn’t expected to match that of the person playing it.
Speaking to a male player who sports a female character, they tell Asmongold: “It’s a big prominent part of the community and the social aspect of the game. It’s what makes the game, in my opinion, super special.”
It comes as no surprise then that both female, male and everyone in-between makes use of escorting services in the game. Particularly as the common norm to respect the gender performance of the character rather than the player is a kind of freedom not always afforded to people in real life, with reported anti-trans hate crimes increasing by 16% between 2019 and 2020 alone.
One obvious advantage that virtual brothels have over real life (RL) clubs and bars is the issue of safety. With the recent rise in spiking incidents, participating in social and erotic events online adds a layer of protection not granted to people who expose themselves to risks in real life. But besides being built into the anonymity and physical distance embedded in virtual worlds, owners and staff of brothels take safety issues seriously in numerous ways.
Scanning through the Discord channel and the rules stated on Biscuits ‘n’ Milfs’ website, the extent of their safety measures quickly becomes apparent. For example, people must be a legal adult and the server also prohibits jokes or implications of suicide and self-harm. They also have strict guidelines against non-consensual role play, child pornography, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and unsolicited nudes, to name just a few.
The safety infrastructure is incredibly complex, and goes far beyond a list of rules stated in the server. Escorts include ‘Not Safe for Work’ descriptions in their profiles, and different tags tell others whether you’re for example free to direct message (DM) another person without permission and what role you’re playing, which easily communicates to others whether you’re employed as a bouncer for the brothel, a dancer, escort, bar staff or other type of employee.
“We put up rules which clients are supposed to read, and we also do our best to screen people and make sure they’re 18+,” Milf Mommy tells me.
“I think people get nervous if you ask for proof so I just ask their age and save a screenshot of it just in case they try to ‘call wolf’ on any of my escorts and other staff and say they were abused and not 18+.
“And then, as far as stuff like pedophilia and rape fantasies go, the staff know what’s allowed and if anyone tries to sneak that in or ask that they do it, that client is immediately asked to leave and blacklisted from the venue which usually means blacklisted from any venue around because of the seriousness of those issues.”
Blacklists are frequently shared with other venues to ensure others are aware of players that could cause harm. Due to the inherently fringe nature of sex services, which also cater to a wide range of subjective preferences and desires, escorts and dancers are able to set boundaries before accepting clients by stating what kinks they’re either into themselves or willing to perform for others.
If those boundaries are overstepped, it’s usually the responsibility of guards or bouncers to kick people out, while mods take note of who’s not welcome at the venue anymore.
“My vision for the brothel is just for everyone to enjoy themselves in a safe, judgement-free space. I would love to be able to upgrade my brothel to a large venue because right now it is small and it was really tricky to design it to still feel like a very open space that’s not too crowded,” they tell me.
“Once I can upgrade to a large venue, I really would love to design it in more of a luxurious look with multiple different types of rooms and lounges including a naked maid cafe. That’s the dream for now.”
Featured image by anonymous mod taken Final Fantasy XIV.
Edited by Lucy Crayton & Ana Drula.