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Inside the 'Hunger Games' of Porn: A Reality Series Where Adult Stars Compete for Crypto

• https://www.thedailybeast.com

In anticipation of the first annual 'PornHub Awards,' the internet giant rolled out a competitive reality series where six stars compete for the championship title and prize money.

In anticipation of the first annual 'PornHub Awards,' the internet giant rolled out a competitive reality series where six stars compete for the championship title and prize money.

Pornhub, the adult video platform, is an indisputable internet titan, ranking seventh on a list of America's most visited websites and averaging some 81 million visitors per day, according to their 2017 year in review. The gargantuan porn marketplace fancies itself at the frontier of digital innovation, and not without good reason.

Two years ago, they partnered with a company called "BaDoinkVR" and became one of the first adult websites to offer a virtual reality category. Later that year, they introduced another category called "Described Video," which made their content accessible to the visually impaired. They've since added encryption by switching to HTTPS, released a covert photo sharing app called "TrickPics," launched an AI geared toward identifying performers, began offering a free VPN, and announced a partnership with Verge, the anonymous cryptocurrency.

In the website's latest ploy for online conquest, they are rolling out the first ever "Pornhub Awards" on September 6, an awards show aiming to challenge the long-standing AVN Awards for the title of "the Oscars of Porn."

Unlike the AVN Awards, whose winners are chosen by a panel of industry experts, Pornhub's selection process will be, like their business as a whole, internet-oriented, using a combination of likes, comments and views to determine who takes home the trophies. And in order to promote their fledgling awards show, Pornhub launched an "Olympics-style" reality series that has managed to bundle most of their digital innovation into one extremely-online package.

"Once the first, second and third-place winners are chosen, they will be awarded their prize money—not in American dollars, but in a boutique cryptocurrency called Vice Industry Token, or VIT."

The "Pornhub Games" follows six female performers over the course of as many episodes, as they spar in categories starting with pole dancing and escalating into more mature content. Adult industry journalist Kelli Roberts said the show strove to find a "diverse" range of candidates and skill sets (the contestants are all white, but they range in age, including both a "MILF" and a rookie).

Like so many combative series, in each round, the players battle for "advantages" that will give them a head start in the subsequent episodes. The pilot aired on August 2, but no contestants have been eliminated—and they won't be. All six performers will stay in the game until the end. The "Pornhub Games Champion" will be crowned at the awards show in September, once millions of viewers have chosen their favorite.

In order to watch the episodes when they air, viewers must create avatars on a brand new "virtual-reality ecosystem" called Oasis. Oasis, which describes itself as a "digital paradise," opened its "virtual doors" the day the Pornhub Games premiered. Ultimately, the platform's designers hope it can become a place where users can live the company's motto—"Be Yourself!"—through their animated, Sim-like avatars. For now, the ecosystem is more or less an online island, where users visit beaches, bars, clubs and—on Thursdays at 5:30 pm PST—a virtual cinema to watch a screening of the Pornhub Games, with live commentary from its contestants, all from the comfort of their own VR goggles.

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