I’ve been doing a lot of research recently on how to set up a business of my own. During all the meetings, courses, and such, I did to bring up sex toy testing and prototype testing, which I do a lot of. I was amazed to find so many business advisers, medical professionals, and government sectors were willing to chat to me about this.
The area is rather complex, and as far as these people are concerned, sending products to reviewers, particularly prototype testers, should be done more professionally.
A lot of these people feel that sex toy reviewers should be getting paid, particularly when testing a prototype. While I do get paid to test some prototypes, some companies aren’t so willing. People hate it when people are technically working for free, but they also hate paying for work. But because there’s a high risk when testing sex toys, particularly when those are in the development stage, it is more important to offer compensation financially.
Risk can count as anything from just inconveniencing the test subject, to even the possibility of health risks.
Now, while most sex toys already on the the market are safe to some degree, many prototypes aren’t.
Prototype testing does lead to a lot of problems at times, from products snapping when inserted, to electrical shock, infections from materials and fluids, and even anal toy bases coming off. There isn’t really many people who are willing to take those risks. And whilst yes, these products have gone through a lot of safety checks, sometimes things don’t becomes as clear until a human test subject tries out the products. I have to be incredibly careful when testing products, and basically avoid things like testing new lubricants due to the possibility of getting an infection, which would then lead to not being able to test most sex toys for a good few weeks. I can’t really afford to allow my body to be out of commission for long period of time – and even test products while on my period (and sometimes people want to know how a product will effect period pain too).
There’s another risk which being a professional tester can lead to. Exhaustion. When prototype testing in particular, you are often give a set time where you have to perform certain activities. It may be wearing a butt plug or kegel balls for several hours, sleeping with a device, or it could be that you have to rock a dildo in a certain way for up to 30 minutes until you gain results. A stop watch becomes your trusty companion (just like a tape measure is a must for the average sex toy reviewer and sex toy copywriter). I personally thought it was just my doctor being concerned about me burning out, but even the people I’ve spoken with for business advise, said that basically a test subject of any type should be compensated for their time. They mentioned technically, if the company doesn’t compensate you for your time, and allocate testing time in a sensible manner, then it’s very unethical of them and would be classed as abusive. For example, many professional games testers get compensated financially for looking at a computer screen for long hours, as this may lead to future sight problems, but also back and mobility issues.
A lot of the time you’ll also have multiple products to test, sometimes these will be variations, and other times these will be the same product, which you then have to test each one individually.
When prototype testing, not only does the testing time take up a lot of my life, but I’m also asked to write up a report, further documents, draw on graphs and diagrams, and a lot more. Generally this can take a good few hours per product. A lot of companies also don’t know what they are after through prototype testing, and often I will have to write a guide on how and what they probably should be looking at, and the information they want and need for their product to work.
Really for people who are prototype testers, like myself, I really wonder if this industry will become more professional. I’d also like to see more supportive services, particularly when testing for a certain company regularly. Having the support of a medical profession such as someone who works at a GUM clinic, would be very helpful at times, even if it’s just them on the other end of the phone. When visiting a&e I don’t always get the same member of staff, and explaining the situation as to why I’m there, isn’t really a problem for me, but often makes many uncomfortable. Also having access to a psychological professional, who works in sex and relationship advise, would be nice at times.
It’s scarey how many companies don’t consider the risks and will not work with prototype testers ethically…. even if they are willing to pay for the service
A part of me, wonders why I do it, due to the risks. I know one day I could test something, and something could go so horrifically wrong, and that would be it. But then I think, what if someone didn’t test that product and it went into product, sending to 100s of consumers, where it could happen to them. I’d rather it happened to me rather than loads of people being at risk.
Of course, testing sex toys isn’t just about finding some of the risk areas, but the pleasure areas too. If a product actually works. But many companies when sending out prototypes don’t even think of the risk area at all. They aim purely for pleasure. Some of the best companies I’ve worked with when helping with product development have been those who warn you of the risks, and ask you to keep an eye out for them, but also ask you to enjoy the products and see if it works how it is meant to.
We need more companies to be educated like this.
On a side note, it’s been very interesting researching how to start up my own business…. but as of yet, I can’t really say much bout it. It’s just interesting the chats I’ve had with these people when I’ve dropped sex toy testing in the conversation, as I class it as one of my experiences, and am even happy to have it on my CV (so generally it will get mentioned).