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Adult Themes

Sean Sands | 6 Sep 2009 13:00
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It is accurate to say that well into my baby-twenties I was not what one thought of as a traditional gamer. I was one of those ball-cap wearing, beer-drinking, fail-out-of-school-the-first-time-around types. If I am being painstakingly honest, I must admit that I once pledged into the college fraternity system. I played intramural sports. I attended keg parties in dingy basements, passed out on alcohol-stained couches and woke up in unexpected places with unexpected people.

I point this out not so that I will be tapped for any future Comedy Central Van Wilder parts, but because I want you to understand that I do not write from the dainty position of ridiculous political correctness. I'm no hothouse flower, wilting into the shadows should anyone speak the slightest offense. I write this because even I am getting sick and tired of an entire gaming culture that seems only capable of the gender and sexual sophistication of a Will Farrell movie.

I watch the reaction and commentary around Jade Raymond's barely newsworthy move to Ubisoft's Toronto studio, and I am reminded that it's entirely accurate to describe much of the games industry and media as the Land That Puberty Forgot. It's not that I feel sorry for Ms. Raymond who,despite the apparent handicap of being attractive, is having quite a successful career and probably pays little attention to adolescent titillation. I feel sorry for myself.

We, at least those of us who have never installed a nude patch into Fallout 3, have to stop allowing ourselves to be classified as a malcontent group of prurients that giggle every time someone complains about their chronic angina. It is time we stop being relegated to the kids table of mass media.

Let me stress that I am not endorsing the removal of sex and adult themes from either the discussion or the content of games. Nay, in fact I demand more sexual themes in games, more adult themes and more complicated moral ambiguity. Let the industry explore the sexuality of characters as it sees fit. Let's just stop doing it like we're whispering in the locker room during Freshman gym class.

I think it's assumed that including sexuality in games will be met with a backlash from the public at large. It is hard to forget the nonsensical flap about sexuality in Mass Effect that, despite being relatively tame even by prime-time television standards, erupted across a host of 24-hour news channels with time and integrity to kill. There is also the sad case of GTA: San Andreas' 'Hot Coffee' which has finally come to a conclusion with a $20 million dollar legal settlement, though the litigation had nothing at all to do with actual consumers.

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