Videogame Sex

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I don't see the point in this article; it seemed to be built around an unnecessary jab at Bioware. Critising Bioware, well respected as great storytellers, maybe even the best in the industry, for an optional bit of flavour was somewhere between silly and ludicrous.

Sex is a reward in real life. Chainsawing someone in half is not. That's why we have games, and if there was less sex, than pathetic nerds actually would have to go and get a life and meet some partners.

Dragon Age origins. Three words: Dwarf Three Way.

I think sex in video games is clearly an inevitability for the reasons that several commenters have already listed: A) It will be used as a draw for audience. B) It can be part of the narrative. C) Sex sells.

Now, I don't want to step on toes here, but I do think sex will be more and more prevalent in video games than it is now. Citing the God of War series, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and The Witcher, I think it's obvious that sex is going to be in video games whether we like it or not.

The problem is exactly what Mr. Tynes says here: It isn't done RIGHT. Yes, it CAN be part of the narrative, and I believe Thaius said it best, "Romantic love doesn't necessarily mean sex" (apologies for the paraphrasing Thaius). But sex still can be done properly, and I think it should be addressed.

I don't think it should be a mini-game. A cut-scene is just fine. It doesn't necessarily need to be openly pornographic, but tasteful. I just think that games should realistically depict women (and men) as what they are. They don't need to be these exaggerated personas that just don't make sense. I think Mass Effect came very close to a decent idea, but it just skirted the issue with a brief tittilation. Not enough to satisfy anyone in either the Romantic Love or SexSexSex category.

I suppose I'm just rambling. Sorry. :(

If developers want to put it in a game and it sells, why not? Most people are interested in sex. Those who play games(from what i've seen/heard) are likely to be more interested in it. It seems perfectly logical to want to put it into games.

I just hope that every development team doesn't feel the need to plaster sex all over their games. I know this won't happen anytime soon, but the us IS getting more relaxed with sex as a culture. It would be okay if the sex made since. It doesn't matter if it's a love story, two people just getting it out of their systems, or just a reward for doing a task(even when the game is based solely on the premise of sex/nudity as a reward). Just don't shoe-horn it in there, okay? I don't want to be playing a game and then have a completely unexpected sex show up with no explanation.

All of this, of course, is targeted at the future US. Because we all know that Japan has already done everything there is to do with sex in video games, probably.

While I am hardly a prude and enjoy my sex, it needs to be inserted into things where it is needed, and not thrown around superfluously. The argument in the article comparing violent rewards to sex rewards, I think is horribly short sighted. First of all violence in most games acts as a means of achieving something (you have to kill the 100000 bad things between you and whatever your goal is), I just can't see a parallel with sex in the same way (as previously stated "prostituting for mana." haha). Sex is no worse act than murder (arguably a much better alternative [rape excluded]) but the morality and consequences of murder to sex are much different. Most human civilizations have for hundreds if not thousands of years had two classes of citizens based on gender. We live in a society that is slowly (very slowly) moving away from it's patriarchal behavior, but it is not gone yet. Couple this with the industry much like society is slowly (very slowly) moving away from being a male dominated discourse. Taking these two things into account, I predict the first game company who makes an achievement/trophy for having sex much along the same lines as violence based ones will have an army of women's groups protesting them. And for good reason too. The morality of the act itself and promiscuity aside, sex and violence are not interchangeable rewards. They both have a long ugly history and that needs to be taken into consideration when putting them into any medium.

All in all I would love to see sex in games but only DONE PROPERLY!

I really hated the sex scene(s) in Mass Effect. It seemed less to develop the story and came off as some embarrassing and ridiculous nerd fantasy, especially in the dialog. After watching it, I literally put my controller down and said aloud "Why do I suddenly feel like I'm the only person in the world who doesn't play this game in a homemade Shepard costume?"

I think that the whole sex in games is pretty lame, I mean none of it is ever really good, it's all just implied and subtle, which I have no problem with in a film, but in a game the promise of sex just makes all the 12 year olds pester their older brother to go buy it for them so they can look at maybe one second of bare ass, or it's the hopeless social reject who is even shunned from forums because he can't talk about anything but his own petty bullshit and who still lives in his mom's basement and is too much of a wimp to go out and buy porn. Mostly I think sex in games is more of an add on than anything else. Now if there was a sex scene between to characters and their love story was done well enough that it is conceivable for these two people to consummate their affection for each other, then I'm all for it. But I know that there will probably never be a game like that, because love interests in games are really nothing more than pixels to draw in the male gamer demographic. I mean, how many female characters have any of you seen who were A.) vital to the plot, B.) had a believable relationship with the main character, and C.) was an interesting character and not just because her boobs were nice. I have never seen one of those characters, with the exceptions being the Prince's love interest in Sands of Time, and Maria from Star Ocean: Till the End Of Time. Now there is a lot going on about the Mass Effect sex scene, and I have to say I was rather put out by the lack of nudity. The game was hyped as this sex crazed romp with guns and alien titties popping out every few feet. What I got was an above average game with maybe one second of bare ass. I got more out of the stripper who kept her clothes on. And the whole relationship thing seemed forced. It only comes up when on board the ship and it has nothing to do elsewhere. That's not how a real relationship works. It's not just at each other's house and it has no bearing on the outside world. A relationship is something that follows you everywhere, with your beloved or not. I know asking for a depiction of a real relationship is too much to ask, so I'll just ask that we please just boot the whole half-baked love sub-plots, or just keep them in until you can do them right. Well enough of my rambling.

I play games to game.

If I want to screw a woman, I go do that in real life. It's really not that hard, once you get the idea. Okay, if you are a teenage male it is kind of hard, so I can sympathize there.

Sex in a game means it is probably a bad game so I make my purchasing decisions accordingly.

Opera composers, particularly the Italian ones, knew well that love and sex goes in forward and reverse: a concept missing in American entertainment media. I recommend checking out a couple.

But I got a kick out of the line about comparing consoles.

This guy has an axe to grind against bad wannabe authors and is (I think) tongue-in-cheek, but he makes a good point: all sex scenes are gratuitous in this day and age.

Sex as part of gameplay should be left to games that specifically focus on that, easily allowing those gamers who aren't interested in sex as a game mechanic to avoid those games. Sex as a minigame within a larger narrative just cheapens the whole endeavour.

In a narrative/dramatic game, the Titillation model should be sufficient--a scene tends to be more erotic when sex is left to the imagination. In these cases, sex as part of a narrative is a good thing where it adds to the story. If the game has a hard-boiled film noir detective story feel, you need to have at least one femme fatale. But a war FPS like Gears of War or Call of Duty probably doesn't need sex scenes grafted onto the narrative.

Interestingly, the old Amiga strategy game Defender of the Crown used sex effectively: at some point in the game, you would rescue a damsel in distress, and a brief, highly suggestive but not explicit cutscene would take place. Then you would gain a wife (necessary to advance the plot) and her father/guardian would commit gold and his forces to your cause. So you have a sex scene that is a) appropriate to the medieval setting and the plot, b) provides tangible game benefits, and c) is rather erotic on its own merits (at least for the technology of the time) without being gratuitous. Yes the maidens are basically pretty trophies to be seen and not heard but that's not out of place for a medieval tale of chivalry. Obviously my femme fatale example above would need to be an interesting and dangerous character to be appropriate for a noir story.

Dragon Age sex is no diffirent than eroge sex. You talk right, gain points and score sex. Nothing emotional there.

After a strong start categorizing the ways sex is used in games -and doing so in a way that keenly differentiated this article from the way something like Fox News would deal with sex in games- I found myself disappointed by the author's conclusions. Could he honestly believe that a nude Alyx would be a good reward for completing HL2, and that this wouldn't cheapen the product horribly? And what about the bizarre rant, apparently against BioWare or Valve for their "transparent agenda" to, say, depict women in games as something other than trophies?

I think the place of sex in video games is very similar to its place in movies. A few do it well; most are gratuitous and don't help the story, but still help to sell the product. Sometimes a sex scene works best when the sex is implicit. The first God of War had frontal nudity as Kratos walks away from his bed and the women in it. This worked for me because part being a Greek (-styled) hero is having an insatiable appetite: whether for bloodshed, for feasting, for drinking, or for sex. The scene helped sell to me that Kratos was this type of character, and would fit in next to Heracles and his larger-than-life ilk. But this was accomplished with brief frontal nudity, no actual sex was witnessed or performed.

Actual sex gameplay seems like a foolish idea outside of porn games or comedy games. There's no situation I can see a playable sex scene resulting in anything other than humour or awkwardness.

I think that sex as a narrative tool in an RPG like ME or DA would be better if it was somehow kept from the player that it is an inevitable result of adding enough "affection points." In a game that gives the player a choice of partners, even between just a few characters, I find that I see the entire "romance" bit as too obviously artificial, and can't really get into any of it. Sex as a narrative tool could still work in a linear, choice-free story, which I would probably find more compelling precisely because it is not sex as a reward.

Speaking of which, sex as a reward should probably be limited to porn games and comedy games as well. Or to shameless games like BMXXX or DOA-Beach Volleyball: that is to say, games that are to "interactive art" what Baywatch is to "compelling drama."

i personally like the bioware way to do things because sex is a good narritive device it works well as a way to show intimacy , jeoulcy , promiscuity a whole range of emotions and themes can be portrayed by its strategic implementation now im not a fan of the double standard where in its all ok for a movie which portrays real people in simulated sexual acts but its not cool to have 3D models that look as human as computers can render (which is still a big difference were not even close to true photo-realistic skin textures at least not any that can be renderd on the fly)

anyway thts my two cents now i wait for the grammer flamers

The way Bioware presents sex in their games is fine by me. One cutscene after completing the romance subplot? That's perfectly fine and enough to show that the characters do indeed have an affection for each other. Were they shagging left and right, though... that would be an overkill for me. Yeah, sex is great and all, but it's not everything human beings do, y'know. And, unless the game is in the pornography genre, it shouldn't really overdose with sex. One scene? That's fine. Two? Sure. But interactive scenes semi-regularily? Okay, that's a bit over the top (unless the game is really long, or the character is infertile and immune to all diseases like Geralt from The Witcher, then yeah, he can do whatever with whoever).

So basically - sex as a narrative device is perfectly fine, but if you want sex as a reward, then there is a whole different genre for that.

Good article,you've got a good point there.

This has brought up a lot of different, surprising and really weird
responses from the folks above. But it's just because it's such a stupid taboo.

Get over it people, at least it would be something different.

I liked how it was handled in Dragon Age. You gain the favor of the girl you prefer (an easy choice for me) and romance her a bit. The entire scene was killed by the fact that my lady still had her bra on. =/ I'm not saying the scene wasn't good because it didn't have tits. they could have just as easy made shots of her from behind or from other angles to cover the chesticles.

For me, it was sort of a reward. I didn't 'fap' to it. I have a girlfriend whom I indulge in carnal pleasure with and hentai for when she's not in the mood. Only kids who play as female Night Elves in WoW do that (youtube it). Too bad the Lion King-esque music killed it for me and prevented me from taking it seriously. But hey, I got an achievement for it so... hurrah!

How many of you have ever watched a movie and said something like this to your friends, "Why are they having sex? Sure the girl or guy is hot, but this scene isn't adding anything to the movie. It feels tacked on for the sake of sex.

A lot of games have this problem. Say if while playing borderlands, one of the extremely few female NPC decides to get it on with your character after completing a job for them. Would you be put off by it? Would you drop your controller and exclaim, "I want loot! Not sex! Give me my loot!"

I think the game developer needs to find out if their customer actually want to see sex in games like finding spliced in porn in a saturday morning children cartoon or if they would rather just see intimacy and relationships formed over a large period of gameplay.

I think our game industry is confused and firmly believes that the customer wants the former and not the later. If you want games to progress as an art form then drop the explicit sex. But if you believe sex should be a reward then don't give us this crap about trying to create an art piece.

John Scott Tynes:
<Sex is joy, sex is life, sex is fun.

Aaand, that's my new motto in life.

Violence - Rated E-M depending on intensity.

Nipple Slip - one way trip to rated M-ness, parent groups rally outside developer's HQ, carrying pitchforks and torches.

hmm for the same reason u cant watch a porn with your parents, would be this ideas down fall. As most gamers are between 16-25 (vast majority still living with mommy and daddy) i would assume its just awkward to play a game with these moments and achievements. where as violence doesn't induce sexual arousal (in most ppl) sex does (in most ppl). no1 wants to get caught with a hard on or caught fapping, let alone to a game. though i whole heartily support what was said here ^-^

As paraphrased from Matt from AustralianGamer: I like sex in porn, not my games.

A lot of sexyness in games strikes me as crowbared in, daft and boring.

I have to agree with the frustration at the massive difference in tolerance American society has regarding violence and sex in popular culture. Switchblade chainsaws and fountains of blood raise less ire than a single visible nipple. It's maddening, really.

Can't say I have much of an opinion on sex in games. As with any art form, it can be done well, but it never really needs to be done at all.

saejox:
Dragon Age sex is no diffirent than eroge sex. You talk right, gain points and score sex. Nothing emotional there.

Have you considered you may be doing something wrong? The attitude in which you approach a story is more important than the content of the story.

In my opinion this article is stupid. It makes no sense to get rid of the meaningful romance and replace it with interactive off-screen pointless flings. They serve no purpose. Gamers aren't looking for reward in the form of sex. You can get that anywhere and much better quality. What movie's can't do is put you in the romance and integrate your feelings into the story. Eg Dragon Age where you choices not a directors choices effect how characters perceive you.

I think the sex scene in God of War etc was put in more for humour and to establish character, It just wouldn't work in games like Gears of war. To say that Bioware's method is wrong and with minimal justification is pretty poor writing in my opinion.

The game you speak of exists. It's called Sengoku Rance. Actually I'm told that the Rance series (and the three LP games that came before) are all like this, but I'm pretty sure only Sengoku has an English patch, and it's the only one I've played.

The Rance series are all Eroges mixed with various kinds of RPGs (Sengoku is a turn based strategy game). The sex scenes are numerous and usually treated cartoonishly, though there's the odd one that is played for drama. Basically Rance is the middle ground between Type-Moon/Key type eroges where the h-scenes are spread throughout giant narratives, and plot what plot eroges (which I despise) like The Sagara Family or Cosplay Fetish Academy.

I liked how Mass Effect handled everything with its romance subplot. And who's to say that following said subplot won't have any effect in the second game? Would you be able to make the same decision about Ashley/Liara if they were prego with your kid?

Have the Escapist buy you a thesaurus, you used the phrase 'I would posit' three times in four paragraphs. It's crap writing.

Lyle

lvl9000_woot:
If you need something to uhh...'frap' to...there's way better things than a friggin game.

This.

If it adds something to a relationship, or is done tastefully (which will probably never happen) then fair enough. Sex for the sake of it destroys the relationship between characters in my eyes.

Macksheath:

lvl9000_woot:
If you need something to uhh...'frap' to...there's way better things than a friggin game.

This.

If it adds something to a relationship, or is done tastefully (which will probably never happen) then fair enough. Sex for the sake of it destroys the relationship between characters in my eyes.

Sadly, I don't see this happening anytime soon.

You know, I was looking for a place to post this, and this seems like the perfect time!

Dragon Age's contribution to the subject - Male Dwarf-on-Elf gay sex!

Markness:

saejox:
Dragon Age sex is no diffirent than eroge sex. You talk right, gain points and score sex. Nothing emotional there.

Have you considered you may be doing something wrong? The attitude in which you approach a story is more important than the content of the story.

In my opinion this article is stupid. It makes no sense to get rid of the meaningful romance and replace it with interactive off-screen pointless flings. They serve no purpose. Gamers aren't looking for reward in the form of sex. You can get that anywhere and much better quality. What movie's can't do is put you in the romance and integrate your feelings into the story. Eg Dragon Age where you choices not a directors choices effect how characters perceive you.

I think the sex scene in God of War etc was put in more for humour and to establish character, It just wouldn't work in games like Gears of war. To say that Bioware's method is wrong and with minimal justification is pretty poor writing in my opinion.

eroge games has story and drama too, so dragon age is an erogo. A good one infact, you can score women, men, bisexuals even goats.

honestly, you are scoring sex. How lame is that

Wow, only 64 comments? I had expected at least the same amount as a regular Zero Punctuation.

I like your article, especially your framework: it's simple, it's clean, and it covers the truth. I don't agree with your main point about narrative sexscenes, though. In a Biowaregame sex is, as the names says, part of the narrative. It has the same use as a sexscene in a movie (if not porn, that is): generating emotions, or making you more engaged in the story. Making it interactive doesn't change that. The fun and awesomeness that can make sex a reward isn't there when 'having' sex in a game (or movie): no fysical pleasure, no body to toy with, no magnificent orgasm. Therefore, a sexscene in a game can't be used as a reward, even if your avatar humps on the rhythm of your button-pressing. Having ingame sex has the same effect on you as sex in a movie where it is used as part of the story: maybe it's enjoyable to watch, but it won't feel like a reward.

I've read few articles I disagree with more than than this one.

But hey, to each their own.

The problem with the conclusions of this article can be pointed at in the author's own statements about sex:

"Sex is joy, sex is life, sex is fun."

Yesss it is, but it is also, as the author points out, messy and weird and most of all, human, which means that sex is part of a very broad range of experiences, not all of which are fun, lively, or joyful. So no matter what is done, someone is going to bitch that it isn't 'real' enough or 'fun' enough or 'nobody would use a sailor's hitch in a scene like that'.

And my response is; who cares? You don't have to enjoy it and you don't have to play it. There's more than enough modes of entertainment out there for everyone. If sex in a game is something you have to 'endure' then chin up; just like the real thing, it won't last long.
/chuckles

I just feel awkward watching pixels go at it.

Personally, I've always found that games and sex are two things that are better off separate. Sex in games tends to be used by offering porn as a reward for the player jumping through hoops. Then the player gets tired of doing that, boots up his browser, and gets all the porn s/he can stomach without the boring, uninspired gameplay. We can see in the existing examples that sex as a reward in video games is not only not new, it's just a bad idea, as it seems to encourage developers to think they can get away with less. Sex sells, though, so we'll undoubtedly continue to see it used.

Your average modern Japanese dating sim reflects the state of the art in that they have become simple stories whose multiple paths will usually lead to some girl getting naked. They're less game and more multiple choice sexual fiction with pictures. They're not for me because I'm a gamer, not a porno fan. I want to be challenged, not seduced. If I want to ogle nudity, there's far easier ways. I probably won't drop a dime on a sex game, ever.

I prefer Bioware's approach, not because it's merely scant titillation instead of outright smut, but rather because they seem to be using sex as a part of the human condition to enhance the plot impact without interfering with the gameplay in anyway. Though it's non-interactive, Shephard can get it on, and since s/he no doubt develops strong bonds with his/her companions in arms, why not? The story would quite possibly seem less significant if s/he didn't. There's an option of having lesbian sex with a blue-skinned alien, you say? Well, I guess somebody has to see if that results in terrible biological consequence. Onward, Spectre, in the name of science!

Perhaps trying to keep sex out of games entirely would be impossible given the collective imagination of the gaming public. Neither Pokemon, Sonic the Hedgehog, nor Mario characters have been spared risque creative reinterpretation. Those links lead to tamer examples - they get far more explicit. It seems incredibly deviant to pervert such obviously sexless icons, but is it? Deep down, it's the core of the videogame sex paradigm. You want video games to tell the whole story, to not omit the things whose omission requires a suspension of disbelief. Living things have sex, this game depicts fictional accounts of living things, it's patronizing, perhaps even jarring, to pretend they wouldn't.

However, just how gritty can things get when we try to compensate for what video games don't show? I still eagerly await the version of Animal Crossing where a bit of innocent digging in the back yard of a neighbor turns up the corpse of their abusive husband, missing since 3 weeks ago, apparently strangled with fishing line. How do we handle a game of Sims 3 where there's something genuinely wrong with our sims, just as there may be something wrong with any of us, and the whole game takes an element of the genuinely tragic as our godlike perspective allows us to see their collective struggle with things far beyond the ken of a bladder meter?

If we intend to play and enjoy games as innocent diversions, a line of inquiry that tries to get them to tell the whole story can only push them into something that defeats our original purpose for them.

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