Hitting the Club

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Hitting the Club

Strip clubs in gaming allow players to enter into one of reality's taboo locales, for better or worse.

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Having been dragged to a strip club by friends of mine, I can tell you this much: You aren't missing out on anything. It might be the fact that I had blacked out halfway through the dance, but I just remember coming to and leaving the club... disappointed for a lack of a better word. It's hard to explain, but I feel I would have had a lot more fun at any other club doing pretty much anything else.

Maybe it's just the fact that I find it incredibly odd to be getting a lap dance from someone I don't even know, even more so when my friends paid someone to do it. I like to know someone a little before my dick gets involved.

This just makes me think of the Tales from the Trenches about stripping cops.

The only thing I would say is that they aren't always gratuitous in Video Games. I agree that ME2 was a bit much but in terms of GTA, your character is a seedy individual and as such has dealings with other seedy individuals. THe Strip Clubs provide a nexus for several missions and it helps to bring the world into a more realistic frame of reference.

Ok that was a bit of a soap box. Personally i don't really get titty bars and aside from the 2 i have been to in my life I have no real desire to go back. I don't tend to visit them in video games unless it helps the story (Roman really wanted to go to the Triangle Club), especially given the amount of real pornography that is available on the internet.

Strip Clubs in games are not really a staple of the games industry... They're not even that common. Why the issue?
As level design tropes, they're hardly up there with Lava levels or Sewers... I've never been in a sewer but they're nasty places.

You mention Mass Effect.. The clubs with dancing Asari which exist are in Chora's Den and on Omega - Both places represent the more Seedy parts of the Mass Effect Universe. Shepherd is not afraid to get his hands dirty to save the universe.

In the GTA series you play a gangster - Visiting a club is perhaps one of the less disturbing things you can do in the game. Run people over, Shoot civilians, Kill the Police, Partake in the services of Ladies of the Night- but watching girls dance in a Strip Club! For shame!

Duke just loves the boobies and he doesn't have many friends (lately) - give the big guy a break.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other game which forces you into that situation but I can name plenty where it's very very difficult not to kill people.

As a person who has visited several establishments where stunning women dance, I can state that the Asari are really very very tame in comparison and that personally my visits were entirely enjoyable, totally innocent and the women dancing earned every dollar purely by being awesome at their job.

Most people arent missing much all you see is something you can see free of charge on the internet and after you wont feel angry at your member for talking you out of 60 bucks or more for lap dances and tips.

+1 for actual strip clubs generally not being as nice as the ones in games.
I think this may be part of the allure though. When guys think of strip clubs, they think of spotless exotically lit locations with unfailingly beautiful women dancing, just droves of them. An actual strip club will have.... none of these.

Strip clubs are very rarely the object of the game. It's usually just a setting, or even an optional setting. Again, I think it's a male fantasy to have sexy business going on in parallel with what they're doing. Hey, I have to save the universe, but if I happen to save the universe while nubile aliens pole dance in my vicininty, all the better.

I guess I'd like to hear from the female players on this one -- I don't think I'd be too enamoured to a chip'n'dale joint in an open world game, and would avoid it if at all possible.

Strip clubs are alright I guess, in America they are insanely expensive (and a bit rubbish), but in the UK it's a laugh. As for the games, I'd argue that anything that added to the gameplay, story, atmosphere or dynamic experience is good... regardless of the questionable morals.

And really, in an entertainment industry where 80% of the releases will involve you to kill something at some point, I think that digital strip clubs are fairly low on the "morality" agenda

Go to a strip club. See what you can see. It is an event that should be experienced at least once by all redblooded men and women. I believe you have made the statement that they are legitimate businesses. RICK is the publicly traded stock for Rick's Cabaret, so it must be true.

I have been to a few, though I'm no expert. It is a spectacle of people watching. You certainly get to see (and likely touch) more of the ladies than in public venues. But for a drink, you can typically get some very interesting dialogue out of them. They are people and actually prefer to be treated as such. Well, some prefer to be treated as objects while on the clock. Wait. I'm digressing...back on topic.

I can honestly say that I haven't ventured into a video game strip club for my personal arrousal. I WILL say that I am always excited to duck in just to see what the developers have cooked up. How much would the game try to portray? Would it be so ridiculous as to leave me feeling that the devs have never been into a real life strip club? I'm there for the spectacle more than the sextackle.

My handful of strip club visits were uncomfortable experiences. Clubs in general are not my native habitat, and while naked ladies do make pretty much everything better, the sex-as-commerce implications are right up in your face along with everything else. Not my thing.

Video game strips clubs just don't hold their novelty for very long. She's just pixels, and while that means she comes with a lot less baggage, there's also a lot less excitement there. I think you could do a game where a strip club was genuinely integral to the experience, where it was an interesting and real place, but no game I can recall has ever made that sort of investment.

After my play-through's of ME2, I have noticed that I would occasionally stop by the local dancer to unwind after a hard day of saving the universe (sometimes several times in a row). Christ, I never really thought about it until now but titillation was my way of rewarding myself in game.

Not too sure how to feel about that.

Strip clubs are like going off to watch a bunch of slutty Oompa Loompas go around and dance, then you get some horrible disease. Male ones are better.

RobfromtheGulag:
I guess I'd like to hear from the female players on this one -- I don't think I'd be too enamoured to a chip'n'dale joint in an open world game, and would avoid it if at all possible.

One female player here. :)

Personally, I'm quite fond of them, because they almost never fail to make me smile. For starters, most attempts by video game animators to make a character model dance end up with a weird puppet-like motion (the dancers in Mass Effect 2 look like characters from The Sims). And the dialogue in such scenes is often so outrageously overboard that it becomes hilarious.

There's such a fine line between sexy and silly, and video games (whether intentionally or not) pretty much always land on the silly side. The introduction of Gloria in Devil May Cry 4 is one of my favourite cutscenes of all time, and continues to make me giggle no matter how many times I watch it. And the sex scene in the original Mass Effect made me laugh so hard I sprayed tea over my keyboard.

At the end of the day, strip joints often make a welcome change of scene from the rest of a game, and can lightened the tone considerably. As someone who gets bored quickly with grit-and-grime settings, anything to cheer up the mood is welcome.

Clankenbeard:
Go to a strip club. See what you can see. It is an event that should be experienced at least once by all redblooded men and women. I believe you have made the statement that they are legitimate businesses. RICK is the publicly traded stock for Rick's Cabaret, so it must be true.

I have been to a few, though I'm no expert. It is a spectacle of people watching. You certainly get to see (and likely touch) more of the ladies than in public venues.

You're not allowed to touch the girls (or boys) in the vast majority of US strip clubs. You will get thrown right the hell out if you try. You used to be able to touch them in Las Vegas, but I believe they were looking into changing that policy. They can touch you all they want, but you have to keep your hands to yourself. It's a safety thing.

Well of course we get satisfaction from going to a nudie bar, whether a real one or a virtual one in a game. That is obvious. Gratuitous, like the violence in these games, but obvious.
Jeff, you should try going to one or ten prior to attempting writing on them.

All the strip clubs I've been to, which is to say, all two, have had some things in common and aspects starkly contrasting what we find in video game strip clubs. The first was reminiscent more of the depictions found in Saints Row and GTA, but the second was much more aesthetically and atmospherically pleasing; very much a gentleman's club in the best of senses, leather armchairs and scotch were the order of the day, rather than sticky old wooden chairs, abrasive music, and watery lager. That's how they differ most substantially I suppose. Reality elicits different memories, from stimuli you can't find in games, or that isn't translated well. The smell, the other people (who in a game are often little more than blank avatars you'll happily mow down with an assault rifle as soon as you look at them), the sounds, the entire experience.

Have I thought about why I do it in games? Yeah, sure. I'm pretty comfortable with accepting I'm not a saint (puns), I'm not absolutely without perversions. I've been attracted to virtual representations of people before, and certainly personalities attributed to NPC's we get to know better, which has stemmed from being much younger than I am now, and getting these outlets wherever I could find them (this was prior to having gotten access to the internet at home, which wasn't till I was around 14). As an adult, I don't need these outlets anymore, and yet I roleplay a little and vicariously enjoy my characters thrill, what I believe is a healthy amount. I can take it or leave it.

I'm playing Saints Row 3 for the first time now, and have yet to enter a strip club through my own volition, but I remember playing Saints Row 2 on my PS3, and finding Shaundi interesting, and was quite annoyed by how she'd been changed in Saints Row 3. Girls with dreads is no bad thing THQ.

The thing I've never understood about strip clubs is say you go there specifically to watch a girl do her thing and before you know it you've got a raging boner, then what? you just sit there? As far as I'm aware its illegal for them to even offer to provide "relief" aka prostitution so I fail to see the point of the entire setup. If I'm going to go out somewhere for socializing and drinking I'm going to do it at a place where I'm not focusing on some pretty girl spinning on a metal rod in a poorly lit rank smelling environment.

So my assumption is that strip clubs exist specifically for old men who struggle to get it up who hate their lives/significant other and the ability to go oogle some younger lady they'd never have a chance with is some kind of mental compensation for their otherwise sad lives? Man the world is dumb.

ascorbius:

You mention Mass Effect.. The clubs with dancing Asari which exist are in Chora's Den and on Omega - Both places represent the more Seedy parts of the Mass Effect Universe. Shepherd is not afraid to get his hands dirty to save the universe.
.

oggling assari dancers is hardly vital for whatever shepard is out to do

the Mass Effect clubs never really struck me as "strip" clubs specifically...since the asari dancers seem to be EVERYWHERE, even that less seedy citadel place in ME2, the darkstar lounge I think, it seems to be a standard thing alongside alchoholic beverages

"Strippers are liars. With hookers you at least get laid."

Don't know where I heard that but I think its true.

Darks63:
Most people arent missing much all you see is something you can see free of charge on the internet and after you wont feel angry at your member for talking you out of 60 bucks or more for lap dances and tips.

AMEN. I would say go to a strip club once to experience it, but if you're smart, just pay to get it and don't take any more money than that. Sit back and watch. You can decide if you ever want to return from that.

stupenderifous:
After my play-through's of ME2, I have noticed that I would occasionally stop by the local dancer to unwind after a hard day of saving the universe (sometimes several times in a row). Christ, I never really thought about it until now but titillation was my way of rewarding myself in game.

Not too sure how to feel about that.

Own it. I can't decide if it's better or worse for these virtual women to be more realistic or not, but whatever the case, you found a harmless means of gratification in a video game and that's just fine.

I've never been to a strip club but there is a place where women in tight unitards dance on stage like strippers. It's extremely boring, and the women look unhealthy and kind of burned out. These women manage to be less sexy than most games would depict people in their line of work, though I would say that in many cases, like GTA4, it's actually pretty off putting as those women look cartoonishly ugly.

RobfromtheGulag:

I guess I'd like to hear from the female players on this one -- I don't think I'd be too enamoured to a chip'n'dale joint in an open world game, and would avoid it if at all possible.

for whatever reason I generally don't even notice the "strip" aspect of alot of the games Ive played (as I mentioned before the assari in ME seem to be a special case different to our cultural Idea of strip clubs)

I get enjoyment out of clubs because I don't do it in real life, in Mass Effect I'm hanging out in some pirate queens lair on omega and its cool...it adds to role playing, and essentially thats what I'm doing..same with Fallout NV eather way..in the end its just another game environement

MetalMagpie:
And the sex scene in the original Mass Effect made me laugh so hard I sprayed tea over my keyboard.

I think they were going for romatic rather than sexy...and to be fair I actually find the build up more cringe worthy than the scene itself...the scene itself was actually ok for game models..and I'm actually glad they went there because we need boundry pushing (did that sound wrong? it probably did)

With all due respect, this article seems like it would have profited from a single visit to a strip club. Hey, you're never going to have a better chance to explain it off as research.

More seriously, there's something to be said for being the kind of person who has gone to a strip club- and knowing you're not the kind of person who makes a habit of it. As to the experience itself, it varies a lot- partly on the club itself, but to a much greater extent on the people who go with you. Going with a couple of female friends who had a very teasing kind of interaction with the strippers themselves was kind of fun. Being around a group of men who went in with particular, vaguely predatory expectations of how they would interact with the strippers (bachelor parties, joy...) was downright creepy.

I haven't been to one in a good decade, and I don't miss 'em. But I am glad I had the experience.

Uh. I'm not gonna say anything in this article is inaccurate or illogical, but I don't understand why any of it needed to be said. That's like asking "Who are we *really* trying to please when we decorate our HQ in a video game?" The video game character can't sense any of this, and the benefit of spending the time doing it is purely aesthetic, so obviously we're doing it for ourselves. Why did you have to say "maybe" so many times on that last page? Are there seriously players out there who will clock 40 hours in a GTA strip joint, no missions, no objectives, no cheevoes, and claim they did it because they were super into the role? That's somehow creepier than just looking at some titties because they're there!

I expect more from the Escapist: this was a dissapointingly shallow article and lacked critical perspective.

I guess you completely forgot about female gamers and what it might look like to them. I personally roll my eyes at the pointless aspect of video games pandering to male gaze and making me feel like the game wasn't even close to aimed at me. I usually grit my teeth and get it over with if I go in those places.

brmcconnell:
I expect more from the Escapist: this was a dissapointingly shallow article and lacked critical perspective.

Indeed.

The club in ME2 was not a strip club though, just a club with dancers. Many night clubs have podiums and poles, some hire professional dancers others let the club goers use them. The writer of the article confesses to not having been to a strip club but mistaking a night club for a strip club shows he has never spent much time clubbing in general.

J Tyran:
The club in ME2 was not a strip club though, just a club with dancers. Many night clubs have podiums and poles, some hire professional dancers others let the club goers use them. The writer of the article confesses to not having been to a strip club but mistaking a night club for a strip club shows he has never spent much time clubbing in general.

Perhaps, but the point still stands that it exists as a place of titillation, and you can get a lap dance, which does still fit his point rather well.

The last strip club, I visited was the clubs in Saints' Row the Third (yay Humble Indie Bundle). The appeal there is very much the absurdity of the activities going on, as was described in a previous post. Then again, the whole game is based on an immature-instant-gratification-giggle-at-taboos style. So it hardly feels out of place, in other games, I never really spend a lot of time in clubs, in ME, I just did the quests that took place there, but didn't really stick around.

Moonlight Butterfly:
I guess you completely forgot about female gamers and what it might look like to them. I personally roll my eyes at the pointless aspect of video games pandering to male gaze and making me feel like the game wasn't even close to aimed at me. I usually grit my teeth and get it over with if I go in those places.

I feel the same thing, and I'm not even female. Personally I think it's far more insulting to know that a game expecting the player to be titillated by a blue alien's jiggling breasts was aimed at you than to know you were excluded from the target audience entirely.

sinsfire:
The only thing I would say is that they aren't always gratuitous in Video Games. I agree that ME2 was a bit much but in terms of GTA, your character is a seedy individual and as such has dealings with other seedy individuals. THe Strip Clubs provide a nexus for several missions and it helps to bring the world into a more realistic frame of reference.

Ok that was a bit of a soap box. Personally i don't really get titty bars and aside from the 2 i have been to in my life I have no real desire to go back. I don't tend to visit them in video games unless it helps the story (Roman really wanted to go to the Triangle Club), especially given the amount of real pornography that is available on the internet.

Exactly, many games have missions happening inside the club, or being given to the player inside the club. For instance, Hitman had a mission inside a strip club.

MetalMagpie:
And the sex scene in the original Mass Effect made me laugh so hard I sprayed tea over my keyboard.

Same here.

Anyway, on-topic - man, the writer of this article is suffering some real First World Problems if visiting a virtual strip-club which makes perfect sense within a game's context is making him contort in tortured ethical doubt. Some issues just don't need to be examined under a high-strength magnifying glass.

Why are strip clubs, or hookers, or brothels, in videogames at all? A combination of contextual realism (the world of GTA without hookers would feel artificially clean and sterile) and a way of exploring the character of the protagonist and the game setting. It's the same reason Mos Eisley Cantona gets visited in Star Wars - to succinctly show the kind of world of black-market goods and violence the protagonists were delving into. The story would have worked just as well if they had waited outside for Han Solo to finish his drinks and wander outside for a whizz, and they could have left out the whole shooting Greedo bit, and the arm-cutting bit, and Alec Guinness' awesome "hive of scum and villainy" line. But the film would have suffered.

Why do we, the players, visit strip clubs in games? The same basic reasons: it makes sense within the role we're "playing", and as a way of exploring the digital world we're in. Newsflash: what we do in games doesn't necessarily reflect on us in real life. I've mowed down pedestrians in GTA; I've reloaded the same checkpoint a dozen times to get through a firefight with no friendly NPC deaths in Halo; I've carefully planted and watered seeds in Pokemon and spent unhealthy amounts of time coordinating Tina Armstrong's bikini with matching nail polish and hair accessories in DOAX. Each of these made sense within the context of the game, but I don't think any of these says anything about me as an individual. Anybody who was interested enough to pick up the controller would have acted more or less in the same way in each respective game.

It's very trendy and post-feminist to affect a slightly guilty tone and introspect about one's relationship with sex, or porn, or women, but sometimes: sod it. You only live once and life isn't for endless worrying.

And finally, as somebody who's visited a couple of strip joints in their younger days, I can attest that games don't give a particularly good representation at all on anything other than the very shallowest level. The goddamn expense, for one thing. Would the OP be so cavalier about visiting virtual strip clubs if it cost him $200 (real money) each time? I don't think so. It's easy to be puritan when your wallet is at stake.

Blood Brain Barrier:

Moonlight Butterfly:
I guess you completely forgot about female gamers and what it might look like to them. I personally roll my eyes at the pointless aspect of video games pandering to male gaze and making me feel like the game wasn't even close to aimed at me. I usually grit my teeth and get it over with if I go in those places.

I feel the same thing, and I'm not even female. Personally I think it's far more insulting to know that a game expecting the player to be titillated by a blue alien's jiggling breasts was aimed at you than to know you were excluded from the target audience entirely.

I'm not arguing, BUT Star Wars also had "pro dancers", most famously in the image of the Twi'Lek dancers in Jabba's place. The Extended Universe got SOME Twi'Leks a more important role, but mostly they're the pole dancers of Star Wars. Whereas the Asari from Mass Effect, are like that by nature, but from a cultural perspective it's all fine and accepted, when thrown into an intergalactic community it became obvious that they could do something they were 110% okay with, and get money from it, since most other races are so inclined to admire them...
OKAY, now getting out of the LORE, and into a development perspective... Yeah, it brings money because it capitalizes on the HUMAN tendency to turn on at the mere idea of sex/erotism. In my opinion, it's the classic scene of the "gritty underworld" as well as the "extremely liberal future", it's very clichéd. But I don't think it's reason for anyone, even women, to feel offended, many friends of mine (girls), played GTA V, Mass Effect, and my girlfriend herself was by my side as I got through that Hitman level with the strip club.
Other media get to use this mechanism to attract the public (yes HBO, I'm looking at you and your almost hardcore porn True Blood), TV Shows, Movies, Books.
I understand, however, that the use IN EXTREME, becomes boring, like, again True Blood, many sequences of sex there are obviously meant to just "eat" huge chunks of the episode in order to elongate the story (more episodes you have more money you make), it's like water in your beer, you get more, but not that good.
The games given as an example, though, they did not exaggerate, the strip clubs were part of the story, part of the essence (Mass Effect didn't even have a strip club per se, more like a night club in a liberal future). But for Duke Nukem, Duke HAD to go screaming big and offensive, but it missed the jokes (and the gameplay)...

Wait what?

People actually consider these digital strip clubs titillating instead of just silly? I'm sorry but what else would you call the great Commander Shepard in a race against time to stop the Reapers taking a break at the local strip club to watch some tits and ass? Seriously? That's the savior of the universe?

I can understand strip clubs in games like Duke Nukem, it's designed to be silly so it fits. But strip clubs in more serious games like Mass Effect are just idiotic pandering that I do no appreciate at all, it only detracts from the game as a whole.

There is, as you say, nothing wrong with strip clubs. But neither are they so amazingly special and necessary that they're worth the effort of including in a serious game if you ask me. No more or less necessary than the option of including a dry cleaner and I honestly can't remember ever visiting the Citadel to get all the blood cleaned off my armor.

I'm very Meh when it comes to strip clubs. Sure boobies are awesome but having to pay for them greatly diminishes the experience of getting to see them. Plus.....why spend 100+ bucks to go home horny and rub one out when I could just stay home and rub one out saving 100+ bucks? I'd much rather round up the friends and hit a normal bar.

Hagi:
Wait what?

People actually consider these digital strip clubs titillating instead of just silly? I'm sorry but what else would you call the great Commander Shepard in a race against time to stop the Reapers taking a break at the local strip club to watch some tits and ass? Seriously? That's the savior of the universe?

I can understand strip clubs in games like Duke Nukem, it's designed to be silly so it fits. But strip clubs in more serious games like Mass Effect are just idiotic pandering that I do no appreciate at all, it only detracts from the game as a whole.

There is, as you say, nothing wrong with strip clubs. But neither are they so amazingly special and necessary that they're worth the effort of including in a serious game if you ask me. No more or less necessary than the option of including a dry cleaner and I honestly can't remember ever visiting the Citadel to get all the blood cleaned off my armor.

So Richard Feynmann, one of the more famous particle physicists of all time, regularly went to strip clubs. The guy developed the standard model of particles and had some lap dances while he did it. Honestly, far more silly is the idea of one person in an epic struggle to save the galaxy from an ancient evil fleet of AIs because they decided that there is a fundamental imbalance between biological and mechanical intelligence that will destroy everything. That's the unrealistic part. The idea of important people enjoying a strip club in their off-time, well, that just happens, no matter what most people prefer to believe about their heroes.

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