Does sex belong in video games?

Mass Effect Sex

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Tits and ass are incredibly prevalent in modern society. Sex is used to sell products in advertising, actors are shamefully primped into digitally crafted sex symbols and TV shows like Toddlers in Tiaras, stretch the definition of acceptable television viewing. Sex is everywhere, but oddly, not in our games.

With the recent pulling of No Reply Games' sex focused, interactive story 'game' “Seduce Me” from Valve's Greenlight service due to breaking of the terms and conditions – for being an “offensive” title – sex is back in the headlines of gaming websites the world over, all of them asking the question, “does sex belong in video games?”

It could be argued that games purely focused around sex are pornographic in nature and therefore warrant some sort of segmentation perhaps, in the way it is with websites and traditionally with stores that cater specifically to it.

But what about games that just feature sex as a feature or component of the overall experience?

Every time a popular title attempts to put anything sex like in its games that goes beyond a fade to black and some grunts, there's a problem. Look at GTA: San Andreas' Hot Coffee mod, or the blue side boob that appeared for a brief second in Mass Effect 2. It all gets blown out of proportion, people that haven't even played the game or seen footage of the event start screaming “save the children,” and to some it seems as if the world is going to end.

Of course it never does and children are as corrupted as their parents allow them to be. These games have age ratings for a reason and if parents choose to ignore them it's their responsibility to set it right, or at least explain things to their kids so they understand and learn about the adult activity in a constructive way.

But should it be there in the first place? Well the obvious answer would be yes, for a variety of reasons.

1: Taking into consideration the age ratings I mentioned earlier, the average gamer is in their 30s at this point. Not only have they had sex, they've been living with internet pornography for over 15 years. Believe me, unless you're doing a game adaptation of The Serbian Film, this is nothing we haven't seen before.

2: Unless it's Manhunt, where ritualistic killing was censored because... it's the game the lobby groups decided to go after, murder barely raises an eyebrow from anyone. Killing is rampant in games. Just look at the fast Paragon leveller in Diablo III. He's killed almost two million monsters alone. If he can commit mass murder, why can't a game have a sex scene in it?

3: Sex is a part of life. For anyone that doesn't know, it's how babies are made. Shocking I know, but we all began our life at a moment of parental coitus and society is slowly beginning to lose the taboo. It's still there – and enjoyed by many – but the simple fact is that sex shouldn't be considered a naughty thing any more. It's in films, in advertising, television and there is absolutely no reason it shouldn't be in our games.

However, despite these very obvious reasons that sex should be included in games and accepted by the public as a simple part of the artistic medium, the blame isn't entirely on the shoulders of complainers. Game developers could also help the cause out.

Despite the criticism for its leud content, Mass Effect actually has an incredibly impressive and deeply emotional erotic part to it but it is a rarity. More often than not, we get adventurers fucking hookers, or silly quick time sex games or button mashing to fuck harder. This isn't the type of thing that detractors of sexual content in gaming are going to agree with, probably ever.

No I'm not saying that because lobbyists and complainers have stale sex lives that games should be the same, but there isn't a reason that sex can't be used as an emotional connector between characters either.

Games focused around getting the clothes off of a digital woman should be just as allowed to exist in our gaming spheres as the latest AAA blockbuster, but they don't further the cause of sex in video games as much as they could.

Not only do I believe that sex deserves to be a part of gaming, I think it deserves to have more credit as a part of the emotional story within a game. It doesn't need to be your character just getting his rocks off, or a nudge-nudge-wink-wink from the developers saying “we know what you gamers want, digital titties,” but a real way for players to connect with a character.

We talked a few weeks about about how Lara Croft's surviving of an attempted rape could be used to delve into all sorts of new character emotions within a game. How about include a sex scene in that game not long after the rape and make it optional. Have it so that players can decide. If she goes along with it, perhaps Lara is emotionally distracted and merely trying to forget a horrific experience, thereby not building a relationship with the male counterpart. Perhaps if she says no, players can learn something about his character.

Sex is a massive motivator in human life and it should be used in games as well, not just as a treat or a laughable aside, but a real part of the gameplay. It can be part of the story and part of the world the developers create.

It doesn't always have to be, just as not every single racing game has to be a sim like experience, but just now and again I'd like to see some real effort put into sex.

That last line could have been phrased better.

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Comments

An Enriching Story

I think that sex in a game is a fine idea if it creates a more in depth story/character development. I like the idea of an RPG where I am able to create relationships, enemies, allies and if I chose lovers. It doesn't need gratuitous or pornographic cut scenes; implied is fine. I am an adult and I would like adult and deeper relationships in my story driven games. There is a place for hack'n slash, or FPS, as well as stories that try to push the emotional barrier.

Changing the World by making one!

Hello Everyone. I dream of changing the World, changing views and breaking unnecessary boundaries. I have seen in my life that there is a gleaming flame, one that engulfs this world and we suffocate on fumes of ignorance, stubbornness and segregation. I was born a rebel, one as such that I hope to lead this world to a new one. I agree with this man/woman and his/her supporters. This is 2012, a time for change not communism and tyrants aka ESRB's ways of employing false security by placing walls of segregation ( it's Ratings ) and a harsh caste of unequal diversity where potentially great games are outcasted and metaphorically "killed". What's life without experience, there are crippled people and even people who live strict sheltered lives. Gaming especially online gamihg may be the only way they can live it. Who are you to restrict their experience of life even from a game. Though they may or may not ever experience sex that doesn't mean they can't nor shouldn't learn from it through interaction even IF it's only through a digital simulation. I FULLY agree and support sex being vividly intergrated into any game no matter the measurement or degree of the emphasis on it's concept. It's a parent's fault if their kids see sex NOT just on games but as well as movies, internet, and even books because game are NOT just games. Games are creative worlds of exquisite lore and wonder created by the imagination of a Game Dev that players are allowed to experience and learn through interaction. NO parent NOR ESRB has any right yo take that experience away just because they feel it's wrong, what is wrong is that they are narrow-minded. With a prospective like that you wouldn't have hybrid cars, computers let alone your very jobs. Human progress is made through new discoveries and by those who challenge the world. As a man of innovation and change, I'll challenge the world and ESRB. Sex is natural, we been doing it since Our Genesis with Adam and Eve. I'll usher in a new Genesis. That's MY passion for the games I want to create and I'll fight for my visions for it's all I have to give back to the World - My Legacy.

open your eyes!

As of now I am sixteen, going on seventeen. the blatent fact that most of you are overlooking is as much as you would shield you're kid, they already know. At age 7 I was masturbating and had no Idea to what. At 9 my 14 year old friend showed me porn. the fact is, no matter how much you try to keep it from your child, they are going to find out. In my life expierience I have found thhat acually, the more you shield your child, the worst it is in the long run, at least typiclly. I know being raised in a more open household, where my mom explianed to me the risks, explained to me what it was, told me how it was a way to epress love, not some occult and freakish behavior, and didn't try to "protect me" has made sex a personal and meaningful thing. I agree that video games should not make it a throw away mini game, but if it makes a personal connection to the story, or corresponds or supports a characters personality, then I'm all for it.

Your parents simply didn't care enough to teach you.

Just because your parents didn't care enough guide you doesn't mean that all children have the problem. I was exposed to porn way before 14, and I got rid of it so that no one else would see it. That was because my parents cared enough to teach, punish, control, and ultimately guide me. Now, I am an adult, and these things are my choice. Certainly, I have enjoyed porn in my adult life, but I am thankful that my parents saw fit to protect my mind from that corruption at too young and impressionable an age. Far be it from me to be the fool that corrupts a child's mind simply because i'm too selfish to care if my desire to have sex in my games causes an immoral corruption to take root in a child's heart. You see, the prospect of that risk bothers me because I am not a pedo who gets a sexual thrill out of teaching kids about sex before they're old enough to learn about it. I'm not saying you are, but you're foolish to make such generalizations simply because you were not afforded the same concern by your parents and others as most kids are, albeit in ever decreasing amounts. And as a result, broken homes and children growing up emotionally damaged have become a norm rather than a rarity. So much for the freedom the sexual revolution supposedly gave us. Seems a lot more like a lifetime of some sort of emotional jail all so that a father and mother could have a momentary lapse of no-so-fulfilling pleasure.

why? this all seems rather

why? this all seems rather pointless. ratings are a complete joke. the very idea of ratings is a generalization that all people of a particular age respond the same to any given incidence. you put an "r" rating on a movie and all of a sudden it becomes a threat to society. if there was no rating system, the world would simply evolve (like it always has) into a more mature place that can handle such.

SexySexSexSex

Here are my issues with sex in gaming, and I'm sorry if someone all ready posted the equivalent. Pro sex: Sex is being sold to us, as gamers, on a daily basis. From God of War's blatant nudity and sex scenes, to DOA's scantily clad ladies. There is a very vague line in what is acceptable for the rating board. Why is nudity okay in games like Dante's Inferno or Conan, and not okay in Saint's Row or Dead or Alive? Con Sex: Because of the ratings board. There are strict guidelines in who can and cannot see a Rated R film, and a lot of parents don't see the M rating on a game to be equal to an R rating on a video game. In fact, the fact that we still refer to them as "Games" may be the problem. Interactive Media might be a better term nowadays. I've worked in game retail. I've had parents yell at me because I wouldn't sell their preteen gamer GTA4 because "It's just a game! You F**kin R**ard!" (Direct quote) Until people realize what "games" have become, they truly won't be able to reach their full potential. Boobs.

Who set you up as the gaming

Who set you up as the gaming police? You have no right to tell parents what their kids can and cannot play. This is a parental responsibility, and it only becomes yours if you have a kid. I think it's quite sad that some people have such a skewed viewpoint that they think it's perfectly fine to usurp the parent's role and abuse a person's rights like you claim you've done. How dare you? You should be ashamed of yourself.

LOL

Do you want the government to step in? Is that what you need in your life to have the government to do everything for you? They already have laws that will fine retail stores if they sell to minors. It is the stores responsibility and the workers as well to make sure they abide by those laws. I love how you say it's the parent's responsibility to decide. Alright then, next time your child comes home drunk with booze, just keep that thought in your head. It's your fault and don't sue the bar/pub.

hold on now

First and for most you can't say that he has no right to tell them that he can't sale the game. IF THAT IS THE GUIDE LINE OF HIS JOB ! if the kid is a preteen and he sales it even with his parents present thats a law suit waiting to happen you have to think of it in a business manner. Ian If you run a game business and you make a game that is rated M and the child is 13 with their parent trying to buy the game you could lose your company all of your money would be gone. because whatever content that you put into that game and that 13 year old child goes out there and does it YOU AS THE COMPANY ARE HELD RESPONDABLE BECAUSE IT WAS YOUR GAME AND YOU SOLD IT TO THEM ! Not only that can be 2 people pertending to be the childs parents !

You missed the point...

I have also denied the sale to a minor of restricted content. Parents have also come by and had words with me over it. Honestly, if the parent comes by to make the purchase so be it, but the problem arises when the child comes to pay with his/her money while the parent is off doing other shopping. The feeling I get is usually related to the parent being annoyed that they have to actually take time out of what they want to do and focus for a fleeting moment on what their child is doing. Again, any parent may allow their child to play what they want. Parents, get over yourself, and don't get annoyed with merchants who are only following the letter of the law. Specifically @Cooper: You missed the point. This salesperson was not "the gaming police" and to go to the length of your verbal bashing really illustrates to me a hot-headed response devoid of insight or at least empathy. Get over yourself. It's illegal to sell certain content to any minor (as in alcohol, movies, etc.). You even mentioned in your article that the problem is actually with the parents not paying attention to their kids, or persons selling content without asking for identification. I don't agree with the ESRB in any viewpoint. I endorse graphic sex and violence. Society has yet to share this same opinion, and until it does, laws will be laws. I am a law-abiding citizen. I always will be. The difference I make is through voting.

This

I wrote an article on the same topic, which you might enjoy. and it's called "Game censorship – when will the oppression end?" (The Greenlight incident inspired me a tad). I liked yours :) My suggestion is out of mutual interest

If you can kill , steal ,

If you can kill , steal , destroy in games why the heck shouldn't you be able to watch nude bodies , have sex , rape or get raped ? People who claim otherwise are hypocrites and ridiculous and i think these self proclaimed women of gaming should learn how to talk and behave before attempting to judge the games world It's not respectful to shout like you do it in reality to your husband/boyfriend etc Adjust yourselves to the gaming world , understand it and then demand things I for one am for full content and of course with the proper rating because i'm sick and tired of dumbed down and censored games that have no taste because the adult part is removed

Too Difficult to Portray?

I don't disagree that sex, as a natural part of life, shouldn't be controversial when included in a video game meant for adults. However, I don't think games can handle it. They are good at simple things such as shooting. Alive or dead. On or off. 0 or 1. But sex is more complicated and involves emotions. If it is portrayed in a cut-scene, it is no more a "game" than a movie is. Yet if they try to make a "game" out of it, it ends up as a matter of pressing buttons or selecting menu choices. Not very emotional or stimulating or thought provoking.

SEX

why does it have to be in the game if they have it portrayed in there its fine but too have them play out a sex scene is just stupid this just shows how society just wants sex in everything like it wouldnt have any different affect if they did like in god of war where they didnt show it but portrayed it. you people that want this in games clearly dont play games for the actual game and just play it cause its there. you need sex in games just to get amused? its not needed in games, if i wanna watch sex id watch porn or better yet just go get some

Noob

games don't just try to entertain you but also thy to offer a real experience to you so why not add sex? isn't sex real? are you ashamed of having sex? should people stop having sex?

This is all very misleading,

This is all very misleading, you don't turn on basic television and see an explicit sex scene, some movies will incorporate a "soft" porn approach, but typically make it short to keep from an NC-17 rating. Sex is NOT all over television and movies, so using that to argue that sex HAS to be used in games is just ridicules. There is an Adult Rating in video games and a couple of titles have earned it with explicit sexual themes and scenes. Also, just because you are 30 doesnt make every gamer 30, and fact is most parents dont bat an eye at letting their kids play games that are inappropriate because they dont realize how involved games have become

Sex is NOT all over TV ?????

Sex is NOT all over TV ????? Watch prime-time network's advertising for their new shows. There is almost always an explosion, a woman with a bra/bikini top either undressing or similar, guys fighting or at least one punch thrown, car chase and more explosions and ALWAYS hot babes with a quick shot of seduction/sexual situation/intimacy. All garbage and all the networks do it. Network TV truly will rot your brain

the problem is

The problem we have today is that people who are not gamers think of games as toys for kids. However as this article states many games are in their 30's, heck I'm almost there myself being 28. The problem I see is the rating system and the ESRB. Yes that's right the ESRB. I can't tell you how many times really great ideas have been cut from games just because it was the one thing that would have tipped the game just over the line on the rating scale into adult only. I actually worked as a game tester for one of the big three. I've seen it happen, seen great things be pulled in fear of the dreaded adults only rating. What we need is a rating that is indeed for adults only and yet stores will still carry. Right now if a game gets an adults only rating the only stores that will carry it are sex shops. Games are not just for kids and if movies can have sex so should video games. Maybe it's the name of the medium that's the problem. Lets try this again. If movies can show sex then so should interactive media.

I agree with you that if it

I agree with you that if it is allowed in one it should be allowed in the other. But if it is allowed eventually the games will be just as bad as the movies. I know that some games (and movies) put scenes in that are not obscene, mass effect did a god job of keeping it meaningful and not just pointless sex. But most of the time it is tasteless and obscene. Maybe the question isn't "should we allow more of it in games?" But "should we allow less of it in movies?"

You couldn't be more right.

You couldn't be more right. What people don't understand is that video games are not just for kids. The generation that started playing video games are now adults. Guess what, we still play games and we want adult games. That doesn't mean all we want are sex games, but when a developer wants to put sex in a game or extra gore there should be no problem.

One minor quibble

I agree with you, but actually, the generation that started playing video games now have adult children of their own. The video game industry began in 1971 with the release of the arcade game, Computer Space. I started playing video games in about 1975 at age 13.

What are we talking about?!!

I didn't have sex until i was 30 and married..i choose to be that way. Oh and gaming industries wanting to include sex in games is a good way to ensure condom companies will have a good business in future, they could be even funding the games development...which is cool. I'm just saying.

irrelevant

There is already a rating system in place for parents to see before purchasing games. Children are not permitted to purchase games with inappropriate content. Specific reasoning for an adult rating is required for all packaged games. All digitally distribution services also mandate specific ratings and age verification. The issue has was addressed long ago. If you don't want your children playing grand theft auto or leisure suit larry then don't buy it for them, pay attention for games they borrow from friends, and ensure your kids don't use your credit cards. Adult consumers have every right to enjoy both violent games and games loaded with sexual content. Parents have no right to demand limits just because they are negligent in their parental responsibilities.

reply: irrelevant

the real problem is that a lot of parents us tv to raise their kids for them cause their not around so now they are turning to video games to do the same thing not paying any attention to the rating system anything to keep their kids quiet and out off their hair. p.s these are the same people who are the ones that say oh that person went on a shooting spree at school he playied to many violent video games

The idea that video gaming

The idea that video gaming fuels shooting sprees is a myth. There has never been a single shooting incident linked to video game use, despite all the press engaging in our era's little moral panic. Some of us play video games with our kids. It's not about getting kids out of our hair - it's about sharing quality time. I find it disgusting that some folks choose to get in the way of that and pretend that they're doing so for a high moral cause. Leave me alone to raise my kid as I see fit and don't assume you have any idea of my competence in raising my very well behaved child who is both an avid video gamer and a high-achieving student.

sex in games is masturbation in the living room

The reason that sex is taboo in games is because gaming is a relatively 'public' thing in the household. Children can be killing in the living room while parents are reading the newspaper nearby. This isn't the case when the child is essentially masturbating in their minds while the parents are reading the newspaper nearby.

if they're 18+ and still

if they're 18+ and still playing video games on their parents living room TV there is a tad bit of a "grow the fuck up" issue here. Aside: I was confused at first, but your captcha system is a great idea. Keep it up folks.

It works for -some- games...

Some games handle it well, while some just put sex in just for the sake of it. Not every game needs a sexual side and many games could be hurt by sex scenes or making gameplay out of it. With that said, I must ask why you mentioned Toddlers & Tiaras at the beginning. White trash and beauty pageants don't equal sex. True, the idea of parading ones daughters in dresses and layers of makeup strikes me as a bit creepy, but mentioning these child pageants at the same time as something about sex does both sides a disservice.

how is it different?

Beauty pageants are nothing but sexual and in a ritualistic way. They dress their young daughters up in little versions of clothes adult women wear and then you paint her face up to make her look much older. It is a completely sexual and archaic practice, you are pretty much putting your child up for display to the public and giving her to them to take and judge.like a piece of meat.

Immersion

A game should enable you to delve into the life another and experience different things, that, under normal circumstances, won't ever be possible, and arguing that no video game character has ever had or will have sex until his marriage is false reasoning. If it furthers the IMMERSION I'm all for it.

That's BS. A lot of people

That's BS. A lot of people wait until their married, you asshole, and that's AFTER 18 for some. I respect anyone who waits until their married. Because to me I feel they have strong character, they have disciplined themselves, have a strong MIND. Don't be generalizing the entire world, Jesus CHRIST. Anyways, SEX should not be in video games PERIOD. I really don't like that. Games aren't pornography, games is to work your mind not have a character sleep with male/female.

LOL

this guy is a tool huh? Yea bible thumpers who will cry conspiracy when we find life outside the earth and disprove the bible in one fell swoop. its a statistical fact that the VAST VAST majority doesn't miss out and wait till they are married just to "prove a point" to some omnipotent being who if he existed would obviously care less ROFLMAO. anyhow, sex is the most natural thing in the world. if it fits in the game, and the game is labled as mature, it belongs as much as a title or the need for a controller. talking about dumb generalizations, listen to yourself. better yet, don't and spend your time trying to get laid. I promise, its not dirty and wrong and you will like it!

a game is like any artform:

a game is like any artform: it can be as tasteful or as perverse as the creator wants. i wouldn't want my daughter listening to mickey minaj singing about "fuck who want and fuck who you like" and "getting higher than a motherfucker" but that hasn't stopped her from making "music". so video games are different because you need a controller to work them? :S are you saying Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back as a video game should never be made, NOT because it'd be a terrible game, but because of all the sexual humour that would be included? if sex can't be in video games, then it shouldn't be in any artform PERIOD; but i DO think it has it's place, so excuse me for not agreeing with you in the slightest. also, people who date a lot generally have well-adjusted social skills because they CHOOSE TO INTERACT WITH PEOPLE, and whether that includes sex or not is up to their discretion; simply abstaining doesn't always show discipline, it can also show AN INABILITY TO ACT DECISIVELY. BTW, based on the tone of you're message, you were either brought up in a highly-religious family, or were a loser in childhood like most of us pricks on the iinternet and you use this "a lot of people wait until they're married" line to make yourself look more prestigious when really you wanted to lose your cherry before your balls even dropped.

Your opinion is odd

The fact that in your opinion sex should not be in video games at all is incredibly close minded. Sex is a natural thing and in my mind has nothing to do with strength of character discipline or mind, that's so conservative and outdated thinking... Of course I do respect if someone has vowed not to have sex before marriage it's their decision, but it's not the absolute best option as you seem to make it. Oh and you talk about generalizing the entire world and then proceed to say "Jesus CHRIST", I find that mildly humorous. And the fact that you single-handedly decide what all games are for as if you made them all is hilarious. Religious conservative?

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