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.