Where are the sexy computer games?

Paul Raven @ 25-06-2009

Keeping to the gaming theme, here’s Aleks Krotoski at The Guardian asking a very valid question: where are all the sex-based computer games?

It’s not for want of trying. Brathwaite says that when she landed a job as producer on Playboy: The Mansion, in 2005, she found there were countless games developers building titles around love, intimacy and, well, hanky-panky, but they were lost in an ocean of family values propriety, wandering souls buried under regulations and smothered by distributor blacklists, treated as “specialists” whose products only saw the light in extremely independent competitions. And so, with only the odd interruption of a virtual carnal nature, game controversies are dominated by violence. Depravity just isn’t on the regulator’s radar.

And can you imagine what would happen if it were? Just look at the furore over the scenes uncovered in the code of GTA: San Andreas. For heaven’s sake, they were two consenting (digital) adults in an 18-rated game: why did it end up such an issue that the then senator Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to get it banned? Such top-down puritanism forces creative conformity in games for fear that explicitly including sex scenes would lead to a loss of filthy lucre – when on earth has that been the case?

It does seem odd, but then computer games are a comparatively young medium by comparison to film or literature – perhaps the form just isn’t mature enough to carry it off? If that’s the case, though, developments like the interactive software/hardware combinations that run Lionhead’s virtual boy Milo suggest that the technical capability to make a sex-based game that’s going to inspire more than adolescent sniggering may finally be here. How long it will take someone to think of a genuinely engaging set of game mechanics to go with it is anyone’s guess… but I doubt it’ll be too long, despite the puritanical hand-wringing of career demagogues.

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7 Responses to “Where are the sexy computer games?”

  1. Gareth Rees says:

    Your rhetorical question:

    where are all the sex-based computer games?

    has a simple answer: the mainstream games industry cannot make them because of censorship. Games are heavily censored by governments (US, Germany, Australia) and by the industry itself, afraid of the backlash from offended moral-majority types.

  2. Wollff says:

    where are all the sex-based computer games?

    Japan.
    They are called Eroge, Hentai Games, or H-Games… it’s all out there and much of it is all about sex. And it’s a whole industry over there.

    So the next interesting question becomes: Why are those games big in Japan, but not big in the west?

  3. Khannea says:

    Not for lack of trying. However, I spoke with kids, girls, boys, at school – late teens, early 20s, and the time is here they watch porn. Yah kids, barely adults watch porn for sexual gratification. They literally say, in class “best cure for looming stress is – porn!”.

    This is rather mindboggling. 20 years ago the mention of porn movies, a guy watching them and masturbating on them was a confession tantamount to being a loser, weak, pathetic, unable to find gratification with women, andsoforth. The same was unthinkable for women, even recently.

    Maybe the US is about 10-20 years behind where I live, but attitudes are becoming pretty laid back on these topics.

    Bear in mind – until recently I studied game design. And to these kids games are largely consoles. PC gaming is a fringe activity, to be tolerated for WoW. Games with anything else than key combo’s and XNA and deadly strikes are still oddities. Second Life doesn’t bear discussing, even in those artistic circles.

    Give it time. The ceiling of stunning graphics, the skill to capture sexual tension, not getting it, the right dose of accumulating perversions versus prurience, that language of tantra needs to ahh “trickle down” into the collective subconscious. This is an area with very terrifying emotions.

    But I do have lots of ideas on how these games would and should function. In my book, sexuality, sexual power play, abuse, seduction, lust, mental unraveling, the was of orgasm and denial can have function in games, and not just as iconoclastic prerequisites for other stuff. I have played with these games since my earliest puberty and I was doing stuff I now see in SL in the seventies. I had my first imaginary centaur in the mid 80s. No surprises there.

    In time new cultural perspectives will ahh *saturate* our western cultures. Many people will put up a fight but as soon as the balance has shifted this becomes an acknowledged need and as soon as the quality of what games offer has ahh “drenched the marketplace” these games will begin educating people in in true enlightenment in earnest.

    In a few decades sexuality in games will be regarded in almost the same manner as you regard fine food. It’s all about balance and care.

  4. Anonymous says:

    @Wollff
    Funny you say so, because right now there’s a crackdown on the whole industry, motivated both by international pressure (Equality Now seek to ban Rapelay) and political maneuvers.
    Things are not looking good, and the developers are starting to cancel projects. Quite big right now is that an online retailer has banned all eroge that include words such as bondage and student council.

    Plenty to read out there since it’s a developing issue, and bad news for freedom of speech as always. Best source on this for now is zepy.momotato.com

    As for why it’s popular, it’s a matter of demographic. Far more otaku there than here, and developing studios are minuscule, catering to specific fetishes and fads. It’s a harder public to reach in America, but it’s there. There are some online stores that specialize on english eroge right now.

  5. Debbie D. says:

    We have an adults-only sexual/erotic computer game, so if any readers are interested in getting it or playtesting for it please contact us at ofni@debbie-does-python.com
    (Reverse the letters ‘ofni’ for the correct address.)

    thanks!
    xxx – Debbie D. in Dallas

  6. HoverZero says:

    1. Sex is boring, it stimulates a few nerve cells in a small percent.
    2. It isn’t real, there’s nothing like the faster spread of STD.
    3. Violence is porn, nothing fuels the blood more than killing.
    4. Sex is an awkward topic, ‘birds & bees, ho hum, kids know more.
    5. Graphics suck! There’s nothing like those epileptic warnings of really bad graphics that will make you twitch.
    6. Loss of money, sex is best seen in reality and games haven’t copped up to realistic levels. It’d be a major flop and embarrassment. Not to mention the ratings plummet!!

    7. You get ‘sex appeal’ in some games but flat out sex is beyond those guys who manufacture the strings of code to program.

    Alternatives, ‘BloodRayne II’, ‘ALiAS’, ‘PSYCHOTOXiC’,…

    SEX IN GAMES ARE CRAP !!

  7. Deepak says:

    has a simple answer: the mainstream games industry cannot make them because of censorship. Games are heavily censored by governments (US, Germany, Australia) and by the industry itself, afraid of the backlash from offended moral-majority types.

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