While it occurs often and frequently, it is always pushed and exaggerated to no end no matter the medium. Sex is in everything we watch, read, listen to, and even play. From erotic literature to cheerleaders, sex is everywhere. It is one of those subjects that is constantly shoved in our faces, but to act on it or even talk about it is inappropriate. Granted, things have changed over the past few decades, so even though it almost feels natural to have sex scenes in video games now, do they come off as tasteful and respectable, or does it just seem like something extra developers have started to add because they know it will garner attention?
There’s no denying the impact or the success that Sony’s blockbuster title God of War enjoyed. Adrenaline-rushing combat, gruesome boss battles, and porking maidens. That’s right, unless you never played one of the GoW titles, you probably remember those segments pretty well. Softcore porn-esque camera angles a la Spartacus combined with quick time event controls allowed you and your stud of a protagonist to bang the ever-loving orbs out of a couple of women. Though it was just a mini-game to most people, Kratos’s libido was strong enough to warrant a sex scene for the next two games. Besides it being thoroughly enjoyable for a maximum of two minutes, does it really add anything to the game as an entirety? If none of the audibly explicit half-god-on-woman scenes were included in the franchise, do you think it would’ve still pulled the sales it did?
RPGs have been getting increasingly personal with their ability to develop relationships amongst a variety of NPCs. Games like The Witcher 2 and the Mass Effect series are very open in the sense of how far you are willing to go with someone. There is an entire sex system in The Witcher constructed by cards. They give you a list of every person in the game you can sleep with, and the sequel has just as much, if not more sexual content even with the ommision of the cards. The developers wanted to make it clear that Geralt is flesh and blood, with wants, needs, and yes, dirty, carnal desires.
The Mass Effect games approached sex from a different angle, and ultimately, it was shown in a different light. The physical idea that Shepard is piledriving one of his squad members, or much less, the communication officer is still apparent, but isn’t gritty. It’s very PG-13 and it feels like an integral part of the game. Geralt seducing and throwing his partners around like plastic sex dolls is still very much a big part of the game, but only because there is so much of it. The ideal that Shepard is lonely in his cabin aboard the Normandy and needs some company every once in a while is plausible. There have been similar situations in movies and TV shows that involve space ships and people who can pull rank on one another.
Though sex in video games is not anything particularly new, (see Custer’s Revenge) it has been taken to new heights with the onset of advancing technology. During this generation, we have been introduced to the computer, namely, computer gaming. One thing that PC gamers know about their selection of titles is that almost everything can be modded. Hell, some things can be flat out changed completely. This ability is what gave us the notorious, but oh so hilarious Hot Coffee Mod. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas‘s modded mini-game sparked the interest of political figures, parents, and people who just wanted to see two video game characters awkwardly bump uglies. Though I never saw this as a big deal, it did make a statement towards mature games and how much people are willing to accept as long as it falls under the category of entertainment.
I could go on for quite a while about all the other games that show more than a little skin, like BMX XXX for instance, but nothing really ever came from them. For games like Leisure Suit Larry and The Guy Game, sex is a gimmick. Once you accept the fact that you are playing a game with nipples in it, you quickly find out the “playable” portion of the game isn’t anything worth your time. You just paid money to hold a controller and watch polygonal mammaries move in the most awkward way possible.
I know the “sex in videogames” spiel has been talked and written about countless times, though usually, they are mostly about how controversial and pollutant they are. This is nothing like that, I just think they’re unnecessary. If a sex scene that guarantees nudity is a game’s hook, then what does that say about the game itself? Developers want to appeal to every demographic they can when they decide on what kind of game they want to make. Games like Skyrim and Mass Effect have done very well to market to female gamers because if you choose to be a woman, you can have an experience that will refuse to hold back, simply because you’re a female. So who is the demographic for the adult fun-time games? Well, almost everybody, actually. As of this year, approximately 66% of women watch porn, and 33% of women who are 18 years of age or older are avid gamers. Now obviously, the entire female gaming population does not watch pornography, it’s still safe to assume some percentage of them does. Then it’s probably even safer to say that those people are the ones who would be willing to play a game with love or sexuality in it.
While it is debatable on whether or not sex in video games actually adds to the experience, or if it is just another marketing ploy to get horny people to play their games, whatever be the case, it is working. Sticking it to a couple of women servants in the first God of War is still one of the most talked about segments of the game. Look, I’m not saying I don’t appreciate games that have a wide range of gameplay styles and artistic changes, I would just wish games that focused on sex did it better. If you are going to make a party game, make a game that everyone will want to play together and actually have fun with. If you’re going to make a dating sim, make it engaging so people will actually care if they get to sleep with the brunette across the street.
Even though I feel a lot of the sex in games is gimmicky, the ones that do develop it will, like the aforementioned Mass Effect and Witcher series, give the game a well-rounded feel, and that is something I think a lot of people look for or even expect today. Games are becoming more advanced and expanding; crossing genres and delivering multi-game epic franchises, so we might see a sex-based MMO FPS in the near future. Until that time comes, though, let’s just hope they get the sex part right for now at least.