Home Editorial Sex in Games: When will developers grow up?

First rule of advertising: sex sells.

First rule of writing for T3: if I write an article about sex, you’ll all send me millions of dollars.

So let’s get to it. After all, if there’s one thing that belongs on a gaming blog all about humor and satire, it’s a pseudo-serious article about the serious issues of how sexuality is handled and mishandled in our burgeoning often demonized industry, right?

Riiiiiiiight?

Sex hasn’t exactly been handled gracefully in games. After all, just look back to Atari’s Gotcha, the most discreet arcade game of all time, where you control the gameplay with giant rubber tits… Oh, and let’s not forget the classic debacle of 1982’s Custer’s Revenge, where you earned points by raping a captive native woman. Real classy, guys…

Even today, just about every female character in games since Lara Croft showed up to the party has been a hypersexualized, scantily clad, sex symbols. The irony of all this is that the content that often ends up in M rated games is usually the stupid adolescent shit that only appeals to 13 year olds. I mean, sure everyone likes to get their rocks off, but do we really need to be hammered over the head with characters that look like fucking cross dressing dominatrices in every game? And who the fuck thought coining the term “Jiggle Physics” was a good idea? Is there not a single woman who works in the industry anywhere? Hello?

If games are going to seriously become an art form, a respected medium with which to tell a story, we as an industry need to grow up, and come to terms with sex. So what is holding us back, anyway? The media loves to say that we’re responsible for turning their kids into gay satan-worshiping three-eyed baby rapists at every turn, so why the hell do we keep giving them more material? Not only that, but for some reason people can’t get it through their heads that games aren’t just made for children. So when you see sex poorly handled in a game, parents are going to start pointing fingers. My point is, we need to do something about this.

No to be fair, a lot of this is our fault. For decades we’ve seen nothing but jiggle physics, sex symbols, and all around immaturity when it comes to sex. Characters like Duke Fuckem Nukem are prime examples of this. While you could argue that this is just the male game makers catering to what they perceive as their primary audience, if that’s all that we do, we’re never going to be taken seriously. We can do so much more.

Now first of all, game makers, grow the fuck up. Anyone over the age of 19 knows that there’s a difference between sexuality and sex, and that there’s a hell of a lot more to the former than just the physical form. Since you clearly have never looked at the story telling methods of any other medium ever, let me fill you in. We are talking about a vital part of the human experience, and is used to define, test, and give depth to a character. Not just for bumping uglies.

Let’s look a bit closer at how sex is currently handled in games. In Mass Effect, sex is used as a reward. Pick the right conversation options with the right characters at the right time, and you get a sex scene. Why, then, is every character for all intents and purposes asexual at every other point? How does Shepard jump from the friend zone immediately to fucking, AND WHY WON’T HE TEACH ME THIS MAGIC POWER?! I think that games need to explore a bit more about relationships, and the intimacy that comes with the territory. After all, just showing a sex scene feels immature, and playing one just feels gratuitous. Cleavage and pandering aren’t the way to go about this.

Now I’m not saying that we should suddenly ignore the 17 year old fapper demographic. After all, if games stopped making titillating characters, the lotion and tissue markets would collapse. However, for the rest of us, it would be nice to see the market grow up a bit more, and explore this vital part of the human experience. In a lot of ways, these differences are the main line separating childhood and adulthood. And maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll be able to do it without Fox News spreading their bullshit all over our faces.

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22 replies to this post
    • The thing is, it’s nothing new. I remember years ago an online service being set up where you could pay to play with girls but it wasn’t done as a sexual/porn thing.

      Gaming isn’t some kind of glorious medium where this is the ONLY problem of association. Homophobia, racism, xenophobia, sexism, overly aggressive folk and explosively violent people are much larger problems than paying girl gamers to take their tops off. I wonder if people kicked up as big a shit when you could buy books with highly sexual content or when you could buy pornographic films or when pornography exploded onto the internet… An even better question to add to that is “Do we still give a shit?”.

      • Very true on all counts, Bin. I guess that the gaming escort service thing is just something that bothers me particularly on a personal level because it seems to be exactly the kind of ammo that places like Fox need (not that they need to be given anymore).

        Certainly, these issues need to be addressed, I suppose it’s more a question of how long people seem to be content to ignore them. Recent issues like the character in Deus Ex drawing criticism haven’t really resulted in any changes, just the developer shrugging and saying “Oops, we weren’t aware, sorry.”

  1. Are there any other rules of T3?
    I sent ferret my iPhone.
    Oh wait. I didn’t. *chuckles*
    And my phone has Internet, (not the iPhone) SOS I can still visit T3.
    Forgot about that L:

    • A good rule might be, try to comment on your thoughts about the article! Why don’t you tell us what you thought of Ferret’s piece and the prevalence of this kind of material in games?

      • I was had a long rant on this.
        But. Opening a tab for anything on my phone refreshes the page. Guess wut? My long long comment is gone.
        RAGEQUIT.
        I’ll summarize it;
        Games use Sexuality as a marketing strategy to stir up shit, to make a game more popular.
        Example: God of War games, mass effect, Duke Pleasenukethisgame forever.
        Referring back to an article before, this would be avoided by having some
        Ladies.
        In the video game industry. There are hardly any, maybe they are scared off by the sexuality in game.
        But we need
        Ladies.
        In the video game industry to cut down on sexuality.
        This sexuality in games will remain as long as there are games, and there’s nothing the average gamer can do.
        Unrelated: I has formspring. Click on name ask me stuff/insult me anonymously!
        Also unrelated: in case you haven’t noticed, you might want to scroll to the bottom of the page. Looks nice. Lastly
        Good article ferret, I do quite agree with the main idea that Devs need to grow up, the only reason sex is in games is to sell the game summoar.
        Kthnxbai.

  2. Girls would rather be successful and argue about power rights than the fantasies of the gaming industry.

    IMO.

  3. Other than the obvious: Immature representation of demographics and lackluster game designers, there are a few deeper reasons as to why the gaming community is doing this.

    First off: It’s easier to make and attracts more sales (both for obvious reasons). May not sound so deep, but hear me out. Incorporating complex emotional reactions and human behaviors into what is intended to be a quick, and in many cases, intentionally forgettable experience isn’t what games are always built for. Asking that they be incorporated is only truly possible in long and serious RPG’s, and maybe in the stories of other games, if only briskly. Incorporating humanity into what was never meant to truly simulate it is truly a difficult task.

    Second off: How? Game makers use the method they do now if they intend to put in any romance at all because it’s been done before, and when it was first starting out, it was easy to think up. One night with the wife and disappointed expectations was all it probably took for the first game designer to come up with and incorporate oversexuality in games. If not much much less. What would inspire a game designer to include any form of deep romance? How would they do it AND allow the player to participate in the creation and movement of the relationship. Will it sell? Who would take the risk? I’m a bit illiterate when it comes to gaming history, so if there were any serious examples of this that were good games and gave incentive to continue for the developers, please tell me.

    Well, off to sleep.

    • What he said.
      I originally wrote an even longer comment, but your GREAT software nommed it (Wuz delicious!).

      • Considering how big my above comment is, my huge nonsummarized comment would’ve been at least three times larger than Ferret’s article. It’s the lack of space. Or something.
        I have no idea who you’re addressing but I think it’s me.
        Maybe write your large comment in fragments?

  4. I may write an article in response to (or expand upon) this in the near future. But one example that clearly comes to mind in recent times is Catherine, which deals with relationships and morality in a much more mature and profound fashion.

  5. Well, to be honest, I agree, it seems like sex is treated poorly in video games. And you’re right, it’s directed at a male audience as some sort of reward. But, I’d just like to say that sex isn’t a NEGATIVE thing to have in games, in fact, it’s quite the opposite, it can be used to create a lot more depth in a plot, in a character relationship and in the overall scheme of things can amplify the connection the player has to the game dramatically. Now, I would like to note that I’ve never seen it applied to a game yet, not to say I’ve played every game that has sex in it, but I would like to see it applied so in an area. Now does that mean I don’t want medieval lizard hookers in Skyrim? No, I still want those.

  6. Just want to point out a few things you forgot to bring up, or outright ignored:

    1. Sex is often depicted in other art forms as well, such as movies and books, for the same reason its in video games: to draw in viewers. Hell, about 1 in every 5 movies that have been released in the last few years featured gratuitous sex scenes or nudity. And when it comes to books, just look at the Game of Thrones series for starters; there’s like 3-4 sex scenes in each book.

    2. For every game like DOA: Xtreme Beach Volleyball, there are games like Halo or The Last of Us. These are games that really show that Video Games are an art form, and these games severely outnumber the games depicting various sex symbols. Those games are the ones that are NOT trying to be an “art form” and are meant to simply just be fun. Is a porno on the same level of art as Citizen Kane? I think not.

    Case and point, don’t just group the whole industry and nick pick here and there for stuff that EVERY “art form” does. You’re the pot calling the kettle black here.

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