They coo under the rhythmic thrusts of your fingers, deaf to the heaviness of their own breaths. The three of you are almost there. You tighten your grip, accelerating the movement of your moist fingertips. You slide your thumb over the circle. Then the triangle. Back to the circle. The X. Finally, you wrangle the analog stick like a madman, and their sighs of pleasure reach a fever pitch. Onscreen, a vase on the nightstand next to you tumbles to the ground, shattering. Congratulations; you've achieved orgasm.
All three God of War videogames released to date feature a simple, playable sex scene as a short interlude between bouts of filleting ancient warriors, mythical creatures and spawn from Hades. The first, released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2, allows the Spartan warrior Kratos to stumble upon two women in bed while exploring an enemy-infested ship. Convincing them to let you to join in the fun is as easy as pressing the L1 button. In the second installment, released in the spring of 2007, the action (again, a threesome) takes place in a bathtub, with a replica "Manneken Pis" statue suggesting what is not explicitly shown. (It's a delightful anachronism, considering the God of War series takes place in ancient Greece and the first historical accounts of the statue date back to the medieval Southern Netherlands.) This year, in God of War: Chains of Olympus (a PlayStation Portable title), players can engage in a third threesome, this time with a statue holding a candle providing the innuendo.
"The sex minigame wasn't anything we were going to go huge on," Game Director Cory Barlog told Electronic Gaming Monthly after the release of God of War II. Yet these halfhearted, juvenile forays are the current apogee of playable sexual content in videogames: a simple rhythm game simulating squeezes, strokes and pelvic thrusts through a well-executed series of button presses.
That's mainly because there are so few existing alternatives. According to Brenda Brathwaite, a professor of game design at Savannah College of Art and Design and an expert on the matter of applying sex to videogames, it's by definition a rarity that sexual content finds its way into a mainstream titles such as God of War. That's actually an advantage for some games: Because of the brevity of the sex scenes (they rarely last more than a minute) and the way the developers handled the material, God of War wasn't confronted with the same moral outrage that another videogame - one with more or less the same sexual content - fell subject to only a few months earlier.
"The sex that was included in God of War didn't feel sensationalized; it didn't feel out of place," Brathwaite said during a lecture at the Game Developers Conference two years ago. "The game was not marketed as an adult game, and the sexual content was not picked up by the mainstream media. It went largely unnoticed."