160: Pressing the Right Buttons

Pressing the Right Buttons

"Presenting sex in the context of a mainstream videogame poses unique challenges. It's not a straightforward competition with winners and losers; but the consequences, both positive and negative, can be equally significant and long-lasting. And with the sophistication of current-gen A.I., camera work and gameplay balancing, we're more ready than ever for a game that demonstrates a more complex understanding of sexual encounters than a cut scene could ever present."

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People will see it as pornography. In fact the only reason why western games don't have explict sex is because ESRB exist for nothing. Kids play Halo, GTA, Manhunt and others despite of this tittle is M, because their parents do not care if a game is violent, but if there is sex. Well... Prepare for unforseen consequences.

Sex in games in nonexistent due to western modesty standards. In Japan, sex in games is an outlet of frustration due to years of censorship (or so I understand). We are soon going to be like this. America is going to be come so concerned with one 13 year old seeing or hearing something explicit that we are going to ban everything. Sure, it's going to have an underground following like the bootleggers of yesteryear, but it's still something that's inevitably going to happen on our current route. Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys did some spoken word about this very topic. The western culture is going to become so enveloped with censure that it will forget about the real things: Love. relationships. being able to accurately portray something through a digital or artistic medium. Games will instantly become playing hopscotch on a volcano. You can still play and it might be fun, but we've took the liberty of helping you dodge all the lava.

http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.jsp

A small list of 23 tittles. Most of them recived AO (Adults Only) due to the fact of them have stong sexual content. And only 2 of them were in a home console. Again parents buy games for theirs sons and they prefer to see them playing with violence that being in contact with sexual material.
Ah... Witcher is a recent example. America censored the game, europe didn't.

I would be more interested in a game that grabbed me at the emotional level than just the visceral experience. In other words, it's not the controls that bother me, it's that these are one-dimensional characters I don't care about. Women in games are treated like toys to take out and have sex with (the ones that aren't running around shooting vampires topless anyway).
Now you take Mass Effect, for example; that game made me care about the characters. When the two women confronted me for flirting with both of them, and made me choose, it was unexpected and surprisingly immersive. I *genuinely* felt like an asshole.
No game has ever done that before. That's a step in the right direction.

I think that before we get to sex simunlators like this, one might look into a relationship simulator. That is even way harder then making a good sex simulator. A sex simulaator will easier be seen as pure porno if there isn't too much relationship context.

edit: i suddenly notice how this just sounds like real life sex discussion. Why would we need such games anyways? :p

Interesting article.

Looking aside from mainstream gaming, the Japanese adult game market has, along with the visual novel, the occasional game where you are attempting to pleasure your partner (female, the player is male, almost all the time) by choosing actions (squeeze, rub, kiss, etc) and various parts of the body. Illusion produces a fair few of these in 3D. They don't really have an uncanny-valley effect, as they're not striving for realism, IMHO.

Particularly interesting is their Artificial Girl series, which does attempt to imbue your partner with a certain level of sexual personality. The most recent entry in the series (AG3) introduced personality traits for your artificial girl, controlling likes or dislikes of positions, motions, and other sexual considerations. It's only small, and the genre as a whole is generally balanced towards sex-kitten responses rather than aiming for a real sexual simulation, but it's probably the closest modern commercial gaming gets to the sort of interactive experience you've described.

Then again, if 3feel (Sex-based MMO) has NPCs as well as real people, they might have something similar. I haven't looked to far into it; their promotional stuff's in languages I don't read, and what I get from the pictures implies it's person-to-person (PvP) rather than PvE.

And here you can see how the language of MMO doesn't fit sexual interaction particularly well. I can't say I've ever considered having sex versus someone. (Well, except in the "race to finish" sense, which is not really what we're talking about here.)

Yeah, heard about AG-3. It's probably the closest to a sex simulator you can get, but it's based on male fantasies for the most part, rather than relationships. You could mix something like The Sims with games like AG and you might have something interesting.

Interesting idea, but no no no. Except the obvious ratings issues I wouldn't want to se this in a game. Allowing characters to engage in relationships and eventually have sex is fine, it adds a new emotional level to the game, but a mature audience generally has a pretty good idea of how sex works out, we don't need simulation.

The Mass Effect method of sex was great imo. The facial animations, writing and voice acting allowed you to feel for both your character and those who you engaged in relationships with. Most important of all the sex felt like it was in a proper context, the sex wasn't just a marketing ploy (wasn't just) but furthered the character development and make the whole thing more emotionally engaging.

I'm with sammyfreak on this one.
To develop relationships and engage in sex is a normal part of life and should be portrayed in games where it is plausible to do so. But to turn this into a difficult and comprehensive minigame is unnecessary.

In fact, the whole thing sounds a bit like a MMORPG... The NPC (or AI) has some desires and fantasies that you eventually have to come up to develop a relationship, as you advance through pleasure you earn experience. Either this is grinding or a boring japanese porn-game, and both have the same issue: they turn sex into work, hard work sometimes.
Just to make things clear, mutual pleasure and satisfaction between four walls and a bed is one of the most important things in a good relationship, and it involves some hard work, experimentation and patience, but it has a really pleasuring reward. The only reward I can think in games are those little achievement medals for XBox360 (loverboy achievement: made the girl cum twice), which doesn't compare.

Unless they installed something in my spine to send eletric pulses for some proper result, to have to do the same thing in a game is utterly boring.
Could however work well with puberty and teens to educate them in a more respectful, pleasurable and mutual ways of going to bed, and tell them where do babies come from.

As for examples of good games sex events: Mass Effect and Fahrenheit (or Indigo Prophecy), because it is something that belongs to the whole story and gives some deepness to the characters.

It's an interesting idea, but some of the "major problems" extend to gameplay and design issues as well. As Deneen himself put it, the simulation aspect of sex as suggested (rather the lack thereof) is simply too much to be placed in the context of the typical game. It's probably an acknowledgment that gaming is a young still immature medium, but it must be said that for the most part such detail isn't appropriate to spend time and critical resources on.

Perhaps in the future when more relationship-focused games come out, the sorts of games with advanced character interactions (Mass Effect's "tone-based" dialog tree doesn't count) would make this kind of action more warranted, but until that time, a cutscene or fade-out does just fine.

Sex in video games is, in my humble opinion, a redundant concept in this generation of gamers. In the past games were the province of the nerd or geek. They were more cerebral and required a lot more invested time, and as such were not played by jocks, for want of a better word, as they had sports, girls and cars to occupy their time. Gamers are different now. I don't know when it happened, but somewhere down the line games became 'cool'.
Playing video games doesn't impair your chances of getting a girl (two of my friends have girlfriends that actually sit there and watch them play) so the relevance to the target audience wouldn't exist as games are a form of escapism.

In short anybody buying a game with sex mechanics as part or all of the game would feel like they couldn't get any themselves automatically creating a stigma akin to buying pornography, even if it technically wasn't.

Just to pre-empt a few possible questions:

Yes I have bought pornography; Yes it was because I couldn't get any; and yes I do realise girls play games to, I just assumed this particular subject was probably not going to be of interest to them.

I dunno...a sex & relationship simulator within the game? Convincing women to sleep with me in the real world is enough work without making a game out of it. I think the Guitar Hero counter-argument would inevitably come up.

Which, naturally, means you'd make millions. The real question is if you need to add plastic peripherals.

CatmanStu:
two of my friends have girlfriends that actually sit there and watch them play

The sad thing is, you make it sound like these girlfriends are somehow extra specially cool.

Don't you have any friends whose girlfriends have knocked them completely off the highscore chart? Or maybe friends whose boyfriends sit there and watch them play?

Still, it serves as an important reminder to those of us in the developed world how far behind some cultures really are in terms of social progress.

Interesting article. I can't help but relate it to my experiences with running persistent worlds for NWN(1&2), which are like a mini MMO. In particular how players' characters develop relationships, some to the extent of role playing their sexual encounters within the relationship. Others choose to not role play that element, taking the 'lets not and say we did' approach. The sexual activity takes place in text chat and the game play mechanics of sex are not needed, it all takes place in the imagination.

I am of the second group. In depth role playing effects your emotions, something funny in game makes you laugh in real life, something scary makes you jump, and some thing sensual can get you excited. While some people enjoy the cybersex (and I have tried it), I recognise that this is a game, also that the emotional attachments can be real, I feel uneasy with the concept ofhaving sex online with someone who is not my partner.

Being a referee in a persistent world, and therefor invisible to all players, I can be the ultimate voyeur. It's very interesting to watch people, from a psychological point of view, when they interact. I have to slip away and give them their privacy if sex starts, as I wouldnt want anyone watching me if I was having sex in the real world.

This all 'muddies the water' on the topic of sex and interactivity and censorship. I don't imagine actually doing or wanting to do violent behaviour in real life when playing a game, but the area of sex is different as it does cross over easily into the real world.

Dom Camus:

CatmanStu:
two of my friends have girlfriends that actually sit there and watch them play

The sad thing is, you make it sound like these girlfriends are somehow extra specially cool.

Don't you have any friends whose girlfriends have knocked them completely off the highscore chart? Or maybe friends whose boyfriends sit there and watch them play?

Still, it serves as an important reminder to those of us in the developed world how far behind some cultures really are in terms of social progress.

Actually, the sad thing is that you concentrated on the most irrelevant part of the comment and turned it into a post feminist sociological comment.

I was not making these girls out to be exceptionally cool or paragons of girlfriendly virtue, I was, and am still, confused as to why, when they could be doing something more interesting, they are sat watching someone play a video game. In context with the post I made, think back to the eighties, when games were considered nerdy, and try to picture somebodies girlfriend doing the same thing. It was not about how girls view games, it was about how girls view gamers.

slimer:

I am of the second group. In depth role playing effects your emotions, something funny in game makes you laugh in real life, something scary makes you jump, and some thing sensual can get you excited. While some people enjoy the cybersex (and I have tried it), I recognise that this is a game, also that the emotional attachments can be real, I feel uneasy with the concept ofhaving sex online with someone who is not my partner.

This definitely made me think; what would the gamers' girlfriends say about a game that allowed for interactive humping? Even if it isn't cybersex, but rather with an AI in the game, I can't imagine too many women being thrilled about their boyfriends neglecting them to please a virtual partner. I think Mass Effect (I didn't play Indigo Prophecy) took in-game sex as far as it could tastefully go. To take it any further would relegate games and gamers (or at least people's perception of them) back to a source of entertainment for creeps and loners.

This article would have been a lot more well-composed and thought-out if the writer play more hentai games. Hentai is a major genre of game in japan for decades and just think about the number of different things they must've tried in that time. Not only that, think about the number sex-centric games that have been released to retail, played by real people, and commented/discussed. If anyone is anywhere near interested in making theories about sex/relationship simulators, they really need to jump into this sea of real-life data that very few people in this part of the world touch.

CatmanStu:

Playing video games doesn't impair your chances of getting a girl (two of my friends have girlfriends that actually sit there and watch them play) so the relevance to the target audience wouldn't exist as games are a form of escapism.

I can't actually hump an blue alien catgirl.

Edited to be more succinct.

I remember the playable and non-playable sex scenes in Fahrenheit were both ridiculous.

It's interesting that people keep bringing up Mass Effect as an example of how it was done "well". I suppose it's a difference in how one chooses to play the game, but I was focused on completing the mission. When the Asari chick kept telling me she had "feelings" for me, I almost laughed. It seemed so out of place. (It didn't help that I found Shepard's male voice to be rather flat and uninteresting in his line delivery.) I just wanted to get back to exploring planets and fighting bad guys.

I also knew, from reading around the internet ahead of time, that the upcoming scene in question wasn't going to be an interactive pornanza. Maybe that colored my expectations a bit, that seeing "it's not that big a deal" made me care less.

But in any case, I didn't get anything out of the relationship scene. I felt more emotionally torn deciding to let the Rachni queen live or die.

Although I also remember feeling a little more emotion trying to decide between the pilot and the porn star/mechanic in Wing Commander III.

A sex mini-game is like Wii motion control, without some sort of phyiscal feedback it's fairly pointless.

I actually managed to try the infamous "Hot Coffee" mod in GTA:SA to see what the fuss was about. The game didn't actually work but it looked like it used roughly the same mechcanics as the Low rider/Dancing minigame. (Rhythm-based quick time events)

Sex, as "mainstream game play" only works if you have some desire to be a Porn director. I think there was a game called "Playboy: The Mansion" that tried this but it wasn't executed very well.

Michael Deneen:
Pressing the Right Buttons

"Presenting sex in the context of a mainstream videogame poses unique challenges. It's not a straightforward competition with winners and losers; but the consequences, both positive and negative, can be equally significant and long-lasting. And with the sophistication of current-gen A.I., camera work and gameplay balancing, we're more ready than ever for a game that demonstrates a more complex understanding of sexual encounters than a cut scene could ever present."

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Your suggestions just appear crude and tasteless. What would be the point in the game, you'd simply be taking a type of 'Rythm matching'/RPG and 'applying' it to sex.

You are also failing to address the broad spectrum of sexuality and behaviour from destructive relationships to invigorating and empowering flings. Why should everything be about a developed relationship and "both" parties. What about homosexuality, onanism, gender and all the other subjects that don't fit in a nice little typecast box of 'Sex'? What you suggest just doesn't represent life and the complexities of sex.

Am I...the only one who didn't take this seriously? No offense to the writer if this was meant seriously, but the idea sounds absurd, even intentionally ridiculous at times.

L.B. Jeffries:
I dunno...a sex & relationship simulator within the game? Convincing women to sleep with me in the real world is enough work without making a game out of it. I think the Guitar Hero counter-argument would inevitably come up.

Which, naturally, means you'd make millions. The real question is if you need to add plastic peripherals.

zingy zing?

Well, button-mashing silliness aside, I think sex could be an interesting gameplay mechanic. Or rather the games we play around sex.

In an RPG I can certainly imagine seducing an important character and giving her (insert him as you wish) the "right stuff" in an interactive R-rated kind of dialogue/cut-scene. Maybe she likes it a bit rough, if you want some controversy and news exposure. Perhaps a way of solving a particular quest would be to seduce a character and sweep her off her feet. Bioware seem to talk about making choices that matter and having consequences. Admirable as that aspiration is, I rarely seem to actually find those in games. An ex-girlfriend. How's that for consequences? Maybe an angry ex-girlfriend that looks like Carrie Fisher. With a flame thrower.

Among other things, sex in real life is used as a means to power and that certainly is something that could become a gameplay mechanic. I'm thinking Fable 2 but without the sword/gunplay action, where the seducing and marrying would be the gameplay (and wouldn't involve simple bribes). Maybe some political intriuge on top of that. Screw your way to the top in a court of nobles. Kind of a different type of conquest than gamers are used to, hehe. Could work if someone was crazy enough to do it, no?

I didn't think it would be possible to make sex sound like it wasn't fun but... this approach to sex sounds boring.

Might as well complain that the average game seems to sidetrack the issue of "eating", whereas with proper thought about the gameplay we could have a wonderful cooking simulator that involved whipping cream, battering up fish, and smoothly spreading thick bechamel sauce over meaty lasagna.

And then onto the actual eating, where you have to find your mouth with your fork, while maintaing eye contact with whoever you're talking to. And then move your jaws in a manner that will grind down the food, but without applying too much pressure to the teeth or the food, and keeping the tongue out of the way of the teeth. With force feedback. And a health bar for the food, teeth and tongue. And the ability to squirt saliva so that the food get mushier. And then a timing mechanism for swallowing, allowing you to get the food down the right hole.

Frankly, I don't want a mature approach to sex from games. I want a mature approach to people and relationships. The rest is just organics.

I'll stick to real world sex to be honest, its a lot simpler and theres no loading times

 

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