Sex in Games

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Dec 11 2010

Recently, Ant sent me this interesting video concerning sex in video games:

The Escapist: Sex in Games

It raises some interesting points, but there are a couple I would like to dispute. Firstly, that sex has yet to be treated in an adult manner in video games. I can think of three examples off the top of my head in which sex is treated in a realistic and, *ahem*, adult manner.

Currently, I have been replaying Grand Theft Auto IV, by Rockstar. Though I am sure many may disagree with me, I would say that sex is treated in a way that is incredibly true to life.

In this game, the main character, Nico Bellic, encounters sex in many different circumstances. In strip clubs, through a variety of relationships, and numerous prostitutes. In the game’s strip clubs, sex is encountered as a cheap thrill. The ladies are scantily clad and the controller vibrates whenever Nico seems to especially be enjoying himself. Though it is definitely pandering and easy titillation in the context of the game, strip clubs are the same thing in real life. Also, the ladies of the strip clubs say things that are intentioned to get more money out of Nico, (even though you can’t tip them), making apparent the transactional nature of sexuality in strip clubs.

There are also numerous prostitutes in game from which Nico can purchase “services”. When the sex with the prostitute occurs, the prostitute says what would be exclamations of a partner’s prowess, that is, if they were not said in such bland and bored tones, exemplifying the sex as meaningless to the prostitute. This is in addition to statements by Nico beforehand that make obvious the lonely and pathetic nature of what he is about to do.

Finally, we get to the several ladies Nico dates in-game. What is interesting is how each character uses sex to further their own agenda. For Nico, the sex itself is its own agenda. For Carmen, sex is a way of keeping the men she believes will help her get the things that she wants, riches and fame. For Kiki, sex has personal meaning, though the attachment she shows during sex does not seem to be due to the relationship she is having, but rather as a means to expunge herself of guilt born out of an obsessive need to take care of others.

What GTA IV accomplishes with these occurrences of sex and sexuality is that people can and do have sex for a myriad of reasons, that may or may not have to do with other person. Sex can, and often is, transactional, a means to an end, or sometimes, sex is its own point.

The earliest of my examples is Phantasmagoria from Sierra Online, a game spearheaded by the pioneering Roberta Williams.

In this game, the player takes the role of Adrienne. Adrienne and her new husband, Don, have moved into an old island mansion, and, after being haunted by strange apparitions, Adrienne is viciously raped by her husband, who has apparently gone mad.

You don’t get much more adult than that.

Though the scene is horrifying and brutal, it is also treated tastefully. There is no nudity, nor are there any attempts at eroticism or cheap thrills. Much like life, the scene is brutish and short.

It, of course, generated its fair share of controversy, but it definitely pushed video games as an art form forward.

The last example I would like to bring forward as far as sex being treated in a serious and adult manner in the non-treversial Mass Effect from our friends at Bioware (I don’t really have any friends at Bioware, but if they would like to be our friend, I would welcome them).

In this game, Bioware makes a sincere attempt at expressing sex as an intimate act. I say attempt only because I did not believe in the intimacy expressed. I feel as though it needed a bit more build-up (say, some light flirtation during the numerous elevator rides) in order to make it truly impactful. Still, I applaud them for doing so.

I have another point that I would like to make about the video, but that will have to wait, as this post has gotten too long as it is.