Video games, these lovely inventions that I call video games have been around for quite a while now and are even starting to explore some pretty mature, interesting and deep themes but the thing is, this all draws controversy from the people who still think of gaming as something for ten year olds to do to pass the time between school, homework and sleep. I am not one of those people and so I take it upon myself to explain to the masses that not only should they stop buying 18 rated games for their children but also that games can cover the topic of sex, eventually.
Living in the UK, my country doesn't have as much of a taboo of sex as America does, in fact most of the outrage over here comes from the violence in video games debate and sex gets a bit of a free ride. This contrast of culture is really interesting because while across the pond, games like Mass Effect get attacked not only for its violence but for the brief snippets of side-boob that people call sex scenes. I remember back when GTA IV was released and the English press was making a big deal about being able to pay for a prostitute and then kill her to get your money back. Sorry I am going off on a tangent what I mean to say with these comments is that while video games get grief for trying to portray these subjects, they don't give them the attention they deserve, these subjects never get the breathing space to be truly deep and interesting topics and are usually titillation for the male gamer.
Have I ever been turned on by a video game? Only once, and I believe there seems to be only one game that I have played that has approached sex (not relationships) in a deep and mature way, visual novel Katawa Shoujo. I played this game with a totally open mind, interested in the hype surrounding it and like in every game where I have to make choices I played as myself. There was one girl, surrounded with mystery that intrigued me, Hanako. I started talking with Hanako like I would any other girl, slowly pursuing her becoming more and more interested in her as a person. The closer our characters became the more I personally felt affection towards Hanako and this grew.
I played the game as I would approach the situation myself and in my time with the game I grew to love Hanako. Now I had never been turned on by animations before but during one of the most romantic, warm and heartfelt moments I have ever happened to witness in a game I had sex with Hanako. It wasn't the most graphic, though you could see everything, it wasn't the virtual penis going into the virtual vagina that turned me on, it was the passion that I personally felt for Hanako, the feeling that I was actually having sex with a girl that I loved.
This may seem soppy or lonely to some of the more normal people out there and yes I have had real relationships, real girlfriends and real sex but Hanako felt like a real person to me.
I think that's what I'm trying to get at. While I may have been Commander Shepard, Grey Warden, Ethan Mars or whoever else I've managed to be or control while having awkward simulated sex with an in game character, they have all meant nothing. Liara was nothing more than a blue video game character to me, I never loved her or felt that she was a real person. Shepard may have loved Liara but I didn't and so in every sex scene the two have, throughout all 3 games in that series I felt nothing.
Real, meaningful, deep sex in video games does not exist without characters that feel human, characters that you love. Hanako was someone special to me and to many people but while I'm almost certain that my take on love before sex is an unusual and unpopular one I promise you, if real, romantic sex was to be interesting and affecting in video games, the characters having it have to matter more than the sex itself.