[Disclaimer: This blog does not represent the views or opinions of Enkido as he exists in a sane state and he cannot be held responsible for the content expressed in this article. For real, as a 20 year old college student he has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to sex. Also, cocks.]
With the obligatory double entendre taken care of we're off to a good start. Now to just set the mood.
Thank you Mr.White
Now, on to the topic at hand. Sex in video games is awkward. Not only awkward to see, but awkward in it's implementation as well. Including it in a game, in just about any form barring an implied fade to black, is grounds for an immediate M rating by the ESRB, or just about any other ratings board in the world. As such, many games tend to shy away from the subject all together. It used to be that video games were seen as the entertainment for children, especially boys. Well, that was a while ago, and many of the people who grew up with video games did just that, they grew up. Part of growing up is maturity and addressing adult themes, sex being one of them, and game developers have realized that there is an audience for mature titles. Yet when games do decide to address the subject of sex, it is usually not with a level of maturity that the subject tends to mandate. Sure games are getting better about it, with games like Heavy Rain bringing a more tactful and mature handling of sex to the medium, but these games are few and far between. That and there are games like Bayonetta, which although I would never say it is a bad game and does not contain a dedicated sex scene, most definitely does not handle sexuality, or female protagonists for that matter, in a tactful way. In the end it will be very difficult to overcome this problem because of the stigmas that are associated with it and the awkwardness of the subject at hand.
Awkward. I could see this happening in a video game too. (thanks to XKCD)
Honestly, you can't win, because you know as soon as that sex scene starts your sibling/parents/spouse/roommate will unfailingly choose to enter the room at exactly that moment, and then what do you do? What if you lock yourself in the room while you watch? Well, now you just locked yourself in a room to watch a sex scene in a video game. It's a no win situation. It's awkward. In my opinion that shouldn't be a surprise either. Sex is a weird subject to talk about, ultimately because it is a very personal and intimate subject. Don't believe me? How many kids have had "the talk" with their parents and how many parents have done so with their kids? Just by saying "the talk" you already know what I'm referring to, and it remains an almost taboo subject. It is a mature subject and one that we tend to shy away from when interacting with others. And now video games, a medium not well known for it's emotional stimulation, is trying to tackle the subject. It's about as awkward as trying to unhook a bra for the first time while inebriated.
I believe that video games should focus on mastering simpler emotions before trying to tackle sex. Lets face it, our favorite medium does not do a very good job of inciting actual emotion in a player. There are some rare exceptions, as there are wont to be with anything of this nature, but as a whole, the medium has yet to mature in this aspect. To believe that they could tackle the multitude of emotions that are involved in sex, at least the ones your mother would approve of, is very hard to do. I do believe that story writers for video games can do it but the fact remains that they haven't yet. Will they eventually? Probably, but story writers need to focus on creating emotion inducing moments, before attempting to use sex. Otherwise it just makes sex into a substitute for real emotion.
There are two problems that I believe hurt the use of sex in video games the most. The first is what I am going to call "Assurance of Victory." Imagine with me, a game is announced and it is discovered that sex and relationships will be part of that game. Now there are a couple of things that you can immediately assume. One of these is that your decisions will affect the game that you are playing. Another is that you will be able to form relationships with characters in the story. However, what a majority of you will first assume is that you will, at some point in the game, be bumping uglies with one of your team members. Admit it, if the developers say that sex is part of a game, you already know that should you choose to pursue it your victory is basically assured. This could be as simple as picking up a hooker in a GTA game, or more complicated like in a Bioware title. Either way, the fact that your character is gonna get some is guaranteed. This immediately devalues the act, as it is never that simple in real life. In the game you have your pick of the litter, you choose who to pursue, and while you have that choice in real life, your success is in no way assured as it is in a game.
Those of you who read this far deserve an intermission.
How wonderfully relevant.
The other problem is what I call the "End All." In games that involve sex, at least simulated meaningful sex, not hooker sex, it seems that when the player decides to pursue a relationship with another character, sex is treated as the end all of that relationship. As you get farther and farther along in the dialogue with that character, the option for sex becomes not only inevitable but even unavoidable at times. While in real life sex will eventually become a part of the discussion in a relationship, the fact remains that there is still more to be discussed afterwords, oftentimes much more. Adversely, in most video games when the deed has been done, there is often very little to discuss afterwords. Why would you, you have already reached the pinnacle of the relationship, the end all, why would you need to continue? As many of you well know, sex is not the end all as it is portrayed in most games and that is a major problem that video games face as a medium when it comes to sex.
What to say now? Well there is always room to discuss those games that have dared to attempt this confusing subject. There are games that do not treat sex with such importance or seriousness, including game like GTA and some others. There are the games by our crazy friends in the land of the rising sun that deal only with relationships and sex (dating sims), but in my opinion these despite being the core mechanic of these games, I believe they do the greatest disservice to the subject, mostly because of the "Assurance of Victory" and "End All" thingies I mentioned earlier. There is Dead or Alive: Paradise, but as you all know that isn't about sex as much as portraying the beauty of the female body. Of course there are the Bioware games, which seem to be the best that we have in regards to serious relationships and sex in video games. However, saying that Bioware's handling of sex in video games is good is like saying that someone who beat a bunch of above the knee amputees in a race is good at running because they have legs. However, there is one game that I believe does a pretty good job of depicting sex and I will say that it is a Bioware game. Any guesses? Dragon Age, maybe? No. Mass Effect 2? Try again. It has to be Mass Effect then, right? Wrong again. The game I am referring to is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you may remember it. But wait Enkido, KOTOR doesn't have a sex scene. Exactly, just watch this.
Okay, follow me now, your character can take on a group of people that can shoot lightning from their hands, drain the life out of people, and carry weapons that can cut though anything with no effort in a four on one fight and easily come out on top. He can lift a tank with his mind and throw it like it's a toy. He has made every right choice and has done nothing to offend his lady or any other such thing. For Christs sake the man glows with a saintly blue light. And what is the result? Essentially he is left standing there, dumbfounded, I imagine with his junk flapping in the wind. Yeah, relationships are complicated like that, and this is by no means far fetched.
So sex in video games, although beginning to be explored, is still a very long way to accurately depicting the actual nuances of the topic. When it is used it is more of as a substitute for emotion rather than a result of emotion. The use of sex in video games no doubt has some issues to work out before it is able to portray sex as a meaningful action in games. As it stands now this is still a fairly new subject for video games to address. They have visually believable characters, but what they lack is emotionally believable characters, and until they have both, sex in video games will continue to be nothing more than a ploy.