If you canít do sex right, donít do it at all. Thatís why I donít do sex, and thatís why developers shouldnít either.
Iím no prude, sex is a natural part of life and an unavoidable storytelling device, the thing is I donít think gaming can handle it well, I donít think thatís going to change in the foreseeable future, and I donít really think thatís a problem either. Are sex scenes ever necessary in a game? Can you name one game, just one game, that has done a full on sex scene well, one game where it makes sense in context, adds something meaningful thematically or storywise and is handled tastefully? I canít.
Heavy Rain was so desperate to seem grown up that it shoved in an unnecessary sex scene while the main characterís son was still in immediate danger. God of Warís Kratos is a on an unstoppable rampage of vengeance fuelled by pure hatred and rage, except when he breaks character to have sex, sex we have to QTE our way through in exchange for red orbs. Iíve only seen one game with sex scenes that are there to actually convey something to the player, The Ballad of Gay Tony, and the only thing those gratuitous scenes are there to say is ďLuis definitely isnít gay, guysĒ because Rockstar knew GTAís core audience wouldnít take kindly to that.
Even with Hot Coffee you at least bought them dinner...
Now, donít get me wrong, Iím not saying sex should never be addressed, alluded to or implied in a game, Iím just saying thereís nothing to be gained from showing it. The fact that the two characters are going through with the act says all that needs to be said, all you have to do is make sure the player knows whatís happening and fade to black. Developers,fading to black is your best friend
when it comes to this sort of thing. Plenty of games include sex without needing to show it, the Persona games only need imply whatís going on, Mass Effect canít seem to make its mind up but generally fades away before things get too steamy, Catherine Ė the sexy-sexy sex game about sexy sex Ė doesnít have a single sex scene in it. Even Falloutís encounter with Fisto the sexbot is handled with more tact that Far Cry 3.
Besides, few things are more immersion breaking than seeing uncanny valley faces affect a look of ďecstasyĒ, and I donít think using L.A. Noireís expression capturing technology to replicate the perfect O-face is going to be any less disturbing. Not to mention that games are so bombastic and full of grandiose these days that a sex scene isnít much more than a drop in the bucket. You want to show that two characters care for each other? You need to show some subtlety, have them sit on a couch and order pizza, a kiss on the forehead can say more than a romp in the bedroom.
But hey, if this screams romance to you who am I to judge?
Iím not saying games shouldnít be able to have sex scenes. I believe gaming as a medium should have the freedom to tackle anything it wants, but if you were to ask on an individual basis, should this game have a sex scene? I will tell you no. Confusing isnít it? Some people may think that games need to portray sexual relationships if they ever want to be seen as mature. I think those people need to grow up. Sex is not the be-all, end-all of a mature relationship. Nathan Drake and Elena for example, make a great couple because they have chemistry, they bicker and joke, the second game closes with Elena teasing Drake over crying and his fear of clowns, thatís
a real relationship.
And on top of all of that, games are still a relatively new medium, weíre still figuring things out. What applies in other media doesnít necessarily translate well into ours, in a movie sex is a thing between two characters, with a game you have to consider player agency, choice and consequence, what type of story youíre telling, the creators vision and whether it conflict with the players intentions Ė itís already a mess before you throw in a sex scene.
So for now, I think games just need to learn to fade to black.
And for the love of God donít make it interactive because...no. Just, no.