Welcome! Why don't you come into the kitchen and pull up a chair. Would you like some coffee? It's freshly brewed. The cups are over in the cupboard to the right. It's serve yourself around this household, after all I'm not your maid. So I invited you over because I thought we'd have a little talk about sex in video games. I'm not talking about nudity, like looking at Laura Croft's pixel boobs, or Cleopatra's giant bosom in which babies were emitted in Dante's Inferno. Oh don't give me that innocent and confused look like you don't know what I'm talking about. It was weird! Seriously. Flying babies and tongues. What the hell were those people thinking! But I digress, for what I'm talking about is the actual act of having sex in video games.
Just mentioning the word sex can result in some pretty funny reactions from people. You sometimes get the previously mentioned reaction of confusion; disbelief that the topic is being brought up. Direct eye contact is broken, you notice slight blushing, and you can tell the person is uncomfortable with the conversation before even knowing in which direction you'll be taking it. Then you have people who are completely comfortable talking about sex. They'll talk openly about it, crack a few jokes, and sometimes tell you amazing stories in which you can turn around at a later date and embarrass the hell out of them. That's always fun. Especially when there's drinking involved. And let's not forget the children. Talking to your parents about sex is usually one of the most uncomfortable situations to be put in as a child. Sure, you've talked about it with your friends, often picking up false information along the road, and you've seen it on the internet, on the TV, and read about it in books. But that first time your parents sit you down for the "talk" all you can think about is running in the other direction.
Now I'm sure everyone's familiar at this point with the segment by Fox News that opened with "Se" Xbox? New Video Game Features Full Digital Nudity."
The game they were talking about, of course, was Mass Effect. As an adult gamer and parent I loved that segment! It's probably one of my favorite Fox News segments of all time. And I still giggle when I remember my 15-year-old son throwing his hands in the air and literally yelling, "OH NO! I MIGHT SEE SOMETHING THAT WAS ON TV LAST NIGHT!" I especially love the comment that stated, "In some parts of this you'll see full digital nudity. And the ability for the players to engage in graphic sex and the person who's playing the game gets to decide exactly what's going to happen between the two people, if you know what I mean..."
No, I didn't know what they meant. I mean, I envisioned several different options that ranged from steamy hot sex in the elevator, thus relieving the boredom of the loading screen, to kicking Jacob out of my bedroom (completely aroused, mind you) as payback for all the effort I had to put into getting him there in the first place. What? Do you know how many times I had to talk to that man? Every time I talked to him it seemed my female Shepard was practically willing to lay right down on that table she was leaning against and spread her legs! Was he interested at all the first 20 times of doing it? Hell no! Bastard! But to be serious, that was some very bad voice acting there. I expected it to be done better, considering the other interactions she had with squad members were top notch.
Every now and then the media will come along and raise a fuss over sexual activity in our beloved video games. Parents and church groups will protest, and we'll all stand ready to defend our mature rated games and our rights to them. Now I'm not sure if it's because I'm older or the fact that I'm a parent, but my curiosity peeked (that and I get bored easily) and I decided to ask people of different ages what they thought of sex in games geared toward adults only. I got some interesting results, however, if I were to break it down into two groups, I found that the older the person was the less they liked the idea of sexual activity in video games, where as 20 to 30-year-olds were more accepting. Yes, I know. Hell of a find, right Sherlock? I mean considering that there's a large number of 20 to 30-year-old gamers in this day and age. But my questioning did pay off as I received some great feedback from people in their 60's and 70's as to why they thought M rated games shouldn't exist.
One lady I questioned told me, "My generation wouldn't have kept filth like that in the house. Porn doesn't belong in games for children."
Porn? Well we all know for the longest time video games have been associated with children, but I hadn't specified what kind of sexual activity, yet immediately she assumed I'm talking R rated just because I mentioned a game targeted for adults. But maybe she's right. Remember the beloved Atari 2600? Of course you do, and if you don't all I have to say is pfft...you call yourself a gamer? Now some disgruntled employees of Atari Inc. would end up leaving the company and venture off to form their own independent software companies. In fact Activision, the most prominent of those third-party developers was formed in 1979.
But a little company named Mystique came along and produced a number of pornographic games for the 2600. They developed a controversial little game called Custer's Revenge
that was released in 1982. Yep, there be sexual activity in that game, my friend. Mystique was criticized over it appearing to be rape. They were attacked by women's rights groups, Native American groups, and even a group called Women Against Pornography. What did all that do for the game? Well it sold over 80,000 copies of the crap little game; more copies than the company's other two games, Bachelor Party and Beat Em' & Eat Em'. Hey, I don't
know, and I'm not sure I
want to! Go find out about the other two on your own time, you little freak..
Now you have me rambling again. Why don't you go and grab us a couple beers out of the fridge. Make sure you take the cheap stuff, since you were to damn inconsiderate to pour a second cup of coffee for me earlier. Where was I? Ah, yes. So I can see how she related an M rated game for adults with pornography, even though there may not be anything that risque to see. I still remember my own grandmother telling me to stay out of the one desk drawer because that's where grandpa kept his "mature" stuff. I'd later find out that his mature stuff consisted mainly of old adult cartoon books and shot glasses. They were pretty funny. I still have one somewhere. The cartoon books that is. I know perfectly well where all the shot glasses are.
One other response I got from a younger man, a man in his 30's, was that maybe if developers wouldn't try to hide mature content in games it would be more acceptable. Let's bring up GTA: San Andreas and the little sex scene more notably know as The Hot Coffee
. This mini game was inaccessible under normal play in the 2004 release of the game. However, in 2005 the mod to enable it gained public awareness, and boy what a shit storm of controversy came down over it. Suddenly the ESRB, The Federal Trade Commission, Hillary Clinton - hell, even an 85-year-old grandmother, (who filed a lawsuit) went after Rockstar. Hot Coffee is still referenced in Rockstar's 2008 release of Grand Theft Auto IV, but there are no mods for it like in San Andreas..... or are there? Hmmm...
So we keep pushing for more adult themes in video games, but the industry really hasn't done a very good job of representing us in the past. And although most of the time the media makes a mountain out of a mole hill, like in the case of Mass Effect, it's the past examples that still leave a tainted mark on the industry's record. I should note that I'm for adult themes and sexual activity in video games that are rated M. I would not rise up, torch in hand and chant, "Down with Duke Nukem!" I feel it has a right to exist. I would hope, however, that the industry delivers better quality games in the future as it pushes towards more mature content in games. Until that time, when yet another reporter feels the need to stir the pot and get everyone's attention back to saving our children from the vulgarities of the world, we'll have to be ready to stand our ground and fight back for our rights. And the parent's can go to bed at night and feel proud that even if they don't know who their child is sexting with, they at least know there's sexual content in video games. Amen.
I am still curious though. What do you think of sex in video games? Do you think it belongs or should it be left out? And where do you think developers should take it? What would you like to see? More important - what are you still doing here? Do you have any idea what time it is? I do have a life you know. Get the hell out of my kitchen, and put that coffee cup in the dishwasher and the beer bottle in the trash. I've already told you I'm not your maid!