Can video games be sexy?
I'd say yes, but as of yet I feel we have yet to realize the full scope of sexual themes in video games --for those of you citing God of War, or DoA, go home. Seriously, video game culture is one that has yet to realize it's full potential; stunted sexually by the boys
in charge of portraying it.
As a regular human being, I must say that it can be atrocious seeing the way developers choose to portray women in certain franchises (Lollipop Chainsaw, any "Team Ninja Title"), or just about any game in general, and even though our games have grown in complexity, their maturity has yet to come to gestation. Harking back to the days of "Custer's Revenge" where the premise was to rape a native woman, to the gratuity of games like God of War's sex quick time events or "Way of the Samurai: 4's" "Night Crawling" sub-missions, sex as an idea has been handled immaturely in video games. Arguments can be made in favour of sexuality as a plot device, such as in "Heavy Rain", but in general games fall short of "sexy" and wind up just plain trashy.
But who is to blame? And why?
To answer this question I think we need to take a step back and examine the stereotypes and archetypes that surround game culture; that means us, the gamers. While some of us have no problems merging with the real world, finding partners and "growing up" --for lack of a better expression; it is often the handful who are left behind that go on to produce the games we enjoy today. The "harder than hardcore gamers", the guys who get just as into learning to dev, as they do watching hentai porn and disassociating themselves from the world. That is, we have an entire sub-culture, who often times wind up placing themselves smack dab in the center of what it is we consume with a distorted taste of the real world. Merge that with video gaming's emphasis on not-so spectacular story telling and you are cursed with a recipe for disaster.
If you think that surely it isn't just the above contributing to the rampant sexual deviancy in mature video game titles, you are not entirely wrong. Let's not discount the fact that sex sells, and it appeals especially to the Alpha hetero-sexual male demographic; that is, the ones who consume the majority of AAA title games. The fact that I have not seen a nipple in the Call of Duty Franchise, both impresses and amazes me, but it is these same men who are less interested in the plot of video games, and would sooner cast a romantic interest into the sub-plot than have it as a prevalent factor in video game story lines. I mean seriously, who wants to have to work or invest emotionally in a video game when gratuity is an option readily available on the table.
But how can we fix it?
Well, to put it simply, we need to encourage portrayal of romance, and intimacy in video games in a way that is both tasteful, but genuinely appealing. We need to ease off of the Michael Bay-isms and into a more human approach to not only romance, but story-telling in video games as a whole. Much like in real life, character development and forging relationships with our PC's and NPC's that are fulfilling, not cheesy, and most of all not sleezy. It is a fine line to walk for sure, but not one that has not been accomplished (asian interactive novels come to mind); and that is fundamentally secured by the narrative of a video game. Can video games be sexy? Yes? Do we need to re-establish the ways we view women, romance, and intimacy in the video games we play? Definitely.