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About a week ago, Dan Houser, co-founder of Rockstar games, said in an interview with the Guardian that during the “Hot Coffee” scandal of 2005 “We never felt that we were being attacked for the content, we were being attacked for the medium, which felt a little unfair. If all of this stuff had been put into a book or a movie, people wouldn’t have blinked an eye. And there are far bigger issues to worry about in society than this.” The whole thing about sex and sexuality in video games has always been issue, and while the intensity of just how much of an issue it is has changed for better or worse, it has always been there. I’ve pondered this again and again but never really found the right words for it, but Dan Houser saying that they were being attacked for being in a video game was just what got me thinking harder.
When sex was in the movie industry, it caused quite a stir, and gaming, being the new medium for mainstream entertainment, it only makes sense if it gets the same treatment. It’s part of it growing up and being accepted.
At first the concern was for children because it was generally believed that video games were for kids only. That was sensible, but it’s now common knowledge that the average gamer is in their 30s, and that no retailer will sell M rated games to kids anyway, and that sexually explicit adult games are all rated AO and can’t even be purchased physically. Hell, the only M-rated game I can think of that was trying to market itself to kids was Dead Space 2 with its “Your mom’s not gonna like it” ads, and that’s only if you see it in the same light as “your moms not gonna like it” gross-out toys that are sold to young boys.
I think the real reason there’s such a fuss about sex in games is because of player interaction. Think about it; an online purchase only adult game where you make customizable characters fornicate through menu buttons and settings is going to be far less controversial then an a store bought M rated game where there are sex scenes where the camera pans away while doing a QTE to the sound of moaning.
After all, the main distinction of video games is the player-avatar interaction. You’ve seen two girls one cup, right? Don’t lie I know you have. Well, imagine instead of watching it, you had to control one of the girls (no, i’m not saying which one.). Yeah, that’s why sex in games is a big deal; your not just viewing or reading it, you’re actively participating. It’s the difference between reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and writing while on drugs in Las Vegas yourself.
Still, it’s not like every sex related thing in a game is going to be another fit the “ban games” crowd throws; sex is a part of life, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a part of our entertainment as long there are boundaries, which there are. Paid cable channels like HBO can air shows like Hung and Spartacus, erotic comics and novels can be purchased by adults with ID, and adult films can be aired on pay-per-view. As of right now, the adult game Bonetown can be played online with a purchase that only adults can make, and adult Second Life players who pay for membership can access 18+ locations, character animations and body customizations, while store bought games like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophacy can have non explicit sex scenes between main characters that are romantic and for story purposes and character relationship developments, the same way they are in books and movies, and at the same time non sexual eye candy games like DOA gives its audience what it wants without nudity, and sex and nudity mods aren’t even made by the games creators themselves but by adults fans for adult fans and none of them are hurting anyone.
So listen mainstream culture, you don’t have to put chastity belts on us, we’re mature enough to know to keep it in our pants when we should.