Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sex, Guys and Video Games, Part 2

Last time, you remember, we left my husband Davie engrossed in another fun evening of playing his computer game, “The Witcher.”

I stopped in for a visit to the bedroom and observed my usual minute or two of game-playing, then asked him some typically inane questions like “Is that a wyvern?” and “Are there any cats in this game?” Davie answered me patiently as always. Then he remarked, “You know what’s interesting about this game? I’m allowed to have sex with any named character except Carmen, and I only want to have sex with Carmen.”

Typical of a guy, hey? It’s the unattainable chick that gets his interest.

Suddenly I realized that by grilling Davie with questions about the sex in this game, I could probably get a new and interesting peek into the male psyche. So I did, and I did, and here are the highlights:

Carmen, in being off-limits, is the ultimate in desirability. Carmen is the madam of the local house of prostitution. Having completed a favor for her (he got rid of some thug), all Davie has to do to hire any of the ladies is to give that girl flowers. (Imagine if Vegas operated like this. Bad for pimps, good for florists.) Just to clarify, Carmen’s pretty hot, but so are many of the other characters. There’s just something irresistible about the forbidden. And meanwhile, guys--being competitive--just love whatever they have to work at to win.

Archetypes are at play. Davie was fine with helping out Carmen--he loves doing nice things for pretty women. But he has no interest in hanging with the ho’s. It doesn’t matter what they look like in the game, it’s what they represent: and Davie has never liked obviously seductive types. He’s the kind to prefer a girl who wears an oversized tee shirt to bed over a Victoria’s Secret model. So not being into the prostitute archetype, he just says no. Now another game player who’s into dirty girls might take a different tack. It’s whatever floats your boat, in games or in real life.

But curiosity trumps all. Davie’s not into in-your-face seductresses, so he doesn’t like vampire ladies much either. However, given the opportunity to do the deed with three vampire chicks, he thought, “Heck, why not?” He just wanted to see how it would all go down. (I guess it was a bit disappointing.) In fact, curiosity was what first convinced Davie to see what sex in the game was like. His first opportunity was with a character named Triss, and Triss was hot, so he thought, why not find out what it’s like? Curiosity is a big motivator with guys in general; it’s why they are so inexplicably tormented by not knowing what everyone’s breasts in the world look like naked.

A relationship does really mean something. There is one character in the game who really does establish a romance with our alter ego/hero Geralt: Shani. She was the second character who “offered herself,” and the fact that Davie had gotten to know her, and she was nice, and she liked him, definitely increased his interest.

Being a rescuer stirs the libido. Davie also admitted that doing helpful acts for female characters works as an aphrodisiac. It wasn’t Carmen’s inaccessibility alone that drew him to her; he confessed he didn’t have an interest until after he performed that favor for the madam. That relationship also made her more real and less a “shady lady” to him. Generally speaking, having performed the “knight in shining armor” function for a girl made him more interested in making love to her.

It’s not so much conquest as accomplishment. As I explained in my previous post, in this game, when you have sex with a character, you win a character card to keep in your collection of weapons and treasures. If you install the “European patch,” these cards are actually a little graphic. Now on its face this seems uncomfortable like adding notches to one’s belt. Think about it though: How can a guy feel like he’s racking up conquests when the game is simply written this way? No, the phenomenon becomes a variation on that theme of male competitiveness: accomplishment. Kind of like merit badges in Boy Scouts.

Which is not to say looks don’t count. The motivation to win these cards really is enhanced by the hot pictures. What was interesting to hear, though, was Davie’s disappointment that they do not accurately enough resemble the characters in the game itself. I guess interacting with these 3D animated hot chicks kind of builds up a personalized yearning, and if the payoff is a little bit off, it’s disappointing. Kind of like when you Google Image search some celebrity and the thumbnail looks really good, and then it turns out the picture is actually some fan’s bad rendering of the celebrity. C’mon, that’s happened to you too, right?

So, bottom line, it’s fortunate “The Witcher” is a really good adventure game, because it fails almost utterly as porn. Which is all right with Davie and also with me.

I don’t care if there’s a cat house or not. However, I do think it needs cats.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sex, Guys and Video Games, Part 1

Seeing as my last post was a bit estrogen-fueled, I thought I’d treat you on my next two posts to thoughts from the male point-of-view. I interviewed my husband David about a topic near and dear to his heart, computer games, with a view of course to the erotic aspect of the medium. The things I found out were fascinating on two levels: first, there’s the interesting approach (or lack thereof) that the gaming industry takes to sex. Second (which I’ll talk about next time) there’s everything you learn concerning a guy’s feelings about sex from how he plays “The Witcher.”

“The Witcher,” it seems, is one of the few computer games that includes any sexual content at all. And in order to get that content to even include a tiny bit of nudity, U.S. users have to download the European patch to the game. Installing this patch enables gamers to have more graphic blood, as well as see a little T&A.

The sexually graphic content comes in the forms of the little cards you earn for sleeping with women in the game, and in the patched version, those cards show your conquests in more revealing garb and poses. The standard U.S. version depicts these women characters with “offending” features covered up.

Lest you get the misconception that this game focuses on sex, let me say right now that that’s not at all the case. “The Witcher” is a typical D&D style fantasy game where you, in the guise of heroic Geralt, go on a series of medieval quests, slaying monsters and outwitting evil forces while building up your powers and collecting tools and treasures. It’s just that in this game, en route you are permitted to have sex with the female characters if you so choose. Well, all of them but Carmen, madam of the local brothel--she’s off limits. (More on that next time.)

Not only is the sex something of an unnecessary side trip, it’s pretty lame when it happens. The “seductions” last a few seconds, you see a romantic bedside embrace, and then the game shows the same three seconds of identical gauzy footage for every encounter. I know that your average man like to get right to it, but this is too brief for my husband and I’m sure he’s not alone. Especially considering the lack of payoff.

Well, the true “prize” for having sex is getting the character card. These ladies are pretty hot, and their cards are nicely done graphics-wise. I personally wouldn’t need the European patch, but then, I’m a girl. I can understand why guys would get it, that’s for sure.

And that’s all there is. That’s all there is in one of the most graphic, sex-oriented games out there, which is of course rated M. I’m really amazed that with the technology we have at our fingers nowadays, no companies are producing hotter stuff than this. Heck, you’d think somebody would develop a Sims-style brothel game where you can design your own “companions”! (I am highly suspicious that this is what a lot of guys who own 3D-people-creation software, like DAZ, use the programs for.)

But then I thought about it. You know, you can only sell what you can get to market. That is, if someone designs a product but no one is willing to produce it, what’s the point? With all the flack the gaming industry has gotten over leading little boys to acts of violence, they have a reputation to protect, and most gaming companies wouldn’t touch such a project. Davie told me there was a huge uproar when a mod for graphic sex with a prostitute was available in one of the Grand Theft Auto games. It wasn’t a legitimate part of the game, but the files were available for unlocking by clever hackers, so that got the game manufacturer in lots of hot water.

Anyway, if someone did publish “Sims Have Sex,” who would sell it? Certainly not Best Buy or Target or the Game Spot at your local mall. Not even comic books stores would want to, knowing moms from the neighborhood would picket their shops immediately.

Besides, this is what the porn industry is for. The gaming industry is for gaming.

When David started playing “The Witcher,” he had no plan to take the little “sex side trips.” He plays these games for the fun of doing heroic deeds, crushing huge monsters, and becoming a demi-godlike creature. It was only out of curiosity that he tried it, and then decided to repeat the scenario with other characters in sort of a “collect-’em-all” spirit. Really, the inclusion of the sex feature was not at all a selling point for him.

So I guess this all goes to explain why computer games have so little sexual content. And I’m not saying they should, I’m just intrigued by the phenomenon. After all, here you have a phenomenon fueled by testosterone, produced nearly completely by males for males, and there’s virtually no graphic sex to be found.

Things that make you go “huh.”

Well, in my next post things get even more interesting as we delve into the psyche of Davie, as revealed by his exploits playing “The Witcher”!

Friday, February 13, 2009

An Online Tool for Getting in a Romantic Mood

Well, I thought I’d just be topical, and post something relevant to a certain holiday that’s coming right up. Whether or not you and your significant other observe Valentine’s Day (and it may amuse you to know that yours truly, Ms. Erotica-with-Soul, actually doesn’t), being romantic is never a bad thing.

Whether you need some more spice in the bedroom, or are simply sick of winter and need a pick-me-up, romantic thoughts can help. And this week I was introduced to a very nice resource for all things romantic, a website called The proprietress, one Sara McGoodwin, just started this site and already has done a great job with it. I realize romantic tastes vary, but if you are partial to a sweet, colorful, Victorian look (and I dig that), just being on the site will romanticize your mood.

(For proof of the similarities in taste between Ms. McGoodwin and myself, just take note that she uses the same painting of Psyche and Eros on her home page as I put on the cover of Soulful Sex Volume I!)

So for starters, Romantic-Ideas-Online will serve as a romantic mood enhancer, providing art, poems, stories and song lyrics following the theme. You can just poke around the site and find yourself reminded of your own romantic touchstones. (Sara and I both love the song “Goodnight My Someone” from “The Music Man.”) To ensure a steady supply of this kind of goodies, the site suggests you subscribe to a newsletter that shares Sara’s original romantic vignettes.

It also gets practical. There are romantic gift ideas A-Z, and they’re not just for Valentine’s Day. In fact, the site provides a list of occasions to give such gifts. There are tips for keeping love alive and improving relationships, ideas for romantic dates, etc. And no romance website would be complete without recommendations for good romantic reading, which abound on Sara’s pages. (Am I listed? Well, yes . LOL)

What I like about Sara is she gets pretty creative with the subject matter. I found instructions on how to make a “Love Slave Jar” (doesn’t that sound like fun?). Sara also created several sets of downloadable, printable romantic coupons (exchangeable for things like “sexual fantasy” and “get out of the doghouse free”) that would make great easy and nice gifts, and she did a lovely job designing them. The site includes a genuine potpourri of musings both reproduced and original about the wonders of love.

Calling herself a “romantic glutton,” Ms. McGoodwin has made it her mission to use her website to help visitors “turn up the volume on your own True Romantic Adventure.” It would seem she’s walking the walk as well as talking the talk, and I hope she’ll continue to build and enhance the site.

What better time to visit such a place than February, huh?

[P.S., this post was pretty estrogen-heavy; next time I write you’ll be hearing more from the male angle!]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PSA: Naked Pictures

Yes, I’m here today to provide a public service announcement.

Recently here in southeastern Wisconsin, we were shocked to learn a local high school boy had been using Facebook to trap other kids into unwanted sex. Posing as a female, this guy solicited nude photos from at least 31 boys, and then used the photos as blackmail to get them to perform sex acts with him.

Obviously the media and local residents were horrified by this report, and I certainly don’t mean to make light of it in any way. But the reporting and reactions seemed to me to leave out one important concept that might have spared these victims a lot of grief. I’ll put it succinctly:

If a female on the Internet shows interest in naked pictures of you, you can be 99% sure that she is a he.

News flash, young gentlemen: Females, especially girls, are not interested in seeing you naked. The typical female likes bare chests, and some might enjoy a nude bottom, but as for your genitalia, no. A genuine high school girl would much rather have you send her a poem you wrote, an mp3 of your favorite song, or a soul-baring paragraph about your hopes and dreams, than a photo of you (or even a Jonas brother) in the nude.

In fact, I dare say this could be a nifty litmus test for finding out of your “mystery correspondent” is masquerading as a female. Turn away from the hot photos of “herself” that this person has posted, and take a hard look at “her” behavior. It’s guys who are turned on by nude pictures. And while certainly some older women may enjoy “cybersex” and talking about the act, only a small percentage of girls are comfortable with it. A real girl is more interested in emotional intimacy; even a kiss to her is as much about a pledge of closeness than about physical pleasure.

While we’re on the subject, those of you who are teens and found this post because you were looking for advice on the topic: This is as good a time as any to learn that there is a huge difference between the sexes in how they respond to visual stimulation. Guys, it's probably true that you never meet a new girl without checking out her breasts--but be aware that girls are probably not checking out your package. Ever. And while naked pics of chicks are worth the world to you, most of your female friends care a lot more about Robert Pattinson’s hair and eyes than anything beneath his clothes. (Think about it: tween and teen girls only get excited about his bare skin because it sparkles--in other words, it’s magical.)

People are just made this way, and if you realize it and keep it in mind, it will help you a lot in your relationships with members of the opposite sex. And that goes both ways, girls; don’t be dismayed at how your boyfriends and male friends behave concerning nudity, they really can’t help it. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about what’s inside a girl, it’s just that the outside drives them a little wild.

I have to think if the high school boys in the New Berlin, Wis. area had been aware of these useful facts, fewer than 31 of them would have fallen prey to this Facebook scheme. I know mine isn’t the most read blog on the Web, but I hope a couple people out there will benefit from this post.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Musings on Sex Appeal

Who doesn't want to be sexy? Well, who over the age of 12, that is? I think even elderly people want to remain somehow attractive to the opposite sex. If you consider 52 elderly, I can personally vouch for it. I recognize (sadly) that the tools one can employ in the pursuit of sexiness become more and more limited as one ages. Bare midriff tops are no longer in my arsenal. Nevertheless, I still pursue sexiness in an age-appropriate sort of way.

Yesterday I read another interesting WikiHow article, this time on "How to Be Hot." The tips were good ones, from how to dress to how to think. The article closed with the advice that if you, for whatever reason, can't do "hot," there's no shame in going for other forms of attractiveness, like cute or distinguished. Again, the key is feeling that you are appealing to other humans, that they will be motivated to want to be around you.

Meanwhile, yesterday was an interesting one for my family, as my older daughter was in a competition to be selected as one of twenty local singles for an upcoming feature in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. (She made it, by the way!) Katie's photo and some personal remarks were included. I figured her remarks were friendly and charming, and her photo would be the clincher. Sure enough, the top vote-getting girls all were pretty and approachable.

Well, it so happens one of the top vote-getting guys was a fellow named John, age 71. I'm sure a lot of ladies, myself included, were tickled that this guy entered the competition at all. What a go-getter. Granted, our votes didn't exactly mean we'd date him, but we'd certainly go out for beers with him. And at 71, that's endorsement enough! So John beat out some hot 20-somethings, and more power to him.

Second meanwhile: Yesterday I discovered Crest was promoting its White Strips product by creating a site where you can experience "virtual 3D kisses" from your choice of male or female. (Visit I have to give kudos to Crest, both the guy and the girl did it for me! LOL Seriously though, I was amazed how the flirtatious moves of "Fernando," directed right at me from the screen, set my heart a-flutter. His kisses (there are six different ones) are really a little mini-seminar in how to spark a woman's libido. (Please excuse the 3D effects in the screen cap below.)

Well, I'm not going to turn this post into my own tips for being sexy...that ground has been covered well enough by others with more expertise than I. The point is, the whole issue is not going to go away and is a part of life. Those of us who can't compete on the level of Hollywood celebrities, due to genetics, age, or both, are not exempt. And rather than bash our heads into the wall, or rather, mirror, we need to remember that anyone can do things to encourage others to want to be near them. It's amazing how "alluring" things like kind words, thoughtful attire, humor, little gifts of food or homemade crafts, smiles, welcoming body language, empathy, camaraderie, or a well-timed hug can be.

Those things are not "sexy" in the classic sense, but they bring people closer together nonetheless. Close = good in my book.

Soulful Sex: The Darker Side

I just realized I really ought to mention here on my blog that last week I released my latest book. It's called Soulful Sex: The Darker Side and the stories in it examine just that. Here's the rundown of the twelve tales:

"Storytellers" - Maggie, whose sex drive has been at a low ebb in spite of her respectable marriage, has a midnight encounter with the secret lover who is her heart's desire. Only this time he's not a dream...he's flesh and blood.
"The Poet" - History's first "superstar" poet, the reclusive Riley Madsen, finally grants four interviews, including one with celebrity blogger Miri Horace. But her private tryst with her idol turns out rather shockingly.
"The Experiment" - When Jay and Stephanie signed up for the experiment, they guessed what it would come to. A lab like a martini lounge, two cups of strange liquid, and some very interesting instructions prove they were right.
"Piero and Gilia" - Piero Montague and Gilia Capulet, cousins to Romeo and Juliet, have their own struggles with forbidden romance. Will the lesson of their cousins' fates make any difference in this star-crossed couple's choices?
"Don't" - Sometimes a guy can be really black hearted, but so sexy he gets away with it anyway. Sometimes the fact that he's black hearted just makes him sexier.
"Stalkers for Hire" - Recently divorced Amber is invited to avail herself of the services of a peculiar business called "Attentives, Inc." She's not about to shell out the money...until she sees Cameron in the company's catalog.
"The Will of a Slave" - Queen Parra she falls hard for Loenid, captured in war to serve in her harem. But he values marital fidelity more than his life, and Parra has no idea how to achieve what she truly wants: Loenid's love.
"Nate and Erica Write a Sex Scene" - Nate writes science fiction, Erica writes romance. The exercise of collaborating on a sexy story opens some interesting doors...some of which have been locked ever since they met.
"Summer's Fantasy" - Aimee Connelly befriends a beautiful, charming artist named Summer. Summer's obvious infatuation with Aimee causes mixed emotions...but among those emotions is unexpected desire.
"Professor Chambliss" - Lydia develops an irresistible crush on her Psychology of Marketing professor. The irascibly sexy Dr. Chambliss is enough of a pain by nature; then Lydia finds out he suspects her feelings.
"Women Love Vampires" - Lacey meets Seth in a bar, and his vampiric personal style prompts an interesting conversation. Lacey finds herself surprisingly eager to explain—and demonstrate—why women love vampires.
"'Kiss Me' and Other Commands" - High school grad Bix Buxton pines for classmate Sara, until the internet grants him the amazing ability to command women. Bix's ethics are subsequently put to some interesting tests.

Intrigued? Well, the book is available from the publisher as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. For all the info on how to get a copy, visit my website page.

Meanwhile I did promise an update for when you could purchase the print version of the Sign of the Bloodletters comic book. (Which, by the way, came back from the printers just gorgeous.) Visit for links to purchase it from the publisher, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.