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”!


CC said...

I agree there's still a lot of pressure on publishers to avoid graphic sex in video games.

But the concept of sex is definitely in there. Have you played the Sims2? One of "aspirations" is "making woohoo." They're under sheets or in a hot tub or something like that, so you can't see anything, but you know what they're doing.

Diana Laurence said...

See, that's the way it has to be done: Everyone knows what's going on, but it has to be veiled. Meanwhile TV has SO much more sex, even network TV. Just one of those quirks of culture I guess.

And I still think the most fun intersection of sex and technology (at least what we have available today) is "building your own hottie." Which, after all, is what you and I did when we created our comic book hero, Jonas. :-)

CC said...

Of course I'm not going to disagree with the fun of making one's own hottie. :-)

Liz said...
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