Welcome to the final week of my three part series on Sex and Sexism in games. This week, as the final part of the series everything is coming to a point, with a discussion of sex in video games.
Sex in games has been a hot topic in the media, especially with the publicized rise of Grand Theft Auto: San Andrea's infamous "Hot Coffee" mod, a user created modification which allowed players of the PC version (and later console versions) to access an uncompleted portion of the game in which they participated in various sex mini-games. Somewhat understandably, parents and the media were outraged, leaving Rock Star Games as the developers, recalling it and bumping the rating up to Adult-18, as opposed the Mature-17.
There's a couple of controversial topics in that whole last paragraph, but the one that we're focusing on is the whole idea of sex in games. Does it belong? Is it needed? Do gamers even want it? What does sex have to do with the game anyway?
So first of all, does sex belong in games? Well, lets look at the medium of entertainment in general. Sex in the media has always been a heavily controversial topic, with heavy hitters on both sides. One side argues that sex is an inextricable part of society in general and that its expression in society should be free. The other side argues that sex is something special and reserved, and that exposure to that act cheapens and trivializes the bond between a man and a woman so involved.
So does sex belong in video games? I would say no, but for more reasons then a moral stance. Why do we play a video game? To have adventure and to entertain ourselves by pursuing exploits that we (usually) cannot do in our ordinary lives. But a game involving sex? First of all, such games do exist, but largely not in America, and in their respective countries they aren't a majority seller. Why? Simple, the majority of gamers probably don't want it. One point raised by a commentator on a forum thread I polled opinion on stated that she felt sex in games would be fine, as most of the young generation was now grown and would probably like to see more maturity in their games. First of all, inclusion of sex does not necessarily decree automatic maturity levels, quite the contrary in fact. Overuse of sex is far less mature. But aside from that, if these gamers are now adults, odds are, they're in a relationship of some type. So is the game involving sex appealing to them? I doubt it, unless they are a little hedonistic. The idea of a game is to do something you normally can't. In this regard, sex isn't really needed in games, not as a major factor, as it holds little appeal for the public at large.
However, people have a history of wanting what they don't need. So do gamers want it? Probably not the older crowd. But what about the younger crowd? Do they want this in games? I'd say it depends on who you ask, the hormone driven child or the one with more self control. Obviously, the hormone driven kids are going to want sex in their games, but for that reason alone, its probably a good idea to keep them from them. Self control kids, just because you want it doesn't mean its good for you. So we'll discount the hormone induced answers, which leaves us with the more level headed populous. In that regard, most of them don't care much for it either.
So what does sex have to do with video games anyway? Not a whole lot. Sex in games would have a more determined line then movies, because there is a very fine line, which I should point out is undetermined, between seeing in the act and being actively engaged in it. With the aforementioned Grand theft Auto, for example, previous to the mod the players had only seen the characters enter the home and heard noise, which was one of the things that determined its M rating. Once the camera was inside the home and the player involved however, the rating became Adult.
So how do we make decisions based on a line that has yet to be drawn? Some feel that games need to be set at the same standards as other forms of media while others feel that games should be held aside to their own standards (once again we are reminded of Fox new's "Sexbox" scandal, in which the network ripped on an M-rated game for featuring a scene that quite honestly was a lot less shocking then what their network commonly shows in their "family friendly" entertainment). Who determines the line? The public, the developers, the government, or opposing media? Who enforces the line? Unfortunately, these questions have not been answered, mainly due to the relative youth of the gaming industry, but as time goes on, the urge to answer these questions will only grow stronger, unless....
The industry plays it safe. Leave the sex out of the games. Sure, a small portion of hedonists will complain, but by introducing elements tailored towards them, you would lose out on a much larger portion of you market anyway. Play the game safe, and keep your options open. Morally, it is a much safer route, and one I would agree with, as I side with the opinion that sex is something that should not be flashed about, but left as something special, and I see the proliferation of nudity and sex as something very wrong. My opinion had to be stated somewhere.
After all, I didn't play Tomb Raider to see Lara Croft naked, I played it to raid tombs.
And thus concludes this three part series. Hopefully you guys enjoyed it and got something out of it. Next week we'll be back on a less intense topic, but until then I'd love to hear reactions to both this article and the pieces as a whole. Comment away!
Games I'm Currently Playing: Sonic and the Black Knight (Wii), Gears of War 2 (360), Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Genesis), Sonic Megamix (Fan Game--Sega CD), Command and Conquer 3 (PC)