Sex and Nudity in Video Games – How far is enough ?


Sex, Lies, and Video Games

(Warning: This article may contain spoilers)

Welcome to the jungle.

Welcome to the jungle.

Titillate me

I was prompted to open my eyes about sex in video games when I played Far Cry 3 and reached the by now infamous scene, where sultry jungle queen Citra, drugs Jason (you) the protagonist, strips off, has her wicked way with him, then stabs him through the heart black widow style as part of some bizarre fertility ritual. Before the deed is done though, you are offered a moral choice, one of which results in the intimacy I just referred to. It’s a clever use of sex as a narrative, particularly as the age of the average player will be from early teens upwards and the choice of joining the sultry bombshell or saving your dumbass friends, isn’t a particularly difficult one, in spite of the moralities.

citra

Not tonight Josephine!

As an interactive entertainment medium though, gaming has some distinct advantages over celluloid and this particular game is a fine example, especially as it’s played in a first person perspective and to some extent the player can determine the path the game will take, live it as an experience and replay it another way if they see fit.

Sex sells of course and whilst most gamers won’t buy a game that’s entirely dedicated to carnal pleasure, it is popping up more frequently, in large part due to the extraordinary graphics fidelity being achieved today.

Lara Croft meets Leisure Suit Larry

tomb-raider-through-the-ages

Tomb Raider

I always found it rather odd that the bra burning, feminist brigade had such twitchy problems with how Lara has always been portrayed, in spite of the fact that numerous young ladies, including Rhona Mitra, Nell Mc Andrew and Angelina Jolie have willingly thrust out their chests in the name of Lara Croft. To many, Lara has been a role model of inner feminine strength and never once got her kit off in any of her adventures, which probably explains her appeal as she tells you herself:

[youtube width=”400" height=”300"]http://youtu.be/jHXg7SERpj4[/yo[/youtube]


That isn’t to say it isn’t possible; the developers usually build the game model with all the parts in place so to speak and when the modding community get hold of the game, well, anything is possible including nude and costume mods, most of which blow the illusion out of the sky.

The most recent Tomb Raider (2013) became embroiled in a controversy however, not due to sex or nudity, but to a scene that implied that Lara was violated or possibly raped, an implication that if you blinked you’d have missed it. I mention this small factoid as it illustrates the order of priorities coming to bear in the gaming world in that scenes of sex and nudity are de rigueur, but touch on rape or violence and you’ve got a sh*tstorm on your hands. In this instance, there was no nudity and no sex, but the threat of non-consensual sex was implied in the game, because our heroine needs to fight off her attacker who may or may not have had sexual intent, in order to survive. Quite naturally, this quickly became a hot topic for discussion and is one we will be tackling in a later DCT article.

larry2

This will not save you.

Leisure Suit Larry on the other hand, is a dirty old man in his 40’s, who wears a flashy suit and spends his life trying to seduce attractive women in nightclubs and jacuzzis, usually with little success and becomes very successful for all the wrong reasons. So much so in fact, that a reloaded version of Larry was released and he achieved cult status in Russia of all places, to where one hopes he may one day retire disgracefully.

Why depict sex at all?

Games depicting eroticism have been around since the 80’s, when many felt that they were simply an excuse for a bit of porno on the side. Such gems as the aforementioned Larry, Lula 3D (with Bouncin Boobs Technology ®),Sexy Dreams 3D and many, many others, most of which were thoroughly spanked by the critics as being utterly and mind blowingly hopeless.

Lula_3D_Coverart

New technology included.

Someone had to do it though and as technology moved on, other outlets became available for people to get their kinks and serious gamers were more interested in games that offered somewhat more of a challenge than a bimbo in a bikini taking down shorthand.


As storylines in games have become more intense with cut scenes that allow the narrative to jump off the screen, a lot more leeway has been created for, well, creativity. I recently reviewed Wolfenstein: The New Order here on DCT  and alluded to the close relationship between BJ and Anya, which is a central part of the plot and yes, BJ is his real name in the game and I didn’t make that bit up. As they are thrown together in a world of turmoil, they fall in love and eventually get round to doing what lovers do, twice, no less. In the context of the game, it didn’t feel totally out of place, but neither was it necessary since the act of sex itself wasn’t a device to progress through the game and I felt like a voyeur and nothing less. Tastefully done it may have been, but I was left with the impression that the developers enjoyed creating the scene, knew the time was right and decided to leave it in.

I’ve yet to come across a game that one would truly call pornographic, possibly because I don’t go looking for them, but I’m sure they exist. Many scenes depicting carnal desire come across as a low budget ‘B’ movie, which sometimes involve aliens and humans getting it on, with the message ‘Achievement unlocked’ popping up on the screen after the deed, which is intended  to reward you for your indulgence.

Easter Eggs and Mods

gta-v

Coffee for two.

In gaming, an Easter Egg is generally an artefact, prize or secret that the developers have stashed away somewhere in the game, which the player discovers, either by inputting secret code or by a little extra effort by following clues laid down during the game.In one infamous example, one of the devs had transposed a famous actress’s head onto a computer generated nude body, taking a shower.The actress in question had given her services as a voice over for the game, the character was largely modelled on her and since the risqué scenes and images could only be seen on the PS3 in debug mode, the little secret spread like wild fire. Mischievous prank or grounds for litigation?

Probably one of the most controversial Mods or Easter Eggs – depending on your point of view – was the Hot Coffee Mod in Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas (2004), where a mini-game could be unlocked, which shows the main character having clunky sex with one of his girlfriends. The revelation of this hidden content sparked a furious response in 2005 and Rockstar Games is said to have denied all knowledge of how it got there at the time and the game’s rating was subsequently changed to Mature 18+. Suffice to say that lawsuits flew around in the ensuing years and commentators lamely pointed out that finding adult content on the net is a lot easier than hacking a game and missed the point entirely. After all, why does a dog chase its tail? Because it can.

gow3

God of War 3 – erotic.

It’s interesting to note that nudity and sex in games has become more accepted and generally speaking, such games are given a Mature (17) rating, even if they contain scenes not dissimilar to the Hot Coffee Mod mentioned here. It’s also interesting to note that the ratings Mature and Mature 18+ have one year of age difference between them, meaning that at the age of 17, it’s regarded as appropriate to be exposed to soft porn sex scenes, intense violence, blood and gore but not prolonged sex scenes and violence, and certainly not gambling with real money, God forbid!

The issue of ratings and adult content is a legal and moral minefield and sex and nudity in video games look like they’re here to stay, for the very reason that they are becoming integral and more mainstream.

It’s titillation, sure, but would you not buy a game that takes you days of challenge and enjoyment to complete yet contains 30 seconds of nudity, after which you move on to conquer the next level and probably completely forget that the sex scene you just watched ever took place?

 

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About the Author

Marc Thomas

Marc is an avid traveler, motorcyclist, entrepreneur, and gamer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. His interest in computers and technology began in the early 1990's when he was introduced by a friend to a Zenith Data Systems computer running DOS. In the years following he has experienced all versions of the Windows operating system, built hundreds of systems, and fixed many more for his customers.

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