Sex in Games – How Games Need to Mature as a Medium – Extra Credits

Games have a troubling history of depicting sex in the most shallow and titillating ways, but the growth of games as an art depends on their ability to also explore sexuality in a mature way.
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(Original air date: December 1, 2010)
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20 thoughts on “Sex in Games – How Games Need to Mature as a Medium – Extra Credits

  • Eh,all media will get backlash for including this topic, whether respectfully or not, it happened with paintings, we just got done with it for animation from bakshi and now videogames must behold the trial. So shall we try to show intimacy with maturity or exploit it for cheap thrills.

  • You're right games need to approach sex with the same maturity level as films. I mean a game that approaches sex like say, the American Pie series would prove game development has matured as an art form just like film has, and assure mainstream respect.

    Actually you kind of lost me when you equated American Beauty to art. I spent that entire film just despising Kevin Spacey's vapid, useless character. I came damn near to cheering when he died at the end, and definitely felt a huge sense of relief at the very least.

    To me the only way the film could only be considered to have succeeded in what it set out to do, is if the entire goal was to make people watching it thoroughly despise it's main character, and most of the others in it as well. I'm guessing we were supposed to blame "the system" or some other nebulous concept for the type of characters in the film. But all I saw was a bunch of self absorbed characters (particularly Spacey's) who were mainly worthy of contempt. Maybe the entire point of the film was to make you root for the death of Spacey's character, and then get rewarded for that desire by fulfilling it in the end, I dunno.

    Admittedly it's been awhile since I saw it, and I have no idea what my general frame of mind was at the time going in. But my memories of my impression of that film ensures I will never watch it again.

  • I would posit that film and television are just as crude in its depiction of sexuality often opting for the cheap sex scene instead of showing the intimacy and vulnerability that is at the heart of sexuality.

  • "actually playing a sex scene will almost always be seen as gratuitous"
    Ah… If only, series understood that. Really, it boared me pretty much each time there are a sex scene in a tv serie, and I just want to skip the scene (and often do it as I watched them mainly on Netflix ^^). I think I can count the actual useful sex scenes I've seen on series on the fingers of one hand ^^'

    And, no, it's not that I'm a puritain that don't like sex. I enjoy sexual content when I xant to masturbate, just… I don't want to masturbate when I watch series, and I find sexual scenes boring, it's just two characters doing a thing that are always covered in the black and the sheets, with no dialog, and so… Well, I don't want to see the characters sleep, or pee, I don't want to see them fuck. That's jsut not interesting ^^

  • I've never understood the appeal of women portrayed in these kinds of ways, speaking as a heterosexual man. Lara Croft goes on adventures and battles barely wearing anything – it's not very practical (!). The same applies to Rambo-type men. I'm a straight man and quite honestly I don't find '90s Lara attractive (because she consists of a handful of pixels), nor do I find the ludicrously gigantic breasts and clothing that isn't just impractical but you'd have to physically glue onto the skin to stay in place in a large quantity of fantasy games attractive. It's just silly, and actually animating boobs to move in a way that's even remotely realistic is, it turns out, really quite difficult. I don't find it titillating, and I find it odd that apparently a lot of people do (why do Cortana's boobs get bigger between the Halo games?). That's not to say I don't find myself thinking: I wish she were real from time to time, particularly in more modern games with decent mocap and graphics. There's no substitute to good writing, such as how Ellie's sexuality is explored through action and compelling writing in The Last of Us: Left Behind. This isn't designed to be titillating, and the games themselves don't feature sex, but it does feature strong relationships. Animated sex scenes for me are often just awkward to watch, but done well they can be powerful narrative tools. Wolfenstein: The New Order, a game that doesn't pretend to be anything but an over the top FPS, features moments of surprising poignancy, including in its handling of sex (which at one point is even used to facilitate some humour).

  • All good points, but we need to acknowledge that women need to have a bigger part in the game industry in order to make this kind of thing happen. Diverse portrayals of sex require diverse viewpoints, more than just what straight cis men want in their games anyway.

  • I don't mind slight sex appeal for game characters like with Joanna Dark and Lara Croft. Ya know just go up to the line without crossing it. It's the female equivalent of a Duke Nukem or Kratos having ripped muscles.

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