Sex In Games: You’re Still Not Doing It Right
It seems more and more that sex is the last great taboo in videogames, but developers still feel a long way away from portraying it in an adult fashion.
The average age of gamers around the world is getting older. This much cannot be denied. It’s a trend that has been going on for longer than the games industry has been taking notice of it, but in recent years ‘mature’ games have begun to dominate the charts and peoples’ minds. Trouble is that some developers have a rather confused notion of what mature really means.
Once graphic violence and language were conquered by videogames, sex was the next likely direction for games to explore. After all, games want to be taken seriously as an entertainment medium telling compelling stories about human lives. That means dealing with human relationships in an honest and open fashion and in turn means that sex must play a role. Unfortunately what we see in games feels more like an adolescent fantasy of what sex is than any meaningfully used storytelling device.
By point of comparison I would say that on the whole games use sex (and by that I mean sexual encounters between characters and just straight nudity) in much the same was as a horror b-movies like Piranha 3D use sex. It’s there to give the viewer a little titillation in between on the blood and gore. There’s no reason for it. It’s not necessary to develop the characters or establish the plot. It’s the dictionary definition of gratuitous (being without apparent reason, cause, or justification).
At the minute it feel too often that nudity and sex is thrown into games just to get some attention. It serves no purpose other than that. It’s most disappointing in games like Mafia II, where so much is done to tell a rounded and adult story only for the illusion to be shattered when you find a copy of Playboy.
There are only a few games that have gotten close to using sex in a meaningful or even just sensible way, but even those cut close to being gratuitous at times. Mass Effect and Heavy Rain did relatively good jobs of using intimate moments between characters as a means of developing those characters, but in the context of a videogame, both felt a little too close to being payoffs or bonuses for playing the game well. Sex felt like a reward. That just doesn’t seem right.
But as things stand, those games remain the most acceptable examples to my mind. Perhaps it will take sex in games becoming something more than a novelty for it to become an irrelevant idea. When even hinting at sex can get you thousands of hits on gaming sites though, I think that may still take a while.