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Sep 02 2010
By: Weidleface PlayStation MVP 7874 posts
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Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

48 replies 1039 views Edited Sep 2, 2010

I'd like to preface this topic by saying that this is a risky subject to be talking about in an open forum. That being said, those of us that are able to post here on the MVP General board should be more than mature enough to talk about a topic such as tis without any issue, and that is what I expect.

 

This idea was inspired by some of the buzz going around about Atlus's new game, Catherine. Based on the material that's been released, there is much debate over whether or not a game that appears as fanservicey and sexually provocative as Catherine will be released stateside.  I'm sure many of us can throw out multiple examples of games that have more than their fair share of provocative material that had no problem bother prior to and post-release. However, we also see a lot of games from the Land  of the Rising Sun in particular that are never released out of fear of the reaction that the American media will have toward the game's sexual content.

 

I think it's fair to say that we Americans tend to have an opposite view on sexuality in our entertainment media as opposed to other countries. This is especially true where video games are concerned. In a form of entertainment that is still widely regarded as being ainmed at children, our media is quick to condemn any game that even has an inkling of sexual behavior (hot coffee, anyone?).

 

What I'd like to know from you as gamers is where you think the line should be drawn. Are scantily-clad anime maidens acceptable? Is it ok for a gamer to guide Ethan Mars (of Heavy Rain fame) through a passionate lovemaking scene with a female protagonist? I also would like to know if you think there is somewhat of a double standard where this is concerned. The media was all over a high profile game like San Andreas, but games like Heavy Rain that feature frontal female nudity and yet another interactive sex scene (much more intense than GTA, mind you) just seem to be overlooked. Do we pick and choose what "offends" us as a gaming community?

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 2, 2010

Weidleface wrote:

I'd like to preface this topic by saying that this is a risky subject to be talking about in an open forum. That being said, those of us that are able to post here on the MVP General board should be more than mature enough to talk about a topic such as tis without any issue, and that is what I expect.

 

This idea was inspired by some of the buzz going around about Atlus's new game, Catherine. Based on the material that's been released, there is much debate over whether or not a game that appears as fanservicey and sexually provocative as Catherine will be released stateside.  I'm sure many of us can throw out multiple examples of games that have more than their fair share of provocative material that had no problem bother prior to and post-release. However, we also see a lot of games from the Land  of the Rising Sun in particular that are never released out of fear of the reaction that the American media will have toward the game's sexual content.

 

I think it's fair to say that we Americans tend to have an opposite view on sexuality in our entertainment media as opposed to other countries. This is especially true where video games are concerned. In a form of entertainment that is still widely regarded as being ainmed at children, our media is quick to condemn any game that even has an inkling of sexual behavior (hot coffee, anyone?).

 

What I'd like to know from you as gamers is where you think the line should be drawn. Are scantily-clad anime maidens acceptable? Is it ok for a gamer to guide Ethan Mars (of Heavy Rain fame) through a passionate lovemaking scene with a female protagonist? I also would like to know if you think there is somewhat of a double standard where this is concerned. The media was all over a high profile game like San Andreas, but games like Heavy Rain that feature frontal female nudity and yet another interactive sex scene (much more intense than GTA, mind you) just seem to be overlooked. Do we pick and choose what "offends" us as a gaming community?


How would one go about destroying this commonly held belief? I think I have one video game in my entire PlayStation®3 video game collection that might be suitable for a child. The “media” acquires its strength by focusing on “shocking” stories and to some individuals violent video games or video games with provocative material are shocking (I don’t know what else to say). Could it be thatvideo games are merely scapegoats for society’s problems much like Rock and Roll was back in the day?   

 

I have as much of a problem with provocative material as I do with violence. This essentially means that I typically don’t care about it unless I see it constantly, which should never be the case. If a video game is going to have nothing but provocative material or violence then it probably will not make its way into my video game collection. I may play a lot of M rated video games and most of them may have very violent presentations but violence is not what draws me to video games. With that being said, I feel the same way about the films that I watch. I will often ask people, “What’s with all of this senseless violence?” if I see them watching your run-of-the-mill action flick. More often than not the follow-up question is, “Does this film have an intriguing plot?” Video games are a little bit different because of their “interactive” component but all this really means is that an individual can argue that a video game is “fun” and be as vague about their definition of “fun” as humanly possible. *sigh*

 

Video games can be more intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking than a large chunk of the films that are released in this day and age and we have individuals viewing video games as a medium exclusively for children? This is sad... This isreally sad... 

 

On another note, I always find it kind of absurd how some politicians have nothing better to do with their time than focus on the influence of violent video games (or video games with provocative material) on the youth of America (for example). Half of the time it seems like World War III wouldn’t be able to stop some politicians from talking about video games. *sigh*

 

Where do you think the line should be drawn?

 

I wouldn’t want to be responsible for drawing the line on something like this for anyone. To be completely honest with you,I don’t like drawing lines (especially when it comes to works of art and individual expression in general). There doesn’t seem to be a line drawn on provocative material in films and I belong to the crowd of individuals who feel that video games should not be treated as a drastically different form of entertainment. If parents are worried about exposing their children to violence and provocative material then they should take the necessary steps to ensure that their children are raised properly...

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 2, 2010

Personally, I don't see the harm in bringing sexuality to gamers. Kids eventually grow up. What we've shielded from them for ages, within 18 years they'll see with their own eyes what we didn't want them to. Teens are sexually active even younger than that. Peoples' hormones fire up as early as 12 or 13. It's human nature to want to explore these possibilities, but apparently gaming companies are afraid of fully opening the doors to everyone's most instinctive drive.

 

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' deal was that Rockstar was unaware of this hidden code. Labeling the game as Mature, it was a secret bug that blew the lids off the ESRB Board. A sex scene while characters are completely clothed: is that really worth an "Adult" rating? Apparently, they thought so. I think they only took it so far because they wanted to make an example out of the situation. The ESRB wanted to send a message to the public that they will not tolerate being made a fool for undressing sex where it escaped their supposed "foolproof" security system.. On that judgment call I think they were wrong, very wrong.

 

Heavy Rain, by comparison, admitted having nudity right on its box. For that, I think it's safe to say that the gaming populous is thankful for "erecting" undulating desires into this story's intriguing universe. It makes sense. God of War is another example where dropping tops made perfect sense. I'm definitely not saying that every game needs to go the way of the Playboy Mansion. Heavenly Sword works being topfull. Polka's very cute in Eternal Sonata, and the story of her and Allegretto taking it one step further may be asking for too much in an already harmonious tale. Sex may sell stuff easier than most, but it shouldn't become a gimmick. I wouldn't buy a PlayStation Move because it's packed with an interactive **bleep**o video starring Tori Black. Sexuality in games: rip open this usually sealed package, but only if it's going to make the game taste that much more invigorating.


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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 2, 2010

Okay, I’ll try to tackle this with as much delicacy and aplomb as I can muster. But before I do that, I’d like to start a political flame war!

 

Kidding about that last bit, of course. However, despite the fact that I don’t believe you intended this thread to be about politics, I would like to start off by stating my position on freedom of speech, which is: I believe the government should have an extremely narrow window for what it can censor and how it can go about that censoring. For example, even when it comes to graphic violence and/or other forms of so-called obscenity, I completely oppose laws blocking the sale of video games to minors.

 

Having said that, I do not wish to debate in this thread the nitty-gritty of what I think should or shouldn’t be protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Instead, I’d much rather discuss this from the social perspective of how I would personally prefer that developers handle sexuality in their games. Or, that is to say, the following opinion will be more a matter of taste than mandate.

 

Recently, in the mood for a bit of mindless entertainment, I went to the movies and saw Piranha 3D. The film was pure titillation, featuring gratuitous amounts of both bare and mutilated flesh. It struck me afterwards that the same content would be the subject of public outrage if featured in a video game, despite the movie being aimed squarely at the same group most associated with violent video games, which is young males.

 

My gut reaction was that such an outcry would indeed be a societal double standard. However, upon further reflection of my own tastes from medium to medium, I’m not so sure. I’m willing to tolerate a great deal more explicit material in written form than I am in visual form, for example. Likewise, seeing a police officer shot in a movie and pulling the trigger to shoot one in a video game may evoke two completely different responses from me, even if the imagery is similar. The way that these subjects are experienced affects how I feel about them.

 

Now, I’m a married man and not much of a prude, but when it comes to sexuality in video games, the medium just doesn’t seem to fit the material for me in many cases. The majority of the time, video games treat sexuality in the most juvenile fashion, such as the ridiculous mini-games in the God of War or Saints Row franchises. I can find this sort of thing amusing in short bursts, but it doesn’t really add much to the overall experience. However, even when treated in a mature and tasteful fashion, it still doesn't feel quite right.

 

Video games pretty much have two options when it comes to love scenes: 1) Make the experience interactive, such as in Heavy Rain; or 2) leave it entirely to a non-interactive sequence, such as in Dragon Age: Origins. On the one hand, the gamplay mechanics may come across as a little silly and awkward. On the other hand, cinematics mean I’m no longer in control of the game until they are over. Neither is an optimal solution. If such an act matters to the plot (which I believe is the case for both Heavy Rain or Dragon Age), I’d prefer the game briefly fade to black and later use dialogue to imply what needs to be implied. This is not a matter of removing objectionable material though, so much as a means of more quickly moving things forward.

 

As far as the basic idea of nudity in games, that doesn’t really bother me any more than gore or strong language bother me. Such things do not easily offend me, even in absurd quantities. However, none of those are particularly selling points for me either, as far as gaming is concerned. I turn to video games for interactive storytelling and the pleasure of personal challenge, not so much for provocative spectacle. If exposed body parts are what I’m after, well let’s just say that there are more direct means of meeting that desire than through $60 PS3 software.

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 3, 2010

What sexuality in gaming?

 

I think the US in general has the wrong definition of what constitutes sex and sexuality in gaming overall. (Not to mention the sheer prudness of the bulk of American society, as a culture we still see sex as taboo or shameful. At the very least, not acceptable for idle chat.)

 

Nudity by itself is not sexual or por nographic. In my opinion it's simply a fact of life. It is also art. It's how it's portrayed that makes Nudity something else. In US gaming, nudity is often tossed in either for "shock" value or gratuitous, an after thought almost. Meant to appeal to the stereotypical male gamer ages 13-30.

 

Take a look at 3 of the most well known "sex" acts in gaming. 1) Grand Theft Auto III (the hot coffee mod/cheat in particular) 2) God of War's sex mini game 3) Any current gen BioWare game.

 

  • Grand Theft Auto III - I honestly don't know a whole lot about the GTA series, but the "hot coffee" scandal is well known. Why this mini game was hidden to begin with, I don't really know. Either put it in or leave it out. Hiding it seems kind of fishy to me. But your character can date up to or one of 6 females in the game, each with various bonuses associated with them. With the "hot coffee mod" or "cheat" (however you want to look at it) there was no nudity involved. Just a mini game. A mini sex game with all clothes on really isn't sexual in my opinion. It's simply childish and boorish.
  • God of War - This series is well known for it's sex mini game. Again you don't actually watch them having sex, you only push the appropriate buttons and/or move the analog sticks. You hear some moaning and grunting. You do see top nudity quite a bit in the God of War games, but much of that is historical accuracy so to speak. Ancient Greek and Roman Goddesses were often depicted with one or both breasts uncovered. The nudity in the God of War series is gratuitous.
  • BioWare's games - Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins. Trophies for getting one of your team mates in the sack. If I recall correctly there was a separate Trophy for half a dozen conquests, both sexes. A series of bribes and/or missions/quests with the person you're trying to score with. A brief kissing/groping scene and again no nudity or actual intercourse.

Sex in video games is generally only hinted at, never witnessed, never directly controlled. (*edit* I stand corrected. Apparently there is one game available where sex is interactive) Nudity is often tossed into video games (at least in the US) simply to be provocative in my opinion.

 

Whether we're talking about Anime chicks in skimpy outfits, breasts practically falling out of their armor or topless Oracles and Goddesses in God of War, I don't really see what the problem is. Bottom line is it's all digital coding. Pixels if you will. Art. Not exactly something to get excited about or even getting one's knickers twisted over it being there.

 

Even should the point come where it's full blown intercourse where you fully control the actions of the main character, I don't see it being a problem, as long as it's labeled as being there. I don't get excited over seeing it in a game. It's a natural part of life (otherwise we'd be splitting to produce offspring). It's only too much when it's the only part of the game. But even then it's a matter of opinion.

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 3, 2010

  Honestly, I don't see it as all that different from sexuality in other forms of media, particularly television and movies.  I believe that with the appropriate rating, devs should be able to have a certain degree of freedom.  This is within reason of course.  The fact remains that we live in NA, where we have a certain attitude towards this type of content.  And I'm not saying we should step outside of those cultural boundaries.  I would not go as far as saying that we should be able to play absolutely everything devs have released in Japan, because some of what they've got going on there, doesn't just step over the NA cultural line, but crosses it completely. 

 

  On the other hand, I do think NA is a way too tense when it comes to this sort of thing.  I'm pretty sure the ESRB won't be shielding a 17+ audience from much of anything.  I think the term "mature" is somewhat of a misnomer, because I'm sure 99% of people don't have mature reasons for wanting to play Grand Theft Auto.  But that's unrelated to the topic at hand.  I believe that gaming should be treated like the film industry.  There is a rating system in place to allow us as gamers to make informed decisions about which games we want to purchase, whether for ourselves, or for someone else, keeping in mind, that some content may not be appropriate for younger gamers.  The idea that gaming is an industry that's targeted towards children is completely false, and anyone who actually plays games, knows this.  Which makes me wonder whether those who rate games, or bring up any controversy, are actually gamers themselves, which questions their credibility. 

 

  For what it's worth, I do think the ESRB is a little too strict in some areas, but too lax in others.  For example, on the other side of the coin, there are parents who buy M rated games for their kids, and store clerks who let kids under 17 buy M rated games.  I've heard stories, like a mother complaining about GTA:smileyfrustrated:A, which she bought for her 14 year old son.  I'd feel sympathy for her, but she bought a game intended for an older audience, and so really shouldn't complain that its content isn't appropriate for a 14 year old gamer.  Any clerk who lets a kid under 17 buy an M rated game, isn't doing their job right, in my opinion.  But the reality is, that many people are uninformed when it comes to the ESRB, which I suppose we could blame on the ESRB.  I do think they're way too busy drawing lines where they aren't necessarily needed, and not spending enough time enforcing the system they created, and if it's not enforced properly, it can't do what it was intended to do.  Not only that, but more time should be spent making sure an average parent, or non-gamer buying a gift for someone else, has some idea as to what kind of game they're thinking about buying.  So, in general, I think some changes need to be made to the ESRB on both ends. 

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 7, 2010

First we need to acknowledge something. And that is that Amercia is a culture of violence and not sex. This is why there are two standards for violent images in our culture as oppossed to sexual images. Sex is seen has worse than violence. And yet in other cultures, it's the other way around.

 

In any case, before we address sexuality in games we need to ask ourselves this question, which audience is M-rated games ( or games that have sexuality in them) meant for? Well, the answer is obvious. M-rated games are meant for adults. If that's the case and we assume that no underage children have access to M-rated games, then we have to then ask this question, why isn't there enough sex in games? Afterall if the gamer is over 18 yrs of age, then why not have full sexuality and nudity in all M-rated games. Why not more AO-rated games for all of us adult gamer to play? That way nothing is censored and adults can be playing more adult games. I tell you why. Because most of the mainstream media still thinks that games are for kids only. And yes, you can partially thank Nintendo for that stereotype. I won't go into that though. And since they think only kids are playiong, then they are morally oppossed to any sexuality in games. Violance is an issue too, of course, but not as much as sexuality. So, since most people still think that kids play these M-rated games (even though the stats for that have been decreasing over the past couple of years), then certianly all adult games are bad. There's also a publicity factor to all this as well. Retail stores and game companies refuse to carry AO rated titles becasue of the controversy that follows (from uninformed politicians and the media mostly). In other words, even though most of the consumers in this industry are adults, they bow to the pressure and censor out a particular rating just because it might create bad publicity for them.

 

So here we are in 2010. With some sexuality, brief nudity, and a ton of violence in M-rated games. Can there be even more adult content? Oh yeah. Will there be? Not likely anytime soon.

 

Here's my opinion: As an adult gamer, I want more. More sexuality and more AO rated games. I don't like that some of the adult content in M-rated games is censored and in all honesty, it ticks me off that an industry that makes most of it's money off adult gamers, still bows to the pressure of the media to cut back even more. There's nothing wrong with sex. There's nothing wrong with nudity. There's nothing wrong with violence. Not when it's in a video game that's being played by an adult. Oh and one more thing, none of the M-rated content is real. Because you know what...IT'S JUST A GAME!!!!!!!! If more people remembered that, then maybe this wouldn't be such a controversial issue.

 

 

-Hawkfan

Multisystem owner. PS Plus member:Legendary status.GAP member with a launch PS3 & PS4.

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 8, 2010

Hmmm... This is a tough one. 

 

Looking at the most popular games sold being "M" rated, I think it's safe to say that the majority of gamers are of age to be exposed to sexuality in their games. We've already seen a few that go the extra mile when observing certain scenes in games like Heavy Rain, Saboteur, Dragon Age, God of War, Grand Theft Auto, etc...  Catherine is another story though. It actually advertises itself as a "sexual" title, and I don't see a point in having games that use sex as a tactic to draw sales. This especially holds true in a market where ESRB ratings are not enforced well enough.

 

The film industry is constantly flooded with such tasteless products, and the genre draws an enormous amount of money compared to the investment required. Let's face it... Sex sells. And it does so at an alarming rate. We have the same issue in games with licenses. You guys can't tell me you actually enjoyed more than a handful out of the hundreds of movie licensed games out there. Can you?

 

So, with that being said, do we REALLY want to give publishers a new avenue to make a cheap buck? And in saying "Anything goes", do we really want that flood of smut in the game industry and have developers work on such endeavors instead of the AAA titles that require larger monetary and time investments?

 

As far as I'm concerned, "too much" is when sex is the main draw of a title. Outside of that, if a scene or game warrants the content for added drama, character building, or comical purposes, I'm all for it. To be honest, I would have liked to see "Hot Coffee" in GTA San Andreas as I found the concept humorous and not as over the top as the violence portrayed. But, to have a game entirely based on sex, to me, is just not necessary in our games. I play games to be entertained, not to be turned on. And for those who want the latter, I say "Hey, at least the PS3 can play DVDs"

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 8, 2010

While you might not want sex to be the "main draw" of a title, do you really want a committee having the power to say "this much is too much"?

 

In my opinion, the box cover should provide sufficient information so people can make an informed decision.  If people choose to buy a title with a lot of violence (see Splatterhouse or Bulletstorm), then so be it.  If people choose to buy a title with a lot of sex, so be it.  People should be able to buy whatever they want---particularly when it comes to video game, where everything you see is computer-generated. 

 

Just like in all other parts of the economy, the market will dictate what devs/pubs provide.  If sex-heavy titles don't sell, then we'll see fewer of them available.  If people want to buy such titles, then fine.  Let them...

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Re: Sexuality in Video Games: How Much is Too Much?

Sep 9, 2010

 


AmnesiaInnocent wrote:

While you might not want sex to be the "main draw" of a title, do you really want a committee having the power to say "this much is too much"?

 

In my opinion, the box cover should provide sufficient information so people can make an informed decision.  If people choose to buy a title with a lot of violence (see Splatterhouse or Bulletstorm), then so be it.  If people choose to buy a title with a lot of sex, so be it.  People should be able to buy whatever they want---particularly when it comes to video game, where everything you see is computer-generated. 

 

Just like in all other parts of the economy, the market will dictate what devs/pubs provide.  If sex-heavy titles don't sell, then we'll see fewer of them available.  If people want to buy such titles, then fine.  Let them...


 

In an ideal world? No. But, think beyond what we want as gamers and think more about how lifting all barricades will make the industry adapt. A certain motion control system already gave us quite a scare when developers started saying that casual games are the way to go for the future. Luckily for us, releases like Batman:AA saved the day with their tremendous profit margins.

 

Once we have games that use sex to draw sales, they will immediately succeed and draw tremendous profit with little time or money invested. This will create a slew of games that are low quality and low budget to create cash flow for publishers. And then we have a reduction in quality titles as publishers focus on the profitable and less risky smut. 

 

As an adult, I would love to see more AO games, and I'm not fond of censorship to say the least. But, in this case, I think it works to the gamers' benefit considering quality games with higher budgets is the most profitable venture for developers and publishers.

 

Edit: I also forgot to mention that while I think the ESRB system is MORE than adequate to inform purchasers, it's the retailers that are the issue here. The simple fact is that retailers don't properly enforce the rating system. As a matter of fact, I personally know 3 underage children (one as young as 11) that have purchased Grand Theft Auto 4 without any issues. Even from retailers as large as Gamestop

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