A prejudice against games or simply common sense?
Tell me, how does it feel to have sex? Even if you haven’t had sex before, your answer will likely be similar to that of those who have. In a world where sex can be found everywhere – from books to movies to magazines to internet… err… “shows,” our world seems to have become comfortable with sex being the subject of every single form of media… except, strangely, video games. Why is that?
It’s a topic that’s been on my mind for a while now. Movies have depicted sex scenes for decades. Books have been doing so for centuries. But when video games even give a hint of sex, for some strange reason, the world goes ablaze.
Take, for example, the infamous Hot Coffee mod from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. With a couple of hacks and cheats, players could unlock a sex minigame within a game, prompting Rockstar to pull the game from shelves and issue a post-game patch to prevent the minigame from being accessible. The game got mounds of heat for this “incident,” including a class action lawsuit against Rockstar themselves.
Or look back at the SE’XBOX incident with the original Mass Effect. When the game was first released, a blogger mistakenly thought players could have sex with anyone and everyone in the game with “just a push of a button.” This simply was not true, of course, though the game does allow you sleep with one of three characters given that you’ve completed a specific set of tasks. Still, the fact that the game even “implied” that your character had sex with another individual caused a huge controversy, leading to the infamous SE’XBOX debate on FOX News.
What these two controversies tell us is that the general public at the time was not (and, to me, still are not) yet ready to accept the notion of sex in video games. But it’s not just the general public that’s against it; many games themselves feel that video game sex degrades the gaming industry’s integrity. Why is it that something so readily acceptable in other forms of media is immediately shot down when it comes to gaming?
Is it because video games are more readily available to minors? Let’s compare. Minors can watch rated-R movies in theaters as long as they are accompanied by a “responsible adult”. Parents can buy an R-rated movie on DVD and no one is stopping them from showing it to their kids. Video games are easily just as accessible to minors as movies are. Besides, if parents are truly concerned about this issue, they should be targeting bad parenting, not inappropriate video games.
Is it because it would be too much of a bad influence? Probably not. We’ve all heard the “video game violence” debate, and how many people (I included) don’t believe that real-life violence can be linked back to games. Why? Because games are games, and we as gamers treat them as such. Video game violence simply does not cause real-life violence. In the same way, I don’t think video game sex causes people to go out and have sex with everyone. I don’t know about you, but that would be pretty weird.
Is it because people these days are too young to understand sex? Nah. I had sex education when I was in seventh grade. I knew what sex was. Heck, I’m pretty sure I knew what sex looked like in my head. Now, if this was shown to a six-year-old, then we have a problem, but who in their right mind would let a six-year-old play GTA? I’m pretty sure 99.9% of gamers in the world knows a thing or two about sex, so I honestly don’t think games are “infecting” our minds with images of sex.
Is it because sex is unnatural? Yeah, I don’t even have to answer that for you.
Now, I’m sure it looks like I’m trying to advocate pornography in video games. Trust me, there is nothing further from the truth. I’m not going to state my personal opinion on the pornography industry at large, but just so you can sort of understand my viewpoint, let me just say that I think porn is a bit gross. And to be clear, I don’t condone what Rockstar did with GTA and Hot Coffee; I’m still quite appalled that a sex minigame ended up in the final version of what was supposed to be a sandbox action game.
But you can talk about sex without it being porno. Look at Mass Effect; you can sleep with another player, but that only serves to develop Shepherd as a character. No sex was actually depicted; at best the scene was only implied. If just mentioning sex like that can get the gaming medium into trouble, I seriously don’t know what to think. Besides, no one bought Mass Effect because it had a sex scene in it.
Here’s what I think. And yes, this is my personal opinion, so feel free to disagree with me. Video games is an art form. All art forms should have freedom of expression, so long as its not dangerous to the public (so no, burning homes is not considered “art”). Thus, video games should be allowed to mention – or, like in Mass Effect, visually imply – sex when need be without the fear of retaliation from either the public or the gaming community. Because seriously, it’s just sex. Sex is about feeling; isn’t that what video games are about as well? (It’s a joke, people!)
What about you guys, my fellow MyIGNers? Are you for or against sex in video games? Is there a limit as to how much a game can reference sex, or do you honestly don’t care either way? Sound off in the comments!