Sex Sells? Well, Not to Gamers
So I came across an interesting article via a video game reviewer I watch named Angry Joe. He's an avid fan of Saints Row 2, so when Saints Row: The Third was announced, naturally he was excited. I'll admit that I was interested as well, but mainly because of the new antagonist of the game, Phillipe Loren. Needless to say if you ask either of us, we'll tell you Saints Row: The Third was a huge letdown. We both have our own reasons, but that's not why I'm doing this article.
Angry Joe recently posted a DLC news bulletin on his site. It is titled "R U SERIOUS? Saints Row 3 Penthouse DLC". This is something from last month, but believe me when I say it's ridiculous. In it he explains that THQ and Volition are releasing a character skin pack that consists of four Penthouse *ahem* models. Watching the video he has in the article, I found myself shaking my head with disbelief. But, hey, if Volition had a helicarrier, zombies, clones, vampires, luchador gangsters, and giant sex toys, then who am I to argue that this wasn't going to happen?
So how much is this DLC pack going to cost you? It is going for 240 Microsoft Points (three dollars). Three dollars for four skins of real life adult models. Keep in mind that these skins do absolutely nothing. I'm watching the video waiting to see what genius, or lack thereof, Volition put into these skins and I noticed only a few things.
Those few things consist of a lot skin being shown, bouncing breasts, and character models that look more like plastic than the models themselves. THQ, Volition, what are you doing? Who are you trying to appeal to here? Are you trying to reenact the DLC with Tera Patrick from Saints Row 2? At least with that it was technically a small expansion. This is just four in-game skins of four real life adult models that do nothing to enhance the gameplay.
Or was this the kind of reaction you were expecting? "Oh! Boobies! Hot babes! Gotta have them! Duh, ha, ha!" I think not. Gamers are a lot more mature than you give us credit for. Quite frankly it shows if you go to the Youtube video for it. The dislike bar is currently at 873 in opposition to the like bar which is only 217. We know when something is stupid and when we're getting ripped off!
Gamers are not horny cavemen who discovered Playboy for the first time in our lives. The whole idea of trying to sell sex to gamers has gone on long enough. I'm personally glad that many gamers are putting their foot down. It's about time we did. It's time that companies learn that there are things we don't like.
Being stereotyped as someone who will pay money for a nip slip is something I don't like being categorized in. As such, this sort of practice is insulting to the consumer. Yes, I'm aware that there are people who do pay for certain sexual things online, but I'm not one of them. I'm a gamer who enjoys a good narrative and some mindless fun. I don't buy a game for TNA!
Every time this happens it results in a majority of gamers rolling their eyes at the pathetic attempts by companies to get them to buy their games. Companies don't realize that there's a distinct difference among everyone's sexual preferences. Some people like blondes, others like redheads. Some people like muscle, others like slim bodies. There is no difference when it comes to what we might find sexy in a video game, but sexuality is not why we buy games!
If you force sexuality on us, that's putting us off even more when we see how stupid it is! It's degrading, insulting, and it pisses us off! It's also sending two clear messages. One, you don't respect us as mature customers. Two, you're stereotyping gamers as lonely nerds who live out their virtual fantasies through technology. Something that a person finds sexually appealing should come from their personal preferences, not because it was designed that way and that same design was used as the selling point.
I have nothing against sexuality in any media form. We see it countless times in television, film, paintings, and video games. However, the difference between seeing something that can be considered sexual to something that is sexual for the sake of being sexual can be narrowed down to one simple question: Are they doing this on purpose? The unfortunate truth is that I've seen it too often.
Dead or Alive, Bayonetta, and Soul Calibur are immediate culprits of things being sexual for the sake of being sexual. Also, these games were advertised using the sexual themes I'm going to list. Breast physics that are ridiculously too bouncy to be real (DoA), a woman who is consistently a sexual deviant while wearing a skin tight outfit (Bayonetta), and the ability to make your created character fight with a triple D cup size (SC). Developers, if you want to have sexuality in your games, I have nothing against it, but let your female characters have some form of respectability aside from their bodies. Don't degrade them like as if you're selling them on a street corner!
At least Trish in Devil May Cry is sexy through her personality and style of clothing. At least Chloe Frazer is sexy through her intelligence and beauty. At least Rikku is sexy through her sparky attitude and innocent demeanor. Those are examples of female characters that can be considered sexual, but not sexual for the sake of being sexual or being the selling point for a game.
Now you might disagree with me on the choices of characters I used that can be considered sexual, but those were the first ones that popped in my mind. Those examples, however, show that the design and idea for those characters were not aimed to get you to buy the game. Dead or Alive is known for its fighting, but also for its ridiculous breast physics. Bayonetta is known for its titular character posing and acting erotically to which even a cover of the game has her exposed back to you and still posing with an emphasis on her buttocks. Soul Calibur V had an advertisement of a woman's rear end for crying out loud and you can have your created fighter rival Ivy's cup size.
This is not why people buy video games. We want fun experiences. We don't want butt cheeks all over the screen! We want memorable stories and characters. We don't want to feel like perverts! We want to admire the work put into a video game. We don't want to admire the digitized, blatantly exposed, and over emphasized TNA! We want to be treated like reasonable, mature adults. We don't want to be treated like puberty ridden teenagers!
This practice has to end. Gamers are not easily impressionable and we are sick of people thinking we are. Sex is something that does not come to mind when we think of video games. But when sexuality is forced into the picture, we cannot ignore it. It goes back to the old metaphorical idiom of "elephant in the room". A blatant advertisement of this sexual magnitude is just as impossible to ignore as an "elephant in the room". If you pretend to ignore it, then nothing can be done about the issue.
As such, this Penthouse DLC is stupid and offers little to nothing for the experience that gamers can't already do in character creation. I urge people to be smart and save your money. I don't care if it's three dollars. Use that three dollars for the bus or a drink or to rent a movie. If you're going to be one of those commenters who says, "It's DLC. You can choose whether you want to buy it or not", then you obviously didn't get the point of my article.
Sexuality should never be used to sell a product. It's insulting to us as consumers. When I want to buy a video game, I want to know what the gameplay is like and what the story is. If I think that something is sexy in the game, then that's my opinion.
No, I am not saying that models, whether they are male or female, shouldn't be used to show off a product. If anything, they help demonstrate how the product works or what it's about. However, if you get distracted by their looks or body type, then that's on you.
In the end, though, this makes the companies look like greedy loan sharks who try to nickel and dime you for all you got by offering little and expecting you to be suckered by their "deals". Then again, who's really the one to blame? Is it the companies for selling something that they know will sell? Or is it the consumers for buying these pointless things? Either way, I'm glad a lot of gamers are standing their ground and telling Volition and THQ that they will not get a single dollar from them for this pathetic excuse of DLC.