HonestDragon (User)

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Under the Knife: Sex vs Violence

HonestDragon | 692d ago
User blog

From a week and a half ago, we have seen many headlines in the news. The announcement of the release for the Wii U, Bayonetta 2 being shunned by fans because it will be a Wii U exclusive, Bethesda still having trouble with DLC for the PS3, and sex being implemented into games. These have been a couple active weeks in the video game community (N4G included). Opinions are being tossed around about these headlines, so I figured why not share mine? It's time to take these things Under the Knife.

Now, the one thing that has been clouding my mind most out the four headlines I mentioned is how the gaming community is divided when it comes to sex in video games. In particular, Steam recently pulled a game called Seduce Me for being too offensive. I don't blame them for removing this game due to the content within it.

While most people don't know what this "game" is about, I decided to do a little research. At the official website for Seduce Me, I discovered a video link, some images, and the would be plot of it. The video link is to a Youtube video that pretty much shows what you do in the game. To be honest, it looked very bland. The images provided don't show much promise either. One image in particular has a speech text that reads: "PIETRA thinks ERIN needs a good screwing." Wonderful. The premise of Seduce Me is explained as follows, "The game was inspired by the lives of American socialites and celebrities. The game revels in their decadence and glamour. There are four main characters and twelve supporting characters."

There are initially four main women you can date and have sex with. No details were provided on the twelve supporting characters. The game play explained that you can "EXPLORE" the world through pre-rendered panoramas, and hand painted event images. You can "INTERACT" with the girls and play a card based mini game that gives you a score on your reputation with a woman. The next category is where the money shot is: "SEE EROTIC CUTSCENES". Would you like to know what those cutscenes actually show?

They show those hand painted event images that the website mentions, which shows your male character having sex with the woman you choose to seduce. There are also text captions reminiscent of sexting that describe the scene. So, ladies and gentlemen, this is basically Western hentai. It's a dating and sex simulator. It's interactive pornography. It's not a video game.

Let me blunt with you. If you're intent as a writer or director is to make a movie or a video game, then you have your ideas squared off already. However, if your ideas are centered on say one guy being able to have sex with five different women and that covers anything between sixty to eighty percent of the material, then you are no longer making a cinematic movie or video game. You are making a pornographic movie or interactive pornography. If sex is the sole purpose of a movie or video game, you are by all intents and purposes making porn.

I'm kind of baffled right now. After seeing so many people go the defense of this "game", it just made me wonder what the big deal was. Why were some people up in arms over Seduce Me being pulled from Steam? Why the sudden thought that sex will help video games "mature"?

Is it because that violence in games can be so intense that some gamers want explicit sex scenes now? Frankly, that seems to be the argument going on right now. What I'm hearing from some people is, "Well, video games have lots of graphic violence. Why can't there be sex in them, too? We can't hold up a double standard like this." There is a vital difference between violence and sex. Some of which I just explained up top.

When you look at violence in video games, yes, it can be graphic, but a majority of it is fantasy or cartoonish. People say that Grand Theft Auto is violent, yet it's really not that bad. Sure you're shooting and running over people, but do you see anything truly graphic aside from blood? Are there bullet holes in them or crushed parts of their body? No, because while the acts you commit are violent there is nothing shown that is too graphic.

Then again, you have some of the more extreme violence like Dead Island and Mortal Kombat. Again, though, the violence portrayed in there is fantasy and has to be exaggerated or fit into the genre and ideas of the game. How else is someone going survive a zombie outbreak with no guns? How else is Johnny Cage going to finish off Kano in a tournament that demands it?

Violence seems to have more of a place in gaming than sex does. Think about it, what is the basic principle of interacting characters in a story? There will always be a protagonist and an antagonist. A majority of stories told over the course of human history have those who rise up and those who challenge them. Conflict is a part of every day life. While most conflict is not extreme in any given person's life, in terms of fiction, violence has to be emphasized.

In horror, there will be grotesque, frightening, and terrible things that will happen. Monsters, killers, ghosts, zombies, and supernatural creatures are not completely bound by the rules of reality. The actions of these things have to be emphasized in order for the story to meet the terms of the genre. Fear and paranoia is what will drive violence in horror up.

In fantasy, there will be fantastic wonders, mysticism, and species of varying types. Sorcerers, dragons, elves, orcs, and gods are in worlds that go beyond the conventional. Magic is used to either heal or to summon dreadful beings. War in these types of stories are brutal and have no limit on violence.

In science fiction, there will be new technology, alien contact, and ancient mysteries. Futuristic weaponry, warp technology, nanotechnology, aliens, and robotics are some of the basics of science fiction that go to what can be. Alliances will be made, while war breaks out between one species and another.

These genres of fiction need to have violence emphasized. Now whether that violence is to show what one army or person is capable of or even what this new type of technology can do, violence ultimately has purpose. Granted, quite a few writers and directors use violence for shock value, but they are far and in between per media outlet. Violence is what can help drive the plot and character development no matter how graphic it may be.

Sex, on the other hand, does not help as much. While a sex scene may commence in a relationship that is developed between two characters, it should not be interactive beyond that or explicit. Nudity or even partial nudity is acceptable, but don't need to be emphasized sexually in a scene. Kind of like how in anime there is the "swimsuit episode", to have an explicit sex scene in a video game only leads to fan service. If sex is the only goal in a video game, then it's pornography.

Sex in video games has been limited. I think for good reason. God of War and Mass Effect had sex, but not explicitly shown. It was done in a tongue-in-cheek way and only showed so much. When you have games like Seduce Me and the very offensive RapeLay, then it's nothing short of making porn. These are no longer video games.

Oh, and before anyone goes to the defense of RapeLay, let me just say that that game is sickening. Reading the premise and the overall arc of the "game" is disgusting. Stalking, groping, trapping, and raping women is something only the sickest of things a person can do. For those writers who have said that "rape is a lesser crime compared to murder" let me just say that to kill in a video game is entirely different as opposed to planning and raping someone. This is not a double standard. This is something that was just taken to an extreme for the sake of shock value. It's like the movie A Serbian Film where the violence and sexual content is taken to such a high degree that it doesn't leave a dramatic impact on you as much as you wanting to throw up because it was so tasteless. Shock value comes from plot twists and sudden action, not from grotesque or disturbing imagery. That doesn't shock anyone. It makes them sick.

As a writer and an experienced actor in theater, I can wholeheartedly tell you guys that the argument for sex in gaming is weak. There are times in a story or when you're doing improv that sexual material can have a place. The thing that you learn, though, is to avoid going blue as much as you can. What do I mean? Going blue means to incorporate adult themes in your scenes (i.e. explicit language and sexual ideas). The reason behind the idea of not going blue is to force yourself to be more creative and to contribute more to a scene or idea, rather than go for the obvious or quick route.

Am I against sex in gaming? No, of course not. Sex, in general, can have a place in fiction, but it should not be the center of the action. Sex scenes should be used to show the relationship between two characters, not just for the sake of seeing nude bodies. Again, when sex is the main idea of an entertainment medium, it is no longer applicable to its original meaning. In the end, it just becomes pornography. If people truly want video games to "mature", then ask for stronger writing, better stories, and characters that actually have souls.

To demand physical eye candy just because it's considered "adult" reverses the idea of video games being "mature". After all, doesn't the classic joke "watching porn for the acting" apply here? Besides, if you want explicit sex scenes...use the internet! There's plenty to go around! It's not that hard to find! Agree with me, disagree with me, whatever your thoughts are write them down. Do you think that gaming really needs sex to "mature" or do you think that gaming is okay the way it is? You decide.

Paragon  +   692d ago
Wow, very nice! Be prepared to get a big backlash, but this was very interesting to read. I agree with your points.
#1 (Edited 692d ago ) | Agree(3) | Disagree(2) | Report | Reply
HonestDragon  +   692d ago
Ha, ha. Thank you very much, Paragon. Yeah, I hope no one takes it personal. It's just my opinion on the concept. Although, I don't know why they would take it personal. Does explicit sex in video games really make it personal for those who want to see more TNA and graphic *ahem* positions? We shall see.
SageHonor  +   691d ago
I agree with everything you said. I've seen arguments and from what i gather some people still hold the belief that nudity equals maturity when it comes to love scenes or sex in games. Also, sex is something I do in real life not a video game. Blowing somebody's head off is something I do in a video game not real life.

See what I did there?
n to the b  +   690d ago
yes, we see what you did there. the logic doesn't hold up though.

otherwise throw out the sports genre of video games entirely. after all, sports is something I do in real life not a video game.
SageHonor  +   690d ago
I play sports in real life and on a video game ^^
n to the b  +   690d ago
ok, and I play sex in real life and on a video game
ZoyosJD  +   691d ago
Long post, lots of (I'll say decent) points, but no true thesis. You seem to cop out of laying down your thoughts at the end by saying "You decide". Its fine to ask for opinions, but we can't really agree or disagree if you can't lay down the hard line on your own true thoughts. Also your examples are quite expected, and don't give an example on the other end of the spectrum where a scene has been minimally censored and yet remains classy and meaningful.

I will say there is a double standard. It's undeniable when you compare the standards in games:

When your character kills someone you see the entire action, you control the very manner that it happens in.
With the results being that you are rewarded (ex. with the +100) for virtually replicating the cause of someones death, and in some cases outright murder. On top of all this some of these depictions are allowed even in Teen rated games.

When your character has sex in a game it is standard for all control to be taken away from the player with the camera to pull away as if trying not to look or for everything to fade to black. The results are that an everyday act of passion is shunned or censored because it is tradition.

Could you imagine the screen going black every time you shot someone in COD. Could you imagine the screen turning away every time you punched someone in Fight Night. No blood, no gore. Or better yet, if none of these options were even available in the first place because someone thought it was too graphic for 95% of their audience.

I agree with some points like "just fan service", but is every kill just murder for the fun of it. Obviously, there is meaning behind a lot of it, just like sex. So, why should one be more censored than another? I see no reason for it.

At minimum death and sex should be on the same level in the same way that murder and rape should be crossing the line. But, apparently society thinks it better to show mass murder over even just sex.

Damn, If only I could have written an English paper on this topic.
HonestDragon  +   691d ago
Decent points, huh? No true thesis? You do realize I'm not writing an English paper, right? I'm pretty sure I made my point consistent throughout.

You say that I "cop out" of laying down my thoughts by opening things up for discussion and asking questions, and that somehow dissuades what I'm talking about? I am merely giving you (the reader) a chance to further your ideas on the subject.

I gave two examples of where sex was done well: God of War and Mass Effect. They weren't needlessly explicit.

"When your character kills someone you see the entire action, you control the very manner that it happens in."

True, but that doesn't take away anything from what is demonstrated by the act. It shows what your character is capable of to what you choose for them to do. It feeds more to the content and elements of the game.

"When your character has sex in a game it is standard for all control to be taken away from the player with the camera to pull away as if trying not to look or for everything to fade to black. The results are that an everyday act of passion is shunned or censored because it is tradition."

No, they are panned away and not explicitly shown because otherwise the game would get an Adults Only rating. It's hard enough trying to convince some countries that games with graphic violence deserve the best Mature rating they have.

Think of the hurdles needed to be jumped because a developer has full blown sex scenes in their game. As it is, many kids want CoD and GTA which are rated M for the violent content. Most parents are okay with this, but many of them and gamers would agree that sex scenes are something that children shouldn't be exposed to or that it's needed for the video game to keep it "mature". Retailers already put a lid on violent games from kids by asking for identification and parental permission. Having explicit sex and nudity in video games would cause developers to go through more red tape, which only brings more hassle.

"I agree with some points like "just fan service", but is every kill just murder for the fun of it. Obviously, there is meaning behind a lot of it, just like sex."

Yes, there is meaning behind these things, but I stressed that the reason why sex has been limited is because such things are sensitive to what a writer or director is trying to make. Too much explicit sex garners a piece of fiction nothing more than a title for pornography and does not contribute to the overall narrative aside from two characters having sex and never referencing it again or just barely. That's where the "fan service" mentality comes from.

Would having explicit sex in video games really make them any better? It's not that society thinks it's "better to show mass murder over even just sex". It's what the content shows at the end of it all. Sex has purpose, but a limited purpose. If sex becomes the staple of any piece of entertainment media, it's pornography. If it's shown too much or explicitly in any piece of entertainment media, it gets blacklisted, rated only for adults, or banned (same goes for graphic violence). People flipped out when the "Hot coffee" mod in San Andreas was around.

I get where you're coming from with the double standard, but in order for society to truly accept sex in video games, then it has to be handled delicately and maturely. There are many people out there who finger games for being the cause of violent outbursts in society and being a bad influence on children. If sex became a common theme in video games, then Adults Only ratings would be more commonplace and those same people would finger games for sex related crimes if they had the chance.
#3.1 (Edited 691d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(3) | Report | Reply
ZoyosJD  +   690d ago
Yes, yes, yes, and not really.

It doesn't matter when you open up discussion. What matters is that you lay down your cold hard defined thoughts on the entirety of the matter before you ask if we agree or not.

Your second to last paragraph is the only place that slightly addresses this and does so in a vague manner ("when sex is the main idea of an entertainment medium") without drawing the line. When is that line for you? Nudity? A single explicit sex scene that develops a relation ship? One that doesn't? Multiple scenes?

Regardless of if you asked for our opinion or not(obvious enough as it is a blog with comments) you should have began with a concept and then backed it up. This is basic writing. It is something "a writer and an experienced actor in theater" should know.

I didn't have a clue where you were going until the end of the 5th paragraph, and even then I had no definitive idea.

Then you go off for 3 paragraphs describing generas...your audience needs that :S

Your examples of appropriate sex in games include one that pans away and one that fades to black as I mentioned is tradition. And your examples of inappropriate sex are "games" about rape and a game with only sexually explicit content.

You have no examples of the middle ground where a games sex scene can be sexually explicit, and yet not have sex be the focus of the game. The Witcher 2 would be a great example of this, as you can build relationships through the game like in mass effect yet the scenes can be (more so, yet not fully) sexually explicit.

"True, but that doesn't take away anything from what is demonstrated by the act. It shows what your character is capable of to what you choose for them to do. It feeds more to the content and elements of the game.

No, they are panned away and not explicitly shown because otherwise the game would get an Adults Only rating. It's hard enough trying to convince some countries that games with graphic violence deserve the best Mature rating they have."

So you think replicating the act of mass genocide deserves an M rating, while simply showing explicit sex is so horrid that it deserves a rating that practically won't even allow you to sell a game with it.

"Sex has purpose, but a limited purpose."

As does Violence.

You ask "why show sex when they could just show the relationship?"

I ask "why show violence when they could just show the struggle?"

Both of these things have their place in defining what they aim to portray. Both should be allowed, but they need the appropriate rating.

"People flipped out when the "Hot coffee" mod in San Andreas was around."

That was because the game wasn't appropriately rated for that content. Honestly, if GTA got an AO rating, but was still widely available it would have sold generally the same, and some parents would not have given their 12 year old kid a game made for adults or at least they would have learned like many did with it being M rated in the first place.

Historically speaking those that gave the "finger" to things for being different were the ones that were restricting and infringing upon the rights of others. As far as I am concerned you might as well be bowing down to praise their opinions right now.

Yes, it needs to be handled appropriately, but NOT by making explicit sex in games non-existent so a few can feel "good" about society.

I didn't take things out of context, your organization was just poor. When I saw you call yourself a writer I almost didn't even respond.
Ashriel  +   688d ago
Uhhhh, call me hypocrite all you want but controlling a sex scene in a videogame would feel awfuly awkward :/
ZoyosJD  +   688d ago
*faceplam*

Are you a prude?

If so why are you here?

If not, because of what?

Not because morally you would feel better killing someone, but because of how you expect society to react.

Awkward is a secondary emotion only felt when adhering to expectations.

Why don't you go play COD in church?

Your afraid of sex in games, like a boy hiding his internet usage, or a politician of his drinking habit.

In fact "hypocrite" is the perfect fit.
Ashriel  +   688d ago
I'm not against sex in games, fyi. But having to play a sex scene would make 99% of players feel uncomfortable, so what's the point?
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n to the b  +   690d ago
"Decent points, huh? No true thesis? You do realize I'm not writing an English paper, right? I'm pretty sure I made my point consistent throughout."

you're trying to have it both ways. don't put so much obvious effort into an extended blog post, even asking for our feedback, and then pretend you don't care.

your point was not 'pretty consistent throughout'. it wasn't until the last paragraph or 2 that it became possible to discern that you don't necessarily hate sexually explicit material in and of itself - just that it does little to 'mature' video games.

EDIT: grammar
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HonestDragon  +   690d ago
How am I making it seem like I don't care? I merely added a rebuttal to the comment. I even offered some questions for discussion. What? I can't do that? Was I ever implying that I thought sex was wrong in games or I was against it completely? I never blatantly said that.

Good grief, some of you can be so sensitive and aggressive. Also, I know other media doesn't handle sex as well as they should. I'm saying that video games need to be handled well because of the reputation video games have with some social circles in North America.

Over the course of human history, many people have fingered various forms of pop culture as the reason for corrupting society or youth. I'm not defending them or the pop culture. I am giving my opinions on sex in video games and how I think it won't work as well as violence does.

A couple of you have taken this out of context by making it seem like I don't care about others' opinions or with how I presented my opinion. Don't point fingers at me making it seem like I don't give a thought to others or their opinions. I read, I rebuttal, and I make my points. Keep your writing to the article at hand, not by making negative assertions about the author because you don't agree with what you just read.
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n to the b  +   690d ago
"in order for society to truly accept sex in video games, then it has to be handled delicately and maturely"

you mean, like how it's always handled delicately and maturely in film and the other already-accepted media?
/sarcasm

"If sex became a common theme in video games, then Adults Only ratings would be more commonplace and those same people would finger games for sex related crimes if they had the chance."

So? the solution is not to kowtow to the ignorant fearmongers who don't take the time to understand a new medium. don't walk on eggshells for people who don't understand how much they look like those ignorant grannies who thought rock and roll was the devil.

life liberty and the pursuit of happiness should ONLY EVER be restricted when your activities infringe on those same rights of others around you. spanking to Bayonetta in the privacy of your bedroom causes no direct harm to anyone.

Don't Tread On Me.
aprilenesis   690d ago | Spam

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