Friday, July 29, 2011

Re: Sexual Video Games Are Good For Us

On July 16th 2011, Leigh Alexander, curator of the indie video game gallery/arcade Babycastles hosted an exhibit of indie video games loosely themed around "sex" named Bad Bitches. I know this because one of my games, Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer was there. That choice made me curious, as I'm not sure I would categorize the game as sexual. I mean, there is sex in it, but it's not a game about sex, or a sexual game.

Interestingly, the featured game of the event, Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars is not really sexual either, at least in my opinion. It's about a Spider Queen facing a rebellion of her slaves, and she must capture them back before they capture you. Oh, and everyone is topless. It's a pretty fun little arcade-style game, and there are definitely some light bondage references there, but... at this point of video game history, especially indie video games, it surprises me that there's so little sex in a game that represent games in a gaming event about sexuality.

Recently Leigh Alexander herself posted an article on Kotaku called Sexual Video Games are Good For Us, talking a little about the Bad Bitches event, and discussing sexuality in video games. She says she's always been fascinated about subtle sexual hints on mainstream games and always enjoyed writing about them while other people only seemed to be concerned about game mechanics. More interesting, she points how the subculture of video games has its space for fantasizing, escapism and its own kind of fetishism.

It is fascinating indeed, but not surprising. People are extremely sexual beings, and they find ways to match sex with everything (even chess?). Video games have grown to a degree of complexity that allow them to have a take on a lot of aspects of human life, and they certainly do occupy a huge part of many people's lives. So, yeah, sex is there.

What is more recent and definitely interesting is that people are explicitly addressing the issue of sex and video games, because it's always been there. My props to Leigh Alexander for doing this in Bad Bitches. It is also what I'm trying to do with the game... kinda.

But why are sexual video games good for us at all? I have no answer to that.

What I can say is that I am an appreciator of sex in video games (and movies, etc.), but strong implications with no presentation annoy me a little. I mean... the idea that the characters of a game have sex doesn't turn me on, it frustrates me... unless the sex itself is shown. And what pretty much every video game do is insinuation... fade-outs, blurs, sound-only, there's a huge effort on making sure you don't see anything. That's basically the reasons why I decided to make this game. Let them see.

Leigh Alexander's words made me wonder about one thing though... is explicit sex in video games actually more sexually enticing that the subtle hints games leave us? People may fantasize about watching some video game character, like FFX's Rikku, having sex for instance... but would watching it happen be more exciting than just desiring it?

I hope not, or Polymorphous Perversity may turn out to be extremely non-sexual.

I have no idea what I'm talking about right now.

PS: I lied, Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer is purely sexual.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What's in, what's out

When I first started making this game, I thought I should try to include all kinds of stuff that might sexually arouse people. Not only paraphilias, but... stuff. Aiming too high, but still I should try.

So, one day, I was designing this female slave you can purchase to do things for you in your house, and I asked a friend: what would you like an ingame sex slave to do for you? Among other stuff, he said "I don't know, make you her slave". To which I replied... "nah". But I realized players could think that when playing - "I wish this slave could..." - and "nah" isn't the right attitude for what I was aiming for.

Then I realized... an "I wish" reaction from the player may have the same kind of effect as something that actually happens inside the game. Just the fact of thinking of something he would want to be in the game can be stimulating, can trigger the type of thoughts I want triggered. To the unconsciousness, reality and fantasy are complementary and have similar degrees of impact (would quote Freud here). That made be feel good about not having EVERYTHING in the game (But I will get close, promise).

In other words, I expected players to be stimulated by what they see/do in the game, and by what they DON'T see/do. We'll see.