“But Mom…I always play PlayStation in the bathroom!”
Since the dawn of time and until the end of human existence, one universal truth stays constant: sex sells. No matter how many civilizations rise and fall, no matter how technologically advanced we become, things tend to always boil down to the one unifying thread of sex. Whether at its most primitive form of simple markings on a cave wall, or in the 20s with those little twenty-five cent peepshow machines, sex seems to always manifest itself through the technology of the time. Now, the video game industry is so incredibly popular (outselling music 3:1 and doubling the profits of film) we have to accept that that the melding of mature content with gaming is a virtual inevitability (as seen in the thousands of mature-based titles available over the years, spanning every genre imaginable).
Somehow, even with music videos and film becoming hyper-sexualized over the years, video games always garner extra attention when they introduce a sexual element. This is no doubt a holdover of the mentality that “video games are for kids,” no matter how big the M rating stamped on the box may try to convince you otherwise. The sex-in-gaming controversy finds its roots spanning all the way back to the golden age of gaming, and it’s still considered a controversial subject even today. How many of you remember the hours spent scouring the internet, trying to find the Lara Croft “nude code” or hearing from your friends that Mortal Kombat contains super-secret “Nudalities.”
So, with this trend showing no signs of stopping, I’m counting down five of the biggest gaming sex scandals to rock the world of gaming over the years. Get it…”rock”…as in, “If this game is a rockin’…”
Yeah, I’m not proud of that last one either…
#5 - Atari Porn – Beat ‘Um and Eat ‘Um / Custer’s Revenge
Now, I know right off the bat having a twofer in a top five is already breaking down the fundamentals of the countdown…but these both deserve top billing.
These were first brought to my attention by the Angry Video Game Nerd. With some of the earliest and most rudimentary attempts to represent adult content in gaming, both titles use a little more than a few simple pixels to try and represent various sexual situations. As with most Atari games, your imagination REALLY goes a long way. Whether it be with Beat ‘Um (which is basically the equivalent of a dirty version of Breakout) or Custer (which I can only describe best as a retro rape-sim), here you find the beginnings of sex in modern gaming.
#4 - Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball
The concept of this game is so ridiculously awesome…it’s awesome. Take the overly anatomically correct ladies of the Dead or Alive fighting-game franchise and…well…substitute the brawling for volleyball. Not very controversial in and of itself, but for back in the day, this original Xbox title made a few waves. The bikini-clad girls weren’t necessarily controversial themselves, but the physics of the game definitely was (which lead to some complaints being raised of just how jiggly things were). As for the amount of skin, it wasn’t until the site ninjahacker.com reversed engineered the texture system that the girls, courtesy of modders, got naked. This would lead to Techmo taking ninjahacker to court and suing for tens of thousands of dollars. Prudes.
#3 - The God of War Series (take your pick):
There’s an old saying, “To the victor goes the spoils,” and in Kratos’ case, this translates to a lot of puntang. The God of War franchise, launched back in 2005, has gone on to huge success. Sequel after sequel continues to follow as the series only grows in popularity. Known for its stylized violence, Kratos also finds himself with no shortage of bare-breasted woman (the game is based on Greek mythology after all). Even with the earliest release in the series (God of War for the PlayStation 2), you are able to engage in sex mini-games (with TWINS no less!). The franchise continues to include many of these adult-themed mini-games, expanding the concept into the current-gen entries. After all, we already know what good bedfellows sex and violence make in the world of entrainment.
#2 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
With the recent mega hit GTA V featuring full-on topless lap dances, the infamous Hot Coffee Mod seems a bit tame by today’s standards. Of course, when you take the stripper home in GTA V, the game time-lapses and forces players to use their imagination (as did San Andreas). However, in the original version, San Andreas pulled no punches in introducing an encounter where one of the characters invites you in for “coffee” (coffee, of course, being code for a little bing-a-de-bang-bang). Rockstar decided not to include this little feature late in the game’s development, but failed to remove the content from the disc. Technology being what it is, it didn’t take long for a modder from the Netherlands to release a patch for the PC version that allowed for access to the blocked content. This caused the game to be re-rated by the ESRB as Adults Only. This would later be downgraded back to M for Mature, after Rockstar released the Cold Coffee patch that finally removed the content.
#1 - Mass Effect / Dragon Age: Inquisition:
OK, so once again I list two games in a single game slot (which bumps my Top 5 list up to around 7). Maybe I’m bad at this…but allow me to explain my reasoning for including these two titles.
Both games are examples of current-gen games that have taken the role of sex in gaming to a different level than just shock value or eye candy. Its games like Mass Effect that try to make the sex in the game as important as any other aspect (by not making it gratuitous). Sex is a part of everyday life for millions of people (you might be doin’ it while reading this article right now…who knows). So, if gamers are becoming more like a cinematic experience, why would we assume this wouldn’t eventually make its way in as well? The upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition will feature sex scenes in its game, but according to its creators, will strive to do it in a tasteful way (specifically citing Mass Effect as an example). Cinematic Director of Dragon Age: Inquisition Jonathan Perry told GamerZines: “We also want to focus not just on the sex itself, but also that this is the culmination of spending a lot of time with a character and getting to know them, and so we’re giving scenes a mature and tasteful treatment I guess.”
So, as we mature, gaming content must mature with us. Of course, not every racing game needs a bikini-clad vixen; nor is it necessary for Sonya Blade’s jumpsuit to get tighter and tighter with each Mortal Kombat release (although, I’m not exactly opposed to it). I still love the idea of a simple Mario-style game that doesn’t need to include anything more than simple platforming fun. However, it makes sense that (as we age) our entrainment interests shift to things that are more adult oriented. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing less of the over-the-top, sexually charged content in lieu of more realistic sexual situations in gaming. As technology increases, the gap will only continue to close between our virtual worlds and, as Morpheus would put it, ”the desert of the real.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me…I have some questionable Atari games to play…