We Need More Bad Sex in Games

How Bad Sex Can Equals Better Games

How Bad Sex Can Equals Better Games

This post was originally a sidebar in another post I’m writing but decided it needs to be discussed on its own. Quite simply we need more Bad Sex in games, now I do not mean poorly written sex scenes. Although I’m kind of surprised their hasn’t been a Fifty Shades of Whatever game yet. I mean we need games that show us the less glamorous side of sex: The awkward first times; the bad sex that happens before you learn what you like, the fantasies that fall far short of expectations; the mechanical sex you have because your trying to conceive, the sex you have with X till you realize you’re only interested in Y, sex sessions that for any number of reasons don’t leave us satisfied. All of these are part of sex and sexuality; bad sex that teaches us what we don’t like is as much a part of life as the great sex that teach us what we love.

This is a rare in most media but I find it especially lacking in games. I can easily name some memorable bad sex example off the top of my head in other media. Lilly Allen has made several songs about bad sex, the HBO series Girls has had some very unglamorous portrayals of sex, the movie But I’m a Cheerleader had a comically filmed make out session that illustrated how horrible it was for the protagonist to pretend to be straight. Yet I can’t think of any comparable scene in gaming yet. I sure there are a few example somewhere that I’ve missed but like I said this is especially lacking in games.

However, here is what really made me interested in addressing this issue on its own instead of just a side bar. Games are defined by their interactivity and ideally a games story should be reflected in it mechanics. However, the way I see it there is a big irony in games: we use mechanics that seem built to represent bad sex to try to represent good sex. Games have yet to really figure out how to presented sexuality via the mechanics of a game. At least intentionally, there are some games that accidentally stumbled upon some interesting possible mechanics. The intense attachment that many players have towards the Companion Cube in portal may, completely unintentionally, be the best model available for how to replicate the intense attachments of love and lust via game mechanics we’ve stumbled upon; something that is a little sad but also amazingly cool.

Sexiest Video Game Character Ever?

Sexiest Video Game Character Ever?

However, when games intentionally try to use game mechanics we usually end up with something awkward such as quicktime event style sex scene. Neither the deep intimacy of making love in a decades-long relationship, nor the raw carnality of a one-night encounter with someone you just met in a bar, nor most of the other sexual permutations of life is done justice by a quick time event. The only forms of sex that I can see working with a quicktime mechanic are, you may have guessed it, bad sex. The disconnect and loss of immersion that happens when you try to represent sex via these awkward quicktime events could be used intentionally to demonstrate bad sex. Using some of my examples, the mechanical nature of quick time events can be used to demonstrate how mechanical sex can become if you’re only having it because you’re trying to conceive or because your try to pass as something you aren’t. If we can master how to create champion cube like mechanics, we use those in the beginning of the game to show the intensity of the opening moments of a relationship but then used quicktime event sex to make a point about the difficulties many couple experience in keeping their sex lives from become stale in long-term relationships. However, current attempts to pair game mechanics to sex are a little like trying to create a hot and steamy sex scene only instead of a hot and steamy soundtrack you have a laugh track or a tear-jerking piano piece.

I’ll finish by pointing out that this post in it of itself serves as a demonstration of shorts as to why we have to ask the question of about how game portray bad sex as much as asking how we portray good sex. While I had plenty of thoughts about sex in games before the point I just made ,the irony that we don’t focus on bad sex in games but basically have a bad sex game mechanic ready to go while using that bad sex mechanic to try and represent good sex, till I asked the “bad sex” question.

Multiplayer Rescue: How Not to be the Creep Bar of the Internet

How not to become the Creep Bar of the Internet

How not to become the Creep Bar of the Internet

One of the most bizarre things about gamer culture is the casual tolerance of open harassment in games. The idea that it is just part of the game, that people should just grow a thicker skin or fight back themselves. Not only is tolerating this ignoring basic civility; it make no sense for self-identifying gamers to take the approach. Those that identify as the hardcore, as the gaming coinsurers should be the ones most opposed to it. As discerning consumers, this attitude makes no sense.

Let begin by looking at the C-rate reality TV show that inspired my title, Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. Now a frequent problem in bars is women being harassed. Now do you think the bar consultants’ answer to this is to pat the owners on the back and tell them how thin-skinned their customers are and start some sort of “grow a thick skin campaign”? No, that would be ridiculous. Bars like that repeal customers of both genders. Women don’t want to go to these type of bars for obvious reasons. Then the men won’t go because most heterosexual men don’t want to go to a bar with no women. This leaves us with either a closed bar or a bar frequented only by a small clique of creeps and other undesirables. Great bars don’t have this attitude, even if they don’t give a damn about decency they at least understand business and know that a female customer is just as entailed to a fun time as a male one. Good bars don’t allow harassment of their patrons. Bar connoisseur do not go to bars that have “grown a thick skin” as an entry requirement. Why should games have this requirement?

Do any other industries do this?

Restaurants ask people who disturbing the diners around them to quiet down, not ask those being disturbed to grow thicker skin.

Theaters kick people out who disturb others viewing experience, not ask people to grow a thicker skin.

Being too loud in a library you get kicked out, thin-skinned readers or not.

…and none of those examples are even cases of deliberate harassment, yet no one is pulling the stopping being so thin skinned card here.

There is no other product or service where those who consider themselves connoisseurs openly tolerate harassment. The exact opposite connoisseur would be some of the least tolerant of this carp, connoisseur appreciate the value of their money and a service that allows you to be harassed is not a service worth their money. In no other industry do its loudest defenders consider this a feature and not a problem. In no other industry do we tell paying customers to grow a thick skin when other patrons harass them. In no other industry are people seriously expected to pay only to put up with other people’s harassment. Harassment may be a problem in these industries but we don’t see people openly telling people to “grow thick skin” and expecting them to pay to be part of that experience.

Seriously, just imagine if we applied this attitude elsewhere:

Restaurant: Come eat here we openly tolerate harassment.

Museums: come appreciate the fine art and grow a thick skin because we openly let people bother you. Just part of the art world right?

Walmart: If people bother you while you shop remember it your thin-skinned problem.

Library: Come here we let you read while being distracted and bothered, unlike those other libraries that want you to enjoy it in peace.

This exception is absurd people do not pay to put themselves in a situation where other people will harness them. Just like in the above example, the majority will simply move on to something else. I want to stop to stop for a moment and note something. Why did I decide to make this post the way I did. Why of all the comparisons I could make did I make a comparison to bars? Because games are many things: a budding art, a form of entertainment, but they are also a product, and a service. They are most especially a service in the context of the multiplayer environment. No other product or service could get always with this attitude as I said before in no other product or service could harassment by other patrons be considered a feature; in no other service would a paying customer be asked to deal with other patrons harassment. A bar would get terrible yelp reviews if it told patrons being harassed being by other to get a thick-skinned. I see no reasons to treat games differently.

Which brings to the issue of games and respect, game have an image problem and this type of tolerance for harassment not only feeds that image problem it makes that image problem a reality. Just like the bar example above, most people aren’t going to stay where they’re harassed they are going to go someplace else and leave the undesirables to their holes. This is what we let gamer culture become when we tolerate harassment a pit of undesirables. It hard to fight the stereotype of gamers being immature basement dwellers and man-children, if we allow what is in essence a self-selection system for basement dwellers and man-children. Games and gamer culture is so much more than a just  a virtual “creep bar”; we can be the avant-garde of artistic expression and entertainment but to reach this potential we need to have the guts to tell creeps and harassers they aren’t welcome in this establishment.

P.S. After a long hiatus after initially opening this blog I’m happy to say I should be able to be updating this at least once a week (hopefully two) for the immediate future. Preview of upcoming post: Scarlet Blade: The Junk Food of Games and Sexuality; the MMO as a sex pluralist/positive space and more.