Sex In Games  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Sex In Games  RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network We Won't Be Taken Seriously As An Industry If We Can't Behave Seriously Fri, 14 Feb 2014 07:42:07 -0500 Destrolyn.Bechgeddig

There’s no denying it: video games are the entertainment industry of the 2010s. You can try to deny it and say that films and TV still reign supreme, but all the evidence proves the contrary. 2013 saw Grand Theft Auto V become the fastest selling piece of entertainment property of all time: measured by the amount of time it takes to amass $1 billion in profit. But even back in 2003, Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare had already beaten the then fastest selling film of all time, Avatar, reaching $1 billion a full day ahead of the blue extraterrestrials. 

So why are video games still poo-pooed and looked down noses at, despite both huge financial and artistic successes and advancements? Maybe it’s not so much the games, but the gamers. 

Act Your Age, Not Your Shoe Size

"If we can’t be taken seriously as mature consumers, what hope does the industry’s overall image have?" 

Research has shown that the average age of a gamer is in the mid-30s. Gaming is no longer the exclusive pastime of lonesome teenagers locked inside their bedrooms. It is now a fully fledged method of entertainment enjoyed by young professionals and their families.

So why do so many gamers insist on acting like children? There are far to many gamers, especially on multiplayer games like Halo, Call of Duty, and even Little Big Planet, that call each other “motherf*cking f*ggots/c*nts/wh*res” down their headsets, along with a whole host of other insults that sadly include racist ones. This is not how a mature audience should behave. If we can’t be taken seriously as mature consumers, what hope does the industry’s overall image have? 

Less Sex and Sexism Please, We’re Adults 

Another thing that mars us is the grossly base and insulting levels some developers and video games marketers stoop to make their product sell. Free-to-play MMOs, like Wartune, are particularly bad at doing this. The result is that it really degrades the gamers and the industry. 

Research has shown that the gaming community consists of almost equal amounts of men and women, yet for some reason we’re still pitched at as if we’re 14 year-old boys with rampant hormones and sore wrists. 

Sexism, too, is still rife. You only need to look at the skimpy and ineffectual armour of female characters in fantasy games, and generally how male-orientated gaming narratives are, to see that a female audience might as well be considered non-existent. 

Ease Off On The Excess mania around some games is ridiculous too. You just need to look as far as Flappy Bird to see how depressing the games industry is at times. As the game went viral, people seemed to become more stupid. The astronomical prices mobile devices with the now removed game being listed and selling for on Ebay is just embarrassing. The price tag of collectors’ edition copies of games like Saints Row IV are also just as silly. 

eSports is also a place where excess is rife. The prizes being offered to good gamers rise to thousands of pounds/dollars in cash, all for just sitting at a computer and clicking a mouse and/or mashing a few buttons. Not to mention the amount of money and advertising that’s poured into tournaments all just to watch a group of people sit in front of their monitors for an hour or two. 

Why All Of The Above Is Unfair 

It is incredibly easy to rebuke all the above as very shallow and generalised statements, because they’re just that. We could pick countless examples that show that the above are simply not as endemic as stated.

Is the mania, hyperbole, and behaviour of gamers really worse than that of Beliebers or One Directioners? How can eSports be deemed excessive when the wages of professional football and soccer players could collectively wipe out most of the developing world’s debt? Have Bioware not done more to challenge the “Straight White Guy Industry” than Hollywood in making LGBT characters more visible and prominent than in the latest films? 

But this is still how many people see the video games industry: juvenile, uncultured, and overblown. Yet, sometimes stereotypes but hold small amounts of truth. Whilst generalisation like those above are unfair, they’re not untrue.

We, for one, celebrate that we can have these discussions and counter these points of view. As well as challenging “mainstream” entertainment industries, we’re also starting to challenge ourselves which means we can only but grow as both an industry and an audience. 

"Perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to behave like serious adults enjoying legitimate pieces of cultural entertainment property - like theatre, film, and TV - because that’s exactly what we are and do."

Video games is a very young industry compared to that of theatre, film, and TV, and it will take some time for those stuck in the mud to accept the clout and cultural impacts games are having and have already had. Yet, perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to behave like serious adults enjoying legitimate pieces of cultural entertainment property - like theatre, film, and TV - because that’s exactly what we are and do.

Sex and Parenting Tue, 03 Dec 2013 01:55:43 -0500 Brian Armstrong

Sex sells, and now I know it.

When I began my time in GameSkinny’s Journalism Training Program, I had big dreams of getting thousands of views on my unique take on the gaming industry. I wanted to approach it from a parent’s perspective, and find a niche that is a little untapped in the mainstream media market. But when an article about Ellen Page, naked, in Beyond: Two Souls accidentally racked up more views than anything I’d ever written, I realized the internet may not be as grown up as I thought.

Is There Anybody Out There (Like Me)?

I’m not condemning you for clicking on an article that promises information on how you might be able to see a popular celebrity naked in digital form. It’s just that I was hoping I could find the people out there that are like me. The ones who have kids and don’t have nearly as much time for gaming as they used to. The ones that like to stay informed on the gaming world, even if their controllers are getting dusty. However, what I found is that the internet is filled predominantly with people looking for quick information, funny stories or videos, and boobs.

Once I realized this, I was able to capitalize on it a few times and post a few articles you all really seemed interested in reading. While I’m glad I caught your attention, I’m hoping to figure out how to turn that attention onto some of my other, more mature 'gaming as a parent' pieces. Of course I hope you’ll read everything I post, whether it’s about boobs or parenting, but I am happy you tuned in for something.

Much More to Come

We’re wrapping up our last week of the fall session with the GameSkinny Journalism Training Program, and it’s been great. I’ll continue writing in some manner throughout the rest of the year, and you can always follow me on Twitter to see what I’m up to. But until we meet again, I’d like to leave you with two things:

Sex and parenting.

Does Nudity Have a Place in Games? Sat, 26 Oct 2013 00:40:30 -0400 Brian Armstrong

The Last of Us was a brilliant game with beautiful visuals, an incredible story, and fun gameplay. There’s even a small love story between Joel and Tess, but it doesn’t get very much buzz. After thinking about it for a little while, I decided why it is often overlooked in the grand scheme of things, and I’ve figured out the one thing it needed that would have made it better:


Pushing the Envelope Is A Good Thing... Within Reason

Obviously I’m kidding about the scenario between Joel and Tess, but it’s starting to seem like maybe this is what game studios are thinking. Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of games that have included some nudity, and not just a little bit--we’re talking full-on frontal nudity, and even sex. The most recent of these examples is Grand Theft Auto V, where you can enter a strip club, get a private (topless) lap dance, and if you spend enough time with her and “woo” her, she’ll let you take her home.

This isn’t a condemnation of GTA V or any other game featuring nudity, but I was reminded recently that even games you wouldn’t expect to have nudity are trying to push the envelope a little bit as well.

Beyond: Two Souls recently made headlines when nude images of Ellen Page (the actress who plays the character Jodie and was fully motion-captured for the game) surfaced on the internet after being pulled from hacked files found in the game's code. The images were reportedly incredibly realistic, so much so that the developers even had to come out and say that the animated images were not of Page's actual body.

While these nude images weren’t in the actual game, the Jodie character takes a shower and the player is given the (somewhat creepy) option of watching her, and you can see a lot more skin than you might expect. I understand that in the context of where this shower scene appears, it makes sense. But the amount of Jodie that we can see seems really unnecessary.

I have to think that scenes like this are designed to create buzz and get more people to buy the game based purely on the fact that people might get to see some skin. I imagine the conversations developers hope people are having sound something like this.

Player 1: Dude, have you played Beyond: Two Souls yet?

Player 2: No, what’s that?

Player 1: It’s a game that uses real actors, and you can watch the girl from Juno take a shower!

Ignorance Is Bliss

Clearly, most people buy games for the gameplay, story, or experiences that they provide, but there will always be a population of kids (and some adults) that pick up games because they get the opportunity to see some things they may not normally be allowed to see. Nudity, violence, drug use, and more are all things that earn games "M" ratings from the ESRB, but unfortunately, that doesn’t actually mean kids won’t be playing them.

Kotaku put up a letter that was written by someone who works at a video game retail store, and he was talking about some of these same issues. He mentioned that recently, his store sold around 100 copies of Grand Theft Auto V to parents of children who "could barely see over" the counter.

He then went on to say almost exactly what my biggest fear is if games continue heading in this reckless direction, especially as the parent of two young girls.

"I don't tell you these things because I don't like your parenting style. It is because, when I look at little Timmy there in my store, I can't help but picture him as the little boy sitting across the table from my daughter in her first grade class.

"Now this is where those of you who are not parents will sound off with 'you should let them judge' or 'I killed hookers in GTA III when I was five and I turned out fine.' That is great. I accept your opinion. Although, when your daughter comes home from elementary school crying because someone called her a b***h, you might change your tune."

I do not want my children to be affected by the poor decisions made by other parents. 

Pushing the Envelope is the Norm

But blaming parents is a whole other topic that I’m saving for a rainy day. I want to focus on whether we’ve created a world where games need to have nudity or sexuality just to compete with each other. If Grand Theft Auto V didn’t have stripper nudity and it didn’t have scantily clad player-created females in GTA Online, would it have sold quite as well?

People aren't buying that game simply so they can see half-naked strippers, but you better believe one of the first things many of these teenagers are doing is heading straight to the strip club. And Rockstar knows this. So from now until who-knows-when, Rockstar will be including this type of envelope-pushing content to see just how far they can go, and how many new, curious gamers they can attract.

Again, I’m not blaming Rockstar here, because the problem runs deeper than that. This is what the games industry has become. Just like in the early days it was a battle for more “bits.” Eventually we wanted full-motion video in our games. Soon came an era where we wanted to be able to play online with our friends, and soon after that, we wanted to play with EVERYONE (MMOs).

Now, a culture that exists where we are able to make games that look damn near lifelike, which means slipping in naked women is even more alluring because the models look so realistic. No longer is this Leisure Suit Larry where it’s obvious we’re looking at a cartoon. Those nude images of Ellen Page’s Jodie probably fooled a lot of non-gamers into thinking they were real. That’s the world we live in today.

As developers continue to push the envelope and the limits of technology, we are bound to get even more games that shove sex in our face, and this makes me sad. My daughters will grow up loving video games, and I’m concerned what they’ll be seeing in the future. Will they grow up thinking that this sexualized world is just the way it is? Powerful women can only get respect if they are scantily clad? Taking off your clothes is a good way to get what you want? Kids today will not grow up in a world like we did where this kind of content in video games is taboo. Instead they will grow up at what appears to be the dawn of a video game sexual renaissance. As parents and responsible adults, we need to be aware of this and monitor our kids’ games.

Let's Ban All Games! (Ok, Not Really.)

I'm not saying children should be forbidden from playing games (although keeping them to games that are age-appropriate is probably a good rule of thumb), but knowing what they’re playing and being in the room with them while they play is important. The only way we can have impact on our kids is if we know what’s going on and communicate with them. So get involved.

I wouldn’t normally have a problem with the hacked files of Beyond: Two Souls getting leaked onto the internet. I mean, after all, those images were never supposed to be in the game. But it does make you wonder why they were there at all. Were they left intentionally, knowing that someone would find them, post them, and drive more attention to their game? It’s sad that we live in a world where the only way we can drum up buzz about our games is to leak nude images.

Sex Sells, But So Did The Last of Us

I began this article insinuating that the only thing that could have made The Last of Us better was a nude Tess. I think you know now that I was 100% being facetious, and that this would actually have harmed the game. Call me old-fashioned, but I want games to get back to blowing our minds with amazing stories, thrilling gameplay, and beautiful graphics. Leave the cheap sexual tricks for the Leisure Suit Larry franchise.

If I have my way, my girls will grow up knowing that they are strong and powerful enough on their own, WITHOUT taking their clothes off. They won’t live in a world where sex and flaunting the female body is the only way to sell a product. Maybe I’m naive for even thinking this is possible, but as parents, we certainly have the power to help change the world through the way we parent our children.

Boob Jam Looking To Make Boobs Less Sexualized... No, Really! Mon, 12 Aug 2013 14:00:52 -0400 Wokendreamer

The sexualization of women in video games is a widely accepted fact.  It is accepted enough to be taken for granted by a large number of people, both gamers and otherwise.  Boob Jam is hoping to do something about that.

Boob Jam is a 48-hour marathon of video game coding this September where participants will attempt to create games focusing on boobs in un-sexy ways.  Unlike many previous attempts to provoke discussion on the topic, however, Boob Jam seeks to appeal in a way gamers won't get defensive about by being both fun and respectful at the same time.  As stated by Jenn Frank, Boob Jam's founder,

Boob Jam has one mission statement and it isn’t to “elevate” a conversation, but to have a new conversation entirely... I’m on the side of straight dudes who never want to see a controversy over boobs ever again.

So what's this about?

The ultimate goal is to provoke people into considering breasts as something other than a "plaything" for gamers and in-game characters alike.  Whether thinking of the more negative side-effects of them (possibly making a sizable bosom a debuff to a character's running speed) or simply in different terms (a sac of fat and milk) the objective is open consideration without directly challenging gamers to prove they themselves are not sexist.

The argument about sexism in games has a fundamental flaw Jenn Frank sees, in that people automatically either shut out the discussion or get heated about it based on how zealous the argument has been made in the past.  The quote above shows the example where anyone wanting to elevate the conversation is inherently talking down to whoever they mean the wording for, implying the conversation has been puerile up to that point.  Whether it has or not is irrelevant if the person shuts off as a result.

Frank is not worried about Boob Jam failing.

The point of this tangent is, I really welcome any negative reactions people may have, because those are interesting to me, too, and they’ll be interesting to other people. I think, when people are turned off by the idea of breasts as anything but a sex toy, that says more than I could ever slip into some piddling “mission statement.”

Frank does have hope that gamers will get the message and run with it, and if even one gamer looks at boobs as something other than toys as a result, I feel safe in saying she's accomplished something worthwhile.