So…do you want to see my longsword? Sex in games.

So…do you want to see my longsword? Sex in games.

In this article, I will discuss the issues with including sex in games. I will take a look at the various ways that games handle the subject of sex. I’ll look at some of the varying approaches, touch on some of the moral issues with the way that sex is depicted and whether depictions of sex in games can have a real-world impact.

Wait…is this just going to be a rant condemning pervy games and oversexualised characters?

Well, no, it isn’t. It would be very hypocritical of me to condemn any of you who enjoy those kind of games, as I enjoy them too. I’ve completed Monster Monpiece and Akiba’s Trip. I also own Criminal Girls: Invite Only and Dungeon Travellers 2 – all games which feature sex or semi-nudity in some form. I even went so far as to import the international version of Moe Chronicle which had English subtitles, as it frustrated me that it wasn’t available to buy in my part of the world.

I wouldn’t even say that the games I highlighted above handle sex particularly well. None of them feature it maturely or even make any vague attempt to do so. It’s done in more of a pervy and comedic manner. They’re not quite hentai ( a sub-genre of anime and mangas featuring overtly sexualized characters and sexually explicit images and plots) but they are fan service heavy games. Some of those games are almost like Japan’s answer to the Carry On films…it’s kind of naughty but in a very silly way. I don’t buy them expecting Shakespearean epics or a deep philosophical discourse. I buy them expecting some sexy, silly fun and they deliver. They’re far from the best depictions of sex that I’ve come across in games though and I’ll explain why below.

sex in games monster monpiece

In Monster Monpiece and its follow-up Moe Chronicle, you have to touch or rub girls in the right place in order to power them up. Not a good game to play in the same room as your granny.

But please…won’t somebody think of the children?

I find it a little strange that it’s fine for games to be gory as hell and feature decapitation and dismemberment (hello Fallout 4‘s Bloody Mess Perk…I still love you) but some people go crazy if they feature sex and nudity. Part of the problem seems to be the misconception that some people have that all games are for children, despite some having 18 certificates on the front of them (or M for mature if you’re in the US). If anything, I find it a little odd that in the United States there aren’t more laws governing certification of games.

In the UK, it is illegal to sell game to children. As far as I am aware (please correct me if I’m wrong), there isn’t the same federal law in the United States regarding the sale of M games. I also think that more parents should take responsibility and ensure that they make use of the parental controls which are build into most consoles nowadays. So yes, think of the children. But please do get that games are not just for children.

sex in games violence

His body parts are flying everywhere but at least we can’t see his penis, so I guess that’s alright then.

You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel

In 2014, the average age of a gamer was 31. In 2016, it was 35. A lot of gamers are adults and…well…a lot of adults like sex. I enjoy sex a lot, as does my wife. Maybe someday we’ll even learn to enjoy it with each other…just kidding.

Another misconception is that people playing sexy games are sex starved perverts who still live in their mother’s basement. In most cases, I think such a description would be inaccurate. Looking at myself, I have a healthy, loving and affectionate sex life. I’ve never lived in a basement and I am n…okay, perhaps I’m a little bit perverted but only when it comes to my wife (which she likes) or characters in games and anime (who aren’t real).

I hope that in future more mainstream games do include sex. In an ideal world, it would also be great if more of them managed to include it in a more sophisticated manner. It would also be lovely if it was included when it was appropriate for the game’s overall narrative instead of just awkwardly wedged in there with a crowbar.

Sex in other mediums is fine but sex in games isn’t, because…?

When it comes to literature, films and TV shows, sex and nudity is commonplace and most people don’t have any issue with it. I can watch Game of Thrones knowing that odds are at some point in the episode there will be both violence and bare breasts. I can also head to the library and check out The Unbearable Lightness of Being or House of Holes and read them on the train without anybody batting an eyelid. So why the drama when it comes to sex in games?

Part of the issue may be the aforementioned view that they’re just for kids. Part of it also might be due to it still being a relatively new medium when compared with films, books and TV. In the early days of TV, people were more worried about the corrupting influence that the goggle box may have on people. Then there was the mass burning of comic books in 1948, where again there was a fear that they were seducing and corrupting the innocent. And prior to that, novels such as Lady Chatterley’s Lover were banned in the United Kingdom from 1928 until 1960, presumably when the British finally discovered that sex could be fun.

Aha! It’s pressing a button that is the problem with sex in games!

Another issue though is that games are interactive. People seem to take an issue with the fact that you actively choose to attack people in violent games. Or in the case of games that include sex, that you can sometimes press buttons to simulate the act of having sex. But would them being interactive lead people to be violent in real life in the case of violent games or to objectify people in real-life as a result of games that include sex, nudity or sexualised characters? Well, in terms of violence, a recent Frontiers in Psychology fMRI study in Germany showed that there was no link between long term game playing and real-life violence. It also showed that the emotional responses of long-term gamers were the same as non-gamers when shown horrific images. It concluded that any impact of playing games on aggression was acute and very short-term.

What do the studies say about sex in games having an impact on real-life?

When it comes to the impact of games on people’s views of the opposite gender in real-life, the jury is still out.

Studies such as “Sexual Priming, Gender Stereotyping, and Likelihood to Sexually Harass: Examining the Cognitive Effects of Playing a Sexually Explicit Video Game” by Mike Z. Yao a professor Communication at the City University of Hong Kong, Chad Mahood a professor of Communication at The Ohio State University, and Daniel Linz a professor of Communication at University of California suggest that those who had played the game that sexually depicted women as being treated as objects were more likely to engage in thoughts about sex and see women as mere sex objects in real-life.

But equally, people who have watched a sexually explicit movie or visited a strip club may – at least for a while – treat others differently in real-life as a result of that experience.

Another study conducted more recently by the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men playing videogames for more than 1 hour/day were less likely to have premature ejaculation but were more likely to have decreased sexual desire. It seems that right now, we don’t know for certain what the impact is. But if I’m honest, that lack of certainty isn’t going to stop me from enjoying it in the meantime.

With that said, here’s a look at some ways that sex and nudity have been featured in RPGs.

Sex as the “win state” for romances

The ultimate goal in a lot of games is to win. And with the gamification of romance and sex, love also becomes a game where often the win is sex. Games such as BioWare‘s Mass Effect Andromeda and Dragon Age Inquisition come to mind. For completing a romance, you’re given a Trophy or an Achievement. And sex is often only an event that is included at the very end of a romance. Why is that the case? Couldn’t it be included earlier in the narrative too where it’s appropriate and on multiple occasions? You don’t tend to just have sex with someone once and necessarily consider that anything romantically has been finalised or won. If a romance has to have a win state (and I’m not entirely convinced that it does), does it have to be sex?

It would be nice to mix things up a little. For some characters where the story fits it, sure, sex could be the finale. For others, the finale could be parenthood, marriage or helping your partner to overcome a problem that they wouldn’t be able to address alone and that equally you couldn’t resolve without them.

miranda lawson sex in games

Oh ho ho! Well, it looks like somebody is about to get an Achievement! It also looks like they’ve used a mod, as Miranda Lawson could only be romanced by males.

Sex and nudity as collectables

In some games such as The Witcher, you were awarded sexy cards for having sex with characters in the game. In later games, this was removed and instead sex was primarily just used when it fit with the narrative for it to be included.

Sex and nudity for comedic value

I’ve already touched on this one in an earlier paragraph, so I’ll be brief. In many RPG games – especially Japanese ones – sex at least in part is included to be funny. Awkward scenes such as accidentally walking into the women’s section of the bathhouse come to mind. Or stripping characters down to their underwear to see if they’re a vampire in Akiba’s Trip. Games such as Moe Chronicle are both pervy and humorous. It can also be funny watching somebody playing one of those games, as they frantically stroke the Vita screen to stimulate the monster girls in the right place.

Sex and the narrative

My favourite inclusion of sex is whenever it is well-written and fits the story for it to be included. If a central aspect of an epic RPG is a romance between two adults, I’d find it odder if sex wasn’t included than if it was. Adults who are in love and in long-term relationships don’t tend to just kiss and hold hands. In games such as The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3, there is quite a lot of sex. My favourite inclusions of it were when he was either with Triss or Yennifer depending on your chosen romantic partner (I don’t advise trying for both of them in the same playthrough). They were well-written scenes that fit with the story being told. Geralt is quite a sexual character in the novels and short stories (I prefer the short stories), so it made sense for the games to follow suit.

sex in games

Triss was one of the two main romance options in Witcher 3. It was a well-written romance which span across the entire series.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. What is your stance on sex in games? Is it something that bothers you? Are you concerned at the real-world impact that playing sexual games may have on you? Would you like to see more RPGs include sex in games? Can you think of any games I haven’t mentioned where it was either handled really well or really badly? If so, please comment below and let us know.

If you’ve liked reading this article, you could try On Unscalable Fences and Invisible Barriers. You may also like to read  Do you stroke the kitten or put in the blender? next.

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I love gaming, creative writing, the theatre, anime, watching football & spending time with friends & family. I'm also a bit obsessed with superheroes.

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10 comments on “So…do you want to see my longsword? Sex in games.”

  1. Avatar Lich180 says:

    In the US, an M rated game requires the retailer to check an ID, typically a driver’s license and ensure the buyer is 17-18+. This doesn’t always happen, and sometimes it happens to anyone who looks young enough. I’ve been carded buying M rated games when I was about 27.

    I also don’t really care if games feature these relationships, as long as they are done well and not used as a main selling point. I’m perfectly fine with them existing, and fine with anyone who enjoys them, they just aren’t my style. Video games are just another medium to tell a story, after all, and sex is a normal, natural thing.

    My problem with the Witcher was every single ad or person reviewing the game only went on about the relationships, and the infamous unicorn scene. Put me off buying it completely. Most of your other examples I’ve never heard of or dismissed because of how shoehorned the relationships were (looking at you, Mass Effect).

    Fallout 4 also suffers from the shoehorned relationship mechanism. It makes no sense to me that you would *SPOILER* be frozen in a cryopod, watch your wife/husband get shot and your kid stolen, then wake up 200+years later after another nap and go bed the first thing on 2 legs.

    One game that I have played that you didn’t mention is Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain. Quiet is the epitome of a character made solely for sex appeal. The first thing I did when I got her as a companion was get her a proper military suit, as lore-breaking as it is. I didn’t like having her stand up in the helicopter waving her bits around in my face (also, my wife wouldn’t appreciate it).

  2. Avatar Caradox says:

    Thanks for your feedback Lich180. I haven’t played Metal Gear Solid V yet, even though I do own it. I have seen the screenshots of Quiet though. I think it’s good that you do at least have the option to give her more appropriate clothing to dress. My wife doesn’t personally mind me playing games with scantily clad characters or sex scenes in them. They just amuse her and she’s played and liked games like the Witcher and Mass Effect herself.

    I also think it’s good in games if players have the option to dress their characters in skimpy outfits or just walk around in their underwear, if that’s they’re kind of thing.

    Regarding Fallout 4, I kind of see what you’re saying but then again, not all marriages are happy ones and also not all widowers are nice people. The Fallout 4 character that I roleplayed was a borderline sociopath who manipulated people and only looked out for himself, so bedding somebody suited that character fine.

    What frustrates me a little is the double standard that some games companies have. Yes, fine, have the option to dress female characters in revealing outfits if you want to but if you do, you should also make equally skimpy and sexualised outfits available for male characters. It annoyed me when Square Enix changed the hero of Mobius: Final Fantasy’s costume, as he was too sexualised. This by the same company that designed Cindy Aurum’s outfit in Final Fantasy XV.

  3. Avatar Lich180 says:

    Right, you gotta provide options both ways. Male and female skimpy armor. No chainmail bikinis, unless guys can wear the same thing.

    Another example I thought of reading your response was this: Horizon Zero Dawn. Aloy has a multitude of clothing and armor sets to equip, each one themed to the culture the outfit came from. There’s no really skimpy outfit, the most any of them show is a little midriff. That makes sense, as the culture that created that outfit is from the desert. Aloy isn’t portrayed as anything other than a badass hunter, even though characters will reference her attractiveness at times. There’s no silly romance lines, just banter between equals.

  4. Avatar Fexelea says:

    I don’t mind sex in games in general, but it has to actually somewhat add to the game. There are many cases where it’s just there to be there, and it is distracting and off-putting to me.

    Examples are God of War’s dumb mini game, and Heavy Rain. In one, you have murdered your wife and daughter and are haunted by their memory, their ashes clinging to your skin, so you set out on a quest for redemption or revenge… but hey lemme stop right here and have a threesome in the middle of this!. In the other, your son has been abducted by a serial killer, you are hunted by police, you just CHOPPED OFF YOUR OWN FINGER… but hey look there’s this girl here I kinda like so let’s get it on while the timer for your kid’s death continues to tick!

    It’s not just games for me: I actually dislike how sexualized HBO’s GOT got and I’ve been happier to see that left aside and the story become the focus on later seasons.

    *disclaimer: I don’t mind "sexy" games per se, more talking about the hamfisting of sex into games that don’t have it as their main attraction.

    Re: chainmail bikini. It’s annoying as hell. I love sexy outfits, I wear them in real life a bunch, but I want armor to look like armor, not to act as a way for the dudes playing girls to see some skin. Some armor sets in games are 100% functional for males, and 100% sexy for women. I don’t think that making them both 100% sexy fixes the issue that it’s very unrealistic. I’d like options of having armor and then cosmetics, and have those be whatever they may.
    Btw this video is great:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTGh0EMmMC8” rel=”nofollow

  5. Avatar qeter says:

    sex is tacked onto video games because it gives an inherently reason for these games target audiences to interact/care about the cast. if you say you have a problem with these what you are really complaining about is a lack of quality writing and execution, which is expensive and requires real talent.

    consider it this way, if sex wasn’t a thing due to cloning or whatever how many people would get married? sex is a useful tool if you are trying to make the player care in 5 minutes or less.

    this all applies mostly to rpgs, its use in action games like god of war and such tends to be more for the purposes of setting tone and qualifying as edgy.

  6. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Indeed I’m complaining about quality writing and execution, I don’t mind it "done well". For example the bioware approach to relationships for Dragon Age Origins was quite fine by me because it was "believable" in the context of the game. I do agree with that the over-pushing of sexuality on The Witcher turned me off the series. It was just unappealing when you start to associate Geralt with STDs :P

  7. Avatar qeter says:

    i believe it’s profitable for these companies to have elements of romance/sex but only within a somewhat narrow band of quality. A well written romance is a strong pro for a hentai game but it could be active detrimental to a triple A mass market rpg. i don’t know why developers want to keep spending more money on every game but while they keep up this trend i don’t think we are going to be seeing any great romances in the triple A space. that being said, sex functions very well as a rewarding mechanic that’s independent of the games power/resource progression system.

    rememmber when people joked that bioware games were advanced dating sims? i saw a lot less of that joke after Inquisition.

  8. Avatar Fexelea says:

    I don’t see why romance is necessary at all for a hentai game (does porn need a plot?), whereas a well-crafted story is essential for a AAA game that is wanting to sell that.

    All the dating sims and such have formulaic romances that are just meh. It’s fun and all but there’s no larger scope of anything interesting. In contrast, I found the decisions with Morrigan and Alistair in DA:O very difficult to come to terms with, because the setting of the relationship with the characters had made me care.

    Inquisition’s romances were very superficial and uninteresting to me, but I still felt the sting of betrayal as Solas wandered off xD

  9. Avatar Caradox says:

    Thanks for your comments Fexlea. I agree that the God of War mini-game was just silly. It seemed to be there just to further establish him as an alpha manly man. Because despite him wearing a skimpy outfit, he wasn’t included primarily as a sex object but as an aspirational hero…to make the player feel like a bad ass when playing him.

    The Heavy Rain sex scene didn’t bother be though. For context, I was in a situation once where I wasn’t able to see my daughter for almost a year. It was an incredibly stressful, tense and upsetting time. You sought comfort wherever you could find it and sex, love and affection from my fiancee (my wife now) all helped.

    Regarding the Witcher games, most of the sex scenes are optional and easily avoided if you’re not interested in them. They’re extremely well-written RPGs with quests that really make you consider the morality of what you’re doing. I’d recommend giving them another go and just avoiding the sex bits if they’re not of interest to you.

  10. Avatar Rakuyo says:

    In my opinion the presence of sex is advancing in all media.

    Gaming is trailing behind cinema and TV, and cinema and TV are trailing behind books.

    There may be good reasons for that:

    -It’s technically very difficult to animate sex as to compete with actors and good saucy writing.
    -It’s controversial for designers to make both porn and regular games.
    -It’s difficult to add in sex after the game was already heavily designed to be about something else.
    -There is a controversy about kids having access to porn and graphic violence.

    I see society’s attitude loosening up to sex in media, but at a regular pace, and not with leaps and bounds.

    I’m not on the edge of my seat to see everyday programmers trying to butter me up with CGI sex scenes.

    Though I am curious about what the first high-end porn cinema/game might entail, I don’t expect miracles.


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