Is There Sex in Video Games?

leisuresuit.jpgQUESTION: Is There Explicit Sex or Nudity in Video Games? Most videogames don’t have sex in them. And when they do, it’s always tamer than what you’d find in a soap opera. Really. It’s true! I don’t care what the evening news told you or how vague those ESRB descriptors are there really isn’t much sex in mainstream video games (we don’t consider porn games to be games in the same way that most people don’t consider porno to be films).

Note: This article is intended for parents and some of it contains information that’s not safe for work, or may be offensive.

There are some examples from the past. There was a silly Atari 2600 game that had Custer trying to ram a pixelly thing into Indian maidens and there was a text game in the 80’s called “Leather Goddesses of Phobos.” Leisure Suit Larry was an adventure series based on a loser trying, desperately, to get laid. But recent examples are actually harder to find. Here are the most notorious from the past couple years:

Grand Theft Auto: Hot Coffee

A silly little controversy where a game, rated M-Mature and featuring a Strong Sexual Content descriptor was hacked and the hacker found some “orphaned code” (game stuff severed from the game itself, unplayable in other words unless you hack the game yourself) showing two clothed figures engaging in coitus and oral sex. Given that the explicitness doesn’t even compare to the R-rated marionette sex found in the film “Team America World Police” and given that the descriptor covers this scene – even though it’s not actually in the game. Watchdog groups cried foul and the ESRB caved in and the game was pulled from shelves and re-rated Adults Only.

Here are the highlights:

1. You have to hack it to do it and hacking it is really hard – it’s much easier to find and get real porn online really.

2. The ESRB descriptor covered this stuff, even if the ESRB didn’t see it beforehand.

3. The “sex” isn’t that bad… and even if you still find it offensive, it’s hardly explicit by any definition of that word.

But Rockstar Games was guilty of not removing the code c0mpletely (orphaned code is common in programming) and someone found the code and everyone freaked out. The best part? Because of the coverage you can go to YouTube and watch the scene – and you don’t even have to go to the trouble of hacking the game to do it. I’d link the scene, but you’ve got to be over 18 for YouTube to show it to you. Hey, you’re a parent, go there and type in Hot Coffee to see for yourself.

God of War/God of War II/God of War: Chains of Olympus

This is a very popular game with teens and it does have a “sex minigame” in each title. Here’s what it’s about. At some point early in the game Kratos, the Spartan immortal protagonist, finds a room with two ladies lounging around. In the first game and the PSP game it’s a bed, in God of War II, it’s a hot tub. They invite you over and if you press the jump button near the bed, Kratos jumps in. Then the camera moves to the side and a bunch of button combos and stick movements ensue. Failing means the girls are disappointed, but you can try again all you like. Success makes them moan, the furniture starts to rock, and then, after a loud sigh of pleasure Kratos gets experience points. Experience points. Anyway, you don’t see anything but you hear it. I showed it to GamerMom and she thought it was a combination of funny and pathetic. I agree. Here’s the scene from GOW2, the one with the hot tub. I forgot about the peeing statue … or should I say “spurting statue.”

Mass Effect

Mass Effect is a sci-fi role-playing game and the company that makes it, Bioware, is known for letting players flirt with some of the computer controlled characters. In Mass Effect, they went a bit further. There are lots of combinations but it’s lesbian alien love that’s been called obscene by FOX News. I think it’s extremely tame. Go ahead, watch it.

The Whores of Grand Theft Auto

I played Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City all the way through before hearing, from a newspaper reporter, that you could engage a hooker, pay her, sleep with her, kick her out of the car, beat her to death and get your money back.

It’s not a “feature” in the game, just another example that Rockstar has questionable taste at times. Here’s the reality. If you park your car next to a street walker and wait, she’ll get in and you’ll lose some cash. The car moves back and forth for a while and the hooker gets out. If you want, you can then kill her and grab some money. Now, that’s not your money you’re grabbing – every GTA character will drop money if killed. That doesn’t make it any more tasteful I know, my only point is that Rockstar isn’t encouraging you to kill hookers. Since you get a health bonus for sleeping with one (man, is that counter-intuitive or what?) Rockstar is guilty of misogyny, bad taste, and immaturity but it is notable that the game doesn’t even tell you that this is possible. It’s something you have to find for yourself. Unless you read newspapers, or, um, this webpage I guess.

There aren’t really that many other examples. Yes, female characters tend to be magnificently proportioned and overly fond of unpractical tight and revealing outfits (the same can be said of the men too, of course). But video games don’t really lend themselves well to explicit or even non-explicit love scenes. Gore is always the bigger problem.

So there you have it. An honest look at sex in video games. You’ll have to go elsewhere if you want sensationalism.

Can you think of any more examples?

10 Responses to “Is There Sex in Video Games?”

  1. Something you’ve said before – and I agree with – is that you could consider The Sims 2 to be more sexual than some of these games, with the Making Woohoo sequences. I’m trying to find a vanilla YouTube example, but it’s hard to make sure no mods or hacks were used to “spice things up”.

    Re: The Infamous Grand Theft Auto Hooker Trick, anecdotal evidence says that most of us didn’t even think about killing them until those stories appeared. Hell, it was a while before people figured out you could actually make use of them.

  2. The PC game Phantassmagoria 2 has a few sex scenes in it. However, nothing is shown unless you are able to figure out the right cheat codes within the game.

    I thought that Night Trap, starring Dana Plato, had some scenes as well but I don’t remember off-hand.

  3. Yep Tyler, exactly right. Those were PC games and back then that market was small, passionate, and, I think, older. But I do remember Phantasmagoria generated controversy at the time.

    Sims 2 is a good example Simon. Thanks for mentioning it.

  4. I agree with you pretty much about everything you have said about this issue so far, gamerdad. You aks if there are any more games that had sex in them ?

    Didn’t Fallout 2 have a feature that let you sleep around with men as part of a quest to do porno movies – if you played as female character? I remember distinctly that in BG2 you could sleep with someone, if you played a male character. The screen just went black, though, but the next morning, there would be no discussion about what you had been doing. In another Bioware game, Jade Empire, you could have sex witth two girls and a guy or two guys and girl – as part of the romance. In Jade Empire, too, you could also have a guy-guy romance. (don’t know if this led to a sexual encounter, though). I think mostly you just kissed, though, in Jade Empire.

    Speaking of sex scenes in videogames I think someone at either gameboomers or justadventure or adventuregamers mentioned that in the first Phantasmagoria game, you saw an unskippable rape cut scene. I don’t know if this is true or not, since I never played this game, but I know that someone else mentioned that they became so upset with the game’s portrayal of the rape that they had to quit playing the game.

    In the European version of Indigo Prophecy (called Fahrenheit) there also is cut scene that has sex in it. Of course, not sex like in porn movies or porn games, but sexual content like you might see in Daniel Steele movie. I make this a point of mine since I have actually seen more flesh and nudity in a Daniel Steele movie than in the now famous love (or sex) scene in Mass Effect.

    I agree that if you sleep with a street hooker in GTA, you really should take a health dive, or have at least a 50/50 chance to get a disease of some sorts. As for the Hot Coffee incident as well as the re-rating of Oblivion incident, orphaned code was left behind. Some hackers
    found this and used their -ehm- skills? to get access to this code – and made it playable.
    I’m not a tech guy nor game developer but as I understand it it is virtually (is this a pun?)
    impossible to delete all orphaned code in games these days – although the developers do what they can to get rid of the orphaned code, of course.

    I think the Danish news stations aired part of the Hot Coffee code. And I laughed aloud inside me. First, it was very grainy, so you couldn’t see anything, second, it was nothing compared to what usually is aired on Danish family tv-shows that’s airing in prime-time over here. As an example we once had family tv-show that showed a married female priest having sex (no genitals seen) with one of her parishoners.

    As one who has played videogames at least for the last 10-12 years, I can safely say that the video game market has grown tremendously over the past 5-6 years alone. Now every kid seems to either have a gameboy, a nintendo ds, or a ps 2 on which they play games. And some parents both have a Wii and an Xbox 360…

    Phantasmagoria games are adventure games. 10 years ago, the people that played the Phantasmagoria games were just 10 years younger than they are today – would be my guess. The big influx of gamers have been to the FPS games (shooter games).

    I remember very disticntly the whole re-rating of Oblivion incident. I was very new to the Elder Scrolls community at that time, but I had to admit that I agreed pretty much with about 90% of all other gamers on that site who clearly said to some of the members that if they were looking for nude content, they should go elsewhere e.g. to sites – which in older english – would be considered of ill repute. I think this goes for gamerdad’s examples as well.

  5. I’m a bit surprised you didn’t mention the game that you have as a picture and that you didn’t mention The Witcher. I’m more surprised that you used a censored version of the God of War video. Sort of defeats the purpose of making the game an example, no?

    Also, in the US Fahrenheit still had at least one of the sex scenes in it but the interactive one was removed, I believe.

  6. Hi Pete,
    Truth is, I don’t actually play all 10 million games that come out each year and I didn’t play The Witcher – so I didn’t think I should comment on it specifically. And I used the censored God of War video because the uncensored ones that I found required people to be registered on YouTube. This blog and site are meant for the casual/mainstream/clueless parents – though the hardcore are very welcome – so every article should be assumed to be aimed at an audience that doesn’t need to know all the details.

    You do know all the details – you are informed. So pass this article on to your spouse, parents, neighbors, grandparents with my compliments!

  7. I was flipping through channels today and I saw a review of DMC4 on Xplay, and yeah…. why is Mass Effect getting all the controversy but not this? It’s a lot worse. It’s all cut scenes but women are as skimpily dressed as possible and all of their moves are meant to show off their body. I mean come on. This game is M for 17+ when it would really only get a 12 year old to say “wow, Boobies, are cool!”

  8. Probably because there’s no sex in DMC4 and the scantily clad women are on screen for all of 45 seconds.

  9. Pete – I mention The Witcher content in my review and also my GOTY post here. The Witcher is what I consider a great example of a truly ‘mature’ game – but at the same time, the open-RPG part lets you play an immature womanizer if you choose.

    Games like Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur’s Gate 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, and so on have ‘romance quests’ that offer at worst visualization of kissing and the implication of sex. Gothic 2 has an actual sex scene that is *way* more tame than what you would see on an afternoon soap opera.

    Indigo Prophecy has the ‘simon’ mini-game for sex in Europe that was cut from the US version. It is silly and appropriate at a M rating … which gets back to the hypocrisy of the whole rating thing. As an (occasionally) mature adult I can stand around with a shotgun blowing body parts off someone as blood spurts and pools in Soldier of Fortune 2, but no digital boobies!

  10. I don’t understand why that mass effect scene got so much hype. I’ve seen much worse in a James Bond film. Same go’s for the Hot coffie mod. Kids go online and find way more explicit stuff. People seem to really target games for some reason.

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