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Inside the IGF Student Competition:  Dark Room Sex Game

Inside the IGF Student Competition: Dark Room Sex Game Exclusive

January 23, 2009 | By Jill Duffy




[Spun from a game concept put forth at the Nordic Game Jam, Dark Room Sex Game is a Wiimote enabled game in which players try to climax with their partners -- with no on-screen visuals whatsoever.

The students from IT University Copenhagen who made the game submitted it to this year’s Independent Games Festival Student Competition. Sister web site GameCareerGuide caught up with them about the titillating title.]


Dark Room Sex Game is an erotic multiplayer rhythm game without any graphics, played only by audio and haptic cues. The game can be played with Nintendo Wii Remotes or a keyboard.

In Dark Room Sex Game, the player works with his or her partner to find a mutual rhythm, then speeds up gradually until climax. In four-player "orgy" mode, players swap partners randomly and compete to reach orgasm the fastest.

The idea was that a sex game would in fact be even more erotic if it stripped away all visuals and forced players to use their imaginations. Our hope was to use a combination of humor and embarrassment to make players uncomfortable, yet strangely satisfied. Our aim was to get players looking at each other, rather than the television screen.

One could view the game as a commentary on the dull fixation on visuals in the spheres of sex and also video games. Or, you can just view it as a cool party game.

Dark Room Sex Game began its sordid life as a project for the 2008 Nordic Game Jam, and was developed by a co-ed, multi-national team of students at the IT University of Copenhagen. The team consists of Lars Bojsen-Møller, Robin Di Capua, Dajana Dimovska, Lau Korsgaard, Mads Lyngvig, Douglas Wilson, Kennett Wong, and Lars Bojsen-Møller.

Dark Room Sex Game is obviously a little racy for the IGF, and I would venture to say it was never intended to be mass marketed -- is that right? Why did you make this game? You mentioned it came out of the Nordic Game Jam.

Robin Di Capua: Game Jams are a good opportunity to think outside the box with something experimental and crazy. The theme of last year edition of the Nordic Game Jam was “taboo” ... The rest is history.

Dajana Dimovska: Our team was formed during the Nordic Game Jam, and Dark Room Sex Game is our first game together. The game creation was spontaneous and fun all the way.

Our team’s goal was to do an experimental, “classy” sex game and investigate how intimidating it is for two or more players to hear loud sex moaning sounds while playing in the same physical space.

Douglas Wilson: You’re right in that we never intended to market the game. Nevertheless, we’ve had some hilarious ideas about a potential iPhone version of the core concept. Sadly, I don’t think Apple is a big fan of adult content.

Explain in more detail why the game doesn’t have any visuals.

Lau Korsgaard: Erotic games today are often overtly explicit, leaving nothing for the imagination. We wanted to counter that trend by proving that each player’s imagination is a much more powerful generator of dirty images than any 3D renderer.

What kind of research did you do into the area of sex and video games, or other sexually themed human-computer interactions? Did you find anything interesting?

LK: I have played my share of erotic video games, but I always get disappointed. One of the more interesting games I tried last year was Rez, the rhythm shooter sold with a vibrator in Japan. Trust me, it is a pretty powerful vibrator.

RD: Erotic games tend to be extremely visual and try to visually copy porn movies. Dark Room goes in another direction using the properties of the medium about interaction and feedback.

DD: We also did a research about different “moaning techniques and intensities,” which included watching and listening to media with sexual content. This helped us with planning and doing the voice recordings.

In terms of mechanics, what existing games influenced this game? Can you explain here also in greater detail how the controllers are used?

DD: Rhythm games were our main inspiration.

DW: Speaking for myself, I’m a little tired of Rock Band and Guitar Hero parties. Though fun, those games can be antisocial if everyone just ends up staring at the screen like zombies.

By contrast, a game with no visuals forces the players to look directly at each other. The gameplay isn’t tethered to the screen. This also helps increase the embarrassment factor.

As for the mechanics and controllers, the idea is that you and your partners take turns swinging your Wiimotes. You need to swing with enough acceleration, but that’s it. No button presses or special gestures. We wanted to keep the game simple.

So basically, the goal is to accelerate towards climax, but you can’t do so too quickly or you’ll be penalized. There’s a kind of perfect acceleration you’re trying to match.

[Gamasutra is reprinting an abbreviated version of this interview -- for the extended interview, visit Gamasutra sister site GameCareerGuide.com.]


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