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Book Excerpt and Review - Sex in Video Games


December 12, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 14 of 15 Next
 

Other times, emergent sexual content is created in a game when a player finds a loophole at the convergence of two systems. In the original The Sims, a cheat allowed players to move objects. Likewise, a system removed a character’s clothing when he or she entered a shower. The “nude” character was obscured by a pixel blur while entering and exiting the shower, so the player never saw any nudity. However, if the player asks a character to enter a shower, pauses the game, uses the “move object” cheat and moves the shower, the player sees his or her character nude [Eggh01]. As has been noted, under their clothes The Sims characters have nothing to see.

Passive emergent sex arises when players find developer-generated content in a game sexually arousing, provided arousal was not the developer’s intent. For instance, if a player becomes aroused while playing DreamStripper (Figure 1.6) or while staring at a buxom barmaid, such behavior is expected and desired and not emergent.

If a player’s character is eaten by a dinosaur and this turns the player on, such behavior is considered passive emergent sex. The Web site Vorarephile.com, for in stance, lists over 300 games where something is eaten, be it the player’s character or entire planets [Vore01]. The site serves the vorarephilia community—a fetish where one becomes sexually aroused by being eaten. Since the fetish is a difficult one to enjoy in real life, games are uniquely positioned to provide fetish realization.

Passive emergent sex also occurs when players are turned on by characters in video games that are clearly not designed to be in any way sexually stimulating. Some sites that target the adult market feature images of famous video game characters such as Sonic, Mario, and others. Along with these undoctored images are many more, however, that feature the same characters engaging in hard-core sex. Emergent sex is covered in detail in Chapter 3.


FIGURE 1.6 Ensign Games’ DreamStripper.
© 2005 Ensign Games, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Modded Sex

When shipped game content is modified and the result of that modification creates sexual content, that content is considered modded sex. “Hot Coffee,” an example of modded sex, is arguably the most famous mod of all time. Discovered in June 2005 by Dutch gamer and hacker Patrick Wildenborg, the mod enables a character to have sex with his girlfriend in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The mod caused a worldwide controversy and is the focus of a case study in Chapter 4.

Nude skins are the most frequent type of modded sex, however. Nude skins are simply pieces of clothing painted to make the character appear nude. There are many examples of such mods. The Sims and The Sims 2, for instance, have an active adult mod community. Players can create and download nude skins, objects, and even animations that allow their characters to perform a large range of sexual acts. Nude skins can also be found for Lara Croft in Tomb Raider™, Mona from Max Payne2, Cate from No One Lives Forever™, and even Britney Spears in Britney’s Dance Beat™. Links for these mods can be found on www.adultgamereviews.com.

Modded content is often confused with unlockable and “Easter egg” content. Mods are to some degree created by users after the game has shipped to market by altering the game’s code or content. The Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas “Hot Coffee” mod, while fully contained on the disc, was not accessible without external code or memory modification. Unlockable or “Easter egg” content and access to that content are created by developers before the game ships. Furthermore, access to unlockable and “Easter egg” content requires standard user action inside the game to reveal the content. Standard user actions include hitting a certain key or button combination or gathering enough bonus or experience points to unlock a particular feature or image. By contrast, modded content requires a user to actively alter the code base or art assets by some means outside of the game through a code, asset, or hardware-assisted alteration through devices such as the Action Replay™ Max. Such devices alter existing variables in the console’s memory.

The difference between unlockable content and “Easter egg” content lies in prior player knowledge. Unlockable content is defined as content that is generally known to the user when the game begins but is unavailable for use or for viewing. For instance, in the game Playboy: The Mansion, unlockable content included centerfold images and interviews. In fighting games, new moves are frequently locked when the game begins and unlocked as play progresses. Furthermore, unlockable content is sometimes required for gameplay to progress normally. By contrast, “Easter egg” content is unknown to players, is not required to complete the game, and occasionally tips the scales absurdly in the player’s favor. “Easter eggs” are often unlocked by pressing a secret series of buttons, completing a series of seemingly unrelated moves, or by finding a secret location containing the “Easter egg.” For instance, in the game Ratchet & Clank, players can find a location in the game that offers a ridiculous amount of bolts, the currency for the game. In an old version of Microsoft’s Excel, if the user highlighted a particular cell and pressed a series of keys, the program launched a 3D engine reminiscent of old 3D shooters.

Unlockable and “Easter egg” content is taken into consideration by the ESRB when rating a game. This alone accounts for the lack of sexual unlockables and “Easter eggs.” Modded content, since it is created by users after a game is released, is generally not taken into account. This changed in 2005, however, following the Hot Coffee controversy. The ESRB now takes into account all content on the disc, even if the content is not accessible off the shelf. If there is material on the disc that may be revealed through a mod, such as the nude skin in Oblivion, publishers must declare this content and it will factor into the game’s ratings. Complete user modifications, like the user-created nude skins for The Sims, are beyond the scope of the ESRB. By comparison, think of the huge array of things people could potentially paint on their cars. That creative streak, perverted as it may possibly be, is beyond the scope of GM or Ford.


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