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Sex as Aesthetic
Sex is an incredibly immersive experience that affects all the senses deeply. Games that hope to fully simulate this experience must affect as many senses as they possibly can to recreate a sexy aesthetic. Devices such as the Sinulator™, Interactive Fleshlight, and SeXBox allow players to feel sexual stimuli while playing a game. The Sinulator is a vibrator that can be controlled over the Internet, while the SeXBox is an Xbox controller whose vibration devices have been removed and inserted into sex toys. Both are covered later in this chapter. The Scent Dome™, a device that emits smells as directed by a program, could be used to convey the scent of a woman or a man. Visually, computers and consoles are easily capable of recreating the sights and sounds of sex, too. Video, live streaming images, and high-polygon renderings of virtual characters are all commonplace (www.renderotica.com) as are soundtracks, sound effects, and chat and voice between systems. While this technology currently exists, none compares to that of a real human being.
In some cases, that’s actually key. For those who desire sex with things that are impossible on this earth, computerized images and the artists who create them are a proverbial saving grace. In online worlds where anything goes, dragons can have sex with foxes, and people can pleasure themselves while on fire . . . or dead.
Of course, most of today’s games, particularly the mainstream ones, don’t go that far. Instead, they use sexual content to make the game more appealing to convey a somewhat sexy aesthetic. The aesthetic the developers wish to convey often reveals itself even before the game’s opening screen. Games with names like Roboho™, Rapture Online™, and Do You Like Horny Bunnies? suggest the game to come. The aesthetic can be carried out into the game’s interfaces, HUD (“heads up display,” the interface that overlays the main gameplay screen), options, mini games, animations, and even the loading screens. For instance, Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude™ features a conversation mini-game in which a sperm attempts to avoid obstacles in a side-scrolling maze of sorts. 7 Sins is also full of similar sexually themed mini-games. Playboy: The Mansion features Playboy trivia and quotes on its loading screens, and unlockable centerfold photos.
The way a game’s camera is used also reveals its aesthetic. Games occasionally zoom in on a particular character or show him or her from a sexually flattering angle that accentuates some feature of the character’s body, like the buxom bar maid in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance. Some games even allow players to control the camera. Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball features a voyeuristic mode that lets players watch the women from multiple angles and zoom in for a closer look.
As an aesthetic, sexual content also appears as “window dressing,” whether it’s the breasts of a bartender, the relationship between in-game characters, or the set ting of the game. Phantasmagoria™ 2: A Puzzle of Flesh™, for instance, sets some of its scenes in a fictional S&M club called “The Borderline.” Playboy: The Mansion allowed players to recreate Hugh Hefner’s famous home right down to its steamy grotto.
The range of sex content found in video games is as wide as that found in any other medium. It ranges from the hard core to the fully abstracted. Even within individual categories, there is great variety. Early text-based games, particularly the early online worlds, featured hard-core scenes that could only be imagined by the player, while more recent games feature avatars with buxom, bouncing breasts that steal the scene. Some avatars appear to be on their way to a stripping engagement instead of a day in the dungeon.
What is the range of sex in games?