The Strange Case of the Misappearance of Sex in Video Games

Abstract

It’s common for news media to relish stories about sex in games in order to generate the attractions of salacious capital. The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been particularly good at soliciting such interest and making its own capital from the lure of sexual transgression. But despite the lurid copy, there has, in fact, been very little explicit sex in video games. This chapter analyses why this is the case. The first half of this chapter maps the conditions on which sex can be present in video games. I divide games from across a range of platforms, genres and era into those where sex is core to gameplay, those where the game itself becomes a mise-en-scene for cybersex and those where sex is not present in direct form but evoked tangentially to solicit desire. The second half of this chapter appraises why it is that explicit sex has been largely absent from the game arena, as distinct from other emergent media. Why should this be so? Are games so welded in the public imagination to childhood that ‘pornographic’ games are rendered too outré? Does ‘doing’ in games preclude the use of hands in other activities? Are games inherently more about promise and deferral than other media? When games are predicated on action and sensation, why is it that sex seems subject to taboo?

Keywords

Video Game Sexual Desire Female Character Human Sexuality Digital Game 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

Bibliography

  1. Aarseth, E. (1997). Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic literature. Baltimore: John Hopkins.Google Scholar
  2. Atkins, B. (2006, April). What are we really Looking at? The future orientation of play. Games and Culture, 1(2), 127–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barker, M., & Petley, J. (Eds.). (2001). Ill effects: The media/violence debate (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Barthes, R. (1975). Le Plaisir du texte. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  5. Blackburn, S. (2004). Lust: The seven deadly sins. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brathwaite, B. (2007). Sex in video games. Boston: Charles River Media.Google Scholar
  7. Consalvo, M. (2003). Hot dates and fairy tale romances: Studying sexuality in video games. In M. J. P. Wolf & B. Perron (Eds.), The video game theory reader. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Floyd, D. (2010). Animated lectures on videogame issues. http://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2010/04/23/daniel-floyds-animated-lecture-series-on-video-game-issues/. Accessed 12 Aug 2010.
  9. Gauntlett, D. (2005). Moving experiences. Media effects and beyond (2nd ed.). London: John Libbey.Google Scholar
  10. Krzywinska, T. (2009). Reanimating HP Lovecraft: The Ludic Paradox of Call of Cthulhu: Dark corners of the Earth. In B. Perron (Ed.), Horror video games: Essays on the fusion of fear and play (pp. 267–288). Jefferson: MacGraw Hill/McFarland & Co.Google Scholar
  11. Lyotard, J.-F. (1993). Libidinal economy. London: Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  12. Sontag, S. (1982). The pornographic imagination. In A Susan Sontag reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  13. Wirman, H. (2009, July 18). And he said, gasping, “Good… Excellent”. In: Bad games colloquium. University of the West of England. Unpublished talk, abstract available: http://westengland.academia.edu/wirman/Talks. Accessed 12 Feb 2012.

Filmography

  1. Die Hard. (1988). John McTiernan (Director).Google Scholar
  2. Die Hard 2: Die Harder. (1990). Renny Harlin (Dir.).Google Scholar
  3. Die Hard: With A Vengeance. (1995). John McTiernan (Dir.).Google Scholar
  4. Die Hard 4.0. (2007). Len Wiseman (Dir.).Google Scholar
  5. Emmanuelle. (1974). Just Jaeckin (Dir.).Google Scholar
  6. Fight Club. (1999). David Fincher (Dir.).Google Scholar
  7. Intolerance. (1916). D. W. Griffith (Dir.).Google Scholar
  8. Story of O. (1975). Just Jaeckin (Dir.).Google Scholar
  9. The Simpsons Movie. (2007). David Silverman (Dir.).Google Scholar

Gameography

  1. 7 Sins (2005). Monte Cristo (Dev.); Digital Jesters (Pub.).Google Scholar
  2. Assassin’s Creed. (2007). Ubisoft Montreal (Dev.); Ubisoft (Pub.).Google Scholar
  3. Bayonetta. (2009). Platinum Games (Dev.); Sega (Pub.).Google Scholar
  4. Bejeweled series. (since 2001). Popcap Games (Dev.); Popcap Games and various (Pub.); Jason Kapalka and Brian Fiete (Game Design).Google Scholar
  5. Beowulf. (2007). Ubisoft (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar
  6. Custer’s Revenge. (1982). Mystique (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar
  7. Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. (2003). Team Ninja (Dev.); Microsoft Game Studios (Pub.).Google Scholar
  8. Erotica Island. (2001). Flare Media (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar
  9. Fable 2. (2008). Lionhead Studios (Dev.); Microsoft Game Studios (Pub.).Google Scholar
  10. Ganguro Girl. (date unknown). Developer and publisher unknown.Google Scholar
  11. Gears of War. (2006). Epic Games (Dev.); Microsoft Game Studios (Pub.).Google Scholar
  12. Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise. (since 1997). Rockstar and various (Dev.); Rockstar North and various (Pub.).Google Scholar
  13. Halo series. (since 2001). Bungie/Gearbox Software (Dev.); Microsoft Game Studios (Pub.).Google Scholar
  14. Leisure Suit Larry series. (1987–2004). Sierra Entertainment/High Voltage software (Dev.); Sierra Entertainment/VU Games (Pub.).Google Scholar
  15. Mass Effect. (2008). Bioware (Dev.); Microsoft Game Studios (Pub.).Google Scholar
  16. Playboy: The Mansion. (2005). Cyberlore Studios (Dev.); Ubisoft (Pub.); Brenda Brathwaite (Lead Designer).Google Scholar
  17. Primal. (2003). SCEE (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar
  18. Second Life. (2003). Linden Labs (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar
  19. The Lord of the Rings Online. (2007). Turbine Inc. (Dev.); Codemasters (Pub.).Google Scholar
  20. Viva Piñata. (2006). Rare Ltd. (Dev.); Microsoft Game Studios (Pub.).Google Scholar
  21. Wizard 101. (2008). KingIsle Entertainment (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar
  22. World of Warcraft. (2004). Blizzard Entertainment (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ArtsBrunel University West LondonUxbridgeUK

Personalised recommendations