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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sex and the Indie Game

It might take a while to load, for some reason, but this short article at PitchforkMedia is worth it:

Her [Brenda Brathwaite] interest led her to start a "special interest group" within the IGDA, or International Game Developers Association. This group gives developers a place to hash out issues from the legal to the technical to the artistic, through a blog (http://www.igda.org/sex) and regular talks at conferences. But she's also reaching out to everyone who has a stake in the issue, even if they're not on her side. "These four groups-- politicians, parents, retailers, and developers-- all want the same thing: we don't want sexual content in kids' hands. [But] instead of working toward this common cause we're spending all this time beating each other up," says Brathwaite. "What I would love is for all of us to work together on this, to really evaluate the problem."

Sexuality never had much of a foothold in games, and the chilling effect has grown worse after the Grand Theft Auto incident-- which may have cost the game's publisher, TakeTwo Interactive, as much as $50 million. Today, it's hard to find any serious sexual content in a mainstream game. God of War included a sex scene, but the European game Fahrehnheit lost some of its sexual content when Atari ported it to the U.S. as Indigo Prophecy. And while Mature games draw the attention, they don't measure up in sales. Patricia Vance, President of the ESRB-- the industry-funded group that rates games-- says, "Mature game sales are a fraction of what other games represent in the marketplace. E [for Everyone], for an example, is still by far the largest category for sales as well as for rating assignments."

But then there's the indie space. No major retailer will carry an "Adults Only"-rated video game, but developers can sell their work over the internet-- or even give it away. Though it's not a porn site, Newgrounds.com probably hosts the largest single collection of adult interactive content on the web, and it's all free. Founder Tom Fulp started the site for Flash developers of all stripes, as a portal where they could post and discuss their games and animations. (The indie hit Alien Hominid, which I wrote about last year, debuted on Newgrounds.com.) Fulp estimates that mature games draw around 15-20% of the traffic on the site, and the biggest hits-- like Orgasm Girl, where you play a lesbian angel who sneaks into schoolgirls' bedrooms and gives them something to dream about-- score millions of users.
-- Get That Out of Your Mouth #22

Considering Hollywood has embraced the sex game (probably NSFW) should any of this come as a surprise? Can I mention once again just how many google searches for naked patches find their way here? And we're talking nude patches for games like Doom 3 ... where nudity ... I mean ... well it's not like demons wear a lot of clothes, people.

The demand is out there - and there's probably a large audience just waiting for something more intelligent than a DDR clone with tits.



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2 comments:

Patrick Dugan said...

I'm going to incorporate sexuality to some degree or another in some of the projects I've got in mind, not so much the details of the sex itself, but more the seduction and foreplay element. I do have a storyworld based on the Aristocrats (the dirtiest joke ever told) in mind, which I'm going to proto with the storytron, but probably won't have graphics for, since it depicts graphic sodomy, incest, bestiality and whatever else. In that one you'll be able to specify to grueling detial the precise discourse of a family orgy, but I suppose that doesn't transcend the newgrounds category of sex game. However, I have another project in mind for the near future which makes a bit more of a cultural political statement about it: http://kingludic.blogspot.com/2006/02/interzone.html

Josh said...

An Aristocrats IF would, most definately, result in a volume of downloads.

I generally avoid sex as subject material not out of any real prudism, just a creative awkwardness. Can't really define what it stems from, other than not everything flows as easily as something else. Not repression, I once had a conversation where I (when asked) offered sex advice to a lesbian, which took more than a few rounds of well, translation. And having worked a crisis line, I may not have heard it all ... but I've heard plenty.

Somehow it just never sound right though. I'd make the worst smut writer in the world. Last time I tried, I ended up making it into flow poetry instead.