Over on the Girls Entertainment Network, good old Aktrez has posted an interesting editorial on sex in games. While I suspect that it's as much about driving traffic to her site as it is about her interest in the subject, I was still compelled to leave a comment. It turned into such an epic that I decided to repost it here:
First off, I wouldn't say that there isn't also a lot of blowback about sexualized music and television pop culture.
Having worked at both a record store and a video rental store I can say that I heard a lot of vitriol and concern from parents when it came to sexual content. I can defiantly tell you that most parents at the video store could care less about graphic violence...but god forbid you recommend a move for the family that has even the remotest sexual content.
The same can be said for the sort of virgin slut pop starlets of the late 90s. I remember several parents trying to return britney and christina albums that heir daughters had purchased because they didn't approve of the message (such as it was).
having said that. I agree that the same attitude is present when it comes to the general publics view of video games.
but I think it's amplified for three reasons:
1. The average member of "the public" may not be as familiar with video games as they are with other forms of media (hence the popular "What ever happened to Pac Man?" mantra)
2. The perception by the average member of "the public" that video games are "for kids". I don't need to belabor this...you all know the reality is that much like other media Games are enjoyed by all sorts of people old and young, and like other media there are games for kids and there are games that are obviously only for adults.
3. This is the big one, interactivity. I think that the general public is most uncomfortable with the idea that games let you "act out" some of these acts. Take the Mass Effect flap. It seemed like much of the criticism was phrased to emphasize the fact that the player could "choose" to do all this crazy sex. And that the player "takes part" in rape etc.
There is something about interactivity that makes people uncomfortable.
like it's somehow less harmful for people to watch violent movies than it is for them to play violent games, because the interaction somehow trains or conditions them. The same goes for sex. I mean even I have to say that it'd be one thing to watch a movie about a sexually aggressive deviant than it would to actually play a game where I was behaving like a sexually aggressive deviant. Even if I know that I can tell the difference between right and wrong. the "free will" or "choice" aspect is a very powerful element of gaming that can not be underestimated.
In the end though it is basically our right to enjoy media that we pay for. If I want to play a bunch of deviant sex sims...or even if I just want to play a game that has mature themes of romance and love...then I have a right to do so without being legislated and persecuted for doing so.