RPS In Second Life: An Orgasmic Bellowing

By Quintin Smith on February 1st, 2010 at 2:31 pm.

SEX!
Pay any attention to that irreverent, smiling spectre we call technology journalism and you’ll probably know two things about Second Life. ONE: That it’s very successful, and the millions of dollars it rakes in are shared with its dashing player entrepreneurs. TWO: That it’s full of sex. You’ll know this from the chocolate-box of articles ranging from I Was A Prostitute In Second Life to I Hired A Prostitute In Second Life to I Was Raped In Second Life to I Was A Rapist In Second Life. Wait, maybe not that last one. Wow. Must remember to pitch that to The Escapist.

Thing is, these two headlines have a habit of existing independently from one another. What I feel no-one’s talking about is that if Second Life is even partially successful because of the sexual freedom it offers, that raises a fat question about the games industry as a whole. If you’ll pardon the euphemism, I think there’s a huge, important point this game is making, and it’s waving it in our direction. Come over here and look at this, will you? [Needless to say, it's NSFW from this point.]

Let me start by re-iterating the facts. Creepily, nobody except developer Linden Labs knows quite how much sex makes up the economy of Second Life, and they’re certainly not telling. All the rest of us can do is guess. If you’re a journalist writing a sensationalist article, you’ll probably guess pretty high. If you’re a ponce who spends a lot of time in Second Life and considers it a fascinating medium and/or some kind of wondrous multicultural social tapestry, you might try and play the shagging down by guessing low.

SEX!

We know that only 18% of the player-owned land in the game is flagged as ‘mature’ (which can, of course, simply refer to swearing, violence or references to alcohol), yet if you search through Second Life’s locations manually the nude beaches, brothels and adult clubs clearly dwarf everywhere else in terms of player traffic. Likewise, it’s underwear, sex beds, stiletto heels and beyond-revealing dresses that are always floating at the top of the Popular Items list.

(Sex beds (or sex sofas, jacuzzis, rugs and so on) being items of furniture which come with built in animations for the user. So, just as you might expect to be able to sit on your new sofa, some customers also have the relatively reasonable expectation that they’ll also be able to have sex all over it. Go randomly exploring Second Life as a peeping tom and you’ll find a sex bed in people’s houses more often than not.)

The impression these facts leave is that SL is secretly a melting pot of hormones and bodily fluids, that it’s Strictly Come Dancing except instead of dancing or holding up scores everybody’s just fucking. But that’s the thing. Go to the sluttiest locations you can find in SL and people will still mostly be talking or dancing. Fundamentally, for all its bell-ends and whistles Second Life only rarely amounts to more than a sprawling chat room. It is neither all about sex nor a divided land where people either consume either coffee or cock. The sex, all those animations, the sound packs full of squeaks and moans, the skanky clothes and variety of downloadable erections, they all exist to augment Second Life.

Case in point, when my friend and I were poking around SL on monday we stumbled across this charming pair:

SEX!

My friend and I cordially introduced ourselves as Quinns Raymation and Snaps Tremor, chose to politely ignore their discourteous mention that we were on private land and promptly found ourselves rudely catapulted into space. Yet these two represent an important part of SL’s romantic landscape. They were just on a date. Were they going to fuck later? Probably. But the sex they were going to have would only be one part of a bigger relationship that they were sharing.

SEX!

This is the disconnect that I’m not sure many people understand about Second Life. Second Life’s sex trade doesn’t represent players creating pornography within the framework of the game. More often than not, it’s simply another part of socialising that players want to simulate. Players will meet, chat, romance one another over however many days or minutes, and then have sex.

So! Now you guys are a little more aware of the situation, I’ll move onto my point.

Let’s take the facts I mentioned earlier and make the conservative estimate that 25-30% of every dollar spent in Second Life is spent on sex in some way or another, whether it’s paying for an escort, a top that shows a bit of cleavage, a sex bed for your house or a new penis for your avatar. That’s still a staggering figure. Here’s another one: Kevin Alderman, an American who designs and sells sex aids in Second Life, claims to have made more than $1,000,000 US in revenue in the last five years. Why couldn’t he have been Second Life’s trophy millionaire instead of Anshe Chung?

My point, then, is that it’s staggering the degree to which the games industry seems to be laughing these people off as a bunch of hilarious perverts. The money being spent on sex here is a grand shout out from the Second Life community, an orgasmic bellowing from the rooftops that shouldn’t be ignored. It says two things: One, many gamers are tremendously unafraid of virtual sex and/or virtual romance. Two, they’re willing to pay for it.

SEX!

Let me phrase the question this prompts in its most dumbfounding form: Why is it the only people in the West making millions of dollars from videogame sex or simulated romance are amateurs working within someone else’s game? Also, why are the developers of that game endeavouring to present a squeaky clean front end when the sexual content of their game is one of its biggest appeals?

I mean, Japan doesn’t have this problem (preferring instead to have an entire stamp collection of other problems). For one minute let’s put aside that tentacle-child-rape nightmare software situation of theirs we so love discussing over here, because the far bigger market in Japan is centred around more tame games of dating or titillation. Though singularly terrible, these games sell, and not just in their country of origin. Console jigglefest Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball sold more than twice in the USA what it did in Japan, which is to say in the States it sold 330,000 copies.

Why aren’t we making games like that? There’s simply something missing here. I actually feel slightly childish writing this, as if the moment it goes live the comments thread is going to fill with people pointing out the error in my logic. But no, something’s definitely up. The West doesn’t shy away from romantic novels, sexy TV shows or porn movies, and Second Life is a naked statement that we have no problem with digital eroticism. So why are we being trounced on the erotic videogame front?

I cannot have been the only person watching Lionhead’s presentation of Milo and thinking to myself that while it was a blinding (albeit utterly scripted) vision of the future, in any self-respecting sci-fi novel we’d be flirting with some fawning glittergirl, not playing football with a 9 year old boy. The only obvious role I can imagine for Milo in a sci-fi novel is that of the simulation of a real-life Milo, the dead son of the protagonist detective.

Here’s my prediction: In 15 years the idea that the Western videogames industry was once utterly barren of sex games will be a mad thought.

SEX! See, we know what sells newspapers.

Then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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99 Comments »

  1. Mike says:

    That’s a really nice piece, Quinns. I think I see the points you’re trying to make. Do you think it would merely emphasise another vice for gaming, or do you think acceptance might get past the ‘Games are turning our kids into pornographers AND murderers’ headlines? I’m concerned that adding prostitute to the list of serial killer, premature ejaculator, sociopath and nerd might do more harm than good.

    Excellent thoughts though.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ Mike

      Prostitution has been legalised in the UK, and pornography is legal, whereas murder is not, so in the UK at least there should be a few more sexy videogames.

  2. aldo_14 says:

    I have the misfortune of having to use Second Life as part of my PhD (as the visual side of a rescue operations centre, not a shagatron), and it’s truly a hateful piece of crap in terms of graphics, mechanics, interface, performance… If people are making a bunch of cash from porn in something as poor than that, then it shows there must be a massive appetite for it. Basically it’s the grotty amateur stripclub of sex games.

    It’s always been an oddity of culture (I hesitate to say western – other continents have their prudish parts of course – after all, the Japanese still mosaic porn) that violence is more readily accepted than sex as a part of entertainment. You’d think that perhaps the interactive aspect is important in that most people don’t ‘do’ violence in real life, so it’s more clearly escapism and the release of otherwise unreleased impulses… but then again, most of the vehement anti-sex-in-games critics seem the sort of people who don’t want sex to exist in real life either.

    • Wulf says:

      The thing with something like Second Life though–from the hilarious half hour here or there I’ve spent in it–is that it’s escapism on multiple fronts, even including the ordinary.

      Whilst it’s true that yes, violence isn’t exactly a la mode for reality, it’s only a causality, an action based upon emotions and desires, violence is an expression, but it’s not necessarily a good or ethical expression, therefore we keep it to avenues more virtual for exploration, because it doesn’t necessarily need to be very real in order to sate those desires. I have to admit, one of my favourite methods of violence was in Duke Nukem 3D; the shrinking ray, wherein one would shrink an opponent and then chase them around to step on them. This was especially hilarious in player-match scenarios.

      I’m going somewhere with this, honestly, and it’s going to pay off, in fact, you might even see where I’m going with this all ready. …I should probably start a blog and write articles myself, but I digress, I’m entering into a tangent inside a tangent here, even though the first tangent might not be so apparent. Where was I? Oh yes, that example of violence is important, because it’s an example of improbable violence, it’s something that really couldn’t happen in reality anyway, and that’s important.

      There are so many other avenues of escapism than that, too: everyone can fly, but what would relatively unaided flight be like, or to take to flight on wings? We can get some of that with a glider, but it can be so much more fantastic in a game. And if one were an animal, what would that be like? And that’s especially interesting because this opens the door to things which are barely imaginable; scent, a world in smells, history literally written all over the walls, a person’s past day’s activities written on their clothes, it would almost be like a form of telepathy. To be able to hear for miles, to pick up nuances of sound that go beyond human hearing, far above and below. How about to have more blue cones in one’s eyes, to witness night in a completely different way? Or to have the eyes of a bird, able to perceive colours of the spectrum far beyond what human eyes are capable of. What would it be like to be a changeling, able to change our appearance to anything we so desired? Hell, if a tree were sapient, how would it perceive the world? All sorts of fun questions and probabilities.

      Now nothing can give us definitive answers to these questions, but entertainment in general is a damned good avenue to try, and digital entertainment more so than any because these new factors can be interacted with, and we can learn more about what it is to be something we’re not and thus, true escapism.

      Now what if we apply that realisation to sex? There’s a lot you can do with sex, sure, and sex can get… particularly inventive, surprisingly so, sometimes, one can never underestimate the ingenuity of people, but reality only stretches so far, and there’s only so much you can do without putting your life and the lives of others in danger, there’s only so much you can do which is still ethical. And there’s the catch. You see, you can express violence in reality via Martial Arts training and such, but you can only take that so far, because there’s only so far we can go without crossing a boundary where oneself and/or other people are placed in jeopardy.

      Apply all of the above to sex.

      That’s why some people turn to digital venues to express their sexual desires, because reality can only stretch so far, but insofar as interactive visual and sound representations, the digital environment can be stretched to the limits of imagination, only limited by a person’s imagination. This… leads to some fairly interesting scenarios. No one is restrained by a need for ethics because no one is really getting hurt, and everyone involved is very likely enjoying the proceedings (except for those who happen to walk in on it unexpectedly, but more on that later), so people use it to explore elements of sexuality that simply either cannot exist in reality or are unethical to practise in reality.

      Which brings us to an interesting point: since violence and sexuality can be extended in very similar ways, and since both have outlets in reality, why the difference? It’s an intriguing question, isn’t it? After all, there are many people who wouldn’t wince at using telekinetic powers to twist a squadron of EBIL soldiers inside out, before smushing them together in a pile of organs and broken bones. Prototype is a fantastic example of this. And yet, these people would have trouble with similar extensions of sexuality.

      I find it amusing, on a personal level, being a person with a soundly open mind. I mean, it’s just what gets people off, and that’s often hilarious, and I find that I have to laugh for the same reasons that I laugh at improbable violence. It’s only very real violence that tends to throw me a bit. But yes, as an example, one of the times I was in Second Life, wandering around I happened to bear witness to two Dragons going at it in the air. This got a chuckle out of me before I moved on, but most people would claw their eyes out.

      That’s fascinating.

      I cannot say why, but there’s an element of society (perhaps it’s the ever escalating movement of anti-intellectualism) that seems to either prohibit or induce fear when thinking about such things, people have knee-jerk reactions without even thinking about it, and what they’ll consider sick as one extension of desire, they’ll practise themselves as another extension of desire. They’ll wig out at sexual freedom, and then they’ll go and spread the intestines of some poor bastard over the walls in a videogame. It’s hypocrisy at its finest, and an interesting psychological statement about people as a whole.

      That’s why I’m not bothered by any of it. Violent escapism, sexual escapism, fantastical escapism, it’s all the same thing at the end of the day, it’s just stuff that we can’t do in reality, either because we are restricted from doing so or because it’s impossible. I’m not in a position where I can fly regularly, but I love flying, so I’m drawn to games in which I can fly. It’s really as simple as that.

      And I find it baffling if anyone has a go at improbable violent escapism too, for very much the same reasons. People getting these things out of their systems in a virtual environment, or in a non-real way is a healthy thing, as any qualified psychiatrist would probably attest, but telling people they shouldn’t do these things, to me, is encouraging them to do them in reality instead, which doesn’t sound that healthy at all.

      So I agree with Quinns in regards to the 15 years sentiment, because eventually everyone will just accept this and we can get on with our lives.

    • Wulf says:

      @Me

      Though I will admit though that I still think that using AI to replicate a perfectly normal and everyday sexual situation that the person could achieve RL without too much difficulty is a bit sad. I’ll have to concede to that, because I’ve thought that myself.

      But if it’s more than one person, better. If it’s more than one person doing particularly extraordinary things? …can I watch?

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ aldo_14

      It’s not an oddity, it’s the Puritan Christian spirit. They don’t really like sex outside of marriage, and they’re very vocal at opposing it. This spirit is widespread in the US which is a huge market and producer of games, if a game is going to be outlawed in the US then for many western producers it will not be worth making (and certainly they’ll be no PS3, Wii or 360 version).

      When the US occupied Japan they repealed a lot of laws to give the people more freedom, but not the laws about sex. Hence bukkake, they’re not allowed to show the penis, but they are allowed to show seminal fluid. You’ll find the US has had a huge cultural influence on Japan since the end of WW2.

  3. fishyjoes says:

    Bigger NSFW sign next time, please! T_T

  4. nine says:

    > It says two things: One, many gamers are tremendously unafraid of virtual sex and/or
    > virtual romance. Two, they’re willing to pay for it.

    I think you’re assuming second life players are ‘average’ gamers. I don’t think that’s a given!

    • Quinns says:

      Hm! Point.

      Counterpoint: The mass of references and homages to popular videogames (and other geek touchstones such as anime) within Second Life proves make it really hard to think of Second Life’s community as an island.

    • Paul_M says:

      I think it’s the term ‘game’ that is the real problem here. The sexual encounters of Second Life are not part of the game per se, they are a development of social and cultural interactions, merely displacing the identity of the individuals into another realm and discourse.

      This virtualised sexual element is far more likely to be pursued by the social networking industry than the videogames industry.

    • terry says:

      Yeah, I already get bombarded with Iheart and ESmile requests on Facebook, can’t wait for the “V-Knobbing” app.

    • SF Legend says:

      Second Life is in no sense a game anyway, it’s just IRC with graphics.

  5. EGTF says:

    It’s the realm of amateurs as amateurs are the ones who can live with the reputation. Just like how FOX will never direct a pornography, neither will EA make a game with sex dongles to socially interact in a virtual atmosphere with.

    Should Blizzard make an online game with sex as an interaction just because sex is a baseline for profitability? As much as playing “WoW: That’s a Big One” sounds appealing, games are starting to deal with sex on a mature level. I don’t go online to live a fantasy, I go in fully aware of the virtual landscape. Games are violent, but I’m not emotinally engaging with the violence. If a game gave me the option to roam around a city and slice someone’s throat in a backalley I say it’s too far. Though I think comparing sex to violence is a bit off, as sex is a more healthy occurence in some ways but the main point is the emotinal connection built upon an ultimatley empty falsehood.

    Virtual sex is people making connections and getting too drawn into the fantasy. Really, I think the most important thing to realise about Second Life and virtual sex is at what point do games become too much of a form of escapism?

    Fuck, I should pitch that to the escapist too.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ EGTF:

      “I think comparing sex to violence is a bit off, as sex is a more healthy occurence in some ways”

      In some ways? How is violence more healthy than sex?

      (Just wondering.)

    • EGTF says:

      A punch mostly doesn’t kill someone, leaves only some bruising afterwards. Aids sticks around and kindof kills you after a bit I’ve heard. But a bullet is definetly not healthier than a bit of rumpy pumpy.

      Guess I should’ve just deleted that part to avoid such confusion; in covering all bases poorly have I thus detrimented my own argument. Oh woe is me.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      I don’t think it’s the case that violence is in some way thought to be better than sex. I think it’s more that game players are not expected to indulge in violence in real life, whereas even the most wishful-thinking modern puritan still expects young people today to get involved in sex.

      Kids… that’s the other issue here. In Western culture, games are seen as being for kids and always have.

      Another small point: British people may be surprised at how Puritan the modern American culture is. You have to remember that a great many Puritans left Europe to seek freedom to practice their relgiion, and they later fought for independence. Violent resistance, and strong religious beliefs, are proud traditions in the US.

  6. the wiseass says:

    Call my old fashioned but I prefer real life relationships and sex. No, I’m not the most handsome or social guy around but I simply cannot imagine how somebody would find pixelated cybersex fulfilling in any sense. I can understand that there are insecure people who are enjoying the safe distance and anonymity an online environment such as second life can give. But honestly, fleeing into a virtual world to compensate for real life lonesomeness may not be the best way to handle your situation. It seems like such an easy and cheap way out.

    Overcoming your own fears and obstacles is what makes you feel alive. Just giving up like this by shagging some virtual avatars is not what life is about. Yes I know, failures are bound to happen, emotional wounds and a broken heart are inevitable, but making these mistakes are what makes us grow as people. It may sound bathetic but life is a fucking rollercoaster and you should enjoy the ups and downs of your own existence.

    I’m convinced that second life is more than any other game an escape from your own problems. That may be fine for a while but not to the point of becoming truer than your real life. Reading this article makes me feel sorry for these people stuck in cyberspace, too afraid of confronting the dangers and promised rewards of meeting people in real life.

    No game, no chatroom, no social network and no machine may ever replace the sparkling magic the moment you meet somebody interesting or have a nice beer with friends and an interesting discussion by reading somebody else’s body language. Humans are social animals and second life is but a cheap ersatz.

    • skizelo says:

      Very profitable ersatz, it seems.

    • qrter says:

      You’re missing the point of the article, though – it’s not about whether this kind of sex is “correct” or not, or whether it’s missing out on something. It’s about why the games industry at large is ignoring its existense.

    • the wiseass says:

      Well yes, taking advantage of other peoples insecurities, fears and personal shortcomings IS profitable. There is no doubt in that. I’m just glad that most of the gaming industry has, until now, refused to do so.

    • DMcCool says:

      Yes, because sex is all about taking advantage of other peoples insecurities, fears and personal shortcomings. Thats exactly what it is. There is never anything positive about sex, its the dark work of the evil Lord Satan, sex will intrap us and corrupt our pure souls.

      Actually, I’m really scared now.

    • the wiseass says:

      Where, for heaven’s sake, did I claim something even remotely connected to your general aggressive diatribe? Did you even read what I wrote before? Make love not war, that’s what I say, unfortunately having cybersex in second life is not even close to the thing you usually do in real life. So yes, sex can be a very positive thing but let it not fool you, that having cybersex is but a poor copy of the original.

      Now it should be clear that second life is largely considered as an escapist fantasy, not with focus on gameplay but on replacing your own social real life connections with virtual ones. It is not hard to argue, that most of second’s life cybersex business is largely taking profit from this unhealthy escapism.

      So before spewing your polemical venom at my general direction, think before writing. It should be the least, one could expect from somebody who’s running a philosophical gaming blog. Thank you very much.

    • phuzz says:

      @the wiseass
      I’d guess that some people don’t have a choice between RL and SL, (or don’t feel that they have a choice), eg a gay person growing up in a small town somewhere intolerant.
      You point still stands though.

    • pedant says:

      quote wiseass “So yes, sex can be a very positive thing but let it not fool you, that having cybersex is but a poor copy of the original.”

      But Modern Warfare is a good simulation of being an elite soldier? Men of War captures the experience of being a WW2 commander? No need to play basketball outside with friends since NBA 2010 is a perfect copy of the original.

      Also the belief that people in SL are insecure, fearful and flawed is kinda judgemental no? Like when your favourite pundit says that gamers are murdersimulating anti social loners who should be more outdoors.

      People in SL seem to be a bunch of happy wankers and no different from any other role playing games crowd? Except for the wanking obviously (hopefully but I don’t judge anyone who became to attached to their WoW avatar).

    • DMcCool says:

      @thewiseass

      Sorry for mischaracterising you like that, it was an unfair, knee-jerk and probably childish reaction. I still disagree with your point of view though – gamespace like Second Life can be a great way to explore yourself, your desires, fears, meet in people and imagine experiances that could never (sometimes should never) happen in real life. The fact that you should have a real life on top of that is an entirely seperate matter. We aren’t all so pathetic we flood all our lives in one direciton. As allmightily poncey as this sounds, my experiances on Second Life have probably educated and augmented my real-life relationships. Yeah its indulgent fantasy, but so are books, films, so is our entire media. People on SL are not being exploited, they are exploring sides of themselves of their own free will, and -the few crazies aside, are benefiting from it if anything.

      This has all come off very high and mighty and academic. Sad fact is anyone that has played Second Life will know its actually a bit shit, mostly consisting of long, dull silences, triangle shaped men and collections of orbs masquerading as women all laughing at a floating penises. All in all I agree with Quintin – there really is a huge amount of scope for sexual exploiration in games, and a huge..audience for it. Sorry, I can’t say market, I can’t quite stomach that discussion.

    • the wiseass says:

      @DMcCool: “Sorry, I can’t say market, I can’t quite stomach that discussion.”
      It’s okay mate, apology accepted. But yes, you’ve got a point there and I’m not sure if I can stomach that discussion either. And maybe I’m being a little bit too subjective here too, but the thing is, one of my friends almost ruined his life because he got so hooked up on second life. He even had a girlfriend that he virtually married (without ever meeting in real life) later on. Of course, the same thing could happen to you in WoW, but there is something about second life that really irks me and it’s hard to put my finger on it.

      @pedant:
      You’ve got a point there, but I’d say having cybersex with somebody is still different from playing counter-strike. It’s a whole other level of intimacy and I’m not really sure if many game developers would handle this very well. Just imagine Infinity Ward publishing an erotic game in the same mindset as their modern warfare 2 fiasco. The thought alone makes me weep.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ thewiseass

      Choosing to have sex in Second Life doesn’t mean you can’t have sex in real life too. They can augment each other. If someone tries to get laid in Second Life it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not getting laid in the non-virtual realm, although of course they might not be. Similarly, married and sexually active men and women both use porn and prostitutes, y’know, for fun.

    • perilisk says:

      “Well yes, taking advantage of other peoples insecurities, fears and personal shortcomings IS profitable. There is no doubt in that. I’m just glad that most of the gaming industry has, until now, refused to do so.”

      Yes, except for the people that prey on our need to escape into a world where our problems can be solved by morally unambiguous violence, and people that prey on our desire to get experience and loot like hamsters on a wheel. Excluding most mainstream commercial games and MMOs, you’re pretty much spot on.

  7. Cunzy1 1 says:

    Also, where does Second Life sex fit in the wider spectrum of how sex is dealt with in media? Probably much more ‘realistic’ than Hollywood sex, a bit less peppy than porn sex, a bit less awkward than sex in novels and infinitely less cringey than the sex in most videogames (with the exception of Pokemon Silver). Or so I imagine…..

  8. qrter says:

    Isn’t this just a case of the general stigma of gaming – “games are for kids”?

    We try to kid ourselves that we’re past that point, what with gaming becoming more mainstream. But gaming hasn’t really become mainstream. Most people will still see games as toys for children.

    Until we’ve knocked that one on the head, sex/erotic games will certainly be seen as sleazy and something to keep your distance from, businesswise.

    • Captain Becardi Jagermister says:

      The farther we are away from the sex games, the better.
      I’d hate to be one of those Japanese kids who watch the tentacle cartoon porn and sigh when it isn’t a reality. The less stratification with the other gender the better.

  9. TouchMyBox says:

    On a related note:

  10. Captain Becardi Jagermister says:

    Yea! Take THAT, “video games are art” folk!
    Video games are a medium for porn!
    Oh boy… I think quintin was inspired by Fox News when he wrote this.

    *goes back to playing TF2, SC, WC3, CoH, DoW2, RA3- games with little/no titties*

  11. Heliosicle says:

    People that use Second Life (as far as I know) aren’t gaming in it, they do it to socialise. So saying that there is perhaps a market of gamers that will buy into this kind of thing is a bit far, if they will, then they already are (probably).

    I wouldn’t call Second Life a video game though, from what I know its just a 3D chatroom?

  12. Karrius says:

    …are we thinking about the same RA3? The one where I kept joking to my co-op partner “THE BRITISH BREASTS COMPEL ME!” ?

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Yeah, it’s basically Command&Cleavage…and Tim Curry is da pimp

  13. Zaphid says:

    I would say that VR games need very special kind of person to socialize in. Browsing the internet for quite some time, I dare to say that I’m quite well informed about various fetishes and many of those who run some kind of blog about these things have tried at some point SL and sunk some money into it.

    I think there several reasons for that:

    1) It is the only game that has gotten enough attention to have the appeal.
    2) Whatever your fetish is, somebody has already made stuff for it, so you can enjoy them for a few ducks.
    3) They are already socializing with other people on the internet, this only takes it a step further.
    4) There is a vanilla side to it.

    You can’t have game built exclusively on shagging other people, that turns into hollow experience, same as every multiplayer shooter isn’t about killing people, it’s about winning. That is the secret behind all those weird dating games japan is enjoying, while they are “porn”, the actual sex is rare. The only other game strong enough to branch into porn would be WoW, and even it pales in comparison to what’s possible in SL. This kind of game can’t be done by corporation, like mining in a sewer, it’s too much shit and not enough gold.

  14. The Great Wayne says:

    Hmmmm, while I think I kinda see the point of the article, I’m not sure if it’s really that obvious. After all, there are actually plenty of mainstream games with sex (not multiplayer, ofc) or “dating” interactions, in one form or another. To name a few: entire fallout serie, the witcher, dragon age, mass effect, baldur’s gate, etc… and that’s not even counting the huge mass of games using sex-related iconography, from leisure suit larry to bayonetta and a shitload of other softs, in the past 20 years or so.

    Tell me if I’m missing something here, but considering that fact I don’t think it comes so easily to cultural negation of sex games in gaming industry. Considering 2nd life (and even though I’m convinced that 2nd Life is indeed an “island” community), I’m not even sure that aspect would be so successful if it wasn’t encased in a somewhat bigger environment, content/activities-wise.

    What I however think to be very true, it’s that humans will always try to virtually satisfy most of our subconscious instincts, be it violence, sex, greed, etc… in the intimacy of our gaming experience, but human society as a whole will always reproves this -natural- phenomenon, trying to control and dampen it, because modern mass society can only exist by the individual negation of those instincts (even if, obviously, each ideas get a different treatment, ie. sex being less accepted than violence)…

    This in fact will always make those games a niche imho, mass consumering wise, but make them really profitable/valuable as something rare and transgressive, paradoxally. Therefore, I do not agree with the idea that we’ll see more sex games in 15 years than we do now, for the only reason that sex is nowadays prolly at the same place he’s ever was in occidental culture.

    Thinking that sex is more present now than in the past eras is either an inadequate assessment of the situation not taking norms and iconography relativity in consideration, or just a classic modern stereotype that occidental medias like to use to alternatively frighten or comfort the good thinking majority (frightening when all our children are gonna become violent rapists, comforting when -after all- this is all liberty/democracy/positive attitudes evolution from grandpa and granma times).

    • Riesenmaulhai says:

      My girlfriend says she’s not sure whether sex is less accepted than violence. She seems kind of intimidated.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      It’s because you’re presenting her a choice. I say just go for both !

  15. Boldoran says:

    There is a difference between sex in an mmo like Second Life and sex in an offline game. In mmos you are still connecting with real people while in the second case starts to feel a bit strange for me.

    Sure I can appreciate the occasional romantic scene in a good game (Dragon Age) just like I can appreciate it in a good novel. But I don’t think the gaming industrie would have much to gain (as a medium not money wise) if there were more sex games.
    There already are some games that have sex as aselling point (Leisure Suit Larry, Sims Clones).
    I guess I am a bit worried that a sudden surge in Sex games could have some bad influence on “normal” games (look at Lara Crofts jest over the years for an unrelated example).

  16. Nik Daum says:

    I was fascinated with Second Life for a while, even though I didn’t really find anything interesting to do other than grief.

    There is a wide variety of weird moments to stumble across. But despite all the people online, the world actually overwhelms me with a feeling of dread and loneliness. Maybe it’s just me.

    My innocent adventures were turned into blog posts: http://www.nikdaum.com/news/category/secondlife

    • obo says:

      I absolutely agree. The most interesting parts of SL (the art installations) are the least travelled. The most populated are the most desperate.

      It’s crushingly sad that it’s as popular as it is, in the ways that it is.

  17. PlayNoEvil says:

    I haven’t seen any more recent data, but back in 2006, about 30% of Second Life’s business was related to sex:

    Economics of Virtual Sex – Metrics from Linden Lab’s Second Life MMO

    • Quinns says:

      I saw that “30%” figure. It comes from a guy who, while heavily involved in SL, later admitted it was utterly baseless speculation.

  18. Calabi says:

    Its just one of many areas that are under developed with in games. The few sims rip offs being another. I guess most developers are just blind or obsessed with shooting things.

  19. Sinnerman says:

    Well, the odd thing about games is that for some reason, oh I don’t know why, they are often loaded with violent content but not any sexual content that would stop an embarrassed mother buying it for her 10 year old son.

    Actually, more seriously, Tim Shafer mentioned why he didn’t want to put more sexual content in Brutal Legend in an interview with Tom Chick. The idea is that once you put sexual content in a game then everything else might as well not be there. We are not so complicated as animals that we can think about anything else if there is something sexy right in front of us. Makes sense to me.

    • the_fanciest_of_pants says:

      Really? I don’t agree with that at all. There’s countless examples of films, books, plays and so on with sex and sexyness going on that doesn’t invalidate the rest of the content and narrative(I am fully aware that games are a unique medium, so no one get all “GAMES AREN’T FILMS” on me).

      It may be the case that as human beings we do engage very strongly whenever there is sexyness going on, but I don’t think that a spot or two here and there would actually make us forget the rest of the game. There’s even been a handful of games with sexual content sprinkled throughout that absolutely don’t steal the show.

      Sure, there will be people who focus incessantly on these moments(see the romances in Mass effect/2 as one example) but just because some particularly sexually frustrated individuals choose to focus on those events like there was nothing else to the game doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to move games forward as a medium.

    • Sinnerman says:

      I wouldn’t want to talk for Shafer but I think that he was talking more about magazines than movies.

      It’s probably just as backwards and “not being able to move the medium forwards” for some developers to have a forum full of people demanding romance plots and all combinations of sex scenes for every character in a game than not being allowed to have any romance or sex content. That’s an odd phrase, “not being able to move something forwards” don’t you think? I can face in any direction I want and move forwards but if there is a direction I can’t move forwards to does it mean that I can turn 180 degrees then move backwards into that same area? Anyhoo…

    • the_fanciest_of_pants says:

      I’m not suggesting that the consumer should be able to request (and recieve) any and every romance and sexual encounter under the sun(that’s what horny mod communities are for), I’m saying that including romance and sex in a game doesn’t mean that it has to be the game’s focus.

      I think you’re taking my “moving forward” metaphor a little too literally. I’m talking about maturing gaming here, not just wandering off on a tangent. In my opinion, romance and sex is one area that games depict in a ridiculously adolescent and purile manner, with a few notable exceptions. I think advancing how we depict sex in games past that is a pretty definate step forward.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      The same Tim Schafer that was responsible for Psychonauts? Great, I’ll add that to the already substantial list of reasons why I shouldn’t bother with his games.

  20. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    I’m not going to weigh in on any moral or psychological debate about virtual sex(not really on topic), but Quinns does raise a very good question. You’d think that something so profitable would not stay unexploited for long, and yet it has.

    Perhaps it has something to do with the stigma games get for garden variety violence(usually on par or more tame then that shown in film) and suchlike. Maybe the controversy of kinky sex sex in a game would create an even bigger media backlash.

    Who would think a little trifle like that would stop a money-devouring corporation from funding it though eh? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    • Tei says:

      the_fanciest_of_pants:
      “You’d think that something so profitable would not stay unexploited for long, and yet it has.”

      Perhaps the “1997″ style of graphics that most sex games seems to deliver are not what people need.
      We have realistic water with good shaders. But.. do we have realistic skin or fur? Is a huge computational problem and our hardware and networks can’t handle it … yet.
      Not only you need computational power and a huge pipe (to download 20MB/s), but maybe you need stuff like “full body 3d scanner” and “motion capture kit” to be dirt cheap, like a home videocamera.

    • the_fanciest_of_pants says:

      The quality of graphics in sex games has very little to do with what’s technically possible and a lot more to do with a lack of production values.

      If a seriously wealthy company hired proffessional staff, they could crank out some pretty fancy looking game porn. It’s just that the money isn’t being thrown there, for whatever reason.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ the_fanciest_of_pants

      You can go onto a webcam website and have virtual sex. There is a shit load of virtual sex out there. And yes, plenty of money is being thrown in that direction.

  21. WFL says:

    Also interesting is the fact that people actually make money performing – not just sexually, but singing, playing instruments, etc. I’m not sure on the mechanics, but a friend of mine sings in Second Life. She’s been trying to get me to play guitar in there for a while now. Not really sure how that would work out, but whatever.

  22. IvanHoeHo says:

    Why not?

    Because we have to think about the children, obv.

    /hijack thread

  23. John says:

    This is not entirely surprising, not when most of the industry has no motivation to question the consumers with hard choices, social conundrums, values and the likes. Not when most games are designed to appeal the industry’s broadest tastes, instead of focusing on presenting something new, refreshing. Besides not taking many chances, this also means having the same target market iteration after iteration.

    Mediums like Second Life (and MMOs in general, i’d guess) are our best tool to understand how the player acts and reacts to these new arising paradigms. But i seriously doubt anyone will take them seriously. Both from the developer side, and the consumer side. Maybe i’m just being pessimist, but 15 years? I’ll bet on 30.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      While I agree with you on the broader mass-consumering gameplay industry picture, I do wonder how using sex – not only in video games but on whatever existing media, ftm – could be qualified as “new” and “refreshing”, sex being one of the main subject of creation in the history of homo sapiens culture, that is.

      If we do see proper “sex games” emerging one day, I don’t think it’ll be a sign of courage and originality from the gameplay industry, just that the normative red line would have been pushed forward, and we would then be having relatively the same discussion about the new niche/forbidden – and therefore exciting – stuff.

  24. wat says:

    Second Life? That abomination still hasn’t died? Man, what a blast from the past.
    Nice writing though.

  25. obo says:

    Just some naked people? That’s it?

    You guys didn’t go to the zone where you can be a dog getting raped by a dragon and a minotaur? That seems more RPS’ style.

    I… I don’t know why I just said that. o_o

    • Quinns says:

      *Removes pen and paper from top pocket, waits expectantly.*

    • obo says:

      Well, when I was a baby, my mother, she always would read RPS on one screen and watch dragon porn on the other… *sobs* It just seemed so right to me, even then… *sniffle*

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Oh, yeah, I’ve seen this movie where a donkey and a dragon are supposed going at it all along, what was it called already…

      Ah, that’s it, Shrek.

    • Wulf says:

      Methinks Quinns had a pen and paper ready as he wishes to see these things for himself, for the unashamed sensationalism and amusement of it all.

      Quinns is going to become our Steve Hill, but possibly worse, Mr. Hill always did seem a bit reserved.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    I feel that this is an appropriate place to mention “A Dance with Rogues” again. One of the best RPGs of the last years, and it contains a lot of sex, and is quite good at it (about average romance novel level). Ever since I played it my plan was to make a very similar game except I am going to sell it and become rich.
    I think that the key reason why we don’t have adult games in the west is, that they traditionally are not very good at being erotic. I hear Leisure Suit Larry used to be good, but that’s about the only one other than A Dance with Rogues that I know of, and I’m pretty sure that at that time the console manufacturers didn’t allow sex on their platforms.

    Also Quinns: If you ever plan to continue playing, please go get some new avatar. There are a lot of places where you can get free ones. Search for feebies, or for “free avatar” or something similar. If you can’t find a good free one, a lot of shops offer trials, where you will look as great as the women in the last picture, except you have “trial” written all over you. But that is still better than the default avatar.

  27. Kit says:

    Second Life is also liberating to those who are in rl suffering from illness or physical handicaps that would limit or make impossible their sexuality in real life. For some it’s a quiet escape from being an office manager or housewife. But for others it’s an escape from their cancer ravaged body. Or from their disabilities. In real life someone might be frustrated by being in a wheelchair and dependent on nurses.

    In Second Life why walk when you can fly?

    Is is any surprise some would find virtual sex empowering?

    • Wulf says:

      Precisely my point, and thank you for putting it so succinctly.

      There’s no wrong in desiring to experience what we can’t, and doing what we can toward that end providing that no one is hurt in the process. That any culture would wish to suppress and inhibit that tends to show that culture as a sheltered, culturally poor, and surprisingly fascist one.

      You can do what you can do, or you can do what you can do virtually. Where’s the fun in that? I’m all for using digital realms to explore things that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

  28. sinister agent says:

    One of the most astute observations I read about Second Life was written by Scott Sharkey, years back:

    “What’s probably most interesting about it, at least for me, is the unique insight it offers into human nature. Here you have a universe populated by thousands of human beings, each and every one of which is effectively a creature of unlimited power. Each of them has godlike control over their surroundings and can create whatever they want, restrained only by their own imaginations. What do they do with such supreme, unmitigated omnipotence?

    They build beach houses. And yachts. And fancy cars. And castles. And piles and piles of shallow status symbols that are absolutely meaningless in a context where everyone is effectively God. Lot after lot of opulent palaces, broken up here and there by billboards for virtual casinos and dance clubs, stretching as far as the eye can see (or processor can render, anyway.)

    That might be just a little bit unfair, as there are some players who have done some remarkably clever things within the game, but for every candy colored dreamland you’ll see twenty more luxurious beach houses, and for every character who looks like a giant bird or an alien, you’ll find another dozen that are slight variations on the same bronzed, muscle bound greek god or silicone injected bimbo.

    I’m not even going to get into the nonsense that happens outside the PG areas. “

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ sinister agent

      Links nicely to this, not so much the vid but the thoughts below it, to quote:

      “At Stephen K. Hayes’ Evocation event, one of the exercises we did was to envision and document our ideal day in our ideal life, assuming we had a magic wand to make true anything we wanted (with logical exceptions, of course, like not allowing someone to simply explode the planet). What was interesting to me as we shared our visions of a snapshot of ideal life was that for some of the participants, their lack of knowledge (through no fault of their own) created world views of an ideal life that were still limited – not for lack of desire for an ideal life, but because some of the things that would make their life truly ideal don’t even exist in their perspective of the world, so they had no idea that their vision could have been even more ideal.

      “I was listening to one participant share a desire that in their ideal life, their home would be adjacent to a national park. The idea that you could be so financially self sufficient that you could buy the equivalent amount of land outright (on eBay no less) and own it yourself was outside their worldview, so it wasn’t in their plan of an ideal life.”

    • Wulf says:

      What Sharkey said there is really outdated, because today, the equation is far more 50/50. Sure, there are shops and beach houses, but people are creating such amazing things. My favourite place to hang in Second Life would be… who’s thinking the furry areas right now? You’d be wrong. My fave places are the regions based off the Myst games, often a holdout for Uru fans. There’s also a great Dune sim, too. In places like those, you’ll find good, good people. I don’t know what makes the Myst fans quite so friendly, colloquial, and intelligent, but it’s almost invariably true of them and thus I like it there.

      And to dismiss what goes on outside of the PG areas is omniphobic at best, because some of that can be amazingly brilliant, and distinctly funny. Sure, some of it is just smut for the sake of it, and that’s boring (yawn!), utterly boring, boring like… no, I won’t say that, but there are some truly amazing things to be found, and some astounding art to be seen. This accompanies the realisation that the PG areas forbid even the showing of genitalia, which can have its place in art as much as base, tacky porn.

      It all depends on where you go and what you’re looking for.

  29. PHeMoX says:

    Anyone who has seen the movie Gamer will probably understand how sex will always sell and might even evolve in very much the way you see in that movie. Obviously full of clichés I think it makes some good points when it comes to this and the factor of realism. I’m talking about the sex-orientated gaming as a powerful form of entertainment.

    I’m not advocating intercourse should be common in games, especially not when it’s really quite irrelevant. But I’m pretty sure boob size and all that in games matters incredibly much. It’s like a good ad with an ugly girl, it potentially will ruin the impact.

    I think gaming has a long way to go when it comes to this development, as this aspect is often either considered controversial or it’s not taken seriously at all. I think the success of Second Life in this aspect says a lot though. It’s an ugly game, it’s boring, yet it seems to do great. How come?

    • Carra says:

      The movie Gamer seemed to take Second Life and put it in the future.

      People are interested in sex, virtual or not. There’s a demand, where is the supply?

  30. Jambi says:

    I guess what it boils down to is that video games and sex are both almost frowned upon by the general public. Normal people consider them things to do alone, in the dark, over there, so that the rest of us don’t have to see. We are a fairly sexually repressed culture. Despite everything, many people still see sex as a private act. Therefore, even though the act of sex is one of humankind’s strongest desires – the overriding force of the mind sometimes, as Shafer acknowledged – blatantly selling it out in the open has its difficulties.

    Now of course the sex industry is huge. Brothels, prostitution, sex shops, pornography, strip clubs – all huge business. But the point is they’re all under the surface. I speak for no one specifically, but GENERALLY speaking these are things that other people do, yes? Certainly I would imagine that no one in this thread uses pornography – or at least they wouldn’t admit it to the same extent they would admit to buying bacon at the supermarket. It is not a respectable thing in our society.

    The question is of course, why are sexual (read: pornographic?) videogames not anywhere near as profitable as the rest of the sex industry? Shafer, more unwittingly this time, has the answer. He said once you add sex to a videogame, there is little room for anything else. Whilst seeming an almost silly thing to say, especially compared to modern films, we must ask ourselves: what are we really buying here? A video game? or a sex product? It is nigh impossible to truly have both. Second Life tries for both and is basically neither. Games like Bayonetta or Tomb Raider are video games undoubtedly, but are they really sex products? Has sex not merely been sprinkled over them so they smell better to target audiences? (The sex vs art controversy of Bayonetta is besides the point; at best it’s an artistic videogame, and at worst another Tomb Raider.)

    Sex will always be in videogames. It will always be everywhere – movies, books, drawn on children’s desks with compasses. But rarely will it actually be the videogame. In that case, you are buying not a video game but interactive porn. It is this, alongside real video games, that will become more prevalent in the next 15 years – especially as graphical power increases, and this generation that grew up with video games (that weren’t shy little things like pac-man) actually grows up and start running the place.

    Apologies for this wall of text.

    tl;dr: boobies

    • Tom Camfield says:

      Interactive porn is already huge. Have you got Sky? There’s at least ten channels with girls “waiting for your call”. Making the girls computer generated and responsive to any verbal input would cost more than just having the girl there on the other end of the phone.

      When AI becomes much better, we’ll get AI girls waiting for our call.

    • Jambi says:

      I don’t have sky and was unaware of this phenomenon – what a world we live in.

  31. global gal says:

    Second Life is one of the few places where women can make a mark. Too many games revolve around fighting, shooting or sport. It is also global and interractive. There can be few places where a guy from Sweden will help script something using builds from someone in Japan, animations with the aid of an American, styled and textured by other Europeans. We can talk, cry, tear our hair out and dance. We get drunk on life not liquor and guns can even fire coins not death.

    Yes adult dolls’ houses and dress up but to the creative, artistic and imaginative the potential is endless. Sniff at beach houses yet why not recreate your real life home, redecorate and refurnish and actually walk around it and see how it looks and feels before the real financial outlay?
    Landscape your garden, walk around it, see how it will look every season…
    Never visited other countries or capitals? walk around them in Second Life.
    Roleplay your favourite movies and indeed live that ‘second’ life you wish you had…younger..healthier..wealthier…and stunning.

    A society isn’t complete without sex but it isn’t all gratuatous and farmyard although as you can live SL as a creature who is to judge? It can be avoided, there are choices and alternatives so lacking elsewhere. Yes there is also money to be made but in all areas not just sex aids…hair, skin, shapes, clothes and shoes far outstrip sex so to speak :) Even the housebound, carer, unemployed, or pensioner can fund their game and some and they will find ingame the nicest most helpful people and information to reach that end. SL is far more than a body count.
    To dismiss Second Life is to lack vision, the skill is in knowing when to log off and out.

  32. Cem Elan says:

    I can’t believe noone has pointed out the obvious until now:

    RALPH PLS GO
    RALPH PLS GO
    RALPH PLS GO
    RALPH PLS GO

  33. TinyPirate says:

    What a shedload of comments. If you’re bored in SL I recommend going to Navora sim and playing DarkLife. It’s a simple Diku mud in SL and it has been running for 7 years and always broken even or turned a profit.

  34. Couldbe Yue says:

    I’m one of the Adult content providers in SL. I could give you a dissertation on many things to do with Linden Lab (the owners of SL) and it’s childish behaviour over adult content in response to the FTC review, I could talk about how LL has deliberately decided to strangle our businesses while it tries to extract more cash from us and I could talk about their overall immaturity of approach to what they consider “adult”.

    Don’t ever think that SL has anything even close to a consistent, mature approach to sex and don’t ever mistake the LL marketing for anything approaching the truth.

    It’s a time sink with a poor user experience and poor quality software. However, if you persevere it can be rewarding for some.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    I have long thought that there must be a massive market for interactive sex software, given how big the internet porn industry is, and yet there is absolutely nothing of any merrit out there above and beyond standard porn sites.

    It still staggers me that after all this time and with the shear wealth of sex aids on the market that no one has yet made a USB computer controlled sex aid. Given the popularity of cybersex, since pretty much the birth of IRC, I’m amazed that devices haven’t been invented that allow people to physically fuck each other as it were, over the internet.

    As for sex in games, until the world at large accepts that there is such a thing as games that are just for mature adults and that ones with an 18 cert should be treated the same way in the family home as similarly rated films, then I think putting sex in games is still going to be a very contentious issue. The problem is that there are still far too many people out there that view games, irrespective of their rating, as something for children. Everytime a GTA game comes out the people throw their hands up in moral outrage, “Look at what my little Jimmy can do in this game!” Even though that game isn’t meant for little Jimmy and he shouldn’t be playing it anyway. The latest Saw or Hostel movie comes out and those very same people don’t even bat an eyelid. It’s fine to let your teens to go off and have fun and watch some mild titilation in say, an “American Pie” movie, but put that same content in a game, and whoa no siree! Really until those perceptions change I don’t see any big in roads being made as regards sex in computer games.

  36. Nesetalis says:

    well.. as a side job I make genitalia for secondlife :P i make between 100 and 200 USD a month.. depending on how productive ive been and how the market is..

    Sex sells, and sex is easy to find on secondlife.. (i mock those who pay for cybersex though.. :P its easy to get for free if you just type a full sentence… dont even need proper punctuation or spelling, just be coherent!)

  37. mrrobsa says:

    Quinns: “Also, why are the developers of that game endeavouring to present a squeaky clean front end when the sexual content of their game is one of its biggest appeals?”

    I think doing this keeps traffic coming in the front door. ‘Come for the virtual world, stay for the cyber shagging’. If they marketed it as mature or sexually oriented then they would deter many potential customers. You are right of course Quinns that other (good) developers need to realise the potential of the market. I’m writing my dissertation on sexual content in video games so all of this is great fodder, thanks!

  38. Kit says:

    I wrote a piece on SLUniverse a while back about the struggle Linden Labs were having with sex in SL. Short version. The digital ghetto became a place of bohemian free love and now the landlords want to gentrify the place. Happens in real life. Not surprised to see it happen online.

    Just like real life really. Gun clubs- acceptable. Swingers clubs- not in my backyard bub!

  39. Cooper says:

    I’ll forego the original post I was typing up; I’ve been preparing a couple lectures for the undergrads on feminism and so am in ‘sex is everywhere’ mode.

    SL is, as you say, an extended chat room. People socialise and, lo-and-behold, sexuality is central to much of this. It’s like being amazed that Yahoo chat rooms were used to ‘cyber’. People come together, in whatever manner, and sure, their social interactions will be ‘augmented’ by sex.

    (I would suggest more of a spectrum of sexuality, of which hyper-mediated, hyperbolic digitally realised virutally interactivesex acts are of one kind – that couple you bumped into is a much more nuanced kind)

    In this sense, SL is more a chat room than a game. There’s a reason cybering may work for people (doesn’t for me, but there you go) because it’s with someone else, however mediated. no AI has passed the Turing test and if there’s one most multi-faceted, subtle and complex part of the personal psyche, it’s sexuality. Go figure that BioWare’s ‘Romances’ feel so odd.

    So SL has mucy more in common to everyday sociality than it does to games-as-entertainment-medium.

    Interactive ‘sex games’ do exist. Small market though. (Google ‘sexvilla’ or ‘sexybeach’). This I’d take to be the ‘porn’ of games.

    If this is what you’re wondering about – they’re there, but are not comaprable to SL, I do not think, as the key to SL is inter-subjective relations. You can’t easily be inter subjective with a computer game.

    More generally, as for sex-in-games the same way we might find sex in movies (aside from pornography) – sexuality is far, far too nuanced, subtle, multifaceted to be accurately simulated. The closest I’ve seen games get is Fahrenheit. The worst I’ve seen are BioWare’s attempts. Sure this should be pushed, and sure there’s a market and demand for it – and, for sure, people are working on it.

    This is why I think you hit the nail with Milo. Interactive digital sex that is not in the social SL setting will become a bigger market once technology develops. However selling that will always have the certain aura of pornograpy about it, and so never been mainstreamed as such (or, rather, will exist as a distinct entertainment medium from other games the same way pornogrraphy and Hollywood, however entangled, present themselves as seperate entities). On the other hand, socialised interactine vis the internet such as SL will become more capapble, and – of course (as it’s people socialising) have a certain sexual aspect that will be pretty damned important to that social interaction as -shock horror – we are sexual beings.

    What I’d be interested in seeing is if games can ever present sexual relationships with the same kind of emotional depth movies can. I was -almost- convinced by the ‘goodbye sex’ of Fahrenheit – I was certainly amazed at the lead up to it, I’m not sure any game has ever had quite as convincing character development and interaction as that. As long as writers and developers in the future steer clear of BioWare’s approach, we may get somewhere with that.

    Also, I’ve just realised this is too long winded and seems to boil down to ‘Romancing in BioWare games is crap’. Which it is. Seriously, has no one in BioWare ever -had- a relationship?

    • Wulf says:

      Which is precisely one of the points I’ve been preaching for a while.

      But be wary, and watch out for those torches and pitchforks, because they’re a-comin’ for ya! You forget, airing criticisms about the Bioware approach to the average gamer is like pointing out the ills of fascism and capitalism to Rush Limbaugh, and yields just about the same response.

  40. Michael says:

    “Why aren’t we making games like that? There’s simply something missing here. I actually feel slightly childish writing this, as if the moment it goes live the comments thread is going to fill with people pointing out the error in my logic.”

    If you insist… It comes down to money. The beautiful 3D ladies of Dead Or Alive are not easy to produce. Lots of artwork and animation. Cover up their naughty bits and you can sell the game on the consoles and make your fortune. However, take that work and turn it into a porno and no console maker will give you a license – they can’t risk the family market. So you’re restricted to the PC market, which is, at most, maybe 25% of the games market. The other thing we know about the games market is that it is hugely competitive and if you aren’t making a lot of money, you’re making no money. The porn industry is also over-saturated. And both markets are natural targets for piracy. Would you rather have a copy of “Little Big Tit Planet” lying around your house or hidden away on your hard drive?

    Now, there are naughty flash games out there – these are cheap to make but consequently worthless. There are even fully featured porno games but without the marketing that mainstream games get, they struggle in obscurity. The shops/sites that sell games would mostly avoid pornography. Second Life achieved it’s fame as a virtual world, not as porn. That shows the way to any aspiring virtual pimps – make sex a natural extension of a mainstream game.

    But there’s the hurdle. The merging of erotica into games can only really come as part of a broader maturing of the medium. When games can properly deal with all the emotional and social issues that surround sex, then sex in games will make sense. Having a sex scene in Mass Effect is like having a sex scene in the middle of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation – it just ain’t right. Games are like people – they need to grow up before they can start having sex.

  41. geldonyetich says:

    In any MMORPG there are a few correlations to find, and one of those correlations is that people at large will tend to favor the path of least resistance.

    Though it’s not truly an MMORPG, there’s nonetheless a grind to be found in Second Life, and that is the accumulation of in-game currency, Lindens. Further increasing their value, you can exchange these Lindens for cold, hard cash.

    How do you earn Lindens? By creating in-game content that other players are interested in purchasing instances from for you.

    What’s the path of least resistance to earn Lindens? To cater directly to peoples’ sex drives.

    This is the long and short of Second Life.

  42. malkav11 says:

    As people have already mentioned, there are quite a few Western porn games out there. The thing is, there’s not really the tech or the resources to present a genuinely convincing interactive sex sim and so the market for those sorts of games is necessarily going to be small. (The Japanese games are mostly very mildly interactive novels with sex scenes occasionally, rendered in cartoon style, which makes them cheap and easy, comparatively, and…I dunno why they’re so popular, really. ) The money, I think, is in connecting people with one another and providing them tools to augment their imagination. I think there have been attempts at online games with an explicit sexual focus, but I don’t know how well they’ve done. Seems like Second Life has a lot of that. There’s also the hurdle that America is a ridiculously prudish nation with a bizarre phobia of sex, with the result that your venues for sales of such software are very limited.

    Personally, though, I’ve never seen the appeal of Second Life. My experience was that it was ugly, badly coded, and ran very poorly indeed, achieving a healthy 1 to 2 FPS average in some areas of the newbie zone. (This on a system that could run Oblivion nearly maxed without hitch.) I’m not averse to the cybersex, but I’d rather let my imagination run wild with well written descriptions than look at some 1995-era 3D 100-poly model lurch around onscreen. Maybe if they ever get closer to APB-level character customization. Maaaybe. I suspect text will still offer more possibilities.

  43. Stromko says:

    There’s lots of sex in SecondLife, but there’s also a fairly sophisticated music scene.

    Professional quality live performances and shows, and hundreds of DJ events nightly.

    Lots of shit to sift through though, Zaphod really put it best.

    @Malkav, your settings were messed, try setting draw distance much lower. Also note that bandwidth is a major consideration for lag, since everything needs to be streamed to you. Also, the simulators (servers / zones) still can’t handle very many avatars, and newbie zones can be really packed beyond capacity.

    It’s a very tough game to get into nowadays, since there’s a massive gap in content quality between what you start with, and what’s the ‘state of the art’ in SL now. There’s some crazy designed simulators out there that can really blow minds. Unfortunately, finding good stuff can be tough when thousands of people are aggressively advertising their crap at you.

  44. kiramatali shah says:

    Anyone experience anything about the easy google profit kit? I discovered a lot of advertisements around it. I also found a site that is supposedly a review of the program, but the whole thing seems kind of sketchy to me. However, the cost is low so I’m going to go ahead and try it out, unless any of you have experience with this system first hand?

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork

  45. malkav11 says:

    I’ve never seen anything about Second Life that would entice me to bother trying to get it to run properly, sorry. (And I should note that the terrible performance was at very low settings indeed and I had broadband at the time.)

  46. Deepthroat says:

    “Why aren’t we making games like that? There’s simply something missing here. I actually feel slightly childish writing this, as if the moment it goes live the comments thread is going to fill with people pointing out the error in my logic. But no, something’s definitely up. The West doesn’t shy away from romantic novels, sexy TV shows or porn movies, and Second Life is a naked statement that we have no problem with digital eroticism. So why are we being trounced on the erotic videogame front?”

    Dude:

    http://www.aifgames.com/

    Admittedly, those are free. But they have competitions for who can make the best one and stuff! There’s a whole league of them.

    Oh, also:

    http://www.bonetown.com/

    Hasn’t that game been featured here before?

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/10/11/nsfw-boneland-demo-hotttttttttt-coffee/

    Trust Kieron.