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The Politics Of Spanking: Hurt Me Plenty

Check out the poster

[This might well be NSFW if your workplace disapproves of games about spanking a guy]

What you’re looking at is a screenshot from Hurt Me Plenty – a spanking game by academic and sometime RPS columnist, Robert Yang. He describes it as a short game “where you spank the heck out of a dude and learn about how BDSM communities attempt to formalize consent/caring.”

Explaining further he adds, “I was really interested in how we can make games about intimacy without a “kindness coins = sex cutscene” trope, and how we can use expressive gestures to roleplay / think about pain and intimacy. (For the record, I don’t think my game gets it right, and it has a lot of flaws… this stuff is hard to design!)”

Irritatingly I don’t have a Leap Motion controller (the game was made for a Leap Motion jam) which is the way the game is intended to be played, The controller actually tracks your hand movements as you swat at the gentleman’s behind so there’s a gesture-faithfulness which will presumably disappear when Yang implements the non-Leap Motion version.

Fortunately the wonder of Vine means you can still see how it works. [We can’t embed Vines at the moment but will amend when we can.]

If you’re anywhere near NYU School of Engineering’s Game Innovation Lab on 11 December, Yang will also be giving a talk going into more detail about the game, how you adapt concepts from BDSM culture and how you deal with politics of consent and power exchange in a game setting.

How Hurt Me Plenty deals with negotiating consent is something I want to know a LOT more about so I’m impatiently awaiting the release of the non-Leap version. I mean there’s a poster on the wall of the room where you first encounter the guy you spank which – as far as I can tell- says “All power exchange has to be negotiated”.

By the way, the game itself isn’t billed as pornography – Yang thinks there’s too much formality and distance to it for that – but as he says on the game’s Itch.io page, “I can’t stop anyone from getting off to it… But seriously — the most nudity in this game is some hairy beefcake chests and (maybe, if you negotiate it) some naked butts… technically, this is nothing worse than a US PG-13 movie kind of thing.”

A game for which butt physics was invented

That’s also of interest but in more of a sidelong way – spanking is currently a topic of discussion in the UK because, as of 1 December, an amendment to the 2003 Communications Act means porn on video-on-demand (VoD) services is governed by the same guidelines as R18 DVD pornography in the UK.

Sex acts which are prohibited under those guidelines include fisting and depictions of urolagnia (sexual pleasure relating to urine and urination) but there are also implications for spanking and related acts. The guidelines deem unacceptable “the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for moderate, non-abusive, consensual activity.”

I’ve been browsing the BBFC cuts list for recent R18 content. A whole bunch of spanking movies seem to have passed through uncut but you’ll find stuff like a cut being ordered for Debbie Does Spanking 2 to remove “sight of dark red marks on woman’s buttocks, indicating burst blood vessels, as a result of spanking”.

Obviously these guidelines are related to film rather than videogames but it’s meant that fetish/fetish-related content, its regulation and the tension between consent and official regulation (some of which the game sounds like it touches on) have been widely mentioned over the last few days.

Any of you lot have a Leap Motion and played? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how it works, otherwise I’ll wait for the spacebar spanking version and get back to you.

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Philippa Warr

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