S.EXE: Coming Out On Top (NSFW)

Today I am enjoying screenshots

RPS, I have been having a good time. An extremely good time. I mean a good time in every way: A new gay dating sim has snuck into existence, it is called Coming Out On Top, and it is funny, sexy, nervewracking, tense, charming… and it has fully naked, good-looking dudes in it. Who kiss each other! And do other hot 18+ things. Also there is a goldfish who keeps talking to you. The goldfish is a little overbearing. But we can get past the goldfish.

Tune in after the jump to read about a full release of the gay dude dating sim Coming Out On Top.

I uh, customised the name of my character

It occurs to me, as my character is in the middle of a quite graphic fantasy about being ‘examined’ by a hot blonde anatomy professor, that this is the first time I’ve played a game where someone has touched someone else’s dick. I mean, not just touching a dick. Touching a dick with enthusiasm.

Lamentably, there aren’t many good dicks in games. You don’t even get to see a brutally hot guy like Geralt’s dick. You don’t get to see Sam Fisher’s dick. I’d be a lot into seeing Kyle Hyde from Hotel Dusk’s dick, rendered in grayscale silhouette, but no. Hotel Dusk is for ‘children’ or whatever. Fine.

I am really enjoying screenshots today wow

The last time I saw a decent dick in a game I think it was that Skyrim dick mod I wrote about, and those were just dicks for show. No one could touch those dicks. They were just museum dicks. And I guess there’s also Sepe’s Cumshot, the infamous and really quite charming masturbation browser game, which although it does require you to stroke Sepe to the proverbial, it’s via a disembodied hand that isn’t attached to anyone but your cursor. It’s a detached, absurd experience. And there’s also Anna Anthropy’s Sex Cops Of Tickle City, but the dick is in text, which though it’s a pretty powerful and fairly erotic experience to play through, sometimes you just want to look at a person touching a dick.

In Coming Out On Top: bam. A hot guy touching another hot guy’s dick. And they look like they’re having a good time. In fact there are five different dicks you can choose from.

Image editing has never been so fun

But Coming Out On Top has many virtues and it’s not just super hot dick illustrations (and they are, by the way, pretty magnificent, towering things of variety). The primary virtue of this Ren’Py based visual novel is that it managed on several occasions to make me nervous, make me feel awkward, shy, make me blush or feel even fairly turned on, and it is obvious at every turn that this was the intended effect on the player.

The very first thing you are asked to do is make a decision on how to come out to your flatmates. Given that the game is called ‘Coming Out On Top’ I should have expected it to be a ‘coming out’ story of a sort, but asked by dialogue options exactly how and when to do it filled me with fear and reticence (experiencing it virtually and not having to consider it in real life being a huge privilege of my heterosexuality of course). Once over that hurdle, the narrative strands deftly put the player in many moral quandaries, many of which I am familiar with: romantic feelings for a professor, a drunk friend kisses you, men with violent tendencies confront you in a club. The writing is so funny and so charming these situations often crept up on me, and with them came emotions that I am completely unused to exercising whilst playing a game.

Hurr

The source of these so-called player ’emotions’, (yo, what are they?) come from the way the narrative is structured and paced. Come on to a character too soon and you will ruin your chances of dating them. But let it play out, slowly, agonisingly, over a number of days, and over a number of platonic activities and chaste dates, the more you urge your character on the hotter the trysts seem when they arrive. The decisions are written so that it is very obvious when they matter. When one of the characters got drunk and tried to make out with me in my room, the options appear: Do you take advantage of him when he can’t consent? Do you let him sleep it off in your bed beside you? Do you try to send him away, risking breaking his heart – or worse, that he won’t remember it happened? You sit there, paralysed by how much you want these two hotties to do the bad thing with each other, but trying to surmise the absolute hottest way it could happen. It’s exciting to play.

The sex scenes are, at least to my eye, hot and extremely graphic. It’s very difficult to make anything about a game even approach erotic, especially concerning the kinds of characters you usually get in video games: Unrealistically proportioned people, doing unrealistically outlandish positions, in a sort of clumsy mechanical manner. Sex scenes in this game are usually one still that the camera pans over, whilst the text adds… flavour. This is probably the best way to do it, since using text to evoke the player’s idea of eroticism was always the best way to have them actively participate. In my current incarnation as heterosexual-inclined woman I accept I am no expert on what men want from a game like this, but I think it’s tasteful, has a diverse choice of men (although yeah the main character is some bland-yet-goofy-funny white guy) and it really has a charming sense of humour about itself.

It’s the sense of humour that really clinches it for me. I pretty much laughed all the way through at every Joss Whedonesque joke, of which there are many, and they’re excellently timed too. It’s one of the best written romcom scripts in a game that I’ve played, and that includes any 90s-era adventure game. I can imagine me and my university friends making these jokes, and it makes a lot of the romantic discourse very knowing and flirty. I have never played a game where I could have said, ‘yeah, he’s funny, I’d go home with him’ before, but this game has that guy. These guys have got game.

More guys should do press-ups around me, I have decided

There are two jokes that made me feel a little odd: once, when there’s a ‘surprise anal’ joke, which I probably would have made in my university years too but now I feel differently about, and there’s another joke about a kite in the shape of an aborted foetus which, again, I probably would have made before I ever had a pregnancy scare. But the narrative approaches its moral responsibilities thoughtfully on the whole – there’s careful talk and show of condom use, the narrative choices show concern for issues of consent (that make the player actively consider it), there are some difficult choices to be made as to how to deal with homophobes. There’s even an attempt to address racial issues, though mostly by revealing the main character to be a painfully awkward white goofball.

Above all it seems like a safe space in which to fantasise. And I think that’s what you’d want most from a game like this: a place where you feel empowered, a place where there is a noted absence of much of real world narrow-mindedness and bigotry. This is a space in which you can pursue a guy, focus just on him without distraction, feel enjoyable angst about the romantic tension. It’s a pretty charming world in which to exist for a few hours and to look at some abs or some dude put his lips on an appendage. If you so wish, you can choose to toggle each of the men’s beards and body hair on or off. You choose.

By far my favourite storyline involved the most angst, and if you are even familiar with my work you will not be surprised by this. There’s some very Dawson’s Creek material in there that might surprise you with how well it’s written, and it strummed some very familiar pain too. None of the narrative seems rushed or unnecessary.

Although, come to think of it. There is… There is something I’m forgetting.

Ah yes. You have a pet goldfish.

Sometimes goldfishes want to love hot men too

As you can see, the goldfish is somewhat keen.

I think Coming Out On Top is one of the best, if not the best game I’ve covered on S.EXE, simply because it’s so robustly made, so replayable, surprising and so full of wit and the art is so tastefully hot. Most of the times I replayed I didn’t even use the ‘skip’ button for the text, just because it’s so effervescently written.

You can get Coming Out On Top here, which is discounted with the code from Obscurasoft’s site until December 31st. It’s on both PC and Mac.

The previous S.EXE columns are here. I’ll be back after the hols. Have a very merry Christmas, and a super excellent Hogmanay, RPS. Oh, and merry hunkmas too.

P.S. If you were paying attention lately you might have noticed some rather harsh laws have come into effect with regard to UK porn regulation. To show that games are capable of satire, my friend Holly Gramazio has developed an interesting free puzzlescript game that’s about interrogating the absolute absurdity of the new UK porn laws. I laughed out loud at this part:

IT IS FORBIDDEN

You can play it here if you’re interested in learning more about these weird laws.

From this site

157 Comments

  1. stampy says:

    im getting out the popcorn for “OMG THAT PICTURE DOESNT BELONG ON THE FRONT OF A WEBSITE I LOOK AT!” comments, from people that also have a history of “stop whinging about bouncy tits in games!” comments.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      added wii-mote functionality mini game

      Meatspin

    • Faxanadu says:

      I’m exactly the person with “a history of “stop whinging about bouncy tits in games!” comments”, and I saw this article pop up with 0 comments, stopped, considered posting the obvious whinge, (@trollomat) and received a neuron relay from reasonabellum that said, “come on”, and moved on to the dwarf fortress article. Sorry to disappoint.

      Also don’t look for the popcorns, I already had them when you DID whinge about the bouncy boobs. First come first served.

    • Jackablade says:

      I’d have rolled with the fish one and giggled as the world burned.

      • B.rake says:

        I’m pretty sure that screenshot just cured any long remaindered latent homophobia lurking in the dusty becobwebbed corners of my brain.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Rather sensibly: you could swap the top two screenshots and keep it worksafe trivially without losing too much impact.

        But, eh, this column also posted at nine in the evening on a Friday. If you’re still at work then, a) I’m sorry, but at least b) hopefully you don’t have colleagues hovering around your screen.

        • YoungSeal says:

          Serious pet peev. The internet does not exist in any specific time zone. This article posted at every conceivable time simultaneously.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Good point, and I feel stupid for overlooking that given I do most of my co-op gaming with people in EST.

        • benkc says:

          I feel like starting with the silliness rather than ending with the silliness would have changed the whole tone of the article, though.

          I also feel that I’m pretty prudish about what’s OK to have up on my work monitor, and that top image wouldn’t have been too bad — but I’ve developed a habit of not reading RPS at work late on a Friday, just in case.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      My thoughts were actually “I bet you 100% that instead of a man reviewing a game about gay men its gonna be that girl doing it instead (and totally not because its drawn buff dudes with sweat as content, either)”.

      Clicked, insta-smugness.

    • Distec says:

      It’s good to know there will always be somebody like you camping out at the top of comments sections waiting for an argument.

  2. Hex says:

    Why is this okay but Big-Boobs-Blonde video-game protagonist isn’t?

    Nothing redresses wrongs like a good ol’ fashioned double-standard….

    EDIT: Well look at all those thoughtful replies!

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

    • stampy says:

      thanks for being the second post, and proving the point in the first post :)

      • SooSiaal says:

        What was the point of that post exactly? All i see is a statement and comment,no point

      • Duke of Chutney says:

        Hex’s comment is fair, i’m not sure satirizing him or her is useful. Whilst the written content of the article might point toward a story with some depth that explores sections of life often left taboo, the intro blurb and the hulking macho pictures could be seen as rather voyeuristic.

        • B.rake says:

          Propably just concerned women aren’t being proportionately represented here.

        • Kala says:

          It’s a deliberately voyeuristic game, though, isn’t it…? From what she’s written at any rate, I thought part of the point was to evoke that combination of arousal and awkwardness from seeing something you feel you shouldn’t.

          Anyway, from what she said, the narrative handles various things well and with sensitivity; yes it’s sexy, but there’s also some emotional depth here.

          Which is not quite the same as a character ultimately being boiled down to a pair of jiggling tits.

          (I mean, if the tits are handled sensitively, that’s all well and good… ;p)

      • trollomat says:

        Disclaimer: I consider myself a feminist and I’m drunk right now,

        but I was just thinking: if you replaced all the topless dudes with topless girls and the word ‘dick’ with ‘pussy’, would this be an acceptable article on RPS?

        • pepperfez says:

          There has never been a prominent politician named Vadge Armey.

        • P.Funk says:

          I guess thats the question.

          Why does everybody have to be so damned hot? If there are characters funny enough to go home with why are they all sculpted like greek gods?

          I guess the answer is that the face of equality is everyone gets to be objectified!

          • kael13 says:

            If that was the case then fair enough.. But so often it doesn’t seem to be allowed.

          • pepperfez says:

            “Objectified” does not mean “very hot.”

          • P.Funk says:

            So when people are sexually objectified those objectifying them do not find them attractive? Blimey.

          • Kala says:

            Just want to expand a bit on what pepperfez wrote:

            “Objectified” does not mean “very hot.”

            This is the crux of it, for me.

            There’s this idea that when people say ‘objectified’ they mean ‘sexy’ and so the argument is somehow sexy is bad, and people (women, in particular) should get covered up.

            Which…isn’t really it. Objectified means being treated as an object. The point being an object is dehumanising, as human aren’t things, they’re people. Because it’s saying there is nothing else to you – nothing else interesting, or important, but also just literally, nothing else, beyond the parts.

            (Which only exist to be enjoyed by someone else)

            Anyways, from her descriptions, it doesn’t seem like this is happening here. There’s some emotional investment required when dealing with drama like coming out, etc. The interactions between characters are important; “The decisions are written so that it is very obvious when they matter.” etc.

            Which makes me think they’re probably being treated as people, rather than decorative things. Sexy people, who have sex, but people nonetheless.

          • Gustav says:

            Though I have not played this, given the body hair toggle option described above it seems strange to argue that these men are not being objectified. If these characters do not even have virtual agency over a thing like that, can they really be considered virtual persons? This seems like a game about making Ken-dolls hump each other to me

            BUT

            the question of whether this would be acceptable with genders swapped I think is not really as pertinent as it might seem. What I try to ask myself is, as a man, does this objectification of men bother me in any way? The answer is it does not. Sometimes (only sometimes) I don’t quite understand why people are so upset when women are similarly objectified, but I don’t have to understand it. The important thing is it makes people sad, therefore it is bad. If this game makes anyone sad there’s an ethical discussion to be had here, but I see no evidence of that.

        • sinister agent says:

          Euch, god no. That word is cringeworthy enough as it is, I don’t want to see it scattered all over here too. At least “dick” is just a bit rubbish and not actively dreadful.

    • SigmaCAT says:

      To be fair, I think Big-Boobs-Blonde video game hero made this okay now

    • gattsuru says:

      I’m not exactly a fan of the tut-tut-at-breasts crowd, but Coming Out On Top is an explicit porn game. Very, very few of the tut-tut-at-breasts crowd are complaining primarily about breasts on display in Fate/Stay Night; they’re complaining that there’s breasts on display in Duke Nukem, Soul Caliber, or Dragon’s Crown, and that there’s not enough gals who don’t let the ladies hang out.

      There’s some pretty strong criticisms of their viewpoint — not least of all that they’ve got a bad habit of sliding around what’s sexualized and what isn’t, and a worse habit of treating medium-sized lists as describing the entirety of a much-larger space — but you’ll do better to aim at those.

      (Caveat: I kickstarted Coming Out On Top, and backed Ex Gender during its offbeatr campaign, so… you could guess my viewpoint.)

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      going to war naked (or half the other stuff in typical videogames) is a bit different from getting naked during a sexual encounter

      link to upload.wikimedia.org

      link to cdn.shazoo.ru

      a bit more recent

      • Jamesworkshop says:

        Metal Gear? Are you being weird about female characters again? “No!” What’s that behind your back, Metal Gear? “It’s a… female character who wears bikini tops and never speaks.” Oh Metal Gear!

        • Bradamantium says:

          There’s a reason for it, don’t you know! She can change the color of her skin to blend in with her surroundings! By exuding some sort of ink cloud!

          No, really. Sigh. Pants-that-change-colors would’ve been fine, but no, inexplicable octopus powers and fanservice it is.

          • garythehobo says:

            Well why is she wearing a bikini then? It’ll break her camouflage! She better take it off before she’s seen.

          • pepperfez says:

            In Kojima-land, a disembodied bikini waltzing through your military compound is nothing out of the ordinary.

          • Penteract says:

            Did people forget about naked raiden? Are “inexplicable powers” not common place in the MGS series?

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            It’s a nanomachine bikini.

    • Bradamantium says:

      I mean, this is a game about a handsome man getting naked and steamy with other handsome men. In that context, I think a character being all kinds of sex appealing is okay. But this is not a context often found in mainstream games.

    • Thants says:

      Context.

    • AngoraFish says:

      I’m totally okay with hot girls and hot guys. Should be more of both, IMHO.

    • Rindan says:

      Uh, if it is a porn game it is fine to have big boobs Sally or whatever. Hopefully they add a little more diversity than that, but my panties won’t get in a twist if someone is playing a porn game and it is filled with insanely hot FILL_IN_YOUR_TYPE_HERE.

      When people complain about women being a pile of boobs in video games is when the game isn’t about porn. Presumably, if you are blowing people up, you are not porning, so why is that lady running around in a naughty nurses outfit? Even then, I don’t think there is anything all that horrible with having women (or men) running around in naughty nurses outfit even if games that are not porn. A tongue in cheek game poking fun at itself by going over the top isn’t the worst thing in the world.

      Where we have a problem is when you have half naked porn star women in piles and piles of games with no obvious sense of self awareness. It drives women away from video games if absolutely nothing else.

      Honestly, I think the largest deciding factor is simply self awareness. There doesn’t need to be a blank rule that you can’t have big tits and swinging cocks in video games, even video games that are not explicitly porn. What should happen though is that when someone draws up a female protagonist and slips her into an iron bikini, game designers should take a big old step back, stop, and really think hard if that is a good idea. Are you REALLY adding anything to the game? Is it worth slightly titillating 14 year old boys at the expense of turning off people with a little self awareness?

      We do this for men. Before someone slaps a naked dude into a videogame, we think long and hard about it. I can assure you with complete confidence that if you see a naked dude in a video game, someone put it in there deliberately and thought about how it was going to affect their male (largely straight) audience. In fact, I struggle to come up with many games that have men running around in their underwear except when they are about to bag a woman. In fact, the only mainstream game I can think of where there is some explicate male nudity was in GTA4, and it was done deliberately as a joke. I think that most of the time when someone tosses in some iron thongs and a thin piece of leather valiantly holding back a pair breasts, that have the shape and dimensions of a pair of beachball, that the entire audience of the game was unlikely have been given much thought.

    • gnodab says:

      Well I am just glad there are articles published nowadays that don’t pretend sex is a sin and the root of all evil.
      The same goes for the fact that the men are sexualized and fit. Everybody with an intact libido will objectify the opposite/same sex (i.e. the object of his sexual desire) there is nothing wrong with that. The fun part is how to go about it. And in the game it seems they choose the witty way and did improve on the Bioware formula, so well done.

      Sex is fun, sex with sexy people even more so. Why shouldn’t games be allowed to reflect this part of reality? I don’t care if the games feature men or women (or both). So in the spirit of the season we should all erect a splendid Christmas-cock and decorate it with jiggly boobs.
      Happy holidays.

      • tnzk says:

        I don’t find many vocal opinions of sex these days to be puritanesque. The western world is pretty sex crazy, possibly the furthest any civilisation in history has yet gone (if few bat an eye to Nicki Minaj music videos, it’s indicative of just how much lewd sexuality doesn’t affect us).

        What stops us from taking the sex talk the full money is an issue fundamental to sex itself: intimacy. Simply put, few people go around talking about their personal sex lives. And when you keep mum about it personally, you naturally are not prepared to talk about it professionally. Cara is the rare person that opens herself up vulnerably in order to get the story done, which is why, in a way, it works.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Wouldn’t the counterpart be a game about touching Vaginas with enthusiasm?

  3. sinister agent says:

    I have never played a game where I could have said, ‘yeah, he’s funny, I’d go home with him

    wrex.jpg

  4. Anthile says:

    I kinda want to see this on Steam’s Greenlight, just to see the fallout.

    • Similar says:

      I got the impression from Twitter that they had tried Greenlight and hadn’t been allowed. I looked for more info, but couldn’t find any, though.

      • mattlambertson says:

        Yeah, a game about innocent love doesn’t belong on Steam, but it’s okay to have one about gratuitous mass murder. I have lost all respect for Steam and will never purchase from them again if another option is available. Their moral compass is hopelessly out of alignment with mine. This really puts it in perspective. A game that feels as light-hearted and friendly as this is wrong because it’s “porn”, but a game that has a darker, more evil feeling than any R-rated movie I’ve ever seen is allowed on after a brief delay. They had it right the first time when they pulled Hatred.

        • Niko says:

          Corporations have PR weather vanes instead of moral compasses.

          • Donjo says:

            That is an excellent way of putting it. I may have to steal that :D

        • pepperfez says:

          You might want to check the actual numbers and types of articles those sites published about that game. RPS ignored the game itself; Polygon reported some of the initial criticism after the trailer, then actually interviewed the developer; Kotaku published one editorial using the game as a jumping-off point to reflect on violence in videogames more generally and the author’s reactions to it (this may count as handwringing, but it’s not about the existence of this one trashy game). All three subsequently reported on Valve’s recent, fairly strange, actions.

          I’m reasonably confident that level of coverage could not single-handedly turn a game into a megahit.

        • mouton says:

          That’s not a problem with Valve, but with American culture in general. In short, murder – yes, boobies – nono.

        • Big Murray says:

          Come now. If Valve were to sell this game, they would have to start selling all kinds of similar sex-orientated games/dating sims including the heterosexual ones. And then they would plonk themselves right in the middle of the “these games are sexist towards women because they show big boobed ladies and are generally misogynistic” debate, which is never something which is going to end well for Valve.

          • Distec says:

            Too true. I said as much in the comments of a previous article. It’s all good and well to argue that Steam should allow more pornographic games (and I agree), but you need to realize that this would open the flood gates for a whole lot of content you may find “problematic”. Now if you have the maturity to ignore that stuff, then excellent. But I can see a lot of agitators in this discussion causing a stream of headaches. For better or worse, killing is normal in video games; Hatred is at least being criticized for its ideology and excesses. People are a lot more weird about porn.

            Also, it was not but over a week ago when a number of people were making a lot of judgments on pornography when it came to the whole Youporn/Dota sponsorship issue. Criticism of sexual content in porn games vs “regular” games has not been some clear, distinct line like some people here are acting it is.

        • HadToLogin says:

          If this were game only about innocent love, one that doesn’t have smut scenes that make soft-core porn blush.

          Like it or not, graphic sex is where games sold to 10 years old are not ok. Even GTA didn’t went all the way and you can’t look at your penis being blown.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oakreef says:

      Sick filth like games about consensual adult relationships aren’t allowed on Steam Greenlight. Need to make room for safe family entertainment like Hatred.

    • kwyjibo says:

      This should be on Greenlight. Would be hard for Valve to say no given the Hatred thing.

      • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

        It *was* on Greenlight, and at the same time as Hatred. Valve pulled it.

        • kwyjibo says:

          I doubt that. Would be very strange for the developer to not even link to the supposed greenlight campaign. Hatred has only been up the last few days.

  5. DrMcCoy says:

    It’s on both PC and Mac

    Being a Ren’Py game, it’s on Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux.
    Please don’t forget us penguin types, we need love too.

    • manny says:

      Also author is still mulling on an android release. (Ren’Py has been ported to android too)

  6. Spacewalk says:

    That goldfish has a cute mouth.

  7. Leucine says:

    I’ve never considered playing a dating sim, never mind paying for one but the realisation that there’s some that cater to us gay men (not to say others can’t or shouldn’t enjoy them! It’s just nice to be the target demographic for a change (are we the target demographic? Either way, it’s something)) has me wavering.

    You’ve certainly done a good job of making it sound enjoyable, where my opinion on dating sims has hitherto been… to be as charitable as I can, that they are exploitative. I think I may take the plunge on this one.

    • sinister agent says:

      Yeah, I’m not even into men and I clicked the link after reading this. It sounds pretty good.

    • Soldancer says:

      I think one of the problems with the exploitative nature of dating Sims is that a lot of them are Japanese, where there are some pretty huge cultural differences when it comes to viewing women. I have played some western made games (notably Loren the Amazon Princess and Planet Stronghold) which, while having generally extremely attractive romance partners, still have the feel of more realistic relationships about them.

      Speaking of extremely attractive…
      As a generally hetero leaning guy, this is a very interesting game to me. As noted elsewhere in the comments, I think it’s a bit more reasonable to have those sorts of character designs in a context that makes sense for them. This is why I have less of a problem with hot gals/guys in something that obviously has the intention of being titillating on some level.

      That being said, I wish there were a bit more variety in that context, too. I think the longer haired guy with the sheepish grin is the cutest, and even he is a little too cut for me. I like more effeminate, slender guys and short, curvaceous ladies, and they are really only ever present in games with robust character creators.

      Still looks totally hot and I will play it at some point.

      • satan says:

        I’d never played a dating sim, but then I realised I was playing Dragon Age/Mass Effect just for all the dating, maybe it was the novelty/setting (dating in space/high fantasy) but I was absolutely hooked (on the dating elements) and found it hard to progress with the main story while there was still somebody I hadn’t dated/found out more about. I’m not sure how I’d go with more conventional settings/themes (a university setting sounds boring, but hey you never know), but I think the answer is definitely to make more dating sims, not less.

      • pepperfez says:

        I think one of the problems with the exploitative nature of dating Sims is that a lot of them are Japanese, where there are some pretty huge cultural differences when it comes to viewing women.

        I would say that the most relevant cultural difference is in who’s making the dating sims. They’re much more mainstream in Japan, so they’re made with the crass mainstream approach to sex and gender. In the US, they’re mostly made by socially-conscious indies, often with an explicitly political motivation. I suspect that if dating sims were popular in the West with, for instance, the self-described Hardcore Gamer set, they’d have a radically different take on gender norms.

        • Soldancer says:

          That’d actually a really good point, and I realize I was generalizing a bit. I think that’s why Loren stuck in my head so much. It’s a western designed RPG with romance elements (think visual novel meets Dragon Age), but in a game with a lot of obvious hetero male fanservice, Draco, the naïve boyish blonde long-haired pyromancer, is the hottest character by a long shot.

          Since it is such a niche market in the west, it often is treated a bit more sensitively than it is in mainstream eastern games. Even if it’s still got a fairly sexualized, um, thrust.

      • manny says:

        Who didn’t love the dating sim aspects of Baldurs Gate and Harvest Moon? Quite simply dating is COMPLETELY NORMAL, as is eventually having sex with your date.

        And realistically dating sims unlike most games offer a big benefit by preparing people for the real dating scene which can be brutal.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          I thought these days you just go out “dancing” aka get drunk and then take some stranger home and repeat that until you realize that you will always be incredibly alone. Or that, but also pregnant (the male version: with an STD).

  8. Palindrome says:

    The ginger guy has the strangest chest hair I have ever seen. I’m not sure he is human.

    • Pockets says:

      The hairless abs are odd. Like he started waxing or shaving and got interrupted.

    • Gap Gen says:

      It’s an arrow that says “eyes up here, laddies”

    • JimmyJamNYC says:

      That’s because Gingers have no souls.

      /ginger and my fucking chest hairs look like that
      /not the rest of me tho

  9. mpk says:

    This isn’t a game I’ll play but I enjoyed reading about it because it’s a nice change to have someone writing an article about how nice dicks are. It’s a point of view that’s not often shared on the mainstream sites I spend time on.

    The topic does nothing for me, personally, but helps to remind me that the world in general needs more female voices as loud and shamelessly horny as Cara’s.

  10. Hex says:

    Still, I can’t help but feel that the bear community is being shafted (ha!) here.

    • Soldancer says:

      A) great pun and B) agreed – see my point above about the kinds of guys I find attractive. :P

      • Zaxwerks says:

        I backed this on Kickstarter. The creator (who is female) was in constant contact with the backers, so there’s a couple of options in the options menu where you can select beards and/or chest hair for any of the main datable characters.

        It’s an enjoyable game with some very witty writing and some hot man on man sex!

  11. Gap Gen says:

    You chose the captions in those images well.

  12. Generico says:

    Never could understand why people get offended by the content of games. It’s basically an interactive cartoon. If you’re offended by it, you’re the same kind of crazy as the religious nuts that lost it over that muhammad comic strip.

    And if you think a game’s depictions of sexuality or exaggerated secondary sex characteristics are of significant impact on the players, you’re basically using the same logic as the idiots who think video games make kids go on shooting sprees.

    Games do not significantly influence the values, morals, or ethics of any sane person.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I’m not sure I’d say that all game themes are cool and that being offended is a bad thing (note that I am super cool with a game about touching ding-dongs, even if I don’t want to do that in IRL, although neither do I want to shoot at people, so). I’m not saying that games should be banned, but I’d have a problem playing a game called Hero of the Reich where you gun down non-Aryans in the name of the Fuhrer, to give an extreme example, and I’d consider someone who played it to be not someone I wanted to share a room with. And again, putting your hand on a penis in a consensual setting is a pretty neat thing to do.

      • Grygus says:

        I have long thought that what the world needs is a Nazi simulator, and by Nazi simulator I mean you’re just a regular dude doing regular dude things in a world gone increasingly mad until you look back and realize that you’ve been doing some pretty horrific shit, because the central lesson of World War II *ought* to be that we are all capable of such short-sighted hate, fear, and monstrous behavior, that what is required is vigilance against that part of us, but instead all we’ve done is declare all Nazis monsters and we could never be like them and so we get Guantanamo Bay, which is exactly equivalent to a concentration camp except in scale and daring.

        I know that isn’t terribly original. I know that sentence is too long. I know.

        • grom.5 says:

          Papers please isn’t it a bit like this ?

          If not I think that’s a good idea. It’s an important lesson.

    • tnzk says:

      “Games do not significantly influence the values, morals, or ethics of any sane person.”

      I’m actually unsure about that one.

      Most video games are developed within a liberal culture/mindset. Me, (trying to be) a traditional Roman Catholic, can see these liberal values being conveyed to the audience without anyone noticing it; neither the developer or the player.

      The easiest and most cartoonish example is the Assassin’s Creed series, where you play on the side of anachronistic libertarians (the Assassins) who just find it common sense that individuals should be self-determined and free to do what they want, whereas the Templars are surreptitiously evil because they believe in authoritarian order despite knowing it’s probably bad. I find that subtly tweaks peoples’ values and morals.

      Another example people don’t realise (until they try this option) is a ‘celibate’ play-through of Mass Effect. Basically put, you gain more to flirt, romance and have sex with someone than you do to keep it in your pants and get on with what’s important. I find the metagame of courting in Bioware games a sort of social conditioning.

    • ffordesoon says:

      False equivalency and a no true Scotsman argument in the same post? Nice.job.

      What really interests me here is that you call games “interactive cartoons,” implying that you feel cartoons do not “significantly influence the values, morals, or ethics of any sane person.” Would it be fair to say, then, that you believe cartoons with explicit morals (e.g. sharing is good, telling lies is bad) do not affect developing minds in any “significant” capacity (whatever “significant” means in this context)? I mean, children are sane, right? And they are people, right? So you would presumably be okay with showing your child a cartoon that explicitly endorses a moral you find horrible, then? Hell, why even talk about it with the kid? It won’t affect him/her in any real way, so why not just let the kid work it out on his/her own?

  13. Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

    I’m more concerned about the portrayal of gay men as muscly handsome hunks. There are average looking gay guys too!

    • Frosty Grin says:

      I agree. And it’s not just bad from the diversity perspective – personally, I don’t find this extremely cut look very attractive.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cross says:

      Actually, Obscura justified that decision: She found that the existing gay dating games cover both the twinkier and bulkier parts of the male body-spectrum, so she figured there’d be a snug little niche for her game right here.

    • pepperfez says:

      Not to someone who’s really into them.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I find the pseudo-human Ken Doll men in this game incredibly offputting. The bodies and faces appear to have been stamped out of a mold and had a selection of different eyebrows and hair attached afterwards. It’s like trying to find the cast of Thomas Was Alone shagworthy.

      • Jackablade says:

        Must…not…Google search…”Thomas was alone Rule 34″.

      • Niko says:

        There’s something similar to how women usually all have the same body type in games, no?

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Yup. It’s just as upsetting and disappointing in both cases, really. It’s not so unreasonable to want to see a believable spread of different types of bodies in fiction, is it?

  14. Phantasma says:

    Gah, Cara makes this sound quite interesting.

    But a somewhat condescending part of me can’t help but to scoff a little at the very mainstream depiction of male gay desire in the form of perfect American Plastic Faces (and bodies.)

    I really don’t want to be *that* guy, but i’m afraid it would entice me more, if the art direction didn’t remind me so much of some saucy comic strip in a gay lifestyle magazine, jammed between a Paco Rabanne ad and a highly investigative piece of journalism that informs me about the 10 best after-workout cocktails.

    On the other hand, expecting it to be a highly artistic 8-bit indie extravaganza with all the guy’s heads being replaced by teapots just spells another kind of cliché.

    Long story short, i probably should give it a rest for today and stop being so judgemental.
    And maybe try this out.

    • Cara Ellison says:

      I agree that there’s a kind of ‘perfectness’ to their looks that might be a bit off-putting! But I think if we get more of these games we might have a chance to correct that.

      • Phantasma says:

        Well, what can i say?

        I gave it a spin and i’m eating my own words right now :-D.
        Because in the end the art style suits the setting just fine and even reminded me of my own early twenties, the lightness, the excitement and the easy impressionability after a successful coming-out.
        Not to forget the constant hormonal high, that may well have some influence on the general perception of those around you.

        And it *is* a typical American campus after all, so thanks again for this hidden gem.

        Edit:
        For clarification, my points still stand, but turned from a major caveat to a very minor complaint on the side.

  15. archcorenth says:

    While I’m not in the market for either game, I think it’s highly questionable that this game wouldn’t be allowed on Steam while Hatred is.

    • B.rake says:

      To Valve’s credit, they are at least consistent in disallowing explicitly sexual content that transgresses the sort of “softcore” stuff found in shit like Bioware games. (though I guess that belies the more fundamental hypocrisy about violence vs sexual content, if that is your point.)

    • P.Funk says:

      Because in many places like the United States being a homo is something that is dangerous to society in a way that motivates attempts at legislation whereas being a mass murderer still sparks little more than reticence in the legislature.

  16. amateurviking says:

    Needs moar bears.

  17. kissingtoast says:

    Good article.

    Reading this makes me more interested in trying dating sims.

    (I played Sepe’s cumshot, and although I agree that it’s absurd, I thought it was kinda hot,
    not necessarily in a meaningful, real hot way, more in a detached, bad/surreal porn way).

    The art style looks pretty good for Coming Out On Top.
    The pair in the picture four down from the top are both pretty cute.

    I quite like the picture five down from the top:
    the sweaty, broody guy looking a bit on edge – pretty funny.
    (I’m imagining him acting in a soapy, late ninties teen drama way – off of your dawson’s creek mention).

    • Cara Ellison says:

      There’s certainly something about Sepe that makes him hot. I think it’s that he’s so dependent on you. His wee face is all expectant.

      • kissingtoast says:

        Yeah I agree about the dependency thing, also I think the interactivity made it hot for me as well.

        My tool was a mouse. I’m curious what it would be like with a touch pad.

        • jrodman says:

          Touchpad for those games are annoying because the hitboxes are finicky and small, and they typically require silly-rapid repeat movements, far more than you would ever apply to the real thing.

          Get it, hitboxes. Okay it doesn’t quite work.

          • kissingtoast says:

            Ah, okay.
            Seems like mouse is better then.

            I’m curious about input/controller variations and how they impact on a sense of connection – not just in regards to sex, but also intimacy and a sense of personal connection.

            I’m interested to see if the occulus rift will make games about/that involve intamacy and/or sex more intimate/personal or whether it’ll be more alienating.

      • Eddie Bax says:

        “wee face”

        …I thought that wasn’t allowed anymore?

  18. Premium User Badge

    Cross says:

    I have already played through it once, and i am sure there’s a lot of content still to discover. If i have two gripes with it, it’s that your female friend is incredibly obnoxious as a character, and the ending of the game feels a little sudden. It’s like there was a clampdown saying “We’ve got a deadline. Finish him!”

  19. blastaz says:

    The first paragraph got me thinking, how many games are there where you can look at a vagina?

    I mean sure there is a chronic lack of good dick in games but equally they are lacking in clunge. No need to single out male sex organs in your crusade for more porn in games…

    • pepperfez says:

      Well, except that male sex organs are the ones a straight lady’s going to be personally interested in.

    • B.rake says:

      There’s always Luxuria Superbia, which is some sort of infinite runner inside of an abstract technicolor vagina.

    • jrodman says:

      We are really rather penis-focused in this culture, so I’m not surprised.

      As a gay man, a game that involved significant vaginal content would be kind of interesting, actually.

  20. benthere says:

    There’s a demo available for the curious:

    link to obscurasoft.com

  21. Insidious Mental Pollution says:

    Upfront, games about dating or sex really don’t interest me (edit: that much, there have been a few that I’ve messed around with)

    That said, it never has ceased to make me shake my head that depictions of violence are more acceptable to mainstream society (American, since I can only speak from experience) than naked bodies and sex. You know, things that are as much an integral part of us as breathing and eating/drinking.

    • tnzk says:

      I said it up in a thread earlier, but it’s an issue of intimacy. How you conduct your sex life is pretty much how you will talk about it.

  22. pepperfez says:

    Oh my god, I just noticed the school mascot on Beefcake Studsma’s ID. Amazing.

    • Anthile says:

      I think you mean Blast Hardcheese.

      • Drakesden says:

        Yes! Fridge Largemeat!

        Space Mutiny. One of the best Mike and the bots ever did.

        And Gristle McThornbody would definitely fit in with these screenshots. Don’t know if he’d have the personality the game is looking for, though …

        • RedViv says:

          Oh why not?
          “There’s romance, you must go for it!”
          “Hrghaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

  23. Premium User Badge

    Muppetizer says:

    “If you so wish, you can choose to toggle each of the men’s beards and body hair on or off. You choose.”

    Say what you want about power fantasies in video games, this game delivers.

  24. Myrdinn says:

    Is this a Final Fantasy game?

  25. woodsey says:

    Good piece, kind’ve wished you’d actually gotten into the dissonance (if there is any) of being a straight woman playing a gay man coming out, instead of just scribbling “I’m privileged!” and backing down from the subject.

    Was interesting to learn, in the Hatred fallout, that this wasn’t allowed on Steam. I get not having high-fidelity graphics 3D porn simulators with tessellated tits, but not allowing what seems to amount primarily to a sext adventure seems a little silly. (I have no problem with Hatred being on Steam, incidentally.)

    • Cara Ellison says:

      That’s the only dissonance I felt! So I wrote about it. Everything I write about is ‘about being a straight woman’ technically, though I suspect these days that I am not entirely straight. Honestly, there aren’t many issues about ‘coming out’ actually discussed in the game apart from the initial awkward options with your flatmates (and later your parents in exactly the same manner) – I didn’t want to spoil the options, because a lot of the awkwardness you feel is because you fear something bad happening to your character. But for your benefit: choose to come out to anyone in this game and they are accepting and progressive, which is why I say it is a ‘safe fantasy space’. Perhaps I could have explained that in the main text, but I still feel it’s a spoiler and better for me to state that there’s little in the way of real world prejudices in this game.

      The thing is, do we ever discuss the dissonance of a man playing a woman character? Or of a woman playing a man character? Do we discuss the dissonance of a gay person role playing a heterosexual character? I’d argue we don’t because we accept that we are playing the role of someone who might be different from us, which requires us to be accepting. I tried to note down problems, but on the whole I thought it represented a healthy responsible approach to a fantasy sex game, and that’s what I’d want no matter what sexuality or gender I was, I think.

      If acknowledging my privilege wasn’t enough I’m sorry, I am sincerely open to other questions you might have.

      • woodsey says:

        My point was more that the privilege thing was unnecessary. If you didn’t think there was any real dissonance then that’s fair enough, I just felt that it seemed a little cut off at the end. Often I think the “I’m privileged” thing can just leave people too nervous to comment in any depth on any experience different from their own, which kind of made me feel like the subject was being shied away from slightly. I guess with regards to spoilers I don’t often view this column as a WIT one, but I suppose it does tend to function more like that when it comes to games that are actually worthwhile.

        As for distinguishing it from playing a different gender or even playing a different sexuality as is the case here, I think it is more noteworthy, if only because it’s more specific. Lots of men seem to play FemShep and vice versa, and I’m sure there are a few people who choose gay and lesbian Shepards, but I’d say these are too broad to really create any experiential dissonance. If you’re gender swapping nothing much in the game changes at all, so they experience is really the same. If you’re playing a different sexuality then again, nothing all that much changes. Sure, you get a slightly awkward cutscene with two men or two women rolling around instead of a slightly awkward cutscene with one man and one woman rolling around, but at the end of the day we all have relationships and the gay relationships function in exactly the same way as the straight ones in Mass Effect, and pretty much any game of its ilk that offers those options (not many, admittedly).

        What I’m getting at is that having to “come out” and actually admit your sexuality is a very alien idea for the vast majority, so that’s why I’d expect it perhaps to have some level of dissonance more than just gender-swapping or watching your male mannequin bump poorly choreographed uglies with Freddie Prinze Jr.

        I guess if the game is presenting a “safe fantasy space” in which there is never an issue then what you’re actually getting is the same as the gender-swapping and gay relationships in Mass Effect, where actually nothing much at all is made of you doing those things.

      • MartinWisse says:

        As you know Bo^w Cara there’s a bit of tension between gay porn aimed at a straight, female audience and actual gay porn aimed at gay men and I’d like to see if this game by a female creator would also appeal to a proper gay audience. And if not, what differences in appeal there would be. I would’ve loved it if y’all could do something analog to that “real lesbians review a lesbian porn simulator game” review.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Because Cara didn’t show (only said) that this game is also pure uncensored smut. Not Playboy “smut”, hell, some parts of it are such stuff that will make soft-core porn blush.
      And like it or not, smut is where Valve puts border.
      If author will cut smut of it, it will be greenlight like bunch of other Visual Novels that already made it to Steam.

  26. fight_for_your_right_to_party says:

    I am glad to begin to understand what the foil of an over-the-top boobified woman is. At least for homosexuals I guess? I say, eye candy for all! …because these are just games. I just can’t wait for the day when more game studios make more kinds of games for more kinds of people so that I can rest assured that while I am looking at some curvaceous hottie bouncing around on screen some woman (or guy or mixture of the two) somewhere is getting a face full of chest hair and revelling in it. Fundamentally all of this debate about a hobby is totally hilarious to me.

  27. LionsPhil says:

    As to the puzzlescript game: I put a penis in an electrical socket and the game exasperatedly chastised me for my irresponsible and foolish treatment of body parts.

    10/10

    (Hahaha, the rope.)

  28. cptgone says:

    Cara doesn’t care for surprise buttsex jokes, unless the receiver looks “somewhat keen” – in which case, even bestiality seems to meet her approval.

    (Lovely write-up, though :))

  29. daff3ww says:

    Am I the only one who thinks all three guys look the same

  30. charmed23 says:

    Totally sold on this, just placed an order and sadly the process apparently takes 5 hours meh meh.

    Anyhow I am still getting used to and appreciating this much diversity coming from a gaming website. Haven’t come across another site that is as distinctive and colorful as RPS, kudos to yall!

    oh, are there any LGBT staff on RPS roster?

    • KaiUno says:

      Strange. Placed an order, got the game instantly, and finished my first playthrough while you were waiting.

      Managed to not get laid once!

  31. PopeRatzo says:

    Is there multiplayer?

  32. Meleagru says:

    Why is it that surprising that a game made by for men is actually good? That’s how most good games are made.

  33. greener says:

    Came here to read an article about Space Engineers. Saw this in the sidebar. Went along to their website, tried the demo and couldn’t resist whipping out my…. credit card to immediately buy it.

    Charming, funny and a little bit saucy. I’ll be recommending this to friends.