Sex(uality) In Games: The Juvenile/Mature Divide

This week's Aberrant Gamer is an interesting look at sex/sexuality in games, from ICO to Mass Effect: Leigh Alexander has previously previously defended the busty and scantily—clad video game girl, but this time takes a different look at the subject. The mature vs. juvenile divide seems to be especially prominent in games, where it can seem like it's either improbably perky cleavage stuffed into space age materials or sweetly innocent hand holding with little in between:

An inanimate cube, juveniles holding hands, and the nuances of a complicated adult relationship as seen through the eyes of a youth - the conclusion here seems to be that games are able to create that sense of intimacy by revealing less, not more - just as FFX's quietly tragic heroine Yuna lost a lot of dignity by cropping her shorts way up into her "personal crease" and gyrating around like a pop star in X-2 (even though it was cute and fun), games lose dignity the more decadent cleavage shots and full-body pans they show.

Me? I like a little sex with my media (and clearly, the keeper of Sexy Videogameland does too); it's probably a factor of my day job, where sex leaps off the page even when you're least expecting it (Mao Zedong? Inherently unsexy. Mao's bevy of beauties that accompanied him on train trips around China? Immediately spice up even the most boring of campaigns.). My research takes me into the realm of film culture of the '30s and '40s, where sex oozes off the silver screen and out from the pages of fan magazines, with little more than a flash of leg and certainly no busty beauties popping out of their catsuits; even the most serious of social dramas usually have their fair share of sensuous moments, and no one would accuse them of being juvenile. There is a lot of growing up gaming has to do in dealing with sex, and I agree with Alexander that taking a cue from media a little more mature would probably serve designers well.

Overt sexuality isn't necessarily juvenile — I for one would celebrate a female character that resembled my favorite women of imperial Chinese history, the brilliant, sassy, and most definitely sexy courtesans that litter the pages of secondary literature — but it does have to be handled in the right way, and that usually involves a little more brain and a little less boob. Maybe grown up sexuality will herald the continued maturation of the medium as a whole.

Getting To The Action [GameSetWatch]


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