Illustration: Angelica Alzona
In 2017, the proverbial sex game dam broke, allowing Steam to seemingly flood with sex games. Sex games have always existed of course, but after they started to pile up on Steam's 'new releases' tab every week, they almost started to feel mainstream.
Elsewhere, smaller sex games from a wide variety of voices continued to push the boundaries of intimate interactive experiences, though the changing regulations on the platforms that host and finance these games threatens to push some of these creators out.
And of course, there was a lot of lusting over fictional characters in 2017, much of it happening around Overwatch or Nintendo games. Never change, internet.
Here's a look at some of our biggest sex stories of the year.
If at any given moment you visit the Steam store's front page, there's a strong chance you'll get an eyeful of exposed skin from some lewd adventure or action game's listing. Steam doesn't allow pornographic games, but in the Steam Direct era, they keep appearing on Valve's service anyway -- until they're taken down, that is.
Recently, Nier creator Yoko Taro said he wanted to make an adult film. This comes as Japanese porn maker TMA is already filming a Nier Automata inspired flick.
I can still recall a video I saw on Newgrounds of animated hamsters, because it was the first time I ever heard of bukkake.
Keep it in your pants. Please, I'm begging you.
In the world of The Sims 4, life is a lighthearted cartoon. You can die of laughter and turn into a ghost. You can sleep with characters, but it's not sex. instead, "Woohooing" happens out of sight, all giggles and hearts. For some people, The Sims 4 doesn't go far enough in its portrayal of intimacy.
Crowdfunding website Patreon was known as a haven for uncensored erotic games that couldn't exist on traditional storefronts, but a recent crackdown on adult material has users worried about the future of such fringe games.
The Overwatch fandom's favourite new character has only appeared within an in game poster, but that hasn't stopped players from drawing fanart of her, cosplaying her, or declaring her as their wife.
Every month, millions of people play free sex games on Nutaku, a platform that distributes some of the biggest uncensored erotic games available in English. While some of these risque games are developed in the US, many are brought over from Japan, meaning that someone has to make sure all the raunchiness gets translated properly.
When Bioware first showed off Mass Effect. Andromeda, some fans didn't care about the premise, the story, or the combat. The question many of us had was, "what aliens can I fuck this time?"
Predictably, several 18+ sex role-play rooms have made their way into Overwatch's new "custom games" lobby.
The biggest English-language hentai manga publisher, Fakku, just celebrated its 10-year anniversary last December. That's ten years of "monster girl," "oppai," "nakadashi," "yaoi" and "futanari," tags under Fakku's clean taxonomy of hentai genres. The company's founder Jacob Grady has a lot to celebrate.
Absolute Obedience - Zettai Fukuju Meirei (2007) was one of the first commercial Japanese "boys' love" visual novels officially localised in English, making it a something of a relic nowadays. After it was released, there wouldn't be another licensed game from this niche genre brought over to the West for almost a decade, and some of its divisive themes and presentation give us a clue why.
At first glance, Strive for Power seems unassuming enough. In this PC game, you have a mansion that's fallen into disrepair and you have a servant, some stockpiled food, and a bit of cash. With that, you're expected to survive. Then things get sexy.
In an article titled "Are eSports Going To Replace The Beautiful Game?" British GQ contributor Andy Mitten spins a yarn about going somewhere where there are no Manchester United fans.
There was a lot of winking and nudging when the MMO Final Fantasy 14 introduced three new poses for dozing a year ago. And behind the closed doors of virtual houses and apartments, much more went on after that.
When people got mad, they used to sent a letter. In the internet era, if somebody's going to use non-electronic mail -- which, as I understand it, is powered by snails and horses -- it has to be elaborate. Case in point. an EVE Online player who tried to mail one of CCP's designers a bag full of candy shaped like dicks and other assorted dick memorabilia.
Coming Out On Top is a lighthearted visual novel about exploring queer sexuality as a young adult. It's also a game where you can bang a goldfish. And it's coming to Steam soon.
Who We Are Now tackles queer romance in the post-apocalypse. That doesn't sound too far flung from Walking Dead fan fiction, but what sets this upcoming PC game apart is that it takes place well after human beings have adapted to Armageddon. It's 10 years on, we've learned how to survive, but the scars and the traumas linger.
Like much of designer Robert Yang's work, The Tearoom is shot through with painful threads endemic to the history of gay men in America.
Panty Party has all the trappings of a terribad, creepy-obsessive game about anime girls and their panties. And it is that, to a point. But more often than not it's an indulgent, ironic satire and a damned fine action game.
Strangers in a Strange Land is a point-and-click adventure game starring Billy, a college student on vacation with his step family. It's also about watching people bone and catching peep shows when you can. These scintillating and voyeuristic themes have the game caught in the middle of the latest tussle over porn games on Steam.
Deep Dark Fantasies is a visual novel about a pornstar who runs a BDSM dungeon. It's mostly a series of images that have all been pressed through the same lo-fi, pixelated filter, along with some accompanying text to click through.
Well into the evening hours, I went out to a bar. Between glasses of barely mixed booze, just past a lanky fellow with a glowing sabre, I saw him. He was statuesque, decked out in leather and pierced all over, and wreathed by a rich, black mane. He was a hybrid, half man, half lion. He was ripped to hell. And what he really wanted was for me to tie him up.
Overwatch porn is a damn phenomenon. Our original report on the scene was one of our biggest stories of last year, and "Overwatch" ended up outranking "anal" on Pornhub's top 20 search terms of 2016. I was curious, though. which heroes are most popular among the porn-seeking masses? Hint. not Bastion.
"If only you could talk to the monsters," a now-infamous review once said of the original Doom. Here's a thought, though. What if you could fuck them?
There's always been a bit of a stigma attached to hentai, a highly sexualised form of Japanese anime and manga. Ditto for any associated cosplay, which can often be explicitly pornographic. Despite this, a German couple is finding some surprising mainstream (for the cosplay world, at least) success combining the two.
Doug Cockle, the voice behind The Witcher's Geralt, recently described his experience working on the series, including how awkward it can be to record intimate lines when he's the only one present.
Last year, I cheated in a relationship that was honestly the best I've ever had. This is a pattern in my life, a problem that, for a long time, I refused to acknowledge. It's even extended to video games like The Witcher 3.
Overwatch and porn (or, in this case, "artful eroticism") have quite a history. Blizzard's never seemed entirely comfortable with it, but the burgeoning Overwatch porn scene has raged on without its explicit approval. An Overwatch Playboy parody, however, apparently went too far.
Mass Effect is a franchise known for letting players sleep with other characters, and while that sauciness makes a return in Andromeda, some romance routes have left fans heartbroken.
Most of the women available for romance in Persona 5 are your fellow high school students. But not all of them.
Some players blame repetitive stress and high expectations for poor performance. One League of Legends player has a different reason. A little too much lovin'.
While it's possible to play Overwatch and not pay attention to its lore, there's a part of that game's fandom that loves it for its lore. These fans theorise about character backgrounds, make fan art, and often obsess over the possible romantic pairing in the game, known as "shipping."
After being pulled from Valve's storefront over sexual content, House Party, the controversial YouTube hit, is now back on Steam. The new version of the game has prominent censor bars.
There are a lot of terrible sex scenes in mainstream games. There are also a handful of good ones, as seen in games like The Witcher 3. But even in that game's case, creating believable sex scenes wasn't easy. Video game technology is great if you want characters to make war; not so much if you want them to make love.
In the past 48 hours, Brian "Kephrii" St Pierre has gone from making a smug video about how other Overwatch pros are "rude" and should try being "a better person", to becoming the centre of a truly bonkers scandal in which he admitted to cheating on his wife with multiple female fans.
In many ways, Geisha Monroe and Mandy Morbid are typical Twitch streamers -- they're gamers who share their play experiences with an online following. They cosplay, they collect game-related memorabilia, they tweet Overwatch memes. And like most streamers, Twitch isn't their job. But what does pay their bills makes them unusual among Twitch streamers. They're cam performers.
No one could have predicted how horny people would get for the shark man crown prince from Zelda. Breath Of The Wild.
Last week, streamer Trainwreck got handed a five-day suspension by Twitch after a video went viral featuring an incendiary rant against women streamers, in which he called them things like "god damn sluts" and accused them of stealing views from those who he viewed as more deserving streamers.
This week, reports out of South Korean have two players on esports team Lunatic-Hai at the centre of a scandal.
Overwatch has a massive, near unavoidable fandom. After a year, which 'ship reigns supreme?
During last night's Nintendo Direct, a few new characters for Arms were revealed. In particular, the internet loves Twintelle, because, well, she's kinda thicc.
Dream Daddy is the latest unlikely hit rocketing up the Steam charts, a dating sim where you romance a neighbourhood block of improbably hot dads. I spoke to creators Leighton Grey and Vernon Shaw to find out more about how they struck a balance between humour and sincerity, criticism the game has faced since release, and what it means to be a dad. Also ska music.