CLIM THE MISS­ING AX

WHILE VIDEOGAMES SHARE A WELL-DOC­U­MENTED RE­LA­TION­SHIP WITH VI­O­LENCE, THEIR RE­LA­TION­SHIP WITH THAT OTHER GREAT HU­MAN NEED—SEX—ISN'T QUITE AS CLEAR AND WELL DE­FINED.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - LEVEL UP - BY ANAND RA­MACHAN­DRAN

This is rather cu­ri­ous. A cur­sory glance at other en­ter­tain­ment me­dia—books, films, tele­vi­sion and the In­ter­net—re­veals that sex and vi­o­lence are present in roughly equal mea­sure. Why then, the skew in gam­ing? Why do videogames favour the wrong kind of Boom Boom Boom ?

The an­swer per­haps lies in the be­gin­nings. When vi­doegames were born, the mid­wife was the geek—that species which is de­fined by a love of tech, sci-fi and junk food. And the geeks loved to make games in which you shot things to pieces. Start­ing with Space War, on to the phe­nom­e­nal Space In­vaders, the geeks were more in­ter­ested in blast­ing than in bonk­ing. Un­til Nin­tendo un­leashed Don­key Kong upon the world, and a lit­tle man named Mario be­gan his long ca­reer of sav­ing princesses, some­thing he con­tin­ues to do to this day.

Once Don­key Kong in­tro­duced

the first ro­man­tic mo­tif in videogames, there was ac­tu­ally a surge in sex-themed videogames be­fore the pen­du­lum swung in­ex­orably to­wards vi­o­lence again.

Early text ad­ven­tures such as Leather God­desses of Pho­bos ac­tu­ally fea­tured fairly ex­plicit sto­ry­lines with quests that in­volved get­ting vir­tual ladies into the sack with the male pro­tag­o­nist. The whole “get the girl” genre saw its pin­na­cle with Sierra’s smash-hit Leisure Suit Larry se­ries where the im­mor­tal Larry Laf­fer had to solve all kinds of mind­bend­ing puz­zles in or­der to get sex. The games were funny, clever and mem­o­rable—and fea­tured puz­zles where you’d catch dis­eases and die if you for­got to wear a con­dom be­fore jump­ing into bed with a hot­tie.

Sadly, not all sex-themed games were of high qual­ity. The most fa­mous ex­am­ple, the bizarre Custer’s Re­venge for the Atari 2600, fea­tured a ridicu­lous sex scene at the end of ev­ery level

where the game’s white hero would rav­ish a na­tive Amer­i­can lass in 4-bit pix­e­lated glory. It caused an out­rage, made news for all the wrong rea­sons, and prob­a­bly set back sex themed games by sev­eral years.

De­spite vi­o­lence fac­ing even more me­dia heat, they re­mained strong, pri­mar­ily be­cause vi­o­lence was an in­te­gral part of game­play, un­like sex, which was at best a gra­tu­itous ex­tra—with the no­table ex­cep­tion of the Larry se­ries, which was sadly buried by the death of the ad­ven­ture genre.

In the in­ter­ven­ing years, the only truly sex-themed game to emerge (out­side of Ja­pan, but then Ja­pan is out­side the scope of this ar­ti­cle. In fact, Ja­pan is out­side the scope of most things) was the cu­ri­ous Sin­gles: Flirt Up Your Life— an adult spin on the hugely suc­cess­ful life- sim­u­la­tion game, The Sims. Sin­gles tried to take ad­van­tage of the suc­cess of The Sims

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