educational

Game Porn: A New Hybrid

Stephen Ochs
From the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the 2005 E3 Videogame Expo feels very much like Internext. Both conventions feature pounding music, scantily clad booth girls and a throng of nerdy fans. But delve deeper and you'll notice an important difference. While the adult convention blatantly sells sex, the big players at the yearly gathering-of-the-tribes of the gaming industry generally downplay the sex that helps them peddle games, leaving the more hardcore market to smaller players from overseas.

"You won't see many mainstream games with hard sexual content for the same reason you don't see a wave of sex movies coming out of Hollywood," said Gus Mastrapa, a regular video game commentator on G4 TV's Filter and monthly game columnist for Men's Edge magazine. "People have determined that sex doesn't sell in the mainstream market, especially with platform games. Sexual attributes will sell — sexy girls in a game, sexy situations like the dating in 'The Sims 2' — but you won't see a mainstream, hardcore porn game put out by Electronic Arts. It just won't happen. PC games are the least likely place you'll see hardcore content because those developers don't have to deal with big publishers."

Jenna Jameson, Playboy, Tera Patrick
This is not to say there's no porn influence on the Playstation 2, Xbox or Gamecube. "Rockstar Games" cast Jenna Jameson in a major role in its top-selling "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," the adult industry's very own Playboy released Hef-simulator "Playboy: The Mansion" on Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC last year, and former Digital Playground contract star Tera Patrick is a playable character in Eidos' "Backyard Wresting 2: There Goes the Neighborhood."

But game makers looking for an edge through sexuality have been very careful so far; the content of all three games is soft enough to earn an M (Mature) rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board as opposed to an "A for "Adult."

"Most retailers won't sell an A-rated game, so no games are made with that rating," Mastrapa said. "Developing a high-end, next-generation game can cost eight figures. No one is going to take that kind of risk. I couldn't even name one A-rated game that's come out."

And even though Playboy has been welcomed into the gaming fold over the last couple years, it is still only because their games remain M-rated. The Bunny was on hand at E3 to announce an expansion pack for "Playboy: The Mansion" as well as a scheme to allow PlayStation Portable users to download custom content from Playboy.com, including photo and video content featuring "Cyber Girl of the Year 2005" Amy Sue Cooper dressed (and undressed) as a video game heroine. Playboy also recently featured a magazine spread of "nude" pictures of well-known female video game characters Blood Rayne, Mileena from "Mortal Kombat" and "Tekken's" Nina Willams.

"We will continue to provide players with additional features that will enhance the Playboy gaming experience," said Sarah Haney, Playboy's director of entertainment licensing.

Along with Playboy, developer Deep Silver is pushing gaming's tease-only envelope with its upcoming release of "Singles 2: Triple Trouble." From the company's booth at E3 featuring Angelica Bridges from "Baywatch" playing sexy games with attendees to the content of the game itself, Deep Silver's marketing strategy screams sex.

The playable "Singles 2" demo tells the story of two impossibly hot digital gals and a studly computer-generated guy who share the same apartment and maintain a complex, player-controlled relationship.

"It's quite graphic to be honest," Deep Silver representative Dean Jackson said of "Singles 2." "Yes, there is nudity in the game. The girl can get on top of the guy and ride him, and she's really going for it. You can see the facial expressions and hear the moaning. We've got erotic encounters between men and women, women and women and men and men, but no threesomes... even in the hot tub."

Pixilated Nudity
The E3 demo of "Singles 2" featured pixilated nudity, and the company hasn't determined whether the U.S. version will feature bare skin or electronic interference, it all depends on how much they can get away with and still keep things clean enough for the mass market.

Fuzzy Eyes Studio, creators "Hot Dogs Hot Gals," another suggestive game debuting at E3 this year, were downright coy when asked about the sexual content of their hot dog-selling software. "We're trying to keep it within the current trends of fashion," said Kevin, a Fuzzy Eyes representative standing before a bank of monitors featuring heavily stacked nubiles in bikinis selling hot dogs to leering, digital customers. "There's nothing exceptional or outrageous the girls can wear," he said. "It's not really about the sex; it's a business simulator."

On the other side of the Pacific, the game terrain is different, however. Sexual games make up an important and growing niche for Korean and Japanese manufacturers, with video game characters engaging in the most explicit action imaginable.

"You've got a special market in the Far East, the Otaku market — Japanese geeks," Mastrapa said. "They don't go out very often, and they don't have girlfriends."

According to Mastrapa, in Japan and Korea, outlets for nerd sexuality extend to strip clubs featuring pole-dancers dressed as video game characters and big-selling games featuring explicit sex and bondage scenarios.

Korean game maker CMNet is an example of the hardcore gaming trend in the East. The company brought a sex simulator called 3Feel to show off at this year's E3. According to CMNet's fractured English brochure, 3Feel "has approached to sexual desires of adults in various angles making it real to its maximum in the game."

In English, the game allows geeks to choose a digital representation of themselves and meet up with other like-minded adults in a virtual environment to engage in whatever comes naturally between videogame avatars, including, dancing, kissing, petting and full-on sexual activity. The game features detailed graphics and allows the use of voice-chat, video conferencing between player webcams and even a USB-controlled vibrator.

Player-to-player Game
"It's a player-to-player game with a big server in Korea," CMNet's Song Young Hee said. "You can see the other player's rooms, meet them and then make a private room. When you meet in the other room, you can touch each other and eventually do the deed."

CMNet has yet to find a distributor in the United States for its cybersex application, but infinite distribution opportunities on the Internet could allow sexy video game makers the opportunity to find out what kind of market is out there.

This brings us to the adult Internet, specifically, the human nexus of all mediated sexuality, Jenna Jameson. Jameson is jumping into adult gaming with both feet, and the web release of her game means no ratings board approval is needed. "Virtually Jenna" allows randy gamers to get it on with Jenna herself. Gameplay involves using hands, vibrators and other body parts to bring the blonde sex bomb to orgasm. XStream3D Multimedia, the developers of "Virtually Jenna," promised the game is only part of an upcoming larger-action spy title.

In spite of their somewhat prudish stance, many gaming experts believe the adult and video game industries have been flirting with each other for years but have yet to consummate the deal.

"It's hard to achieve from both angles," Mastrapa said. "It's a tough thing to make a good game and a tough thing to make good porn."

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