By Thomas Costes – Posted on 28 Oct 2022 at 18:00
Video games are now a universal medium. Everything can be represented. From war, to science fiction, it makes sense that sex is one of those elements.
Finally an interesting subject, we see you huh! Did the title intrigue you? Maybe you are interested? Or just curious? We will see it together!
Yes, sex isn’t just for movies or series. Video games have been able to appropriate these intimate moments that are the carnal relationship. As we know, who has never been embarrassed to watch certain scenes in a film? (especially when the parents are watching too) We all have our feelings about this and the cinema has understood it.
For several years, video games have increasingly understood this and are incorporating more and more scenes like these into certain games.
Before talking about sex in video games, let’s talk about love!
Video games have always been able to represent sumptuous settings, brand new worlds in which we have immersed ourselves for hours. Emotion is a common feeling, so it makes sense that at some point, love comes on stage.
represent love in a video game is not necessarily a simple thing. All the work of game designers is based on the fact that they manage to do interact the characters according to a scenario and technical constraints which are specific to them. These are not necessarily actors who take up a text. Sometimes it’s just digital constructions that come to life after months of work. This can be confusing for the player. But these emotions are sometimes necessary for the smooth running of the game and the story.
Some examples of small love scenes
We think back to the moments that Ezio lived with Cristina in Assassin’s Creed. It is very likely that the scene of Brotherhood is one of the best known (we see you) of the franchise. Despite some flaws,It makes it possible to represent the idea that one can have of love but also of the sexual relationship. And we can even think of Princess Peach kissing Mario’s nose (yes yes) in Super Mario 64. These two examples are a form of representation of what love can be in video games. With imperfections and very clichéd things, the video game gradually builds informal rules of what love could be in video games. Fanny Lignon mentions the fact that “the game provides the settings, but how they are going to be used depends on the player”.
Obviously, it should be remembered that the video game always contains biases concerning many elements. We can obviously think about the place of the woman. Why would it be up to Peach to be saved and kiss Mario? Why doesn’t she shake his hand? The kiss can be seen as the accomplishment of a quest by the hero. But let’s not be fooled, it’s all about the clichés we grew up with.
Sex and sexism
Yes, it’s a frustrating subject. The video game is a deeply masculine medium conveying sexist ideas. Obviously not all the time, we have to make allowances, but to say otherwise would be completely off the mark.
Fanny Lignon explains that in video games, there are “models of the masculine and the feminine” which make it possible to establish “gendered identities, gender roles and gender stereotypes”. And this idea is already based on game designers. Men working on games are more often sent to games for boys, while women have to work on “girls” games. We sometimes even speak of “fake players” to qualify people playing games considered for girls.
In a May 2022 survey by Women In Games, creative studios have only 22% of women. An even more glaring statistic about this separation is that only 12% of women say they play shooting games. The reason ? Well, it is the socialization of the individual. If you grow up in a family environment that conveys certain values to you, it will be difficult to break away from this pattern of thought. For players, for example, “we assign a social sex and we develop in them the characteristics that are relevant to them” (Beaudoux and Zaiman).
The Problem With Many Video Games: “Weaponized Masculinity”
But the biggest problem with video games is that they have long relied on “militarized masculinity”that’s to say “a shared set of semiotic links woven between the themes of war, conquest and combat” as defined by Kline, Dyer-Witheford and Peuter. The over-armed and virile man has become a cliché today. But when we look at old Call of Duty installments, my goodness we come a long way. There is simply an absence of women in war games for a long time. As for fighting games, it’s something else again. The woman is excessively sexualized with very explicit outfits but which we could do without.
Today we know that 6% of characters in major video games are women. In 2020, 35% of women felt “well represented” in video games. That year, 18% of characters across all games were female, up from just 2% in 2016!
Sex scenes in video games: the example of The Last of Us
It is for this part that many have continued to read. Obviously, we will not talk about porn games whose sole purpose is sexual intercourse. The idea is that we will see how sex is integrated into the scenario of a video game. Indeed, it is impossible to incorporate a scene like this without real context.
The most famous scene of recent years is surely that of The Last of Us Part II between Abby and Owen. While one would expect people to be shocked by this kind of content, it didn’t necessarily make a big splash. In effect, the scene is brought in such a way that this scene fits into a logical unfolding of the story. The scene is only the “apotheosis” of their ambiguous relationship throughout the game.
What we can recognize from the screenwriters is that they knew how to reverse the clichés. It’s not the man who is the most muscular, but Abby. She is absolutely not sexualized. We would even tend to say that this vision of the relationship comes out of the idea of “male gaze”. It is a feminist concept according to which culture is constructed through a male gaze only. That’s why this scene is so special.
But Abby isn’t the only one with her own stage!
In the same game, Ellie also has the right to her intimate scene with Dina. In a much more implicit way, of course, but this scene is very present. We now show explicit sex scenes of a heterosexual couple, but also of a homosexual couple implicitly.
It would seem that the next step that one could think of is a promotion of all intimate relationships without the slightest fear of being attacked. As long as the scene is well incorporated into a script, there would be no harm in it being incorporated. However, it seems that even games like GTA are not yet ready to take the plunge completely despite the controversial games in previous games. And we could expand on this subject again and again. In the coming years, the taboo of sex can surely be lifted thanks to the work of video game studios !