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Friday, April 15, 2011

Sex in Video Games

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I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about flirting with one of the female characters in Dragon Age II. Not that she wasn't attractive (for a pixilated character, I suppose)...it's just that I wasn't all that interested in watching my character have sex with her on my HDTV. There are two reasons for this:

Seeing two computer-generated human beings awkwardly rubbing each other with their clothes on doesn't do anything for me.

It's a video game.

But I did it anyway. Why? Because once we were done (the camera cut away before any nudity or sex), the female character, named Isabella, provided me with bonus to my attacks. That's important in a game that gets incredibly difficult. And while other characters will give you a bonus simply if you earn their trust, it appears the good ol' fashioned act of coitus is one of the best ways to guarantee that trust.

Which is why I seriously contemplated having sex with pretty much every other character in the game. The only downside is that video games have become so intricate, so detailed and so well-written, that it's entirely possible some of the other characters might get jealous—just like in real life, you can't send flowers to three different love interests without getting into some serious drama. But the options are there, for the most part (except the dwarf ... I never had the option to flirt with the dwarf).

This seems to be posing a problem for a number of people. Like this guy, who isn't all that happy about the homosexual romance options available in Dragon Age II. Read it, then page down and read the response from the writer of the game. The complainer worries extensively about male characters hitting on him, which came as a complete surprise to me given that I never experienced this problem while playing the game. But apparently, being able to screw two female characters just isn't enough for him, and the fact that the wizard in his group keeps "making passes" really begins to creep him out.

Meanwhile, a considerably large number of family-oriented organizations are publicly condemning sex in video games. The creators of Dragon Age weighed in some time ago, and it's worth checking out. Their argument: they're trying to create real relationships in their games, and real relationships sometimes lead to sex. Is that a bad thing? We're not talking about naked women bouncing around ... we're talking pixilated moments of "romance" that are supposed to add something positive to the story. That's it. Unless you're really struggling in the romance department, the stuff happening in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect aren't all that sexy. They're just available, if you choose to take that route, because sex is a part of just about every story to some degree.

And in this sense, I ultimately found myself thankful for choosing to take the "sex" route with one of the characters in Dragon Age II, because toward the end of the game it was clear that decision had a positive effect on the outcome of events. It's one of the reasons a well-written game can be so enjoyable: the person with the controller can ultimately choose where the story leads, and the more realistic you can make that experience, the better the game will be.