This past week the internet has been ablaze with discussions
surrounding the removal of erotic video game, Seduce Me
, from Steam Greenlight. You can read “Sex Game Pulled From Steam Greenlight. You Can Guess Why”
, on Kotaku to
understand the whole shebang.
asked on the official website if the images will be censored in the final
version of Seduce Me: No. There will be
no censorship in the final game. Developer
The argument for:
Allowing erotic games on a public distribution platform
The argument against:
- Video games with violent content are allowed,
erotic games should therefore by default also be allowed.
- The average age of gamers is 30 years and
explicit content shouldn't matter.
- Mainstream games like Mass Effect 3 and The
Witcher already have some form of eroticism in it, therefore games with
eroticism as its main theme should be allowed.
- People view sex as scandalous and or wrong and
this taints their judgement of accepting erotic content.
- Gamers should have the power of choice over what
video games they want to play; it should not be the decision of a distributor
Allowing erotic games on a public distribution platform
- The platform owners have the right to decide
which type of games they want to release.
- Most erotic flavoured games are of bad taste and
lack any meaningful gameplay, skill or story.
- Erotic games should feature on an exclusive
platform catering for people who has a taste for it.
I want to include someone in the conversation for whom I
have tremendous respect. Tauriq Moosa
is a gamer, a critical thinking guru and he writes for “Against the New Taboo”
on Big Think
Since controversy is his daily bread, I asked him to jump in as a soundboard
for this delicate subject. His opinion varies greatly from mine, but I believe we should always be open to receive input from different points of view.
Should erotic video
games be allowed on a public distribution platform as Steam Greenlight?
answer should be nuanced, so I'll highlight some obvious points first.
Like most things involving sex (between or
involving consenting adults), I don't see reason for authorities to oppose it.
Sex should be viewed as no more immoral than, say, cooking food (you can pay
for it, do it yourself, woo someone into doing it; and there are bad and
immoral ways to acquire it, etc.) This is compounded here by the fact that
we're not even dealing with physical humans but digital pixels grinding.
The average age of gamers and that there already exists gratuity - in terms of
violence and swearing – give the lie to the awful argument of "protect the
children". Furthermore, and more importantly, "banning" or
"opposing" undermines our ability to make choices as adults. Why can
you choose not to buy or
engage with a game, a book, a film? Are we that incapable?
"Protecting" children shouldn't equal imposing on adults.
However, what I've outlined is mostly a
focus for an already existing platform for sexy products. This argument really
only make sense for consumers, not the platform. The point here isn't whether
we should ban it but whether a business is allowed to prevent such products completely.
In this instance, there are few reasons to think they've done anything
"wrong": yes, they may be prudish, be giving into Puritanical views
on sex, etc. But it's entirely in their interest to cater to their customers,
should they have access to data we do not. We could amass a boycott – ala Mass
Effect 3 ending – but judging from comments and knowing how most people view
sex, I don’t think Steam will lose out should some liberal boycott occur.
Do I think Steam should allow sex games:
yes, definitely. They will show they respect us as adults to make choices for
ourselves. Do I think they're wrong not to allow it: Yes and no: yes, since
there's no good reason ethically to oppose sex and games, but no, if their data
indicates that selling sex games would
drive down their sales. The point of a business, my business ethics prof
once said, isn't to make sales: it's to survive. To demand a business commit
suicide for the sake of my views on morality is itself an immoral consideration
- especially for a business that is beloved and brings joy to others. I,
however, don't think Steam would lose significantly if they did allow erotic games – despite
their pearl-clutching, face–fanning reactions.” Tauriq Moosa
We accept violence in video games, why not
erotic video games?
(These are my own
personal laymen’s opinions and not scientific facts. My arguments are from a
consumer’s point of view only.)
I want to argue
that the way the human psyche reacts to violent content differs widely to that
of erotic content. Before we therefore hastily shout our approval of erotic
video games, we need to look at the broader significance and impact this would
have on the video games industry. Whereas violence only triggers a fight
or flight reaction, eroticism triggers four different responses in the mind. It
sets of a chain reaction on a cognitive, an emotional, a motivational, and a
physiological level. What this inherently means is that when we see erotic
content our minds and bodies instinctively respond to it. We are set on a
course of either satisfaction or rejection of it. Within the context of a video
game, sexual imagery’s lingering effect and consequent behaviour has a much
greater impact on the mind than a violent scene would have.
- Me shooting a zombies head off – forgotten
- Me doing the deed - only forgotten after hubby
gets home ;)
Just me? Before you
judge me, please remember we are not talking about a game that has sexual
related content in it (The Witcher or Mass Effect 3
); we are talking about a game
in which the gameplay, storyline, visual effects, every single aspect of it, is
focused on erotic content. Not to mention that there will be no censored images
in the final version of this game.
On a more serious
note, let me just point to the effect pornographic material has on people. I
could just ask the question, “How many people, (happily married or single)
dabble around in porn, hmmm? Do we honestly want to open this door, stamp our
approval on it and release it as a mainstream option to play? Would you
honestly want your partner to play a game such as Seduce Me? How would games that further exploit the female body and
our roles within relationships influence player’s perceptions of the fairer
sex? Then there’s the whole issue of devaluing sex, its importance within
relationships and its addictive properties. How many people would get addicted
to a violent video game and how many would get addicted to an erotic game?
Always within context
What would be the
purpose of such a game? I am still struggling to understand the intent of Seduce Me. Is it to teach
a player how to seduce a woman? Is it for some eye candy? Maybe so you can see
some girl on girl action? Surely there are better options to explore these for
even the most socially inapt person? From watching the demo I can only deduct
that the purpose of the game is to have an interactive soft porn experience, as
opposed to just watching an explicit story. The official website describes the
strategy of Seduce Me as, “Do you have what it takes to seduce your way
into the hearts and bedrooms of Seduce Me's gorgeous women.”
Let me just add
that I don’t have a problem with sexual content in video games per se. I’ve
played the Hentai game, Katawa Shoujo, I do not remember it for its explicit
sexual content, but for its story and characters. Sex was part of the story it wasn't THE story. It added meaning and depth to the unfolding drama. I have a
problem with releasing a video game on a public platform which has sex as its central
theme, just as I would have a problem with the release of a game that would
have violence as its central theme. I also don’t think that games with erotic
content should by default be given the banhammer, but that each game should be
assessed based on its own merit.
I want to argue
that violence in video games mostly serve a purpose within the content of the
story. I am a first-person shooter fangirl, I’ve been playing the genre for
years, and I've yet to play a game where violence is THE theme. When violence
is used the game presents a challenge in terms of hand eye coordination,
strategic deployment, player skill and it’s mostly connected to a purpose in
If a game would
feature violence as its only theme, then I would hope gamers will also rally to
have it shut down. In the recent case of the Lara Croft “rape and inappropriate violence”, gamers were quick to express their displeasure.
The odd notion that sex is dirty
It seems that most
people who objected to Valves decision to remove Seduce Me from Greenlight based their judgement on the assumption
that humanity (in particular Americans) has a warped view of sex. That it is seen as ‘dirty and sin”. I want to
counter that assumption with this question, “Do you think by distributing
erotic video games this disposition towards sex would be addressed or
amplified?” What would be the side effects of allowing erotic video games in
society? If we already mostly have a warped view, will these video games warp
it further or give us a better perspective on sexuality?
An inconvenient truth
If we are all
bluntly honest, we will have to agree that:
upsets us; we instinctively reject and condemn it, we are repulsed by it.
we are drawn to erotic content, we want to explore it and push its shady
boundaries as far as we are allowed to.
Maybe I'm just a
weakling and overly cautious, but honey, please don’t open Pandora’s door of
temptations for me. Once erotic content has a foot in the public distribution
door, who can predict where it will end. I for one am grateful that this
decision is a bit removed from us. We all want to declare how liberal and open
minded we are, but I am not ashamed to admit how fickle my human nature can be
and how I sometimes welcome external governance. There are more
important things to consider in the matter of erotic video games than just my
right of choice.
I thank the lords
of Valve for finding Seduce Me too
hot for Steam, for now.
Check out the
gameplay video for Seduce Me.
Remember that the developers clearly stated on the official website that the
final version of the game will have no censorship as we see in the demo
version. Do you think it deserves a
place alongside the other titles in your collection of video games?
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