GameSetWatch - Getting to the Action
Getting to the Action is a piece at GameSetWatch on sex in video games. As you'd expect, Mass Effect enters the picture, although author Leigh Alexander has an interesting perspective:
Mass Effect wasn't the first major game to have sex in it and most of the others are rpgs. The first major game (that I can think of) was Ultima 7 and even if you think it doesn't count because of graphics there was Gothic 2 which had a video when you had sex with a prostitute.
Why is there a debate anyways since (i don't think) there was nothing actually shown in these games and PG-13 movies can be worse in this aspect.
I don't know that it's so much a debate as simply rubbing some people the wrong way, this "sex in games" thing. Violence is fine, it seems, but sex… sex is bad and a corrupting influence on our youth. Is not about the game so much as the sex.
Whatever one's position on the matter, though, I can't really say I'm surprised by the author's position. Granted, I haven't played ME, but if past Bioware games are any indication, there's a tendency to treat things like stories and romances in a very yes/no fashion. I wouldn't even call it much of a game per sé, since the rules of those games are so simplistic that I don't get much feeling of true interaction at all. You can terminate a romance at any time with a boorish answer… or you can keep clicking the right answer and end up in the sack or with some other happy conclusion; there's no puzzle involved, just a flat out Right answer and a flat out Wrong answer. Same deal with the stories at large: you'll probably have to make a choice at one point — Seer or Valsharess? Shadow Thieves or Bodhi? — but from then on the story unfolds all on its own again. Instead of any sort of real interaction with the plot line it's more a case of the story "reducing itself to, 'Keep talking to me [killing monsters in whatever areas you can find] and someday we’ll have that sex scene [victory party/ending credits roll call] you saw on YouTube.'" It's just something that ends up happening if you keep playing long enough; not much "game" involved in the story itself.
It sounds to me like the ME sex scene is sort of running parallel to the story for this author, in much the same way that the overall story in a Bioware game seems to run parallel to the game play (ie. killing stuff). Don't get me wrong, I think Bio's stories are top notch, it's just that they're a little bit… distant, at times. Disjointed from the game play. You've got the game parts of the product — the times when you're figuring out those little puzzles they throw in (levers and screens and colourful glowing columns) and killing things and really interacting — and you've got the story parts of the product — the plot points and the character exposition, all taking place through dialogue, where you're sitting back and watching, or being told that This Is the Way It Is.
To the author, it sounds like The Sex Scene should have been perceived as a story element, rather than a game play one. The plot line (IMO) should be perceived as an integral part of the game play. IMO, Bio's not quite there yet. The stories are good, the characters are good, but sometimes I get the feeling that both have been so stripped down or "Streamlined" that they really do come off as being more Achievements than stories or characters. "ok, we're back on the ship, time for my Love Interest to strike up another unexpected and completely random conversation…" The Verisimilitude of the Story itself has been compromised, in other words, by the bare-bones presentation of it. Now, that's fine if you're giving your players a game, something to play for a while and then discard, but to truly tap into the emotional potential of storytelling, reducing the story to a series of plot points scattered among the bodies isn't a good way to go. Seems like that's similar to what the author experienced.
Am I making any sense here?
Didn't think so.
I thought the article was a fairly interesting read despite my penchant for confusion whenever anyone starts talking about constructs or suggests how games can be torch-bearers laying the foundation for passing the archetype baton.
What? I read something about alien lesbo sex. Maybe I need to compare story-elements in parallel with game-elements. And versimilitude.
This may require another beer. And maybe some Cheetos. Yeah, definitely Cheetos.
"Have you played Mass Effect ?"
"The sex game ?"
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