Games, Sex, and Violence

The doggie style that broke the game industry’s back

Easter eggs in games and software are fun. The supposed first one was in the Atari game Adventure where if you do certain things, you would see the name of one of the game designers. A version of Excel had a built in flight simulator. There’s a neat one in Macromedia Central where you can see Strong Bad and Homestar in a cartoon.

And then there are mods. Mods, short for modification, are a trend in newer video games where users can add content to an existing game. It could be as simple as a new weapon or tweaked environment all the way to a completely new game that runs on the underlying game engine. The most famous one by far is Counterstrike, a mod for the game Half-Life which pits terrorists against counter-terrorists in first-person realistic gun, grenade, and bomb combat. Counterstrike now has hundreds of thousands of players around the world.

And then there was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. For those of you who don’t keep up with the video game industry, the Grand Theft Auto series is perhaps the most violent ever created. The objective is to beat up and kill people, steal cars, and have sex among other socially unacceptable point-ratcheting objectives. If there ever was a reason to be angry at video game violence, these games certainly provide good material.

The latest revelation was no big surprise to me — a minigame where you control the sex with hookers was released on the ‘net. It’s still unclear whether it’s a mod (user created) or a well hidden easter egg (made by Rockstar, the game developers), though the “mod” creator claims it was already part of the game and he simply unlocked it.

I’m not going to comment on whether or not video game violence is affecting kids because I don’t think you can separate out violent games from, say, violent TV shows and movies, music portraying violent acts, sibling rivalry, overhearing mom and dad having sex, or Jerry Falwell. Even if you made these games for ages 18 and up, younger kids would find a way to get them. Maybe violent games are a just a zeitgeist…

But it was on ABC World News Tonight this evening where I think something snapped in me. David Walsh, who works at the National Institute on Media and the Family, was interviewed about the GTA:SA sex minigame. Here’s the quote from the news report:

“Dr. Walsh says it would be perhaps more disturbing if it was outside programmers who produced this sexual content. He says that would mean any game could be changed so the game your children buy isn’t necessarily the one they’re playing.”

Oh my fucking god…. People can change a game into a different game? Hooooly shit. Before you know it, they’re gonna take a game with violence and no sex then add sex to it, which means that they’ll have to know what sex is like to make it, which means they’re either having sex, will have sex, or watch porn. Or they’re going to make a violent game even more violent. Or they’ll take a sex game and add guns to it. Or they’ll take a happy cheery game and turn it into a bloody, gory, gun toting one. Or they’ll throw Barney into a super violent game (try your favorite search engine for Barneystein 3D).

So what’s the complaining about? Does the sex game suddenly push the ultra-violent game from acceptable to unacceptable for kids? Yes, this is yet another bullshit witch hunt. Let’s find a way to blame the video game makers and the people who made the mods, because any good parents would never buy this game for their kids, right? Whatever… If they want the game, these kids will find a way to get it.

Who cares about the sex in the game. Maybe the interactive sex thing will make these kids better in the sack, which will benefit them as they get older. Hell, maybe Rockstar should take the cue and make a totally interactive sex video game, complete with foreplay, oral, anal, toys, handcuffs, midgets, STDs, and a glass eye. You can combo from cunnilingus to 69 for extra points.

But the big mystery, which I don’t think anyone can solve, is what took them so long to catch this. This “mod” was released over a month ago (June 15 is the date I found), and the game itself was released in October 2004, so why has it taken so long to get this attention? GTA:SA is just the unfortunate target of some groups’ political agenda, and I imagine it took them a little while to figure out the best way to spin this story to maximum effect. But don’t worry — I don’t think anything is going to change because of this. As long as copies of the game are flying off the shelves, I’m sure the industry will keep churning out violent games, appeasing both video game fans and video game company execs alike.

2 Replies to “Games, Sex, and Violence”

  1. I like your arguments a great deal. I’m writing a research paper on violence and sexuality in mods and currently trying to find resources. Right now, I have a good bit of references for sexuality in game mods but none on violence. Do you know of any mods that alter the violence in games (either increase or decrease the amount)?

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