It’s been a while since the first instalment of Overdoing It hit your lovely faces, so I thought it was just about time to fill up your spank banks thirsty minds. If you want to check out part one of the series, you can head over to Overdoing It: Sequelmania.
I think it’s safe to say that, despite the burgeoning number of females in the gaming market, there are still enough guys around to warrant a bit of sexy time in video games. Men thrive off sexually-driven material, let’s be honest, and when coupled with the interactive nature of games, it can get ridiculously easy for developers to pop out the odd tit or two in order to increase sales.
But when does eye candy turn into mere exploitation for profit? And can we even call unclothed pixels exploitation? Follow me as I attempt to unveil how some developers are skirting the line between good-humored entertainment and full-blown pornography.
Despite Nick Simberg’s NSFW article way back in October, I can’t really remember a time throughout the nineties when I encountered blatantly sexual events or overtones in a game. Sure, they were around, and perhaps it was just my parents nudging those types of games out of my reach, but sexual themes seem to be far more prevalent in today’s gaming – and society – than they were 15 years ago.
Picking up The Saboteur last year, I was amused to discover that there were two ways that you could play the game: censored or uncensored. The Midnight Club DLC allowed you to sneak a peek at some finely formed female specimens that were (probably) made by some sweaty geek in a Hooters t-shirt.
Since I’d rented the game, there was no unique code that allowed me to unlock this feature. I felt like investigating (yeah, let’s run with that: investigating) this little extra, so I went online in an attempt to pick up an unused or universal code. Without any luck, I simply checked out the DLC in the Xbox Marketplace, only to discover that it was free for the remainder of the day. Shazam!
Of course, free boobies aren’t the only things included in The Midnight Club, but you wouldn’t know that from EA’s marketing scheme. It’s funny how something so useless as a 10-second opening sequence of a topless, pixelated dancer can create such a huge forum of opinions online. And, let’s be sensible here, you can find plenty more of that stuff (and worse) in Google Images – and it won’t cost you 400 MS Points ($5).
For myself, all of this sexy time started way back in 2003. It was an innocent period in gaming for me, filled with a sprinkling of Sam Fisher and a hell of a lot of Master Chief. Then a little thing called Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball came along. All of a sudden the number of teenage boys wearing baggy pants skyrocketed, and everyone wanted a piece of the bouncy-bouncy action.
DOAX was the first game of my generation that basically said, “Fuck it. Let’s make money off horny boys.” Team Ninja made no apologies for what they had created, and some journalists even went so far as to praise the game for its ingenuity. IGN even slapped an Editor’s Choice Award on it, and served it up with a side dish of 9.2 – really IGN? Really?
Sure, there was more to the game than simply choosing the girl with the skimpiest bikini and watching replays of every serve, but, at its core, DOAX was a poor release. How they managed to turn batshit crazy gameplay into a boner-fest for junior high kids is beyond me, but it somehow worked – Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 is a testament to that.
While these types of games go to ridiculous lengths in order to make a buck, others acknowledge the attraction of sexuality in games while still retaining their self-respect. Bayonetta managed to create one of the most alluring characters in video game history without stooping to the level of companies like Team Ninja. An attractive and nerdy protagonist had no need for ludicrously revealing attire (heresy!), and she was able to manage sex appeal without degrading her character. Dumb blondes with big knockers are no match for bespectacled, leather-clad witches, in my books.
Don’t get me wrong, Sega used Bayonetta’s attractiveness to its full extent – who could forget that infamous “ass” screenshot from a few months back? What they didn’t do, however, was come up short on gameplay. When developers and publishers decide that sex is all their games need to sell, it’s a sad day for our medium that tries so hard to be recognized alongside film, music, and art.
Let’s not shy away from the power of attraction in gaming. On the contrary, let’s use it in an intelligent and enjoyable manner that chooses not to degrade. At some point over the past few years, a line became hazy; far too many developers have been blindly stumbling over it ever since.