Did you get chills as your character took Alistair’s virginity? Did you visit the various ‘fine establishments’ where Geralt could ‘relieve’ himself after a long journey for a nominal price? (in case your answer to this one was “no”, I’d recommend Whistling Wendy. She’s a feisty one.)
Sex is a part of life. It is an integral aspect of human nature, and therefore, it must be a part of games that aim to replicate realistic characters. Role-Playing games (RPGs) have adopted this feature with gusto in the past decade, and you’re likely to find multiple sex scenes in abundance in this particular genre.
RPGs are – literally – an attempt to allow players to be another person, complete with story-affecting choices, and, most pertinently, the choice of who to bang. Let’s discuss the various rationales that have lead to the ‘adult’ ESRB rating of our favourite games.
Given the lack of game-developing technology in the past, choice-based games have really only become mainstream in modern gaming. Masterpieces such as The Witcher and Dragon Age series leapt at the latest and greatest resources at their disposal to create games that allow for choices that can alter the entire game as a whole; an example would be The Witcher 2, in which CD Projeckt Red literally made two games in one, and the player would only experience one of those alternates depending on which faction they decided to side with at the end of Act 1. A second play-through would be required to experience the other alternative – quite the marketing strategy CDPR. Well played.
The inclusion of choice in games is not only desirable on the part of the player, it is a massive endeavour on the part of the developers, and developers such as CD Projeck Red should be applauded for creating such a vast game with an infinite number of outcomes for a myriad of choices.
Aside from choices which affect the world contained within the game, there are integral choices to make regarding romancing options. Bioware is famous for its tasteful and in-depth sub-plots involving the romances of your choice.
Why put romance in a game? It is for people like me, who play games with a quasi-dissociative need to live within a game with a fairy-tale romance to actively pursue. Romancing Alistair still puts a smile on my face. Cullen was sweet, and his romance scenes were adorable.
Romance in a game is, sometimes, the reason players play the game at all. Making the choice to romance a certain party-member or supporting character opens the game to various romance-themed sub-quests that, not only make the plot more engaging, but extend the game for players to enjoy even more of it.
Let’s start this section with the most notoriously sexually-explicit mainstream game in history: The Witcher. The first instalment had an achievement attached to the number of women you slept with: for every successful seduction, Geralt would receive an explicit card depicting his conquest. The obvious backlash from female gamers and advocates for feminism ensured that the sex cards would be trashed in future games.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings opens to this titillating scene:
Believe it or not, folks, this is just the beginning. There are many sex scenes you can initiate in the second instalment, not forgetting the memorable Elven Bathhouse scene with Triss:
Now, I despise Triss – that’s a post for another time – so when I felt Geralt needed some company, I frequented the various… establishments that would cater to his needs. Then again, there was no shortage of beddable NPC characters. Hell, I just about had to pry an elven girl off of me after I’d saved her life. FYI – even random NPC and prostitute sex scenes are very graphic.
Bioware is not quite as ambitious as CDPR when it comes to the perversion of their players. Then again, that is their charm. Their scenes are tasteful, and each sex scene is built up by a line of romance-quests, which make the player feel that the sexual encounter is meaningful and beautiful, as opposed to CDPR’s “screw who you can” attitude.
As I have said, sex is a natural part of life. If there is sex in movies, why can’t there be sex in games? True, who you decide to sleep with contributes to whether or not the game will be perceived as immoral, but both games presented above portray life in various ways.
The Inquisitor is in a position of power, with plenty of time on his/her hands, so establishing a romantic back-story makes sense. Then there’s Geralt, the wandering witcher. Let’s be honest, if you were on a horse all day for weeks at a time, you’d take what you could get. That is why Geralt’s conquests are not always meant to be meaningful – because sex in life in not always meaningful (drunken night out, perhaps?).
Back to Geralt for a moment – he is not some incorrigible man-whore unless you choose for him to be, hence the significance of choice when it comes to sex in gaming. My Geralt chose to be faithful to Yennefer, because she is his soulmate (read The Last Wish), and I just hate Triss so I wasn’t about to tap that if you paid me. The Witcher, too, has romance choice that form sub-plots to the game (in Wild Hunt, you can choose between Triss and Yennefer, or both – be warned, however, that you will be pwned should you choose this path).
Both CD Projekt Red and Bioware understand the value of romance, and the ability to choose the companion you feel, as a player, is the best fit for your character. The depth this feature allows gaming to delve into is infinite and essential to creating a realistic world, which, in essence, is the lynchpin of any role-playing game.