First Conference on Sex in Video Games Titillates Fans and Developers

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By David Silverberg, Digital Journal.com

Virtually Jenna is an adult-themed 3D sex game starring Jenna Jameson, one of the world’s premier porn stars. – Image courtesy of www.virtuallyjenna.com

Digital Journal — Brenda Brathwaite wonders when a sex scene in a video game will ever become mainstream. She wants “other players to turn other players on” in the burgeoning business of sexy online games.

Brathwaite’s call for pixel-on-pixel action comes at a timely moment: She is chairperson of the Sex in Video Games Conference, recently held in San Francisco. The first of its kind, the two-day symposium explored issues surrounding digital erotic entertainment, including the psychology behind foreplay in online worlds and the future of sex in cellphone games.

Mature themes don’t just appeal to fans of Grand Theft Auto, Brathwaite explained in her keynote address. Adult audiences enjoy sexual content in other mainstream games, such as The Sims, Playboy: The Mansion and The Guy Game. “Emergent sex” became a buzz word at the conference, referring to lustful acts that appear in seemingly non-sexual games such as World of Warcraft.

The growing trend to blend porn with video games worried some attendees at the conference from a publicity perspective. Won’t distributors turn their backs on sexually explicit games? The former marketer of a popular “adults only” game allayed those fears: “The fact that my company made Leisure Suit Larry didn’t scare away our mainstream customers like Disney,” said Gabe Zichermann, according to Wired News.

Disney and others are not blind to what sex can do to a video game. It can push the games behind the curtain, making them more enviable to salacious players. In addition, game developers realize the Internet’s biggest cash cow is pornography — in their view, merging the widespread appeal of games with naked women is merely smart business.

Multiplayer sex games are in the works now, Brathwaite told ABC News, because broadband use makes graphically rich online environments and characters possible. As well, the mainstream acceptance of online dating is demystifying the taboo of sex in video games.

Just look at some of the games showcased in the San Francisco conference: Virtually Jenna allows users to do anything to an avatar of porn star Jenna Jameson; a Japanese anime game called Xchange features a boy transformed into a girl who indulges in exotic adventures while trying to turn back into a boy; and in Second Life, a virtual role-playing game with no set rules, an estimated 30 per cent of in-world commerce is related to sexual activity.

The conference also introduced a wild concept for mobile erotica gamers: a cellphone sex game developed by Goma Systems features tiny Sims-like characters engaging in as many sexual positions as possible. Hetero and homosexual versions will be created, a move that can open more doors for the fledgling company.

Sexual content in games isn’t the realm of fringe developers any more, or even the sole territory of risqué giants like Rockstar Games. Countering the conservative censors who bugged out with a Janet Jackson nipple slip, sexy video games are moving from the red-light district to the wide open space of the average electronics store.

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