When it comes to portrayals of sex – and I mean the act itself rather than the physiology – video games have historically ranged from “embarrassing” to “incredibly embarrassing.” It’s a stereotype that has not been unearned. But there have been a few games in recent years that have refreshingly bucked the trend, with depictions of sex that are at least borderline tasteful.
Why do games get a bad rap for sex, though? Generally, sex is a topic that’s scrupulously avoided, while like most of American media, video games embrace violence with, one might say, something like passion. Leisure Suit Larry was one of the first mainstream “sexy” games, but that read more like a PG-13 Benny Hill routine in terms of content. Did Larry ever even mange to get laid in those games? (I honestly have no idea, I didn’t have many chances to play it when I would have been most keenly interested in it – say, at age 13).
Fast forward a bit to the launch of the first Xbox, in 2001. The fighting game Dead or Alive 3 was a launch title for the console. Here’s the TV spot.
Yes, here’s where we get into embarrassing territory. Ten years later, Duke Nukem Forever boldly pegged the needle at “horrifyingly embarrassing” with this (somewhat NSFW) scene, which is meant to be funny but, like the rest of the game, isn’t at all:
Get it? The joke is that… the joke is that I feel like I need to take a shower.
The good news is that some modern, triple-A budget games are actually taking a more, well, adult approach to sex. Here are a few examples.