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More Letter Soup: MMOEG or Sex in Games or Sex Games!
There’s nothing like sex to get people talking. Even the ones who “hate” it like it. Everyone reading this, who likes it, raise your hand.
That pause was me raising mine. It made it hard to type.
This weekend, I spoke about Community Management at the IMGDC. I wasn’t speaking about managing “sexual” communities; though, if you want to get technical, we are all sexual animals. (I looked for the original citation on this – good luck!)
Kelly Rued, of Black Love Interactive, wants to make MMOEGs – Massively Multiplayer Online Erotic Games. Letter Soup. Sex games online. She’s very passionate about her subject, no pun intended. It’s an important subject. And while I don’t necessarily agree with the direction she’s taking to get there, I think she’s got the right idea.
I live in the United States. That is to say, I live in the country that promotes and protects violence and is afraid of human sexuality. That’s an oversimplification, but nonetheless true. It wasn’t the violence of Grand Theft Auto that had people upset (and it should have been), it was the Hot Coffee mod.
The TV show 24 occurs in 24 hours, one single hour per episode. In the 2006 season, agent Jack Bauer killed 37 people. We think nothing of this. We see a nipple (an interestingly adorned one) during a Super Bowl half time show and an attorney files a class action lawsuit against Jackson and Timberlake on behalf of "all American citizens who watched the outrageous conduct." Note to attorney: I don’t need the money that badly.
I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world, but we’re an odd lot. What was I talking about? Oh, sex games. No, sex in games. Something like that…
For me the question is, can a massive online sex/erotic/call-it-whatever-makes-you-feel-less-squirmy game exist? And when I say massive I mean of the greater than five thousand player threshold, multiple sexual-fantasy world. Would the purpose of such a game be served at greater populations? First, I think we’d need to look at the purpose.
Fantasy. Really, that’s what we’re talking about here. The ability to play out our fantasies, virtually. Human beings have done so since the dawn of time in all mediums (including cave paintings but let’s start with books). Erotic books, movies, phone sex…these are not new concepts nor do they tend to shock. If anything, they’ve become banal.
Remember America Online when it still cost $2.95 per hour? Ok…there was a time when AOL was a way a lot of us accessed the internet and chat rooms proliferated and IMs were done inside the client. I know this shocks many of you.
I spent $1600 one month “cybering”. It was cool. Until the bill came. (Yes, I cancelled my account until they went to a flat fee)
In my first MMOG, Asheron’s Call there were limited emotes and character animations, but we had two that worked enormously well. One was called “winded” – you bent over out of breath and panted. The other was called “whoa” – you put your hands out in front of you to stop someone. You get the idea.
Today, someone sent me this link: Guild vs. Guild [NOTE: Mature themes/language!]
It was a truth acknowledged by more than fifty game developers at the conference that players will find a way to “have sex” in game. You don’t need to give them the tools. We are all sexual animals. Building the tools, that’s another thing entirely.
I’m trying to imagine a large publisher taking on a large scale erotic MMOG. To make it triple-A quality you’d have to give it stunning art. You’d have to include every conceivable animation that a person would want to do in their fantasy. And you’d have to include every single conceivable fantasy. Or at least an enormous breadth of them – one person’s deviancy is another’s passion.
Then, how exactly would you market this to Middle America? Magazines? Cable TV? The risk is simply too high.
This leads us back to the Indies and the conference I was attending.
For an independent developer it’s a matter of scale. Limited budget, limited time, limited manpower, limited technology – limitation is the word of the day. But, if we take a look at the genre we’re positing this actually works in their favor.
If you want to experience an S&M world do you want it mixed with a world of fairies and elves? Do you want a sensual world or sexual? Do you want heterosexual only or allow for homosexual sex as well?
Each genre requires a significant volume of art, not to mention animation. And this is without something we’ve yet to even discuss – the game. Games have “win” conditions – in this case, to score. *grins*
What exactly is the game around the sex? The sex is the goal, the win condition. This is not a simple design, even in an optimal setting. Even, with sufficient funding, a large team and a willing society, building an MMOEG would be difficult.
I suspect the reason this session was at the IMGDC and not the GDC is if we are to ever see these games come to light it will be with the independent developer. It’s risky. But risk has value, inherent value. And in a society that values violence over sex…I think it’s worth taking.
Massively Multiplayer Online Virtual Sex Games
Why using a camouflage term like "erotic",
the best way is to describe what these games really do:
> Support Virtual Sex!
The MMOVSG umbrella term summarizes games
across MMOG subtypes that support virtual sexual intercourse.
- Sociolotron (MMORPG, MMO role-playing game)
- Second Life (MMOSG, MMO social game)
I can also imagine of a MMOFPS (MMO first-person shooter)
where the reward for clearing an area is some hot action =)
(Sex Station 7 is stepping into this terrain for example,
but as single player variant)
OK, some of these games will give primacy to sex
but I think the most will not have a "game around the sex",
rather a "game supporting sex"
including story line and “win” conditions etc.
Therefore the umbrella term MMOVSG gives a adequate classification...
This is such a small nice market so far that establishing a proper name probably isn't that important.
In the end they are all part of the MMO family (which is short for MMORPG). At The Virtual Sex Review we call them "Adult MMORPG" which is clearly a more "adult" version of a typical MMORPG.
The best example for such a game is Red Light Center... although there are many others.
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