Video Game Companies Changing Perception of Porn

Mar 1, 2011 2:00 PM PST
CYBERSPACE — Virtual porn developers are breaking down the barriers between sex and video gaming and giving players a new perspective on sexuality.

Companies including Bonetown, Thrixxx and Utherverse, according to a report on gaming site IGN, are helping sex find its way into games without the help from big publishers or studios and at the same time are creating new ways for players to fulfill fantasies.

Although role-playing developer Bonetown is not new to the adult community, having made deals with Red Light Center for its Utherverse action-adventure platform and incorporating live action via Sugar DVD’s content, IGN heralded the company as developers that “are challenging taboo and social convention.”

But Bonetown’s brazen push also included a unique business strategy. The report pointed out that while most developers take the accepted path of conceiving, prototyping and pitching projects to larger publishers, Bonetown — and most of those interested in making porn — are left entirely on their own for financing and distribution.

“Porn games are doomed to receive Adults Only ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which automatically bars them from ever appearing on home consoles or handhelds. Likewise digital distribution services like Steam, Direct2Drive, and Apple's App Store will not distribute games they deem to be inappropriate or offensive. Retailers like Amazon and Walmart won't stock their games either," the report said.

Bonetown’s creator, Maximus Baptist [a nom de guerre] told IGN that part of his company’s plan was to use comedy as a value-added method of making its product more acceptable. “We wanted people to play it and laugh at it and not just sit there alone and jerk off,” he said.

Baptist added. "We started in July '05 in the garage of one of my partners. We put together a demo and then got a private investor. We've all been gamers our whole lives and we've all liked porn since junior high. No one's ever tried to put the two together since Leisure Suit Larry or Custer's Revenge, and no one had really succeeded at it. So we wanted to be the first interactive game that has porno in it."

Thrixxx on the other hand aims to arouse.

The Austrian company produces interactive sex simulators based on themes or audience, including gay, lesbian, hentai and go-go dancing. Late last year the company unveiled its XBox Kinect game controller under a storm of interest and controversy.

Thrixxx’s Brad Abrams said his player community has generated more than 70,000 items that include everything from movies to poses or models.

Instead of creating life-like avatars that Abrams said sometimes turns players off (termed the “uncanny valley” between animation and realism), Thrixxx opts for creating sensuous poses and allowing players more control over their fantasies.

“Our big thing is not so much visual realism, it's more about getting people to buy into the control experience and be able to control every aspect of the fantasy. If you can't get that control from the game, we've allowed you to modify it with the tools in the game to create what your fantasy is," Abrams said.

The report also said that more women are beginning to embrace the products as porn gaming becomes focused less on the old in-and-out and more on imaginative and impressionistic sex.

Virtual sex site Utherverse has evolved from a 3D Amsterdam Red Light District into a more detailed and interactive user community with a demographic skewed to the female side. The company reported that women make up more than half of the active returning users by virtue of creating a space that allows them to express their sexuality and romance in a non-threatening environment.

Utherverse’s Brian Schuster told IGN, "The adult entertainment industry is taking a very healthy turn at this point. It's going from being a visual appeal to the prurient interests of men to being an interactive medium that's much more akin to real world encounters. It's not just about five minutes of watching a video and being done."

The report also pointed out that games like Heavy Rain, Grand Theft Auto IV and God of War 3 have all moved closer to making fully interactive sex scenes that seem so taboo in other settings.

The interaction with sex in video games is changing the culture and how porn is being perceived, according to the report, by making it less of a taboo commodity and more of a healthy pursuit of sexuality.

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