Spot On: Sex, schmoozing, and video games

News.com surveys the AO-rated scene at the first-ever Sex in Video Games conference in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO--If you were looking for the movers and shakers in the world of adult-oriented video games Thursday, most of them could be found here. That's because about 150 of them--publishers, developers, programmers, writers, and marketers--had gathered for the first-ever Sex in Video Games conference. The two-day affair kicked off Thursday with a series of panels, but the real work going on was networking and cementing the notion that the nascent industry can support its own conference.

To be sure, there's been sex in video games almost as long as there have been video games. That was one of the major points made during Thursday's morning keynote address by Brenda Brathwaite, chair of the International Game Developers Association's sex special-interest group and a conference organizer.

Throughout Brathwaite's talk, in which she briefly discussed the history of sex in video games and then gave a comprehensive review of the previous year, the longtime game designer talked about the benefits of gathering a group of sex-positive people who agree that video games are a natural medium for sex-oriented material, and one that should be treated no differently from movies, books, comic books, or any other medium in which adults choose to examine sex.

But because the conference is an opportunity for many in the industry to learn how to market their games in the post-"Hot Coffee" era--meaning after the 2005 scandal in which the popular game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was discovered to contain hidden sexual content, despite its being rated for ages 17 and up rather than for adults only--many on hand were interested in talking about what it will take to get the growing number of adult-oriented games off the ground.

The US Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday it had reached a settlement with Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two after a months-long investigation into the Hot Coffee scandal. Under the terms of the settlement, Take-Two agreed to properly label its games in the future and not to hide age-inappropriate content.

"Our purpose (in being at the conference) is we think there needs to be a concerted effort by a lot of people in this industry to be a success," said Brad Abram, president of XStream3D, publisher of Virtually Jenna, the game based on the life of porn star Jenna Jameson. The conference is "more about the networking (than about the content) and putting faces to names. There are still old-school ways of doing business that are appropriate for any industry."

Anthony Valterra, director of business development for Lamplighter Studios, which creates 3D assets for video games, agreed. He was at the conference to try to nail down deals with publishers and on Thursday seemed to be succeeding.

"Even though right now a lot of the companies here are underfunded and underexperienced," Valterra said, "some of them have funding, and we'd love to work for them."

He explained that he'd gotten at least two publishers on hand interested in his company's offerings.

Meanwhile, to Brathwaite, putting on the conference after nearly a year as head of the IGDA's sex special-interest group was an exercise both in bringing the people together who are crucial to getting more mainstream acceptance for the industry and in indulging her own curiosity.

"Every single panel is there because I wanted an answer" to a question, Brathwaite said in her morning talk.

Later, she told CNET News.com that she had worked hard to ensure that the mix of conference attendees would stimulate progress for the industry.

"Everybody that I invited are here, all the representative groups," Brathwaite said. "Developers, publishers, players, First Amendment lawyers, designers, programmers, and artists. I deliberately did not invite a panel of politicians."

And that was probably smart, given that many politicians have attacked the video games industry for making it too easy for children to encounter sexual material in spite of the industry's rating system, which decrees what age groups video games are appropriate for.

All the games talked about at the conference Thursday were for adults only.

Some attendees felt that the adult-video games industry is on the verge of significant growth, as long as its major players pay attention to what its potential customers want.

"I believe that for the multiplayer [adult-oriented] games to develop to their full potential, the publishers should be aware of [the experiences of the mainstream] of Internet users who have had cybersex or who are interested in sexual interaction," said Regina Lynn, an author and columnist who writes about sex, and in particular, online sex. "So you'll have to reach out to that audience and know what their [desires are], because they might be resistant at first, and you want their minds and their bodies to open up."

But Lynn, who is not a gamer by trade, nonetheless was encouraged by what she saw at the conference Thursday, especially when it came to serious discussion of how to make adult-oriented video games a reality.

"I'm really glad the dialogue has started," she said. "I believe this conference, in particular, has convened a diverse group of people who can learn from each other, and it legitimizes the interest and development and the fact that these [games] aren't just tossed out there. They're thought out and developed."

In any case, during a day in which attendees listened to panels on topics as varied as "Selling adult games," "Integrating the adult and game markets," and "What emergent sex can teach developers," it was notable that many here wanted to talk about what the industry has to learn in order to grow.

And that is the kind of levelheaded thinking that may well result in the kind of growth those in the industry would like to see.

"First we have to start educating the adult (public) that it's going to take time if we don't have the money," Abram told the audience. "So we have to grow organically. There's a lot of cross-pollination to be had."

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Discussion

129 comments
Lilgunney612
Lilgunney612

so... helping a gang kill/steal/shoot its way to control over a city is okay for 17 year olds... but a natural thing like sex isnt?

hooperfax006
hooperfax006

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

hooperfax006
hooperfax006

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

shailesh_das
shailesh_das

It would be nice to see the A rated Games Coming from the West as we have illusion, Japan Hentai games which makes the top notch Adult games.

kave-man007
kave-man007

there will still be stores that dont check the age

BattleOfficer
BattleOfficer

First the person who sell games dont check the age. Because last day, I saw nine years old buying F.E.A.R. , who is rated M for 17+ So Rating dont do anything until the game shop start checking.

blazse
blazse

i think that they should put sex in gta 4

RitzterGSC
RitzterGSC

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

snaeji10
snaeji10

hello GOW had a sex game it was rated T+ in iceland. these guys who rate these games are sick by letting kids play these games who have p0rn0graphic images!

BLITZ_BALL_KING
BLITZ_BALL_KING

if theres a problem with san andreas why dont they ban it. Cause if there not then just forget about it, and why dont the people who work at places lke Gamestop, EB games etc. do their job?

ilLD
ilLD

If a game is rated properly, there shouldn't be a problem.GTA is choc full of explicit content and kids shouldn't be playing it.So the game industry doesn't need to go out and educate people about these (adult content)games ,just keep labeling the packaging as such.Consumers should be the ones who pay attention to what they purchase.

thejumpinChevy
thejumpinChevy

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Jeff4ever
Jeff4ever

Damn they act like we dont know what sex is~!!!!

Gleba2388
Gleba2388

That will not hurt Take-Two? Of course it will, that's a lot of money... if Take-Two got that bunch of paper left, send it to me!

celebnaur
celebnaur

this shouldn't make the games we see now change.... It would be fine if it doesn't affect the way games that are popular and good. If it just like how it's fix into some movies yeah sure, that stuff is fine. If its suggestive, well that pretty normal in video games. When we see what under when both the shirts come off, that should be another genre.... then when it get pornographic enough where its about the sex in the game instead of the story, characters, gameplay, plot, etc. and just another porno and, it becomes something else all together.... its another level or even a different "platform" of game. But, So, long as people know that there is a difference, and understand what sort of reaction those scenes brings its viewers... its fine.

mikological
mikological

More Sexual Content Please! I say, New rating for games, which would make AO games look childish. NBS=Nothing But Sex

kmwamala
kmwamala

lIKE the industry wasn't climbing up to this

Goombaloo
Goombaloo

If you don't like it, don't buy it, simple as that...It's all $ and that's it, if it sells, there will be someone to make it...I'm surprised it's taken this long for it to happen. I don't necessarily like porn shops being around either, so I won't go live next to one...these are still people's bread & butter whether you choose to like it or not....Yes, it's sad that the world isn't more 'enlightened' as many of us would like it to be, but making laws against everything certainly isn't the way to go about bringing about a better world...Just teach your kids what's up, that's all you can do...

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

I think the world needs to accept the reality that videogames are the most viable option for vicarious experiences. You can jack a car, gun down a crowd, strangle someone with fibre wire- or on the contrary, save the entire planet, win the superbowl, build a civilization or nurture a virtual puppy. Sex is just another one of the more forbidden aspects of human life- the kind of aspect that should have its place in videogames. I'm not saying full blown sex games on xbox live or anything like that- but i think a guy like David Jaffe should be able to put a few boobs in God of War if he wants to. That pushes the artistic boundary and makes it more clear that God of War was never intended for children. I work at best buy and often find mothers complaining that they can't get their kids to stop asking for M rated games- to those mothers i say this- if you buy your child an M rated game, play it with them a few times- resist the urge to get angry and tell them they shouldnt play that kind of trash (that'll just make them want to play it more). instead, explain to them the CONTEXT of what is going on. And if you don't feel like explaining to them why the DOA girls are just stretching around the pool and not playing volleyball, then you probably shouldn't have bought them a game with 3 bikini clad women on the cover.

Hellisunreal
Hellisunreal

I predict in the future there will be niche group of porn games; there will also be world peace ;)

DarkShadow1425
DarkShadow1425

.....and now, our president will announce the cheat to make lara croft strip. (applauses). hmm yes i think thats it...oh...oooo...well guys the conferance is over you can all go away, we'll be hanging around here...

1Dante1
1Dante1

Videogames and porn Should "NOT" mix. Think of it as Polution, Nobody thought it was bad back in the day but look at things now?

chickmagnet_1
chickmagnet_1

I'm still waiting for virtual reality to become a reality. And how about combining the sinulator with a love making emulator, so that people can just plug and play, and not have to pay money to some woman in a sinulator chat. They could even make it similar to how they made the guy game, and use real actresses. With a good AI, and pre-programmed responses, this game could be really great. If not the sinulator, than a similar device put out by another company. And for those girl gamers out there, they could have the same thing, only with a fleshlight. The game should be diverse as well, allowing for different types of relations. For example, if you are a lesbian, you can use a fleshlight, but all of the interaction on the screen will be with a woman. She can be pleasing you with a **** Same thing for gay men. And the partners can come in all different shapes and sizes, ages, personality types, interests, fetishes, etc. I think that this would make for some great gaming.

MooseBoys
MooseBoys

I agree with the posts here that porn and videogames don't belong together, not for political or moral reasons, but for practical ones. For me, the point of videogames is being able to do something you'd never otherwise be able to do: to be able to bomb the crap out of an enemy base in an F18, assassinate a foreign leader, take up the role of a meteor conjuring wizard, or score a winning touchdown in the last seconds of the superbowl. I'm fine with sex in videogames, but to make an entire game dedicated to it, or even simply to have it as a minigame such as the hot coffee mod, seems kind of pointless to me. Additionally, the thought of controlling someone having sex kind of creeps me out. I'll admit I do watch my share of porn, but I think many people feel the same way about virtual interactive sex, and because of this, I don't think the sex-centered videogame market will ever even come close to the size of the adult movie market. I just don't think there's enough demand for it to maintain itself on any higher level than it is now. Thats just my 2c though.

That-B-Guy
That-B-Guy

The fact is that porn is a multi-billion dollar industry and it's only a matter of time before American games tap into that easy money just waiting to be made.

Kratos_Aurion56
Kratos_Aurion56

Kids already have access to porn, keeping sex out of games wont change anything.

marvster21
marvster21

this is dumb people try to censor it but theres no point because many movies have nude scenes does anyone say anything maybe a few politicians but its always there final destination 3 was rated PG-13 and you can fully see the girls naked if you try to censor this u might stop it for a while but eventually it will come out so y not make it work now itstead of having an all out war to stop it

dryden555
dryden555

There's a difference between sexual themes in a game and outright porn. Porn in a video game is not cool with so many gamers being young kids. A dumb step in the wrong direction for gaming.

Disgaeamad
Disgaeamad

Hmmm...I get the feeling that this could be bad... Let's just hope they don't include it into Final Fantasy and Zelda games

AlbertoML
AlbertoML

I agree with bloodhawk, couldn't have said it better... nevertheless it would be cool to have those games more mainstream

Bloodhawk_DX
Bloodhawk_DX

Instead of saying "sex is bad.", "Sex isn't entertainment", "No sex in media." We should better educate about it. Personally I think you fail to teach anyone anything by taking something away from them. If you let it exist, educate the person about it. Then let them make up their own mind. Then that person benefits. Sex was around before video games. Sex will be around after video games. As long as a single human exists there will be sexual tension. So unless this entire panel of people was born without a sex drive. They really have no place to tell people what they can do and what they can't. Let parents choose that for their children. Isn't that what parenting is anyway? The whole debate is rather stupid. There are other countries out there that aren't ashamed of the subject and yet their teen pregnancy rates, rapes and various other sexual crimes are WAY lower than ours. I wonder if people ever considered the idea of censorship and shunning of a natural human instinct might be the reason we don't have as much control over it. Holding back urges, and curiousity is what makes it grow to the point where it can be uncontrollable.

Krazykraz01
Krazykraz01

Though I personally probably won't play any of these games this is a good move. Why is sex suddenly so dirty and evil? And why is someone blowing a person's head off in a video game any better? There is absolutely nothing wrong with sex so why do so many people act like there is?

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

If a kid under 17 went through all of the trouble to unlock the Hot Coffee mode (which i must admit i made an attempt at, but gave up after i realized it would be more complicated than just entering a single cheat), i think he deserves to see a little polygon-on-polygon action. Because seriously, if you want porn and you have access to the internet, how hard to you have to try? not hard at all, it would take seconds...and that's real porn....sometimes really hard porn that is best described as "scary". But the thought of a kid going through hours of work and entering a wealth of gameshark codes just so he can see some digital boobs is something that we must put a stop to! That is the real factor that is corrupting the youth of america!

stevy_G
stevy_G

"but the parents of the general public only ever point blame game developers instead of taking responsibility for their role as a parent" Truest thing said in this whole mess. Ultimately, what a child is exposed to and how it is interpreted is up to the parent, not game developers or goverment regulations. The adult entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with its hands in all media forms, video games are no different. Ultimately, who cares if a developer makes a "sex sim". It is their first amendment right to develop that and so long as a parent doesn't give it to their child, there should be no foul in doing so. There are measures in place to prevent children from seeing or interacting with M and AO material, the parents just have to step up and USE THEM.

cpspeed
cpspeed

I would say I'm speechless, but then I wouldn't be typing right now, would I? With the number of adult gamers in this modern market, adult video games should be allowed. There is a demand for them. I guess really the only thing here is to find a proper way to keep games with adult content out of the hands of people deemed too young for it. Will they have to open separate game stores for these games, or have a little room in the back, like the skin flick room at a video store? I don't know what the answer is, but the parents of the general public only ever point blame game developers instead of taking responsibility for their role as a parent. It seems that adult content in video games will always be met with much resistance.

dryden555
dryden555

As someone who isn't a teenager, actual porn content in video games sounds ultra-lame. Sex is for real-life and for adults. Rolling my eyes.

Thageng
Thageng

Kinda funny that by being interested in porn you have to be a geek or a loser... so when I pop in an adult dvd to show my girl to help..set the mood.... which one of us would be the geek and which the loser?

sugreev2001
sugreev2001

VG and Porn are a perfect mix.Watch it while you do it just like porn.Jus' kidding...the deal is that every person in this world is prudish.They don't object to violence but object to depiction of sex.

d1ab10cm
d1ab10cm

A very smart move indeed, its inevitable that there will be pornographic material with every new bit of technology to come. That includes video games, now I'm really interested in this conference, and a very smart decision to not invite politicians.

skitzocyko
skitzocyko

doesn't bother me unless it is a good game. something companies forget to make today.

Schoefield04
Schoefield04

This is definately a good thing. If all goes well, we could see a nice growth spurt for the gaming industry.

Reap3r666
Reap3r666

What's the need for sex in games? Really. What's the point? Are you gonna be able to accomplish a mission by having sex. Great ideas and gameplay are what makes games good, not the amount of sex in it. Pls to all the developers: Better gameplay, less sex. (PS. Virual sex cant compare to the real thing anyway)

Terranah
Terranah

Seeing nudity or sex in a game will not end civilization as we know it. Sex is pleasurable and necessary for society if we are to propogate as a species. I don't see what is so inherently evil about the act of procreation when we live in such a violent culture. Make love, not war.

rbarahona
rbarahona

It's very good that the industry is takin these kind of measures to regulate all kinds of content. Videogames is as powerful as any other media, so it's natural that adult content will make their way onto games. If they can regulate and label the content, then I see no problem with any comission or government.

Tracido
Tracido

Wow the absolute stupidity of your post astounds me I'm 27 and I think there is a fine line between the virtual and the real world. If you are going purely on instinctual defense from having your own children maybe I can forgive it. Your children could be doing anything if you are not watching them, and whether you tell them to do something or not, children unless fully controlled can and will make their own decisions. The point here you are missing is I would rather my children experiment with virtual media than with dangerous real flesh. If you fight to stop things like this maybe they might go and do something physical, ever considered that? All of this is going to come up in their lives no matter how hard you fight to protect them. That does not mean I disagree with monitoring your children's behavior and friends but to say that this brings pedophiles to children is beyond ridiculous, this itself was done by the internet LONG ago now. Then you bring your idea of lord into this, I think not, you are terrified they won