The inglorious history begins with the utterly horrible Custer’s Revenge, a game released for the Atari 2600 in 1983, where players controlled a pixellated General Custer as he dodged arrows and other hazards to get to the other side of the screen. The final “reward”: intercourse with a native American woman named Revenge. The game drew much ire from women’s rights groups, who argued that the game amounted to simulated rape.
Nintendo’s rise to dominance and its “family-friendly” image meant that sex was largely absent from mainstream gaming in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. Interactive pornography, however, enjoyed a healthy decade in the obscurity of the Internet, with flash games and Japanese “hentai” interactive novels creating their own subcultures online. In 2001, a PlayStation 2 rhythm game, Rez, shipped with a “trance vibrator” which, blogs and forums quickly found out, doubled as a sex toy.
Games now handle sex as more than just a naughty diversion.
Games and sex rose to mainstream prominence last year when a bunch of intrepid hackers found hidden sexual content in popular title Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, causing a storm of controversy and outrage from legislators—including then US senator Hillary Clinton—and parent groups.
But now, a new movement, driven by smaller independent studios and digital distribution, is attempting to take a broader, more inclusive view of sexuality. So while the Nintendo DS handhelds of the world are flooded with cheap, home-brewed strip poker apps, these nouveau games are exploring gameplay opportunities that move beyond cheap antics and pornography.
The Dark Room Sex Game, for example, is an “award-winning multiplayer, erotic rhythm game without any visuals”. The game for the Wii console is played by moving the Wii controller, with only audio and vibratory cues. “The player works with his or her partner to find a mutual rhythm,” says the game’s website. “Then speeds up gradually until climax. In four-player ‘orgy’ mode, players swap partners randomly and compete to reach orgasm the fastest.”
Italian collective MolleIndustria, which makes politically charged, socially relevant games, has flash games, playable online, such as QueerPower, which focuses on issues of identity and the politics of sexual orientation.
The latest addition to this list of sex-aid-games is the LoveTrainer. Two weeks ago, technology blog Engadget reported that Sega Toys was bringing out a headset and heart rate monitor combination that would give tips to the wearer during amorous interludes. Based on heart rate, the headset would give you audio cues to help you achieve a rhythm, and even try harder if your rate fell too low.
Sega Toys, however, immediately disowned the product and said impostors were selling the device illegally, using images and videos from the company’s similarly designed “exercise helper”.
Bona fide or not, tech geeks are lining up to give the LoveTrainer a thorough review.