Or even nudity.
Why is it that sexual content is such a taboo in video games?
Our industry nods in approval of extreme gore and violence that stretches the human mind; but nudity is shunned at all costs. Well, unless its’ the Duke Nukem kind.
But no, I’m not talking about sexualized nudity: but nudity and sex without its seductive arousal content – such that it does not go out of its way to entice and illicit lust in its audience. I’m talking about sex and nudity stripped of its erotic and perhaps romanticized context and laid bare.
What the hell am I saying?
How can sex be stripped of its own characteristics? Of all things sensuous, carnal and lewd, sex should be the epitome of it; raw expression manifested into physical interaction and fulfillment. But no; I’m talking about sex just being purely reproductive – and nudity simply being nude. Our youthful teens, laden with raging hormones, could very well tear down cinemas when queuing up for movies like The Hangover, its sequels and similar movies. But we don’t see the same for movies like Shame, in which a different thematic approach was set to explore sex and sexual addiction. The film was rated NC-17 for some explicit sexual content. Fox Searchlight did not appeal the rating or make cuts for the less-restrictive R rating.
Searchlight president Steve Gilula said, “I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner”
And dem younggins didn’t went flocking to that one.
The lowest common denominator of any art form, including games, appeals to more positive, raw emotion; humor, arousal, excitement and the like. I think this is a core reason as to why the gaming industry refuses to put out such games; a very reasonable choice. The publishers know better than to step out of this safe boundary and attempt such themes which would hardly cater to the tastes of the average adolescent, male or female. Whats more, these games would have little to no replayability; like how there is no great desire to rewind Schindler’s List and pop another can of soda.
It’s an ugly truth we, as consumers, have only desired (and received) games that illicit response only in the spectrum of positive emotions. None of these games would ever try to make you feel bad about your decisions, and to show the different faces of violence, sex and nudity – without its glorified, suger-coated wrapping. I think video games, more than any other medium, can be even be used to teach sex and violence. And yet we don’t want this: these games make you feel lousy, sad and even pathetic.
It had little chance to thrive in adolescent hearts.
Spec Ops: The Line has been one of the few games that ever had the sizable balls to attempt such a feat. And it could hardly be described as ‘fun’. No – its narrative haunted me for much longer than I would’ve thought, much longer than I would’ve liked. It made me feel terrible about myself. It defeated me while I beat the game. I slumped in front of my desk and stared at my screen for at least 30 minutes, trying to contemplate whatever that was that just struck me. But whatever it is, I know it left a huge gaping hole in my heart that left me restless for days.
Spec Ops didn’t sell exceptionally well.
I think this is one of the core reasons why we don’t see more theatrically rich video games coming from the games industry. They deem the audience too young. Our era, liken to that of music and film in the past, is still indulging itself in musicals and slapstick comedy.
And yet the game was drenched in praises from game critics around the world, albeit a title not many consumers would recognize. In the next few years, this great game would be forgotten. But maybe something good would come of this loss. Perhaps the next time such an outrageous, experimental design of a game comes along, maybe we can all grab it and rave about it.