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April 12, 2020 2 min read

Sex Sells: But Not Videogames

By Ksenia Sobchak

Sex sells, it's a fact of life, but does sex sell videogames? Brendan Ecock would say that it's a rhetorical question, with the presence of sex in a product obviously affecting whether we choose to buy it or not. Videogames he claims, are no different. What's more, he writes, certain gaming franchises wouldn't exist at all were it not for the scantily clad babes rendered in glorious 3D. Would Street Fighter ever have distinguished itself from other beat-em-ups if Chun-li weren't sporting see-through tights and a revealing dress? Would the iconic Tomb Raider ever have reached its present level of popularity without a bombshell Lara Croft? Certain gaming franchises aren't even subtle about it, deliberately focusing their gaming experience around sex. Leisure Suit Larry for instance, had players striving to get Larry laid, rewarding them with a saucy cut-scene upon mission completion. Statistically, gamers are predominantly men and the male mind it would seem, is irrevocably drawn to curves.

What's more, there's the ever-present stereotype of the nerdy gamer guy who couldn't get a real girl if he tried. As unfair as such a stereotype may be, stats do nothing to disprove it. In fact, the newly launched site GameCrush has enjoyed a storm of popularity for its services, namely charging men for brief "play date" sessions during which a gorgeous woman plays a co-op game of their choosing with them. They get to chat via webcam as they compete over Xbox live. No less than ten thousand people tried to access the site's services within the first five minutes of its creation. The appeal here is certainly not the games.

Things are changing though, with a greater female presence in gaming circles, as well as an increasing demand for good gameplay over simple titillation. Though a certain amount of fan service in the form of artworks depicting female characters in suggestive poses is always to be expected, games companies are being met with criticism for their over-reliance on boobs to sell their product.

The latest installment in the Hitman series of games was met with widespread derision as its launch trailer, (depicting the protagonist killing sexy, scantily clad nun assassins) kicked up a furore of criticism. What's more, the producers were taken aback, expecting the release to be met with praise rather than disgust. Posts on gaming forums have seen many users expressing the opinion that, to have boobs flashed on the front cover and throughout the gameplay experience diminishes the product. They feel it's a sign of laziness and a patronizing attitude on the part of games marketing, expecting people to buy their product simply because of its fan service.

Though sex will undoubtedly remain a part of gaming it seems as though consumers are starting to expect more from producers. Sex does sell, but with women entering the gaming scene, boobs on the front cover are no longer enough!

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