Erotica in video games?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Scoper, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. Scoper

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    I've been thinking about starting development on an erotic video game and started wondering... why aren't there a ton of these games around already? Or maybe there are and I've been looking the wrong places.
    Of course trying to use sex to sell a game is not new - scantily dressed women with big breasts are common. But I have not found many games that incorporate sexuality as a main theme and do it elegantly. Wikipedias list of adult video games is short and most of them are very old and very cheesy and raunchy. Google hasn't given me much either.

    As an indie developer, it is always tempting to imagine that we have come up with an idea so unique that no-one ever thought of it before. But that is unlikely. So I need a sanity check, please.

    Can anyone think of video games that:
    - Are erotic without being raunchy or outright pornographic
    - Have fun gameplay
    - Have an interesting plot
    - Feature believable human characters
    - Are well crafted

    Or alternatively, suggest reasons why such a game would never be feasible.

    (By the way, I am a programmer, architect and designer and have been developing video games professionally and casually for six years)
     
  2. Sideroxylon

    Sideroxylon New Member

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    Anything is feasible done right. We even met Hitler in Wolfenstein 20 years ago and it was a huge success.
    The thing with erotic games is, they aren't there because the developers want to create a game. They are out, because it is another way of wanking to stuff, especially to anime porn. They don't need to be good, long or interesting. The only purpose of those game is showing off nudity in a new way.
    So the hardest (haha -.-) first question for you is: Do I want to create an Ecchi-esque game, where nudity or sex is not the main, but some important side-part of the game? Or do I want to make sex and being nude the main aspect of the game? If you want to do the first, you can make a game. If you choose the second you will probably end up with 98% wankers as your audience, who don't care about any other aspect in the game, except how much and how good erotica you show (especially some 12 year olds who still didn't find the names of good porn sites).
    If I would create such a game, I would probably create a porn actor who has a life outside of his job as well. The probably most difficult part about this idea is: how do you balance those two lives. If you show his job for 80% of the game you get 80% wankers. If you show 80% of his other life in the game, it won't be a real erotica game.
     
    metateen and bantamcitygames like this.
  3. GaiaDreamCreation

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    I believe people looking for porn or eroticism will look for it outside of a game.

    This subject is also taboo.

    Another point is about distribution. So far, I haven't really seen many gaming sites distributing that kind of games. I guess it would be hard to get reviews and to get downloads.

    I saw a couple of ads about pornographic games in the very few last years. I haven't checked them, but I can tell by the animation on the ads that they were very explicit. It was hardcore.

    I thought about this idea of making sexual-theme games a few years ago. You're not alone. The sex industry is a big industry and there's money. My big question is what to offer. It looks weird to me trying to have sex in a game. However, there were games that I loved like Leisure Suit Larry from Al Lowe. His games were awesome. It's not realistic and it's funny. Maybe, that kind of games could be interesting.
     
  4. metateen

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    I may get in some big trouble for posting this but sometimes you just gotta say what you just gotta say...

    I may have a little history in this subject though not the way you guys probably think of it now let me explain...

    Porn games can have plot, don't get me wrong but in the end there are some expectations to this completely. like if we look at porno films with debby and a dallas and a geek ... They do have stories and they do offer some engagement, some laughs, as well as a motive for the characters. Now if you want some things to go look at, the subject of porn games is something common online on sites that I cannot disclose because this is a public site.

    Though if you can offer something that balances it out then you have a shot of success, but that means you need to either tone down your game completely, or give it no tone and just put in the booty. It all matters on how you implement it into your game and the process of getting it done correctly.

    Porn + Story = Cheesy as possible, making it interesting is the biggest challenge to face in reality.

    Now as for getting it well known and out there, there can be a few ways to get away with it, lets not forget that this commercial. though the game is rated M, it's pretty much aimed for the adults crowd if you didn't know the games origins.



    It's gonna be a pretty long struggle but if on the right path, it can be met.

    I love that game, though it looks pretty.....blegh now...
     
    #4 metateen, Nov 7, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  5. Scoper

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    Thanks for all the constructive comments. I feared that a topic related to sex would only provoke a lot of silly comments. But you have obviously put a lot of thought into your replies. Thank you.

    Quite unambiguously the first.
    The problem with adult entertainment, in my view, is that it is all (to use your terminology) made by wankers for wankers for the purpose of wanking. Sure, that's also a natural part of human sexuality, there is nothing wrong with that. But it is imbalanced. Sexuality in real life is so much more than that and often complex. While what I have in mind is most definitely about sex, it is also about relationships, emotions and choices.

    Thank you for the term "Ecchi". That was the genre I was looking for. I see that a few video games do exist, although not many. I will investigate further.

    You are right. The balance between sex and other stuff will be very difficult. I imagine about half of each. The balance could be partially made by the player. After all, games are interactive.

    Perhaps you are right. But there are millions of gamers and millions of people looking for eroticism. So in theory there should be lot's of people interested in both. And games offer something that other media do not. Interactivity. When playing a game, you can more easily feel that you ARE the main character. His or her choices become more personal, because they are your choices.
    Making erotica matter to the player/reader/viewer on a personal level is something I believe that only a video game can do. (But I am a game developer, so I could be biased.)

    Yes, and I suspect that may be why game developers tend to avoid it and why depictions of sex in video games tend to be so cheesy. Approaching this subject without giggling is hard.

    Distribution is a major challenge. But that applies to all indie games.
    The best platform for playing such a game would be a tablet. Relaxing in the sofa like you were reading a book, maybe together with your partner.
    So that means Google Play and Apple App Store. While the App Store does not allow porn, it does allow 18+. Apples guidelines state "Apps containing pornographic material, defined by Webster's Dictionary as "explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings", will be rejected"
    There is a fine line there. But is should be possible to stay on the right side of it. Apparently, displays of sexual activities intended to stimulate emotional feelings are ok.
    I don't intend to make porn.

    I am not looking to make porn as such. The World has no shortage of that. I am looking to make erotica. (The difference, in my mind, being (as quoted above) whether it is "intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings". But if porn can have a plot, erotica can to a much greater extent.

    The formula I envision is more like
    Sex + Emotion + Story = As uncheesy as possible.
     
  6. Sideroxylon

    Sideroxylon New Member

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    Actually I disagree with this, because
    1. The subject is taboo only, because it is not something to think, but most of the time something to wank about.
    2. Distribution is not easy, because of the first point and the really bad image of this genre. So the first what comes to mind, when someone tells another about such a game or any other art that isn't already so popular like those 2M dollar paintings, they think: "oh, he's just horny." The same is even for modern artists who specialize on nudity, they are often faced with that attitude although some of them certainly don't deserve it.
    3. I think it would get many reviews and downloads, if the game review websites actually pointed out, that the game really focuses on not being another generic way of showing nudity and sex. People then would say: "Okay, sounds interesting. I should try it." Because, this genre has such a bad image and it would be like a surprise, if someone finally tried to do something worth a gamer's time for it. Also it is not like most gamer's wouldn't appreciate ecchi elements in games, which are pretty much omnipresent in games. Even games like LoL or many AAA games use that, though rather as a technique and "appropriate" to children like it is (or should be) the case in League of Legends. On the other hand you would highly disappoint those, who really had faith in that game being good, even though its genre it is put in.
    4. No, the industry for sex is not big. It is not huge. It is GIGANTIC. Most people underestimate it. Though this is mostly, because of the wanky part and not really the artistic one.
    5. Do you really would feel weird about having sex in a game? It is just another activity and to be precise there are already many games out there that feature this mechanic explicitly. The Witcher 3, Mass Effect, GTA San Andreas... just to mention the most popular to date, that come in my mind. The first releases of GTA SA had the coffee mode still enabled and the game was a huge success for obvious reasons. Well and it also fit everything in the game really good. So if the sex mechanic and topic would really fit in the game it would be still a big success.
    6. I think Leisure Suit Larry was and is so popular, because it is one of the very few games, that really put sex in front of everything in the game, without making the game terrible. If there were much more games in that direction, that try to be somewhat witty and not just another wanking stuff, I think it wouldn't be so successful, not only because the Adventure genre itself doesn't really have many fans.
     
  7. GaiaDreamCreation

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    Scoper, concerning the distribution, I believe too there is a fine line. The content is more controlled today than it was at the beginning of Internet. Because of the distribution platforms, developers have to check carefully their content with the laws and the platforms themselves.

    Apple is a control freak. Publishing any game content with related content is delicate. The line is thin between the different age ratings.

    Furthermore, the laws between countries vary. In the last years, I've seen very violent games being banned from certain countries. When thinking about sex, it's even worse.

    Here in Canada, like in the USA, we see violence on TV as if it were commonplace. However, there are huge warnings and disclaimers about sexual related content in the traditional media. Many distribution platforms are really careful about that and sometimes prefer to keep their distance from this content.

    Erotica and is not porn. I also have an interest for eroticism and I find it more creative and interesting than raw porn. I'm sure that kind of game has a market. Probably more difficult to enter than tradition indie games. However, this is more a niche market and it could work well.

    I also think that many of these games could have a bigger success with the new HTML5 distribution. With HTML5, developers are independent from major distribution platforms that kill the creativity of people like us, the indie spirit!
     
  8. TamaraRyan

    TamaraRyan New Member

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    Not sure if this is what you're thinking, but there's a game called "Brave Soul" that is mainly game, with sex scenes added in. It's a basic RPG with random encounters and you fill up your party with busty babes. Each day you can decide you you want to go a visit. Once you build up a relationship meter and say/do the right things, eventually you're rewarded with sex scenes. I felt it did a good job of being a game, but also remained sexy enough that the reward scenes didn't feel out of place or random.
     
  9. Sideroxylon

    Sideroxylon New Member

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    I think, according to your explanation, that the game uses sex in a too specific way, to call it really an "Erotica game". It is mainly an RPG and, like you said, the sex scenes are somewhat a tricky reward system, since it creates a higher and native motivation in the player. It also sounds pretty much Larry-like. I think a real "Erotica game" should offer some sex machenics or at least being more than just a reward system. So you don't have to do sex-unrelated things to get an only positive sex reward, but let sex be a part of getting somewhere. Probably not always rewarding, but challenging. This is how I would imagine a good "Erotica game".
     
  10. metateen

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    Pretty blunt way of actually setting up the formula actually.
     
  11. Sideroxylon

    Sideroxylon New Member

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    Well, I think that fits the genre. If it is more hidden and subtle, it becomes more like a bonus to the player, rather than being a core element of gameplay and story. I played a Football Manager as a kid, where the player got evaluated by a boob girl, so I had motivation to make a good football team to get to see a positive review by the boob girl. It was kind of erotic but I wouldn't consider that this was an Erotica game at all. Same view on the RPG with some nakeds.
     
  12. Scoper

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    Sideroxylon and GaiaDreamCreation, thanks for your thoughts on distribution. I think you are right that this is a major challenge and a big risk that could doom the whole project if chosen poorly. I think the solution will be to reduce risks by targeting multiple platforms and distribution channels. Perhaps add a setting early on to reduce the degree of sexiness. That way, it could be released in a less explicit version for stores that demand that. It could also turn out that the target audience actually prefer insinuations and subtlety.

    Concerning the mechanics, TamaraRyan's mechanic of building up a relationship meter will work very well I think. I don't want to make sex an actual game mechanic in itself. I remember an indie game that tried to let the player directly control a character during sex. It didn't work.
    My intention is to let dialog be a central game mechanic and those dialogs can lead to sex scenes or discussions about sex.

    The plot I envision is something like this:
    We have a guy and a girl. They have been a couple for a few years and are starting to drift apart. Sex is becoming a rare occurence. (Does this seem familiar?) The player controls one of them (or two players could control both) and their goal is to keep our two lovers together and rekindle their sex life. Both lovers live very busy lives, so the player will have to complete daily tasks while trying to still have time left over at the end of the day to attend to their partner.
    As the game and plot progress, if the player does well, sex scenes will become more frequent and longer. Alternatively, if their relationship deteriorates, they will break up and it will be game over.
    There could be other characters in the game. I havent decided yet.
     
  13. Sideroxylon

    Sideroxylon New Member

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    Sounds good, when using the technique you could enrich the imagination as well as motivation and challenge for the player by having to decide, if the character needs to do something to prepare for his love life or something else important for his life, like doing something for his job, so there is always some kind of imbalance, but the character has to keep it close to even.
    "As the game and plot progress, if the player does well, sex scenes will become more frequent and longer. Alternatively, if their relationship deteriorates, they will break up and it will be game over." This kind of achievement is the one, that can be considered making a game an actual Erotica game. That way it will become a key part of the game and players will try to do anything to not die but also get good rewards.
     
  14. Scoper

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    Yes, precisely. That balance could make for a difficult challenge with the promise of a good reward. And it should still be possible to implement without requiring a big production budget.

    I feel I left out an important detail. Some might wonder why I would want such a mundane setting with ordinary people facing completely ordinary problems. Basically, I want everything in the game to be easily recognisable to the player(s) so that they can more easily immerse themselves in their character. I want them to feel not just "that could be me", but "this is me and that is my lover i'm interacting with". And that is why it HAS to be a video game and not a book or film or some other passive medium.

    Anyway, I think this might have potential. I am going to go ahead and start prototyping and looking for people who can be hired to draw concept art, write dialog and other things that I am no good at.
     
  15. Sideroxylon

    Sideroxylon New Member

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    Then you need highly customisable characters. I'd recommend you to check out the one in Saints Row IV, in case you don't know it.
     
  16. Scoper

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    I think it is possible to achieve that degree of immersion without customizable characters. Of course, some players like to immerse themselves more than others. But the characters need to feel real and believable to allow that. I mean, if I am controlling a guy with purple hair and I don't have purple hair myself then that serves as a constant reminder that it's not me, it's just some character.
    In any case, customizable characters are outside my budget.
     
  17. Scoper

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  18. tendo23

    tendo23 New Member

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    Just an idea, but you may want to think about how you could make like a game version of 50 shades of grey (of course I'm not saying you should copy anything). It was/is quite popular, it is erotic in a way that stimulates people mentally without making it just porn. So what I'm saying is perhaps getting ideas on the story from 50 shades and similar erotic books that were popular would be a great idea, supposing you understand what makes them so good and popular and can recreate the same effect in your own story, AND you can create a decent gameplay mechanic around it.
    Anyway, it's quite a challenge so good luck with it
     
  19. Sideroxylon

    Sideroxylon New Member

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    50 Shades of F*** is just a softcore version of regular porn for people who don't want to admit, that they want to watch porn and can "hide" it by pretending to go to the cinema to watch a normal movie.
     
  20. tendo23

    tendo23 New Member

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    I don't really care about the why. The goal is to make it sell good, 50 shades sold good (probably also because lots of people dared to admit they liked it, cause it was not like saying "hey I'm reading porn"), so I guess a game of the similar kind may also be popular. At least among women/girls.
    Of course the question is still the same: what kind of game (i.e. how hardcore) Scoper wants to make
     

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