Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sex Vs. Violence

As sex, and sexual video games are some of the topics of the week, I'd like to make the inevitable comparison between sex in video games, and violence in video games.  I won't make a stance that one is more morally corrupting than the other, as I have to expertise to do so.  I would like to have a quick look at sex and violence's use in video games, how they both can be mechanisms for advancement, and how they vary on their game impact.

I have to preface this entire blog with the caveat that I have never played any sexually focused games.  I have no problem with them, but I have no desire to ever play them.  Because of this, I have fairly limited information on these types of games, and will be going off what we have read and discussed in class, making this mostly an opinion piece.  I have, however, played ample amounts of violent video games, so my views on them are a little more informed.

One of the biggest, and most jarring differences between the killing in an action game, and the sex in a Boys Love, or other sex focused game, is the time required to kill / participate in a sexual act.  The thugs that stand in your way in Grand Theft Auto V are quickly dispensable.  They're the barrier between you and the next cut scene, or mission.  Each of the enemy characters spend very short period of time on screen, and are mere annoyances to your character and his gun.  A player could easily dispose of a room of 10 thugs in under 30 seconds, with the set up for each kill (the aiming) taking no more than a few seconds, and the actual killing (pulling the trigger) taking even less time.  Killing these thugs isn't the goal of the game (usually).  These thugs are merely a roadblock, padding the mission's length, providing a slight challenge and break in between pre-rendered cuscenes, or various other forms of gameplay.  Although these enemies are often unimportant fodder, and killing them usually isn't even considered part of the game cannon, in most action games they're the means to access a  final boss, who you do eventually have to kill.

From what I've read about sex games, the sexual acts have a time scheme that is quite the opposite of the killing in action games.  It appears that the majority of the gameplay in Boys Love, or Otome games, is focused around the luring of a partner through dialogue, or the stalking of a potential victim.  This main game play focus could be paralleled with the quick dispatching of a room full of faceless thugs in an action game.  However, the majority of the gameplay in a sexual game seems to not host much explicit material.  Sex is the payoff, the boss, not the cannon fodder.  Because of the time and effort players put into actually getting to sexual acts the games, the scenes that actually depict the sex are likely much more graphic, or prolonged than any of the instances of killing in an action game.  If the sexual acts were not a significant amount of time, the player may find them as an unfit reward for their efforts.  Sex appears to be the end in sexual games, where as quick kills are usually the means in violent games.

Violent videogames often also provide the players with tools and mechanism for distancing themselves from the violent acts their committing.  Weapons, especially ranged weapons, aid greatly in removing the character from the act of killing, making the death of an enemy even less meaningful.  Shooting an enemy from across the map easily allows players to dissociate from the act that was committed in game, dispatching of enemies in a relatively non graphic way.  These tools also make killing in games much quicker an act than those conducted with bare hands.  Prolonged scene of violence where there is little in the way of the killer and the victim seems to create some of the instances when violence in videogames is especially contentious.  For example: both the torture scene in GTA V, and the manual decapitation in God of War were very visceral, graphic, the focal point of the scene, relatively long sequences of death, and there was little, if anything, in separating the killer and the victim.  Additionally, killing is often justifiable as a method for surviving.  Surrendering is rarily ever an option in an action game, which remove's a player's remorse when killing droves of unyeilding, merciless enemies.

There are no tools that distance the players from sex, or rape.  Both of these acts are occurring between two in game characters, without, or with little aid from technology or extensions of the player.  Sexual acts are the direct physical action of the player's character, and other characters in the game.  In order to display any part of the sexual act, you will likely see the direct physical interaction of the two bodies, with no physical, or metaphorical distancing between them.  This is also an act that the player is seeking out.  In taking the reigns in most sexual games, the player's avatar is actively seeking out partners, and would be considered the aggressor or pursuer.  This makes for a much different tone than a game focusing on self preservation.

Sex and violence are very different acts, with varying in game and out of game repercussions.  Again, I don't think that the inclusion of either of these features in games is any more or less moral than the other.  However, they appear to be handled with varying strategies, which I find an interesting point of discussion.

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