Musing On Sex and computer games (14/2/2005)
It used to surprise me that there aren't more computer games about sex. I mean there ARE computer games about sex -- I've probably played 90% of them and they are uniformly awful (actually, with the exception of "Leather Goddesses of Phobos", which was quite fun but not that much about sex). If there's sufficient demand I shall write up the results of my twenty year study on computer games about sex for your general delight and contempt. However, here, I want to consider the converse problem, what would sex be like if it was a computer game. It has occurred to me that actually, sex would be really quite poor as a computer game. Here are the main reasons.
There's no decent official manual provided with sex. There are a number of instructive user guides available on the internet and from specialist bookshops but these are of extremely variable quality and sometimes misleading. Quite often the equipment provided for real sex is not much like that seen in the user guides and, frankly, if I tried some of that I feel I would injure myself. Illustrations from the internet userguides often assume, for example, that sex involves three or more inflatable looking blonde lesbians, tubing and some motorised devices, none of which I have available.
Sex lacks a decent save feature. I hate to sound all male here but there are days where I only have five or ten minutes available before work. If I could just set off from a previously saved position where I was past all the foreplay then that would be just excellent wouldn't it? Think of the time saving. Not that foreplay isn't wonderful and, you know, there should be more of it but if I only have the five minutes available then just playing the foreplay part of sex wouldn't really help things and I'd end up finishing the entire level and showing up to work half an hour late with my hair a mess. Mind you, I imagine some of my exs wouldn't be so pleased I was having sex with previously saved versions of them.
The single player experience is really not that great. I know, I know, sex is all about the multiplayer experience and interacting with other humans but sometimes, that just isn't an option and I just want to practice a bit on my own -- I mean apart from anything else, just to keep my hand in, as it were -- but it's just simply not as good. I mean there's no ongoing "campaign" or any real notion of character development in single player sex. It's all mission based and it quickly becomes repetetive. "Oh god, it's another of those 'him on top' waggle the right hand solo missions." It just doesn't hold the attention like the multiplayer version does. I don't get to "level up" either. How thrilling would it be if you could add on extra abilities after you'd been practicing sex for a long while. "You are now a level five shagger, would you like extra length, girth, an extra nipple, more stamina, firmer abs or a nicer bum?" Perhaps it could let you save up points for extra genitalia... that's certainly worth considering.
OK... but most importantly, there's no score. In fact, the feedback mechanisms for letting you know quite how well you're doing really need work. I've said before that I think sex would be improved immeasurably if, just occasionally, a big flashing display said "Right on Commander" if you were doing really well. (Paranoid moment: "Perhaps it does and I'm just really bad at sex" -- if I'm supposed to be seeing that, someone would tell me right!). I'm not asking that this happens every time but say once every few goes that would be great. Or, for the pinball approach, a multiball feature would be excellent... you know, and as a sign of supreme achievement you could get a free extra game. But sex doesn't have any kind of feature like that. I mean you can sort of vaguely tell that you've done OK. Consider this though, how frustrating would Space Invaders have been if, instead of just giving you a score, it hinted that you'd done quite well and you had to coax it in a shy way to reveal more.
Me: "So, um... that was really good huh?"
Space Invader Machine: "Yes, yes, you are very good at Space Invaders."
Me: "I'm glad..."
Me: "Anything you particularly liked."
Space Invader Machine: "Oh, you know, it was great... I like it when you shoot the space invaders... that's good."
Me: "Really? Great. Shoot space invaders... right... I'll do that more in future."
Space Invader Machine: "Yeah... I really like that.
Me: "Anything else?"
Space Invader Machine: "Oh... well that saucer thing that flies across the top. I really like it when people shoot that."
Me: "Ah... I did wonder about that. I mean I wasn't sure you'd want me to touch it. Well, I'm certainly willing to give that a try next time."
Space Invader Machine: "Could you? My last player used to do that all the time and I enjoy that a lot."
Space Invader Machine: "And Darling..."
Space Invader Machine: "That bit where you crash into the bullets and explode..."
Me: "Yeah -- I thought I really got the hang of that."
Space Invader Machine: "I'm just not so keen... you know. I'm sure some machines like it and I know you meant well, but I don't think it's right for me."
Me: "God, really."
Space Invader Machine: "Sorry."
So, my suggestion, is that sex should provide a scoring mechanism. I imagine at times, it would be frustrating of course... you know, when you see that your significant other still has five or six other blokes ahead of you in the high score table. Come to think of it, it could be a bit disspiriting to see that scrolling across her screen after every time you made love. Frankly, I'm sure that guy at the top must have had some kind of extra lives cheat because she said he only played once and he was drunk. Well, even if women couldn't provide an ongoing score during sex (and that might be for the best) then perhaps they could agree to flash in different colours depending on whether they liked what was happening. I'm not asking a lot -- meet me half way here.
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