Video game rating systems reflect broken societal norms. As our last blog post, “Violence vs. Nudity in Video Games,” hinted at, the current Entertainment Software Rating Board’s (ESRB) ratings are discriminatory towards nudity and sex. Obviously, these ratings reflect cultural beliefs that have long paved the way for us to think of nudity and sex to be a bad thing – except, you know, nudity and sex really aren’t a bad thing, specifically if they’re between consenting adults.
In the E (Everyone) rating, which includes children of any age, mild cartoon violence, and fantasy violence is acceptable. There’s then a natural progression to E10+ (everyone above the age of 10), which allows for more cartoon violence and fantasy violence and approves of “minimal” suggestive themes. What’s interesting is that violence is allowed, to some extent, for every age group, while “sexual content” isn’t allowed until Mature 17+.
Yes, that aligns with our society. It’s unacceptable to wear a bikini into a grocery store, and it’s unacceptable to walk into a grocery store with a blood-soaked machete. However, one of those things is a lot more dangerous and threatening than the other, and everyone knows what we’re talking about… the bikini. At least, when considering how video games are rated and incorporated by streaming platforms and game distributors, that seems to be the logic. This is where our core argument lies: it doesn’t make sense that nudity and sex, in many cases, are considered to be worse than brutal, unrelenting, and graphic violence.
American society is hard-wired to think this way. Let’s break it down a bit. In 2021, Texas legalized open carrying and concealment of handguns, barring some restrictions. Also, in Texas, as of 2021, a first-time conviction for solicitation of sex work could result in up to two years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (Davis, 2021). Obviously, this is a video game company; we don’t really care if you want to carry a gun with you wherever you go – that’s up to you and your state laws, friends. However, there is something deeply hypocritical about accepting weapons that could potentially hurt someone being toted around freely and the societal disdain for two consenting adults to exchange money for sex.
Guns (well, actually, violence) and sex (work) both track back for as long as humans have. One of the favored pastimes of Ancient Romans was watching gladiators fight to their deaths against each other (Ancient roman gladiators, 2018). Who doesn’t love a violent, gory fight where someone ends up dead… right? Actually, yeah, although American culture doesn’t quite have that same mindset today, we do still love violent media, as seen in the wild success of every single Quinten Tarantino movie and the entire Modern Warfare game series.
Likewise, back in Pompeii, before Mount Vesuvius erupted and decimated the entire city, sex work was accepted as commonplace (The brothels of Pompeii, 2020). “Brothels had no stigma within the city,” as they offered services seen as similar to normal shops (The brothels of Pompeii, 2020). Basically – people have enjoyed violence and sex for years, so why is it that today, we find one of those things acceptable and the other unacceptable?
We’re not making any swooping statements about gun rights, or sex work, or anything like that. We’re saying it’s crazy that our society accepts violence openly and shies away from sex like the plague. So, although the ESRB says our base game has a mature rating (which is a discussion in itself; why is graphic violence rated for younger audiences than graphic nudity?), platforms like Twitch are unwilling to allow House Party streams because of the sexual content… Even though it’s consensual… And censored… And pretty much nonviolent… You get our point.
On the same note, Twitch allows for games like Call of Duty II on their platform. This game, rated T (Teen), features a D-Day Invasion mission where players must storm the Normandy beaches and get to witness stabbings, bludgeonings, people getting shot, and people burning alive (Wallin, 2022). Would we play it? Sure. Would we watch someone play it? Sure. We love to game, which means we’d also play and watch a game like House Party, which doesn’t contain gory violence but does have some censored genitals and consensual, censored sex scenes and therefore isn’t allowed. It just does not make sense; and quite frankly, we’re sick of it.
Eek! Games is determined to change the narrative around sex and nudity in video games. House Party is a player-choice game that will make you laugh. While, yes, there are moments of sex and nudity, there are far more moments of debaucherous shenanigans, like sneaking Doja Cat into the party, breaking into the safe in Madison’s closet, and figuring out how to drink alcohol without Frank seeing.
It’s an adventure comedy game where you can live out the best night of your life again and again. Now, that’s enough heavy societal commentary for one blog post. Eek! Games, checking out.
Ancient roman gladiators. The Colosseum. (2018, April 18). Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.thecolosseum.org/gladiators/
The brothels of Pompeii. Pompeii Tours. (2020, May 14). Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.pompeiitours.it/attractions/brothels-of-pompeii/
Davis, N. (2021, August 11). Soliciting prostitution is a felony per new Texas law (on Sept. 1, 2021). Neal Davis Blog. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.nealdavislaw.com/blog/sex-crimes/texas-solicitation-prostitution-laws
Wallin, J. (2022, July 5). 10 shockingly violent moments from T-rated video games. ScreenRant. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://screenrant.com/shockingly-violent-moments-from-t-rated-video-games/