I don’t think it’s a stretch to declare that historically most people would rather see a player’s head blown off in a game than a nipple – we wouldn’t want to be indecent or anything, now would we?
Well, would we? Or is that narrative changing? Are we witnessing a societal shift in these preferences? The answer is: maybe, but the gatekeepers still hold the keys. That is, until gamers and developers alike demonstrate the totally natural fun in creating and consuming games with sex appeal.
Nowadays, violence is widely accepted across the gaming industry. Decapitations and bodies quite literally being torn apart in the “OG” Mortal Kombat game gave way to new gaming “experiences” like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Grand Theft Auto, and Bulletstorm. In this way, violence in gaming became commonplace – and even anticipated.
We get it – that can be fun in a video game. But what happens if we pit violence vs. nudity in video games? Violence wins. Consider our greater society and its twisted constructs as the final boss. Make love not war, doods! Amiright?
So, what’s the harm in “freeing the nipple?”
The reality is that, as a society, we’ve demonized nudity to an extent that not only defies logic but truthfully, leaves it by the wayside. When did boobs become more stigmatized than riddling a body with bullets? For example, the single-player game Bulletstorm leaves little to the imagination with its title and yet it has captivated well over 2 million gamers (White, 2018).
The truth is that even the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s (ESRB) ratings are discriminatory toward nudity and sex in video games. Of course, regulations for achieving such ratings are dependent on the region in which they’re being issued. For example, the South Korean rating board (GRB) is sensitive to any anti-governmental or anti-societal messaging. In contrast, Iran’s Entertainment Software Rating Association classifies games according to “religious values violations” and “social norms violations” (Greenspan, 2013). What about the United States?
In the U.S. and Canada, ESRB ratings are categorized into six different brackets, spanning from early childhood to adults only. Despite the extreme gore displayed in Mortal Kombat and Bulletstorm, they both have an ESRB rating of Mature 17+. What does this mean?
Well, let’s compare a game like Bulletstorm to House Party. Violence isn’t censored, but nudity is – using black censor bars over genitalia and sex scenes are required if game developers have any hopes of achieving that Mature 17+ rating.
Basically, you can feel free to raise carnage, but make sure you’re practicing abstinence in the process. Yeah… Do hear how ridiculous that sounds?
It shouldn’t be “violence vs. nudity in video games,” it should be “do what you want to do between consenting adults, doods!”
Eek! Games is determined to change the narrative around nudity and sex through its innovative, playful, and downright hilarious player-choice game, House Party.
House Party, as a player-choice game, allows for the exploration of sexuality in a sex-positive space. Our characters allow for creative liberty and personal expression through the different choices made throughout the game. This creates a more engaging experience for gamers of all genders. That being said, each character is well developed and is far more than their appearance, because why limit yourself? Watch your story unfold by celebrating your sexual orientation through your own decision-making. This is an open House Party, and we want you to explore with total freedom! Okay, maybe not total freedom because you’ll never find yourself in an overly violent or non-consensual situation.
Despite these protective measures in our thousands of branching narratives, we still had to split the base game from the explicit version, only to end up with a Mature 17+ rating and Adult Only 18+ rating, respectively. It was a years-long battle that we at Eek! Games were hellbent on winning.
You see, it’s about more than freeing the nipple – it’s about destigmatizing nudity and sex in the face of extreme video game gore. Does that mean we’re the anti-violence police? Absolutely not – you do you! But why should we glorify violence over encouraging people’s acceptance of their own bodies and sexual attractions? Where’s the logic in that?
That’s right – there isn’t any. Logic never seemed to be part of the equation, whereas social stigmas and the corresponding categorization of sex as devious or nefarious were the only two factors considered.
While we may not have the complete answer to that equation, we at the very least, have the imagination to address it. Are we collectively going to agree that using the f-word is that unagreeable? Un-fucking-believable.
Bulletstorm Sales and More Insight Revealed in CEO Interview. (2018, October 18). PlayStation LifeStyle. https://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2018/10/18/bulletstorm-sales-interview/
Bulletstorm—ESRB. (n.d.). ESRB Ratings. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://www.esrb.org/ratings/30438/Bulletstorm/
Greenspan, D., & Organization, W. I. P. (2013). Mastering the Game: Business and Legal Issues for Video Game Developers. WIPO.
House Party—ESRB. (n.d.). ESRB Ratings. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://www.esrb.org/ratings/38402/House%20Party/
Ratings Guides, Categories, Content Descriptors. (n.d.). ESRB Ratings. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://www.esrb.org/ratings-guide/
The Most Violent Video Games of All Time. (n.d.). PCMAG. Retrieved July 7, 2022, from https://www.pcmag.com/news/the-most-violent-video-games-of-all-time