AUSTIN, Texas--There's one thing that was clear after the "Secret Sex Lives of Video Games" panel at South by Southwest here Tuesday, and that's that there has never been a better time to be designing sexually oriented games.
To be sure, there has been sex in video games almost since there have been video games, but to hear the panelists--a collection of bloggers, journalists, magazine editors and game designers--talk about it, there's more interest and fewer roadblocks today to such games than ever before.
In one sense, that's surprising, since the political firestorm surrounding the sexual scenes built into the game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" reached the U.S. Senate. But because the designers of sexually oriented video games are mostly willing to go for an "AO," or adults-only rating, from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, it's much harder to gain political capital going after them.
Still, one point raised during the panel was that people have always been able to find sexual angles, even in the most mundane games.
For example, said Kyle Machulis, who runs the teledildonics site Slashdong.org, there are almost examples in games of vore, a fetish in which people fantasize about one creature eating another.
But today, people are expressing their festishes left and right with no compunctions about letting the world know, for example, that those fetishes can be satisfied in even the most unexpected games.
"This is really what we call emergent sex," Machulis said. "These games were not meant to be sexual for people. But still, these people have managed to find something in that environment that really turns them on and now they have the internet to let them share it with other people."