In defence of porn games

in defence of porn games header

So, Valve’s recent launch of Steam Greenlight has been accompanied by the tediously inevitable torrent of Half-Life 3s, 9/11 flight sims, and other brilliant “jokes” that you can always rely on when pre-teens on the internet are involved. Offending users and their projects were promptly banned, but so was one an otherwise ordinary erotic game – Seduce Me by Dutch indie developer No Reply Games.

The reason cited was that the game contravened Steam Greenlight’s terms of service, which prescribes just two restrictions on content:

“Your game must not contain offensive material or violate copyright or intellectual property rights.”

Seduce Me was obviously flagged on the first restriction – but to put this in perspective, I just clicked through to the Steam Greenlight page, and the first game in the list is something called No More Room in Hell, a “realistic first person survival horror” featuring guns, guts, and walking corpses.

Apparently what exactly constitutes “offensive material” is subject to some flexibility in the selection criteria, but the subtext is clear – unremitting and gratuitous violence is totally okay, sex is not*.

It’s Valve’s platform, and Valve can enforce whatever rules they want. In a statement to Kotaku, Valve rep Doug Lombardi said that, “Steam has never been a leading destination for erotic material. Greenlight doesn’t aim to change that.”

That’s entirely their prerogative, but the refusal to host adult-oriented content of this sort is peculiar in an industry that happily makes most of its business in, well, other adult-oriented content.

This is one of those headlines I never expected to write, because honestly, I’m actually very anti-pornography and pretty much anything and everything else that packages sex and sexuality as a product for sale. The reasons for that are quite beyond the scope (and the point) of this article, but the important thing is that I can simply choose not to buy porn. It’s really that easy, and it doesn’t rely on censorship or any other third party intervention to make the decision on my behalf. The overwhelming majority of adults are quite capable of making those sorts of decisions for themselves – autonomy is great like that.

I’m offended by the game, and going on the commentary I’ve seen about it online, so are a lot of other people – but plenty of other people aren’t. The ongoing discussion on the MyGaming forum is a case in point.

Games like Seduce Me wouldn’t exist at all if there wasn’t a viable market for them – it’s the same reason games like No More Room in Hell exist. Why should my offence preclude other people’s entertainment? It’s not like I’m being forced to take part.

As a fan of violent games, I must also readily acknowledge that there’s tremendous hypocrisy in denouncing porn games while explicit gore gets a free pass every time. It’s a paradoxical position, and it’s something everybody should be aware of before standing in the way of those things we personally don’t approve of.

* Unless it’s something like, you know, The Witcher (already available on Steam!), because maybe enough unremitting and gratuitous violence can make up for the sex bits.

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Forum discussion

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  • http://www.facebook.com/panthisza Alex [SS] PsyChoPanthis

    My comment from yesterday still stands for this article as well:

    “ok… weird dating thingy is weird… and im not really supporting the
    idea of an “erotic” themed game but i agree with the the indie devs on
    this one…
    Chainsawing a living (or slightly non living) thing with
    blood, guts and gore flying everywhere and splattering the screen is way
    better than a “below the belt” (see what i did thar ;P) Dating thingy
    with suggestive and sexual themes? and thats ok cause its just mindless
    violence… i mean, no under age kids play gears of war! (i know gears
    isnt on steam, its an example)”

  • http://egamer.co.za/author/cavie Caveshen “CaViE” Rajman

    I shared my thoughts when I reported on it yesterday, but I share your sentiments. I just don’t see how in 2012 when games freely show decapitations, lynchings and hangings and then get people screaming “GoTY!” (think Skyrim and The Witcher) yet dare a game show gratuitous sex. How The Witcher 2 got away with it is anyone’s guess. Not that I’m complaining.

    And this isn’t even a game that shows gratuitous sex. It alludes to it, and makes it a goal in the game, but is there a graphic display, Witcher 2 style? As far as I know from what I’ve read up on the game, no. So what’s the problem, Valve? Really now.

  • http://twitter.com/TallShaw Andrew Shaw

    It’s about business & brand perception. Porn, no matter how you dress it up, will always sit on the seedy/sleazy side of entertainment. Valve are merely protecting their interests & brand by disassociating themselves with what they feel doesn’t fit within their vision of who they are.

  • http://mygaming.co.za/news James Etherington-Smith

    Yeah, there is graphic imagery (unless the censorship in the video is in the final game- I’m assuming not). Go check the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CVnagNeKQjc

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=562412924 Henk Claassen

    That awkward moment when everyone can see you playing that game… No thanks. :)

  • ArchieChoke

    My word…This game is so mild compared to the Japanese titles out there.For example look at Rape Lay..Now i could understand them taking that game off, but this Seduce me should be classed as those card games at bars.

  • Neji

    Yeah look its kinda weird that this week you’re defending this but no too long ago you were not happy about the portrayal of women in games…

  • http://twitter.com/TallShaw Andrew Shaw

    Can I please _not_ be moderated all the time? What I had to say wasn’t bitchy and probably pretty insightful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/panthisza Alex [SS] PsyChoPanthis

    dudes… imagine if it did come out on steam… and your entire friends list sees you playing that shiz… WAHAHAHAHA

  • CrzWaco

    Just get another steam account without friends that’s private.

  • http://www.facebook.com/panthisza Alex [SS] PsyChoPanthis

    now we know what you are going to do :D

  • CrzWaco

    But you will never know if I really did it or not, that will drive you crz :p

  • http://mygaming.co.za/news James Etherington-Smith

    It would appear that using the word ‘porn’ in a comment is getting caught by the Disqus spam filter. This a nuisance in this case, but a necessity due the the constant assault of spambots on websites.

    We’ll be keeping an eye on comments for the article to ensure no valid comments are lost due to a mention of ‘porn’.

  • http://mygaming.co.za/news/ Quinton Bronkhorst

    “I’m actually very anti-pornography and pretty much anything and
    everything else that packages sex and sexuality as a product for sale.
    The reasons for that are quite beyond the scope (and the point) of this
    article, but the important thing is that I can simply choose not to buy porn.”

    I think it’s safe to say that there’s a very prevalent double-standard in the content deemed “acceptable” in games. You don’t have to love and support the content in the games to point out that this double-standard exists.

    I don’t see anywhere Tarryn is saying porn in games is awesome and cool – she’s merely defending the notion that we should have choice in the matter and not have some external party decide what is or is not “offensive”.

  • http://mygaming.co.za/news James Etherington-Smith

    I was about to reply but it looks like you’ve got my opinion covered :P Can you also fetch my dry cleaning later?

  • Kromas

    I heard a good comment the other day. ” Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you.” I think that sums this up pretty well.

  • Neji

    Fine… so she is going with “its your right to choose” and choosing is good. But still this type of game that got removed by Steam goes against her view that women in games are portrayed badly. Sure as nuts if this game had to be “green lit” and sales went through the roof… well next week we’ll see another article about women been treated as sex objects in games.

    As to the double standards in games where shooting is good but sexual themes is bad, mkay, just listening and reading the comments of those retards on “live” just shows that they don’t have enough depth, mentally, to deal with losing and playing against girls/women. Handing them adult theme games just means that they’ll get warped in a whole new way.

    But the day “age restricted” games are taken away from persons who are not old enough to play them… well now…
    I see trees of green…….. red roses too

    I see em bloom….. for me and for you

    And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.

  • Neji

    One man’s porn is another man’s holy crusade against indecency.

  • http://mygaming.co.za/news James Etherington-Smith

    What would the Steam Achievements look like for “Seduce Me”? With the new community features on Steam, your friends would be able to tell what you’re up to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/panthisza Alex [SS] PsyChoPanthis

    im already batsh!t crz :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/panthisza Alex [SS] PsyChoPanthis

    i fear to even wonder

  • Tarryn van der Byl

    There’s a big difference between criticising something and advocating censorship. Only one of these things is constructive, and (hint) it’s not censorship.

    Personally, I find this game utterly abhorrent. It’s everything I hate about the way women are represented in games. But talking about it and creating meaningful debate is much better for everybody than pretending it’s not there at all.

  • CR4ZYLEGS

    Don’t tell a man he can’t have a steak, just because a baby can’t chew it!

  • St3baS

    hahaha what would also be funny is the steam “recommend for a friend” system… I can just see some of the recommendations now, “1 handed play, all day!, Great game! 700+ hours and still playing :-)”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Wurnman Werner Beukes

    Excellent article. It all starts with the parents. If you allow your 10yrs old to play BF3 then it should be ok for him to play a porn game or game with nudity in, that is restricted with the same age restriction as BF3 and the like.

  • Christopher Wade Boutwell

    I really wouldn’t care if the people on my friends list saw me playing it.

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