In defence of porn games

Don’t get your jimmies in a rustle

September 6, 2012
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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Tags: headline, No Reply Games, porn game, Seduce Me, sexism, Steam, steam greenlight, video game sexism, video game violence

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