Sex, death and games

Feanor
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Post: #61
acedia, you make many interesting points, which I would like to respond to:
Quote:Originally posted by acedia
Now, granted, things become a bit more complicated when we get to games. To use the terminology from a few years ago, every other artform is 'push' technology, whereas games are 'pull.'
This sounds an overly simplistic contrast. A lot of games involve little more than the requirement to follow through a number of mechanical behaviours in order to get the next chunk of art pushed at them. Is this your definition of "pull"?

To me, many games, in fact, have very little 'artistic' content at all, despite so much media content. What I mean is that most of it is neutral, made up of icons of little or no symbolic complexity, and are merely representations of simple things: enemy/opponent, doorway, measure (e.g.: weapon, money), counter-measure (e.g.: armour, health), focus (e.g.: ball in sports games), objective (goal, exit, treasure). Again, these are manipulated mechanically by the player.

It is difficult, but not impossible, to use sexualized icons, but they will lose their emotional power very rapidly, except as a simple source of arousal. However, sexual arousal does not seem to inspire one to play the game more diligently, whereas violent themes seem to inspire conquest urges which do intensify gameplay. If I may be suggestive, sucess in games inspires one to play more, whereas success in sexual fantasy inspires one to go find something else to do (like play games).
Quote: A filmmaker can take responsibility for what's being expressed by her work because she maintains complete control over its images. This 'control' is actually what 'art' is (or at least how we have always classically thought it to be). What happens, though, when that control is given over to the audience/player?
See above -- players really don't have any "control" over the artistic content in 99% of games, except over the rate at which they can reveal new areas of the game (new/better opponents, new maps, new measures/counter-measures). What they do control is their own strategy for gameplay, which has nothing to do with the artistic content at all.
Quote:Sex and violence can serve valid functions in art, but the *function* must come first. They're tricky to incorporate, not because they're immoral or whatever, but because people tend to react to them hysterically/emotionally, and therefore unpredictibly.
That's a whole other thing that I don't want to get into, since that's an issue of how games are interpreted in a social context. It is difficult enough just to match up sexual content to game mechanics in a non-stupid way that people would also not tire of quickly.
Quote:When I see Nazi gibs coating the walls of Castle Wolfenstein, I see good triumphing over evil, but obviously Senator Joseph Lieberman experiences something completely different - And when games become sexually explicit, hoo boy, imagine the communicative chaos then! If you include the facility for sex in a game, what results when the player can use it for whatever function they want? At the very least, bad art.
When I see gibs coating a wall in Wolfenstein, I think about the use of the stencil buffer. Wink Good and Evil, eh? I guess I don't believe in those so much anymore, so I usually just think of "Me triumphing over Enemies (read: obstacles) which are in my way, with special effects reminiscent of movies". Like I said a few months ago in the "religious content in games" thread, games are all about ego and self-serving behaviour. Goodness, righteousness, and social justice run against the central purpose of playing games.

Lieberman is just a reactionary of the simplest kind. He is obsessed with depiction and cannot tell the difference between a theme and the real thing the theme borrows from. Even children know the difference.
Quote:The question isn't, should it or should it not happen, because it's inevitiable. The question is, will it be done eyes-open and responsibly, or not?
Art and media are static -- responsibility has nothing to do with it. Teach people to think and they will laugh when you show them lies, and pay attention when you show them truth.
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Feanor
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Post: #62
Quote:Originally posted by cosmid
the other point about the game player changing the meaning/function hangs of the artist intent thing as well. also can the player not be an artist too, the experience of the game is the combined input of game developer(s) and player(s). maybe the player can express themselves and learn something about themselves in this way (sort of like the personality test aspect of b&w)
The word art is too restrictive. You are talking about PLAY, and new means to play, i.e.: gameplay. Black & White extended gameplay somewhat, by giving you the opportunity to actually affect the behaviour of game entities in a non-trivial way. Furthermore the range of consequences of actions was a continuum, instead of a crummy state machine (or, worse, a terrible win/lose situation). Most games have some continuous gameplay, but it's trivial (like, what order do you shoot people, do you shoot them all).
Quote:is there such a thing as bad art anymore
You can't call something good or bad unless you define good and bad in that context. You can't call anything anything unless you define your terms. If you do, you can. But you can't make other people adhere to your definitions if you use such painfully generic terms. Better to rate things in narrower terms, just like they rate games on gameplay, sound, graphics, originality... you could do the same for any artwork if you wanted to.
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Sta7ic
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Post: #63
...
I'm not going to consider what Carlos and company brought up. My idea was bad enough, though it did have a point.

I don't think that we're likely to see many games that reasonably incorporate sex in a mature fashion, mainly for the lack of personality in most games. As Feanor covered, most of computer game art is utilitarian, driving towards the points of the game. There's a profound lack of interesting level design in so many games that it's almost sad. By comparison, waltz through the old Marathon games (where the modders did insane things with such a limited engine), or try your hand at Splinter Cell (which feels like an actual set of places). As for actors, the situation isn't much better. How many actors have tatoos? Scars? Distinquishing features?
With barely recognizable places and people in games, how do we expect to convey the less than tangible elements such as mood, with dark shadows and lots of meat to smear against the walls? What about the feelings of the characters -- without which, you can barely have a dynamic (in-game) relationship -- beyond the voice actors and obvious movements (innkeeper's daughter in Majora's Mask)? Scripting? Those games get very old the second or third time back through.
For that matter, how do you tell the agents what your agent is feeling, more scripting? You can kill a tree with the design notes on a reasonable system to convey emotion that the engine understands, here.

...the graphics tech is improving, that much is for sure. However, there could be a lot more work deepening the experience of many games out there.

-Sta7ic Matt
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w_reade
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Post: #64
Feanor - almost everything you say is valid, in the context of gaming today. However, I feel that we've barely started to explore "gameplay space", and (as you say) somewhere therein we may well find a mechanism that does work appropriately with sexual content.

When that comes along, I don't think it'll necessarily need "rewards" to avoid being flat and boring - if the mechanism is good enough, just playing could be intrinsically satisfying. A game that is nothing but mouse-tracking around virtual erogenous zones is unlikely to be the answer, because apart from anything else it would be dealing with purely physical sex, rather than sex in a human context - which is what's really interesting.

The point is that sex shouldn't be just a theme - it's an important part of life that intrigues, fascinates and affects (almost) everyone in the world, in a huge variety of ways. Taken on its own it may not make for a very good game, but if it's embedded into a game in the same way it is in life, I think it could make that game far deeper, richer, and more believable than an equivalent which utterly ignored sex.

The technology may not be up to it for years to come, but that doesn't mean it's an unworthy goal to pursue - in fact, quite the opposite, for the reasons I have outlined above.

[edit - dammit, late again]
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Sta7ic
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Post: #65
I suddenly find it rather amusing that so many around here are confused with the desire of the newbie designers to create RPGs. I mean, look at the bad influence this thread is having on those poor designers!

Cosmid, your idea might be doable. Talk David into taking 'Shades, making it a bit more like Deus Ex, and mixing a femme fatale into the MC's chair instead of an undentable Denton. I sure you can find a good way to charm this into him. <g>

-"Sta7ic" Matt
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w_reade
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Post: #66
cheers Smile

I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about the what-is-art thing - email me if you want to pursue the discussion sometime.
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Feanor
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Post: #67
OK, we definitely have different opinions about what is possible with computers when it comes to creating synthetic experiences.
Quote:Originally posted by cosmid
i think you mean that they are not interesting to YOU
Fair enough, probably understood by most people, though. We could convene a panel on relationship complexity, believeability and computer simulation of such... but I think the characters in games are dull and flat, and can only be sketched with lots of textual content. My favourite computer game characters are Leela and Durandal from the Marathon trilogy, but I was never under the illusion that I had a relationship with them. (I respond to your B&W stuff later.)
Quote:
no, the point i've been trying to make is that sex shouldn't be the theme but a component. eg sex could be a component of a spy/james bond type game. to say that in the context of games sex can only be a theme is completely close-minded and illogical.
Here's our difference of opinion. I argue that the entire James Bond-type milieu is a theme, including sub-themes. My thesis is simple: most computer games are mechanical in nature, and themes (usually quite literally in the form of icons/skins) are applied on top to hide the mechanics in various ways, using symbols and story.

There is nothing especially German about the Nazis in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Evidence that in Germany, where Nazi symbols are illegal, they replaced all the parephernalia with completely different symbols with no affect on gameplay. They could have been the blue monkey brigade and shot paint gun pellets at you, and had no effect on the gameplay, but only on the fantasy that the player invented in his or her imagination, in an almost pavlovian response to Nazi icons.

Similarly, try as you want, you cannot simulate sex or anything like it with a mouse, keyboard, and a video screen -- or any other intermediate specialty device you want to name. You can only paint sexual icons (and playback sexual sounds/voices, whatever, same deal, different sense organ) on an abstract mechanical system. I'm sorry, but there's no there there. It's an ILLUSION.

I am not criticizing, btw, just offering an interpretation. There are many possible interpretations, after all.
Quote: like I said in a previous post, yes game UIs are clunky at the moment, and the best you could probably get would be a combat-like control system which would probably just result in random key hitting by the player. a console controller would be better then mouse tracking here.
Sorry, same thing, different buttons.
Quote:no, i think the creature ai in b&w was getting quite close, i felt a real attachment to my creature ... my creature also had a relationship with the creature of another god
I'm sorry, but this all existed in your imagination only. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I love RPGs and pretending to be a holy Paladin saving the world from evil, and that the enemy characters have real motivations and lives and all that.

But as a game developer (in training), I cannot allow myself the luxury of believing in the fantasy that I am creating. The goal of making a good game is good gameplay, and you have to see it sans paint job or you will fail to make a good game.
[quote][b]
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Feanor
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Post: #68
Quote:Originally posted by cosmid
no, the alignment in b&w solely affects the appearance of the land, creature and your hand, it is like a personality test and purposefully does not and will not affect gameplay.
Sorry, but I wasn't talking about alignment per se. I just meant all the things you could ask your creature to do, and the different types of miracles you could teach it, and the flexibility of the tribespeople to do different things and the infinite variety of ways this would cause the tribe to grow and change. Small input, big output.

Peter Molyneux commented in an article somewhere about the need for very specialized, careful multi-player code to ensure that things did not get out of synch between two computers, because a tiny little difference (his example was throwing a tribesperson at a hill, and he either falls left or right) could make massive changes in the development of the world.

Sex in computer games won't be interesting until you have characters with the same dynamic range as the entire tribe and island as found in Black & White.
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Feanor
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Post: #69
Quote:Originally posted by w_reade
However, I feel that we've barely started to explore "gameplay space", and (as you say) somewhere therein we may well find a mechanism that does work appropriately with sexual content.
Oh, sure, the future is unlimited. But keep in mind that as we know games today, the gameplay is designed and driven by the intentions of the creators. When the players decide what is fun, you must give them a lot of flexibility and cease to impose what it means to succeed or win. That requires, I think, a simulation system. I am all for those! (Erm, not sex simulators, per se. :oopsSmile.
Quote:A game that is nothing but mouse-tracking around virtual erogenous zones is unlikely to be the answer, because apart from anything else it would be dealing with purely physical sex, rather than sex in a human context - which is what's really interesting.
Yep, and I hope to help design the simulated personalities which will be used in these scenarios, but it's still a ways away, because human characters have to talk to you, or you'll know they're dumb. No one has a good conversation engine yet (please don't tell me about Alice, which is crap, or cyc, which has no personality).
Quote:The point is that sex shouldn't be just a theme - it's an important part of life that intrigues, fascinates and affects (almost) everyone in the world, in a huge variety of ways. Taken on its own it may not make for a very good game, but if it's embedded into a game in the same way it is in life, I think it could make that game far deeper, richer, and more believable than an equivalent which utterly ignored sex.
I think the answer, aside from waiting for that mythical day when A.I. is good enough, is to keep with themes and window dressing, but to do a better job with them. Suggestion is more powerful than simulation, in horror and sex. We are affected by our own feelings, and the role of entertainers includes the job of tapping into the feelings our audience already has, and using them without their knowledge. You don't show sex or even seduction, but you show the setup and the results, and maybe a bit in between, and suddenly your character is having an affair with an NPC. Vice City has managed to do prostitution in this way, so maybe we can up the ante a bit, and add some more sophistication, or at least mystery and glamour.

I still want more simulation elements, but the blending of player-driven games and fixed game design is touch and go. I got sick of the story in Vice City and decided it would be more fun to practise mugging, vehicle jumping, taxi driving and other side games which had more freedom. I would have done the missions eventually, maybe, if I still had access to the PS2. Because if you don't affect the game world, you lose interest. There are no significant consequences in the world of Grand Theft Auto III, except in the main missions.

What makes gameplay interesting is the consequences: the choices that you cannot take back (without restoring from saved). For sex to have a valid role in games, it must lead to consequences which affect the game world and your character's status in that world, and hopefully more than a simple win/lose outcome. In the Sims, getting married has consequences for your character. You can have kids, right? Maybe you have in-laws. Maybe you get a disease. Maybe you make new friends who get you a better job.

We can do this in games using current technology, but we can't simulate the relationships, only suggest them. The player is still going to be mostly looking to progress through the game, mechanically, but that's ok, because that's what computer games are (mostly) about. As we can do more simulation, yeah, it could change, but I'm thinking that it probably won't, in most cases. The basic storyline will exist from the beginning, and you will be pushed through it, with the illusion that you are making decisions. And that's how players will like it.
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w_reade
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Post: #70
Feanor - yes, absolutely. I agree with everything you've said. The technical challenges are insurmountable right now.

But they'll never be overcome if people don't try to push the boundaries. Doubtless there'll be a number of embarrassing failures along the way (Alice, cyc? Rasp), but I think that's an acceptable price to pay.

I also think we would do well to remember the sheer pace of change, and how completely it can confound our expectations - remember Doom was bleeding-edge state-of-the-art gaming less than ten years ago (December 1993). If I'd magically shown you Halo then, would you have believed it would be out in under a decade? I doubt itÖ Likewise compare Populous with Black & White - a similarly breathtaking evolution over a very similar timespan.

I could be wrong, but people are nibbling at the edges of those insurmountable technical challenges as we speak, and I think there's an awful lot of potential progress for gaming to make over the next couple of decades. Even if this debate seems a bit cloud-cuckoo now, I think people will be discussing the issues with some urgency in the next few years.

Sigh... we're just ahead of our time Wink
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Post: #71
I don't see why it is ahead of our time to incorporate sexual relationships into the storyline of a story-driven game. If it is appropriate. I'm not talking about the actual act of sex being part of the gameplay, that would be difficult to do without it becoming ridiculous. After all, the act of sex can appear quite ridiculous when examined outside the heat of the moment.

In the real world, sex is a part of almost everyone's intimate relationships and it does play a part in them, I would argue a big part. It doesn't have to be explicit in a story. Say you have an RPG, it could be set in any era/world, if your character has an intimate relationship with someone you would assume they would be sexual partners as well. Then if your partner (or you) indulge in a little infidelity it would be a great way to explain a twist of allegiances in the story. It can create complicated urges and emotions which may influence the choices you have your character make.

Is this sort of example so far out of the realm of today's story-intesive games?
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w_reade
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Post: #72
It isn'tÖ the ahead-of-our-time bit was meant to refer to simulated relationships, not scripted ones, and was a bit tongue-in-cheek, anyway.

In my view, your suggested plot device is perfectly reasonable, in any sense you care to name.
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griffin239
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Post: #73
I had a game ages ago, MacBabes or something like that. Which involved sex toys, and/or bondage action. It was funny the first time I played it, and the first times I showed it to people. But really it was a novelty, kind of like all the sex games and toys at any adult "novelty" shop.

If the purpose of a game is 100% comedic entertainment, then incorporating sex would definately be a path to take. As was said before, sex outside the heat of the moment, is pretty funny.

Strip poker games have been popular since graphics have been on computers.

It has been my experience that first time Poser users tend to put the models in sexual situations.
Both Men and Women have exhibited this phenomena.

I would imagine a 3D app with Kama Sutra presets would be popular.

I even found bondage gear for Poser...and I think I saw an X rated comic made with poser!
I'm pretty sure I did.

No matter how ridiculous any game concept involving sex is, there will be people who download it and enjoy it. Maybe we should invite Larry Flynt, Hugh Heffner, or Bill Clinton to the forums for their viewpoints. Smile Or rather for their sponsorship Grin
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Post: #74
Quote:why can't sex be PART of a game like it is in film. as an important PART of plot and character development. because human relationships are interesting. For example if the character in your game forms alliances with other characters and enemies with some. if any of these alliances became so close they involved a sexual relationship would that affect your loyalty. could you be a classic femme fatal and seduce men, get them to do your bidding, and then dump 'em.
I'm not really so convinced that films do a good job. Seems like most Hollywood movies throw in the sex for the sake of having something in the movie. (Worded wrong?) Maybe 9 1/2 weeks is a bit different or Fatal Attraction.

I like the second idea. I could see a game based on Empire building that used those ideas. Like perhaps on what happen with "Mary of the Scots", and various lovers. One thing I haven't seen much in games is the use of forming alliances by marriage, which was often done.

Carlos A. Camacho,
Founder
iDevGames
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ricuse7
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Post: #75
Don't you guys understand this has already been done. there have been shareware games created with large #'s of options of how to have your character look. I happen to know three people who just look at their created figure from their computer terminal then start drooling, and decide it is much better looking and better at responding to their whims than their girlfriend so deciding that the CG girlfriend would be better. Then sequecially dump the real girlfriend.
Which makes no bit of difference they shouldn't have had the girlfriend in the firstplace. If you want to create say some game such as the sims and have it have the options of clothes or no clothes, (Which has been done and many people are choosing to download the created patch for no clothes...) who is to stop them. This is not only a moral issue with the person but a moral issue with the computer (that is if they start thinking...) So I think we have no hope except for making the game world more real to help those who are in serious need of mental reprogramming and slide them into "the world" of say... an anime called "Hack Sign"...?

along with annother point about having USB powered and run boxers, this is going to get a little... Sick!
(Glad to be the bringer of obvious news)
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