I'm really feeling it!

Sexuality in Games and the Definition of Masculinity

Sexuality in games is an interesting topic, with a lot to go over from the perspective of dozens of schools of thought. While articles examining games and their sexual content from the perspective of feminism (and sometimes extreme feminism) are very common, very rarely is attention given to the concept of sexuality itself, and even rarely to the depiction of masculinity within this media. Sure, men can traditionally carry a wide range of appearances, from old bastard Deckard Cain to grizzled meat statue Marcus Fenix while women are commonly depicted as voluptuous harlots with extra fat in the right places, but the diversity of character isn't as wide as it could be - and sexuality is never part of the equation.

[NOTE: This is a topic that discusses sexuality in a frank, albeit non-graphic, manner. If you have personal difficulty with the topic of sexuality or are religiously opposed to such discussion, this may not be the article for you.]


While I am a firmly heterosexual male, I hardly consider myself a rough, sexual beast. While my outward appearance is quite rugged (my usual work attire is jeans, dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a rawhide belt), I've always inwardly considered myself an androgynous person. I have a lot of difficulty identifying with with males "as they should be" - when men, including my father, talk about their sexual "conquests" or the supposed male need to be promiscuous, I feel quite awkward. When men display outbursts of aggression or yell in frustration, my anxiety acts up. When people discuss the male "requirement" of being the only person in the household who is fiscally relevant, I raise an eyebrow. Because of this I find myself drawn to females, more often than not - sometimes it starts as an attraction, but I find it easy to form lasting friendships with women, of a non-sexual nature. Perhaps it was because I was raised by a single mother, but I feel much more comfortable relating to women emotionally. I find it easier to discuss intellectual topics, or anything else more complex than current events. With men, there's always a distinct barrier, and I feel like I have two distinct social personalities. I have, in the past, been called a "fag" for trying to discuss human emotion or psychology with other men - it's a topic they're not seasoned to discuss. I would be inclined to think this is problematic.

What does this have to do with sexuality in games? I've always attributed my the success of my romantic relationship with my fiance to my perceived androgyny. Her and I are able to explore romance in more complex ways than I see depicted in media - our physically interactions are closely intertwined with our emotions. We're able to communicate in a number of different ways, sometimes without saying a word. I find great comfort in this. When I see the average male game character interact with a female he desires, the motivation is only rarely more than "I WANNA NAIL THAT." I have difficulty associating with that though - I see a woman I would like to pursue in a game, my first thought is never "I want my dick in that." My first thought is, "I want to know more about her, where she comes from, and what makes her tick." I feel extremely alienated by games for this reason - it feels like the games are telling me, "You want to fuck that," and my brain automatically responds, "But I know nothing about her. Will she be able to open up to me?"

Without sounding like an overeducated latte sipper, the feelings these games have towards sexuality are, to me, more closely associated with sexual aggression than mature sexuality. They infer that the greatest thing a woman can do is to fuck you, and that your aim is only to fuck. They don't consider the emotions or psychologies of any characters involved - the developers behind these games view sexual storytelling as mashing a Barbie and Ken doll together and calling it love. Sure, they're having sex. Cool. But what's the point of sex without intimacy? Why even bother having sex if you're not going to explore your emotions, or build a connection to this person, or work together to relieve inner turmoil? These video game sex scenes, to me, are no different than the protagonist grabbing a box of Kleenex and hopping on Porn Hub. If there's nothing to motivate the sex, what exactly is the point of it?

I mentioned in response to an earlier topic (the one about tits) that Silent Hill 2 is the best game ever made about sexuality. It explores sexuality without explicitly exploring the act of sex itself. It understands the emotions that motivate sex. A simpleton might play that game and assume James killed his wife because she was too sick to do the horizontal hustle, but that's just not the case - James Sunderland used sex and his relationship with his wife to feel emotionally secure. When he lost that, when he lost that outlet, he felt abandoned and betrayed. The game explores that thoroughly without explicitly saying a single word on the subject; and dare I say, it spoke in the language of human intimacy - it was like a book written not with letters and ciphers, but with feelings.


I would love to see more games explore sexuality in a more complex manner. When I think back to my experiences in high school, I was always more inclined to watch softcore shows on Showcase than internet porn. The softcore stuff had stories, it had reasons for the sexuality to occur - perhaps it was about and abused woman who became sexually domineering to win back her sense of control, or maybe it was about someone horribly bored with life and seeking new ways to expand their horizons. There was maybe 2 minutes of sex at the conclusion of the story, but whether or not it had that, it was still emotionally engaging just the same. If more media, games especially, could go this route in their stories about sexuality, each medium would be a healthier and more inclusive place because of it.

I understand this topic has likely made a lot of people feel awkward, and some of you are probably surprised that I can discuss my own sexuality so openly. It's a difficult subject to discuss most people, because people generally don't know how to discuss it in the right way. Some do - there are people making great films that explore some of these themes. These are rarely in the mainstream, they're more or less movies you'll find at the weird bookstore downtown or on TV at 2am, but they're there. If we, as a society, can overcome our barriers to discuss our sexuality openly and honestly, we will be a much healthier people for it. If you have any thoughts, comments, or feedback. I'd love to hear it. I've been mulling over this topic for a long while now, and I spent a good 90 minutes writing it, so I really do hope it impresses. :>


Thanks for reading.

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