Due to the subject matter of this entire week, some items may be NSFW. Barring some terrible graphics, we’re sorta aiming for PG-13 screenshots here, but, given everyone has a different threshold, anything potentially offensive will be behind the “Read More” links du jour. Just so you are aware…
As time has gone on, society’s understanding of sex and gender has become much more fluid. It’s no longer about boy or girl, there’s an entire spectrum. And while that spectrum has always existed, what’s important is that people now (finally) acknowledge such a thing. That’s good! Less good, however, is that discussions on sexuality and the impact of sexual imagery seem more binary than ever. Sexual material is only for disgusting shut-ins that want to see women objectified, or it’s about ethics in naked ladies, and anyone that attempts to censor so much as an exposed thigh must be burned like a witch.
As far as my position? I just want to talk about video games.
So I’m going to do that.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Wankery Week. All this week I’m going to be looking at games with sexual content. I’m not (just) reviewing porn games, though. I’m going to be looking at games where, one way or another, the sexual content or themes become a talking point. I realize that, unfortunately, this describes practically every video game made in the last thirty years. I… I want to say Electroplankton is fairly sexless. That’s all I can think of at the moment.
Because, really, this is why this whole “sex and video games” discussion interests me. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up with video games. I was born just in time for the NES, and I’ve matured right along with the medium. This means that, like more and more people every day, I was playing video games when I hit puberty. Want to know a pretty sexless video game? Wild Arms for the Playstation, released April of 1997. It was also the game I received as a gift/reward for graduating junior high. It is also a game I remember for featuring Princess Cecilia Lynn Adlehyde. I remember liking Cecilia. A lot. And here she is, in all her polygonal glory…
To my audience that is attracted to women, please zip up your pants. I realize you are probably too horny to read the rest of this paragraph, but please bear with me. I know it’s a popular theory nowadays that experiencing your sexual awakening during an episode of Rescue Rangers or Dragon’s Lair accounts for “weird” kinks down the line, but I feel like a lot of people forget what it’s like to be a teenager. I remember. I remember that I would have had sex with a beanbag chair if it was vaguely shaped like Xena, Warrior Princess. When I was thirteen? Christ, how many fetishes you got? I’d go through the list if it meant touching a real life breast.
My point here is that anyone can find practically anything sexy about any given video game. Teenagers are easy marks, but what about the myriad of “others” out there? Chameleon Twist is by no means a pornographic game, but that doesn’t mean a lick to tongue fetishists. Have a thing for sphere shaped women? Fat Princess is supposed to be goofy, not sexy… but how can you resist those inviting, stretched princess panties. And, obviously, there’s the entire furry continuum, so just sticking a pair of rabbit ears or a horse tail on a character can get those hearts thumping.
Did anything in the previous paragraph turn you on? Did it disgust you? It doesn’t matter either way. Everyone has their own kink, and whether you’re attracted to centaurs, elves, or blondes, it doesn’t matter, there’s probably at least one video game out there that will scratch that itch, whether it’s intentional or not. This is, ultimately, why this topic is so fascinating to me, because there’s someone out there right now dreaming about the duck creatures from Bobby is Going Home, and the rest of the world is busy calling Dead or Alive the bane of society.
So, to be clear, I’m not here to judge kinks. I’m not here to say “oh look at these breasts ha ha what kind of pervert likes breasts?” This is Wankery Week, I don’t want to shame anyone for what they find wank worthy.
What I want to do is examine how video games work with sex, and, frankly, what’s the appeal?
Now, I can guess a number of you are making wanking motions of your own and saying, “you can’t figure out why men want to see naked ladies? Go back to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College!” And, yes, obviously I get that sex appeal in a lot of cases is just simple “look, it’s a bare tit.” But, well, if you’re reading this, you’re on the internet. I don’t care if you’re in your room or on the bus, you can, technically, right now, go look at all the porn that has ever existed. You don’t have to play a game to do it. You don’t have to fight through twenty levels to “unlock” a new costume. You can, right the heck now, leer at an entire world of pornographic material, and have practically all of it tailored to your specific interests.
Don’t tell me your particular kink doesn’t have porn, by the way, I know you’ve got a deviantart account.
So, why does anyone bother with porny video games? Video games require effort. Video games require technique. Video games require… two hands. This is… antithetical to the desired outcome.
In the beginning, video games couldn’t even support graphics that were anywhere near arousing. But that didn’t stop Mystique, a game company that is practically legally mandated to be mentioned when talking about video game wankery. Mystique’s bestselling game? Custer’s Revenge for the Atari 2600.
From a gameplay perspective, Custer’s Revenge is a pretty typical 2600 game. This isn’t a bad thing! The Wild West of the pre-Nintendo years meant you could get a game that is actually playable or something more, “like Pac-Man, but the player has to write a novel every time they get a power pellet. Bonus stages are based on Hungry Hungry Hippos.” Custer’s Revenge is simply a one screen, 2-D affair where you must safely guide Custer from one side of the screen to the other. Once Custer has reached his goal, you grab for the treasure as many times as possible while still avoiding danger. Custer may have to temporarily retreat thanks to a deluge of arrows, but once the coast is clear, it’s time to get back in there, and score as many points as possible.
Also, you score points by raping a woman.
Custer’s Revenge is an Atari game, so its graphics are primitive. Custer himself is little more than a hangman scribble(well, alright, hungman), and your “prize”, an unnamed, trust-up woman, is pretty much a sideways drawing of a breast that would make Dennis Reynolds wince. If you’re able to draw sexual pleasure from Custer’s Revenge screenshots, you’ve got a much more avid imagination than I do.
But Custer’s Revenge isn’t about what you’re seeing, it’s about what you’re doing.
Custer’s Revenge is a rape fantasy, plain and simple. Forgive the heteronormative nouns here, but you’re a big, strong man taking advantage of a weak, but sexy, woman. It’s a power fantasy, and what’s more, what you’re doing is heroic. You’re braving certain death to fill this woman with your seed, and you’re even crossing cultural taboo boundaries to commit this act. Custer is a big damn American hero!
That’s the appeal here. That’s the charm of this “sexy” videogame. It’s not about “looking at porn”, it’s about participating in this forbidden act. In reality, raping someone is going to land you in jail, but here’s a safe, fantasy environment, and you can hurt whoever you want. That woman can be an object because she effectively is an object.
As I said earlier, I’m not here to judge people’s kinks. I’m also going to do my best to avoid railing against any given game for the overt and subconscious effects it may have on the populace. Smarter people than I have spent their entire lives studying how particular fantasies (whether imagined or coded into video games) can have significant effects on society at large. Even if I find everything about a game disgusting, I’m not going to dwell on that, because, heck, you can draw your own conclusions about anything featured this week. The whole point of this week is to see the “why” behind the games that lean on eroticism.
Custer’s Revenge is a rape fantasy, and it was released to capitalize on the video game medium’s ability to allow participation. Pornography has tried to do this for years, with everything from “first person” camera angles, to “choose your own adventure” literotica. But video games have that market covered from the moment you pick up the controller. You can participate in sexy times; you can be part of the story.
Custer’s Revenge is a pornographic story. Without the benefit of hi-definition graphics or sound, all CR has is its story, and the player’s imagination. For some people, that’s enough to get the joystick moving. Custer’s Revenge sold 80,000 copies. That’s no Super Mario Bros, but it’s also a game that, for the time, isn’t a failure, particularly given it was one of the most expensive Atari games available at its launch. And, oh yeah, it was practically illegal to sell to Atari’s chief target demographic. In short, Custer’s Revenge worked.
Custer’s Revenge was Mystique’s bestselling Atari game. There were other pornographic games produced (like “Naked Breakout” and “The Game Where You Swallow Sperm”), but, like a lot of developers of the time, the company crashed with the rest of the market when Atari failed to properly sell some raisin alien. As such, history has robbed us of where this series may have gone, and the Nintendo Seal of Quality put a kibosh on ever seeing anything like it outside of the PC market. We’ll never know if “rape simulator” could have taken off as its own genre on home consoles.
I have a hard time seeing that as a bad thing…
But it’s not like the idea of titillation was expunged from gaming forever. No, far from it. So we’re going to take the rest of the week to look at titles that put an emphasis on the titties.
Wankery Week #1 Custer’s Revenge
- System: Atari 2600. I’m going to go ahead and guess it doesn’t appear on any Atari compilations or retro systems.
- Number of players: One… even if it was two player alternating, it would still be one player.
- Could you play this with someone else in the room? It would be very easy to claim you’re playing this ancient beast “for the lolz”. Just make sure your pants aren’t around your ankles.
- What’s in a name? Custer’s Revenge is also known as Westward Ho and The White Man Came. Do they give out awards for porn titling?
- A moment for Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em: Mystique also produced a game where a dude atop a building ejaculates into the mouths of a pair of naked women waiting below. I find this interesting, as the player controls the women, not the man (though you do press the button to initially “start” the man). Seems like a weird choice for a game from the era that basically defined the fear of “looking gay”.
- Did you know? George Armstrong Custer, the Union Lieutenant Colonel on whom this game is loosely based, graduated from West Point… last in his class. He had a pretty worthwhile career over the Civil War, but you’re only as good as your last stand…
- Would I play again: I cannot conceive of a situation where that would happen.
What’s next? Wankery Week continues tomorrow with super dynamic cooking time! Please look forward to it!