The Dirty History of Video Game Sex

video game sex image

Video games have come a long way from the days of Atari’s “Pong” where players monotonously volleyed the digital ball back and forth.  Nowadays, video games are almost interactive movies, compete with compelling plots and interesting characters. And like their cinematic counterparts, some extremely progressive video games even feature nudity and graphic sex scenes.  The sex in video games used to be insinuated but now, players can actually participate in how the characters in the game have sex by using their controllers; push right for more tongue, push up to take panties off and so on.  Gamers today are no longer just sexless geeks tied to their game consoles since video game sex can now give hardcore gamers a way to get their sexual fix in addition to participating in the play aspect of gaming. 

god of war sex scene

The issue of sex in video games has become a hot topic of discussion for parental groups and anti-video game activists.  Video games are already targeted as the cause for much of society’s problems and increased sexual activity in the games only fuels the fire of anti-video game crusaders who want to censor sexual material.  However, the reality is game developers know that the audience for hardcore gaming are young males who like to see scantily clad women.  And just like the movies, in order to sell to their audience, game developers need to give their audience what they want.  The majority of video game sex generally doesn’t advance a plot; it’s simply meant to titillate and be another marketing factor of the game.  Big-selling, successful games will generally feature well crafted gameplay with added sex to increase sales but now, there are some high selling games that like bad movies, are bad video games that have very little plot or interesting gameplay and are simply just full of female nudity.  And just like their media counterparts, video games come under criticism for doing what every marketer has known since the beginning of sales, sex sells.

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In the world of video games and virtual reality sex, there is a difference between using sexual images such as scantily clad video game characters to sell or enhance games and incorporating sex acts or nudity as a play element of the game involving character motivation or in-game reward.  The latter is video game sex and can be found on most worldwide video game platforms and genres.  Japan is the leading country for creating and distributing video games with pornographic sex. Games that includes pornography as one of the major aspects of the game are called “sex games” or “run or rape games.” In Japan, pornographic video games are called “eroge” and there is a robust industry including stores that specifically distribute these kinds of games.  Eroge games can either be made by a video game company, by amateur individuals or a group.

oculus rift

Considered to be one of the first video games to feature sexuality was the1981 text adventure game “Softporn Adventure,” created by Charles Benton and published by On-Line Systems for the Apple II.  Text adventure games use software in which players use text commands to control the characters and their environment.  The cover for the game featured three semi-nude women and a male waiter in a hot tub and raised some eyebrows due to the implied nudity even though the women’s breasts couldn’t be seen. In the game, the player is a down-on-his-luck party animal and must obtain certain items in order to win the affections of beautiful women.  The game sold 25,000 copies which at the time was estimated to be equal to about 25% of the number of Apple II’s sold in the marketplace.  The game was even featured in a Time Magazine article.

old computer porn

On-line Systems eventually became Sierra On-Line and commissioned game designer Al Lowe to create an adult game in the adventure style of their King’s Quest game series. Lowe expanded elements from “Softporn Adventure” and created the 1987 game “Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards,” a series of adult-oriented video games about a middle-aged male virgin named Larry Laffer.  The game followed Larry’s quest to “get lucky” in the fictional American city of Lost Wages and established several reoccurring  game elements such as Larry’s campy wardrobe, constant bad luck with women and love of double-entendres.  Due to word-of-mouth, the Leisure Suit Larry series sold well and spawned two sequels, “Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places)” released in 1988 and “Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals” in 1989.

Meanwhile in Japan in 1982, husband-and-wife team Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa released a graphic adventure game “Night Life,” the first erotic computer game with sexually explicit graphics for the NEC PC-8801computer.  Also in 1982, their company, Koei released another erotic role-playing adventure game called, “Danchi Tsuma no Yuwaku (Seduction of the Condominium Wife).”  These games became big hits in Japan and established Koei as a major software company.  In the early 1980s, other Japanese game companies such as Enix, Square and Nihon Falcom started the erotic adult games business before the industry became mainstream. In early eroge games, the storylines were simple and used extreme sexual content, such as rape which was criticized in the Japanese media.  Although some games integrated erotic content thoughtfully in their storylines, most used it simply as for pornography. New genres such as role-playing eroge was invented for games such as “Dragon Knight” by Elf and “Rance” by AliceSoft.

night life game cover

In the 1990s, most adult games used pre-rendered and real-time 3D graphics that had limited interactivity.  Most games were just thinly disguised pornography although some tried to actually include a story and plot.  Japanese game publishers were still the frontrunners in creating video games with sex.  In 1990, Japanese game company Kaneko released the first eroge game in their Gals Panic series.  In these games, the player had to slowly remove pieces of the playing field while avoiding enemies and as pieces were removed, pictures of women in various states of undress were revealed. The game spawned nine sequels with the last release in 2002.  Elf released “Dokyusei” in 1992 which created the love simulation genre.  Similar to interactive fiction, the user had to first win the affection of one of the video game’s female characters before the woman would reveal any nudity or eroticism.  In 1996, gaming publisher Leaf built upon this idea and released “Shizuku,” a game that they called a visual novel.  It became a successful game about a high school student who was a rapist.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, their 1997 game, “To Heart,” was a sweet high school love story that became so famous and trendsetting, the music from the game were added to karaoke machines throughout Japan, something never accomplished before by an eroge. 

to heart game

In the new millennium, many mainstream game publishers like Sony have strict policies against nudity and sexually explicit material.  For example, the nudity in the game “BMX XXX” was allowed in the Xbox and Nintendo GameCube but was censored for Sony’s PlayStation 2. However, Sony did allowed nudity in their 2005 third person, action-adventure game, “God of War” which they produced for the PlayStation 2.  In more recent times,  adult video games like “Red Light Center,” “Singles: Flirt Up Your Life” and “Playboy: The Mansion” bring multiple users together in sexual settings.  The virtual world of “Second Life” is generated almost entirely from player-made content including nudity and sexual acts.  Bootlegging established titles and putting in sexual and pornographic themes especially when sexuality is not intended in the original game has become popular among hackers.  For example, a hacker will take the characters from a popular game like “Tomb Raider” or “Grand Theft Auto” and put the characters in sexual situations primarily for humor.

Virtual Hefner and his virtual Playmates:

play mates videogame


Today, sex in gaming is at an all time high since as games evolve both technologically and in gameplay, so does the plot which many times include mature, sexual themes.  However, sex in video games has been around longer than most people think.  In 1982, Mystique released “Custer’s Revenge,” a controversial video game made for the Atari 2600.  The player character is based on General George Armstrong Custer who is depicted as a nude man with a constant, visible erection wearing only a cavalry hat, boots and a bandana.  Custer’s goal is to reach the other side of the screen while overcoming arrow attacks to have sex with a naked Native American woman tied to a pole.  Groups such as Women Against Pornography, Native American representatives and critics of the video game industry protested the game while activists pressured legislators to ban it.  Ultimately, all the media attention helped the game to sell almost 80,000 copies, twice as much as Mystique’s other adult video games.

Japanese publisher Tecmo released fast-paced 3D fighting game, “Dead or Alive” in 1996 which became one of their major franchises.  The game is noted for its innovative countering system and the animation of the breasts of its chesty female characters.  The breast animation was so popular, Tecmo created a spin-off game “Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball”  where the sex appeal of the women characters play even a bigger role.  In 2002, Acclaim Entertainment published “BMX XXX,” a BMX-based action sports title better known its nudity and adult themes where gamers can create topless female characters and even see live-action video clips of real life topless strippers.   

German company Deep Silver published “Singles: Flirt Up Your Life” in 2004, a gamesimilar to “The Sims” in that the gamer makes choices for its characters and plays a recently single woman who’s looking for the perfect companion to share her apartment. Featuring full-frontal nudity, players have to simulate real life situations like getting a job, flirting and partaking in sexual acts with new roommates.  Popular simulation games include “Dream Stripper,” which is more of an interactive stripping simulation than a game.  Players choose a lifelike stripper, customize her dance routine and then watch her strip for you.  Another is “Artificial Girl 2” published by Japanese company, Illusion Software although the game can only be played in English using fan-made patches.  Gamers play a single man who meets a sexy, bikini-clad girl while vacationing at the beach.  The player embarks on a series of mini games, often while naked to win the girl.  If the player wins, then there is a graphic and intense interactive sex mini game. 

For 3D adult gaming, Illusion Software created “Sexy Beach 3,” a 3D erotic simulation game.  In the game, while vacationing at the beach, players have to find and date one of five girls.  After choosing one of the girls, the player has to play a series of provocative mini games that determines if they are a perfect match with the girl.  If the couple is a match, players get to participate in an erotic interactive sex scene. German developer cdv Software Entertainment created an adventure game, “Lula 3D” that features a first and third person perspective and a patented “Bouncing Boobs Technology,” that aims to create the most realistic breasts ever seen in a video game.  The gamer plays Lula, a producer of erotic films with a goal to locate and save her kidnapped actors.  In playing the game, Lula flies all over the U.S. to find her actors while participating in a plethora of sexual activities.

A List of Top 10 Video Game Sex Scenes: