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As the title might suggest, I'm working on a horror video game, which happens to have a few sex scenes and a bit of nudity here and there - at least, that's what I planned to do. Just FYI: I don't actually plan on selling it anywhere, I plan on making it freely available and self-published. I don't care about getting a rating, but I do care that nobody underage even sees the game. And no, I would probably not even publish it on Steam, even if they recently opened the floodgates for games with sexual content, but that can always change.

So what's the problem exactly? It's a horror game after all, pretty much already reserved for adults only, so why should anybody care if it has sex scenes and nudity, especially when it's not even going to be rated? Well, imo, people have this weird double standard where they can see extreme amounts of gore, but not anything related to sex. Maybe I'm wrong and it's just simply how games with sexual content have been shunned in the past, but that's how it comes across and it's why I'm unsure of doing anything in that direction. Doesn't help that video games are still "babied" unlike movies and books.

What would the game have? Full nudity and full sex scenes, meaning you get to see everything, penetration itself included. If you want. The sex scenes are basically just fan service that you can skip at any time, since they don't really add much to the story itself. You can choose to either watch two (or more) characters have sex for half an hour or you can just get a "and then they had sex" text box and move on. Your choice. The only sex scenes you can't skip are the short ones, where something important happens in the middle of it.

At the risk of being called a pedophile, I also planned on including one nude scene involving two 12 year olds. Don't worry, they're not at all supposed to be sexual in nature, they're just supposed to be treated like a "matter-of-fact" manner. No weird camera angles, no focus on the naughty bits, no sexualisation whatsoever, they just simply happen to be nude in a setting where people are usually nude. Nothing more.

Besides the perverted parts of the game, the game is already pretty graphic, one scene for example involves a character finding the heads of her parents. It is by no means meant for children or even young teenagers, it is adults only.

So... should I go with it? Or should I leave these things out entirely because gamers would prefer not to have them (for some reason)? Should I maybe make two versions, one cut, the other uncut, even if it would still contain the gore? Would it be distracting to have these scenes in a game that's primarily horror and not... erotica/porn/whatever you want to call it?

  • Amadeus suggests you to think about laws. When the game is free to download what really matters are laws where the domain is. If you upload the game on a resourse registered in California laws of California apply. But this does not mean resourse could not be banned in other areas because of this. And then it might make resourse owners to delete your game. However, what he bolds more is public shaming. That people can think your game is child sexuality propaganda. That's not to say child sexuality (without nudity, though) is the case in the last of us 2. – rus9384 Sep 18 '18 at 6:56
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Videogames with sexual content do exist. Bioware's Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises offer "vanilla" sex, same-sex sex, BDSM sex, interspecies sex. All of it loving, consenting, and heart-warming. All of it story-relevant. None of it actually shows any "naughty bits" - it's mostly smart camera angles, but there are mods that change that, for those players who want to see more. The bias you talk about does exist, violence is treated as "more OK" than healthy sex, for some reason, but it's not that games are entirely devoid of the latter.

Considering your audience is going to be adults anyway, I don't see anything wrong with including sex scenes. What troubles me is that you say those scenes don't add anything to the story. So, if the scenes don't add anything, why are they there? To titillate the audience, like porn? Think again - why do you want those scenes there - for edginess? The way I see it, if a scene serves no purpose, it should be cut, whether it's sex, or dialogue, or anything else.

If the sex scene is relevant to the story, but you're not sure how graphic it should be, offering a toned down option in the game settings is a good idea. There is an audience for scenes that leave less to the imagination, as evidenced by numerous mods. There is also an audience for the less explicit version. However, here's one more thing for you to consider: as a player, I wouldn't want a 15-minutes anything scene. I'm a player, I want to play. If I have 30 minutes to play, I don't want to suddenly spend half of my playtime watching a scene. 1-2 minutes - great. Anything longer, and I'm going to lose patience, get myself a coffee, open a book, all while I wait for the stage where I get to finally do stuff. Videogames are an interactive medium. A long cutscene takes away this interactivity aspect.

Finally, regarding naked 12-year-old girls, I'm sure you're familiar with the "Napalm Girl" photograph from the Vietnam War:

Napalm Girl

I'm sure nobody would call this picture "sexualised" or anything similar. I'm not sure what you're planning, but I wouldn't start shouting "paedophile" without having seen first. That said, @Amadeus is not wrong - the other scenes in the game might colour how the scene with the girls is perceived. It might not be sexualised in itself, but perceived as such because of scenes before and after.

  • I should have phrased it better. The sex scenes aren't entirely "pointless" by themselves, obviously they can show the growing love and closeness between two (or more) characters in a very intimate and primal way, which I planned on doing, only in a sort of post-sex kind of scene, where they cuddle and talk about what's on their mind. I could still show the sex scenes in an abridged form, but my point is you don't need to see a full 10 to 20 minutes of them doing different positions to get the point across, do you? You don't need to see the penetration itself. Hence why I call it fan service. – noClue Sep 14 '18 at 16:13
  • I don't plan on cutting fan service because of it being unnecessary, because fan service is unnecessary by its very nature. But it's called fan service for a reason, right? It's there to service the fans, and if it's doing the job, I don't see why I should cut it.You yourself mention people modding the sex scenes to show more of what they want to see. That is unnecessary, but people still want it. We're all dirty apes after all, whether we want to admit it or not, I'm just making it easier for them by providing the sex scenes up front in their raw form. I'm such a charitable person, aren't I. – noClue Sep 14 '18 at 16:57
  • ... and regarding the whole "paedophile" thing, you know how quick people are to judge something these days, getting triggered by all sorts of things, calling you nazi, pedophile or whatever as a result, no matter what you say or do. I want to do those scenes in good faith, but that doesn't mean everyone will see it that way. – noClue Sep 14 '18 at 17:00
  • @noClue Edited my post in light of your comments. – Galastel Sep 14 '18 at 19:07
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You need to ask a lawyer. I am not a lawyer, but it is my understanding that in some States (of the USA) it is illegal to portray, even in simulation, animation or cartoon form, sexualized scenes of children, and nudity counts, and your game would probably be considered "sexualized" since you have other scenes with exposed genitalia and penetration.

You don't have any good reason for portraying nude children; showing their butts or showing them from the front, or even showing a female child's unformed breasts. The "Napalm girl" portrayed above was not intended for entertainment, but for News. Your product (free or not) is intended for entertainment.

Your best bet, whether rated for not, is to include a disclaimer on the front that must be acknowledged; e.g. "This game contains extreme violence, full frontal nudity and explicit sexual action scenes. It is intended for adults only. Exit if you do not consent to viewing the explicit content."

I wouldn't worry about doing that, such notices (on the game and in the description of the game) can actually increase the sales (or downloads) of your game; some people will get it just to see those scenes!

But definitely, cut out the nude children. Put them in bathing suits if you need the characters. Or figure something else out. You cannot just do whatever you want here. (and I don't even know the law in other countries, do not assume they are any more liberal than the USA).

  • I agree with your post, except for the "You don't have any good reason for (...) showing a female child's unformed breasts." part, if by that you mean the bare chest of a child young enough to have no breasts at all. At that age, girls do not necessarily wear bikini tops or bathing suits yet, so young children with bare chests are probably a normal part of any beach or swimming pool scene that features families. From the OP's description, probably not a setting that occurs in their particular game, though. – O. R. Mapper Sep 14 '18 at 20:15
  • @O.R.Mapper "It happens in real life" is not a "good reason" for writing it into fiction. Child rape happens in real life, too. And the context matters: If the game is sexualized, the entire content can be considered sexualized, and the OP specifically says other people are appearing in the nude in this scene. My advice here is to steer the OP away from trouble; in any scene that can be considered sexualized, by people hostile to the work, he should avoid showing anything on a child, male or female, that would normally be covered by a bathing suit. To me that includes breasts. – Amadeus Sep 14 '18 at 21:07
  • My point was that where I live, the upper body of small children is not "normally (...) covered by a bathing suit". I agree the context can change the impression a given scene conveys. – O. R. Mapper Sep 14 '18 at 21:49
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    @O.R.Mapper "not normally covered" greatly depends on where you live. In some countries, putting an 8-year old in a bikini is normal, her being topless on the beach is considered inappropriate, "undressed". In other countries, the opposite is true - putting a little girl in a bikini would be considered inappropriately sexualising her by suggesting there's something to be covered. – Galastel Sep 14 '18 at 21:56
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    @O.R.Mapper Consider also this scene from My neighbour Totoro: caseyboz10331.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/20140511-170600.jpg Naked girls sharing a bath with their naked father. Perfectly normal in 1950s Japan. Less so in modern America. As far as I know nobody tried to categorise Totoro as child pornography, but that has much to do with the overall setting and atmosphere of the film, not just the elements of the particular scene. – Galastel Sep 14 '18 at 21:59
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I originally had no intention of answering your question, I only looked at your question out of curiosity especially as I am in to videogames and to see why this was in 'Writing', However I read the line:

At the risk of being called a pedophile, I also planned on including one nude scene involving two 12 year olds.

and I felt like I should say something. So without further ado. You say at the end:

It is by no means meant for children or even young teenagers, it is adults only

Whenever you write anything you should be asking yourself why. Why do the children need to be 'nude'? Even if the target audience are mature adults and the scene is seem natural in your game's narative, depicting children without clothes may still not be appropriate. Do you feel you have the maturity to handle the scene tastefully (I think possibly not) and is it worth trying?

I plan on making it freely available and self-published. I don't care about getting a rating, but I do care that nobody underage even sees the game.

It sounds like you are planning on distibuting your game on a personal website or on some other site. Either way there is probably no way for you ensure that underaged children will not see your game and if it is the latter I'm pretty all sites will screen games to see whether it is something they would want to host (you might be getting ahead of yourself with regards to Steam).

Well, imo, people have this weird double standard where they can see extreme amounts of gore, but not anything related to sex.

There is no reason why you should not put sex scenes in a game, it is after just another creative medium which can be used for human expression and entertainment. I think that often people become uncomfortable when confronted with CGI sex as it feels very natural and inevitably awkward. Are videogames the right medium for your story? If the answer is yes and you want other people to play your game, the next thing you should ask yourself is: "Is this the kind of thing my audience ('gamers') will want to play?" "Will this be fun to play?"

As a side note, do you have any experience making games? While reading your question, I felt like this was probably a first attempt. Are you planning on doing all the work yourself? Be aware that there is a lot of work involved. You should start small before you embark on creating full erotic horror game, do some research and possible join an online community of other developers, who will be able to help you and offer suggestions.

Anyway I hope I have given you good advice for think about and good luck with however it turns out.

  • Do not worry too much about whether or not I can make the game. :) I know making games isn't easy, but that wasn't the point of my question anyway. This is for a future game project that I'm only working on in the sense that I'm collecting a lot of ideas and prototyping. I don't plan on releasing anything anytime soon. It's gonna be small projects before I tackle this beast. Asking the question now may not help me right now, but it could help other people at least. – noClue Sep 14 '18 at 16:38
  • I mainly chose video games because they allow me to create branching narratives. As for avoiding underage players, that's an unfortunate reality that you can't really stop. Children will always play video games, watch movies or listen to songs not suited to them. I will do everything I can to prevent them from playing my game, that's for sure. – noClue Sep 14 '18 at 16:39
  • As for the topic on nude children, how would you tackle a scene like that in a tasteful manner? What does that mean to you? What do I need to do to make it natural and less awkward if you were to play my game? Do you have any ideas? I think I'm already doing a lot by simply not focusing a lot of attention on the fact that they're nude, but maybe you have more/better ideas. – noClue Sep 14 '18 at 16:41
  • Without further context it will be difficult for anyone to give you any suggestions. If you don't mind editing your question to give more detail about what is happening in the scenes of your game, then I will see if I can elaborate on my answer to give you some advice. Don't be shy about what you disclose. – lifesoordinary Sep 14 '18 at 17:04
  • Hm... I don't know if I should really include it in the question, since that's not really what the question is about. Maybe we could move this discussion to chat and I go in more detail there? – noClue Sep 14 '18 at 17:06

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