Will Virtual Reality Sex in Video Games Set a Dangerous Precedent?


We encourage you to read the entire article before you drop a comment. The author does not intend to offend anyone with this piece or force her opinions upon anyone. 

A few months ago, the video game Wicked Paradise was announced- a title specifically designed for the upcoming Oculus Rift virtual reality device. Part of the video game’s official description from its webpage includes the following: “Imagine walking into a bar in Wicked Paradise, noticing a beautiful lady, talking to her, and seducing her. Imagine playing your cards right and having passionate wild sex with her. Imagine all this in high quality, immersive virtual reality.”  Imagine    playing your cards right and having passionate wild sex with her. Imagine all this in high quality, immersive virtual reality. 

Granted, this isn’t the first erotic video game out there. We’ve had explicit games like Playboy: The Mansion and Leisure Suit Larry to name a few.

Wicked Paradise is making waves not only because of the developers behind it, but also the amount of control and immersion it promises its players; this isn’t some amateur point and click game like we’ve seen countless of times. This is basically virtual sex to the next level.

With technological innovation on the rise, this is undoubtedly just the beginning of artificially simulated sex. Should this be nipped in the bud, or does erotica have its place in the realm of video games?

Sex is not a foreign concept to human beings. We use it for fun, and as a means to procreate. We recognize it as both a need and a desire that we must fulfill. Religion and society often paints it as something barbaric when it is simply a part of human nature. While there are people who maintain conservative views, the world is gradually growing to accept more modern notions of sex and exploring one’s sexuality.

Pornography is streamed online and people talk about it candidly among friends. Prostitution is legal and is considered a respectable profession in several countries (note: I am not talking about human trafficking of sex slaves, but the consensual kind). Artists like R. Kelly sing about sex across the airwaves like it’s small talk.

We even have a whole genre dedicated to sex for film and literature called erotica. People can already have sex in a virtual online world like Second Life. What’s the big deal with adding more definitive graphics and some goggles?

Kids will grow up to be perverts.

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Sure, if you have bad parenting skills. ESRB ratings weren’t made to be ignored just so you know. It just baffles me how some parents (possibly FOX news too) blame video game companies for showing their children mature content when the games in question are clearly rated ‘M’ for mature or are titled Grand Theft Auto. I played games like GTA when I was in the third grade though.

However, my parents let me play these games not because they were negligent, but mostly because they chose not to shelter me from the world. They would talk to me about the nudity, violence, and sexual themes that I would see in the media to guide me in the right direction. In philosophy, there is a belief that the things and even the people in our lives have no intrinsic value.

We give meaning to them. Our perception shapes how we see the world. Will you use a mature video game to help your child understand the harsh realities of the world, or will it pave a dark path for him or her? The ball is in your court and where it goes depends on you.

It will cause sexual crimes and misogynistic behavior

To counter this claim, I would like to reference the true crime book Anatomy of a Motive by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Douglas is a former special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and one of the most renowned criminal profilers in the world.

He has interviewed some of the most notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, Charles Manson, and so on. In his book with Olshaker, the third chapter discussed a case he handled wherein a young teen named Ronald Zamora shot an old woman during a foiled burglary attempt.

He blamed his favorite detective television show for desensitizing him to violence. Douglas also noted a study that tried to investigate if detective magazines, which usually had sexually sadistic imagery, could ’cause’ sexual sadism or sadistic offenses.

The researchers behind the article expressed concern that the continual juxtaposition of sexual and violent images might cause young men to associate the two ideas in their minds.

Zamora was found guilty despite his plea for insanity using the television argument. In addition, the study was not able to connect sexually sadistic imagery as a cause to sexual crimes. I encourage you to read this chapter or even the whole book for more insight. However, I can aptly summarize the idea Douglas wanted to convey in his own words from the book:

But it’s very important to remember that in cases like this, as with others we’ve been examining, the media don’t cause the crime. What they can do is influence and heighten the details. They don’t create motive in people for whom it is not there already. That comes from someplace inside, far deeper and scarier.

You could also argue based from what Douglas said that the media (i.e video games) could encourage people with criminal motives. No, because he also says that all the media can do is influence and heighten the details. For example, seeing a character strangle a woman in a particular way on television might have inspired his methodology. On the other hand, he might have played a character in the game who stabbed someone.

The perpetrator would still do it either way because the intent was already there to begin with. It wasn’t planted by whatever media he consumed. You and me might have watched the same show or played the same game. I know I’m not compelled to murder anyone, and I’m sure you’re not either. That’s because we don’t have the motive to do so.

Consequently, Wicked Paradise does not appear to be a game that contains any form of sexual sadism or crimes so far. It seems like an ordinary dating simulation game enhanced by virtual reality tools. I only have two caveats when it comes to producing similar games. First, the video game should clearly define the experience as a consensual one. If you fail to seduce the virtual woman, there shouldn’t be an option to shove or violently abuse her in any way. If you fail to seduce the virtual woman, there shouldn’t be an option to shove or violently abuse her in any way.

How about people who are into bondage or that whole torture scene? Well, who am I to judge? Plus, it’s usually faux torture anyway since both parties enjoy it.

Secondly, there should be no option of murder or rape in the game. I understand that the aforementioned crimes are featured in some video games but they don’t push you to actively participate in it during the entire game.

Wicked Paradise simply appears to be a harmless game that aims to capitalize primarily on the male libido instead of male superiority. You know you should be worried about a game when the entirety revolves around committing a sexual crime and making it seem normal to do so. One example of this is RapeLay:

Why should I worry if there is sexual abuse, rape, or murder in a video game if we know that the media doesn’t cause the crime? Like Douglas said, if we don’t have criminal intentions then we don’t have to worry about being influenced to mimic it. Plus, perpetrators will commit the crime anyway regardless of the media they consumed.

You have to remember though that we are talking about grown people who already have formed ideals and sense of morality. It won’t affect us or them either way. However, with children, it’s a different story.

They are a blank slate and what they are exposed to will play a huge role into shaping who they are whether as an upstanding citizen or malicious criminal. If you expose them to a medium that promotes sexual crimes and abuse as normal acts they could do while walking to work, then they will be conditioned that way from a young age.

They will grow to be Zamora, Bundy, Kemper, and so on unless someone is there to actively guide and educate them.

The worst a game like Wicked Paradise could do is turn your child into Steven Stifler from the American Pie franchise.

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He loves sex and women, but he’s no rapist.

Sex without the words abuse’ or ‘murder’ is often a beautiful and pleasurable experience for human beings. It is an act of leisure, love, and creating life. We shouldn’t let its negative connotations stop us from enjoying the positive experiences it reaps. If you want to have virtual sex online and you aren’t hurting anyone (real or virtually), then who am I to judge if you want a piece of Wicked Paradise?

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There are 5 comments

  1. Sara Clemens

    I just wish we’d all stop pretending the female libido is some kind of mythical beast. Sign me up to beta test the virtual sex simulator that has me seducing young studs. Cuddling not required.

    1. Yesika Reyes

      Curious: Do you think that Wicked Paradise is offensive because it sets up women as prizes? I mean if it’s a setting where this guy has to complete a list or reach a score, then I’d find it repulsive but if it has this romantic storyline… then what makes it so different from those erotic books?

      1. Sara Clemens

        I don’t find it offensive. By all means, bring on the virtual porn! I just also want a game where I can do some dudes. And throw some games featuring virtual gay sex while we’re at it, or any combination therein.

        I do think it’s interesting that you’d find Wicked Paradise offensive if the gameplay centered around completing a list or reaching a certain score, because I assume that’s exactly where at least some of the gamification will come in. I mean, with a name like Wicked Paradise, it’s probably not going to be about finding the right girl and settling down.

      2. Lima Zulu

        I’d say it’s not offensive in a vacuum, but video games aren’t developed in a vacuum. It’s just a consistent evolution, with more of the same. Anita Sarkeesian just finished her Tropes in Video Games set on damseling, where the DiD is the prize to be won by the player, and this seems to be just a progression (if we can really call this progress) along that line.

        Date sims have a very poor record in regards to affording female characters, who make up the bulk of the characters, with agency of their own. These aren’t human beings, they’re walking and talking moist holes for the player to game their e-peens into.

        This doesn’t exist in a reality where sexuality is maturely handled and women are given the agency and respect we deserve. It’s representative of the same crap dudes have been doing for a long time now, just in virtual reality.

        Maybe a game where the player can establish their identity and not everyone around is romanceable and thus have their own agency, and have characterizations beyond “obstructions to humpin’,” and can engage in non-cisheteronormative sex, so on and so forth… Because when you’re not “groundbreaking” (ie treating people as varied and real instead of interactive blowup dolls) with this kind of thing, you’re just reinforcing the status quo. And the status quo is dirt balls.

  2. Dori

    @Sara Clemens well these kind of games already exist although only in 2d as far as i know. Look up yaoi for men on men or otome for woman on men. Tho only a handful are translated into english and some are kind of to cliched as hinted by lima … or even as disturbing as the game above (e.g. men on men rape)

    @Lima the world of vn’s got both the good and the bad

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