February 13th, 2006

What is a game, at its simplest, but an interactive challenge with a goal? Let’s go one better, and say a game — this game at least — takes skill, and that that necessary skill-level, along with the game itself, gets higher/faster/harder as the game continues, until it finally culminates in one last explosive battle.

It’s a simple enough formula, timeless if not cliche. Thing is, this isn’t just the formula for a game. It’s the formula for an orgasm.

Nowhere else in life (apart, maybe, from games) do we get such a such a perfect, predictable curve of human response. Arousal, build-up, climax, short period of closure. The orgasm arc is all around us. It’s the way we’re taught to write stories. Heck, it may be the model for all of our logic, even our art. By nature, we follow the innate and comfortable rhythm rooted in our bodies: our most basic, orgasmic function.

Which, perhaps, explains why games are a lot like orgasms. But the reverse is also true; giving orgasms is a lot like a game. You can, in theory, win, but it takes talent to do it. Get good enough though, and you can win quicker/better/longer than before. There’s satisfaction in a job well-done — the same kind of satisfaction that comes in beating a high score or getting the best possible game ending.

Of course, others have picked up on the orgasm/game connection before. The world of adult-themed flash games (which when you think of it, really are video games stripped down to their essential parts) is full of “make her cum” and “test your hand” titles. The girls may look and react differently to your attentions, but the object is always the same: female orgasm through imposed stimulation.

In some senses this is surprising. In real-life sex men — or so we commonly perceive — care more about their own pleasure than that of their female partners. Yet in these games, only female excitement matters. Does this represent some largely-unexpressed desire to care for a woman’s sexual needs? Maybe, maybe not. Female orgasm, in becoming a game, also becomes a meter of player skill. What matters isn’t that the girl orgasms, but that the (usually male) player has been able to make her do it.

In this way, female orgasm is used as a barimeter of masculinity. But, keep in mind, these games (for some players, at least) are also arousing. So are these men aroused by the on-screen girls’ reactions, or their ability to, literally, play her?

That actual female enjoyment isn’t the real goal here is made clearer by the fact that many of these games feature women who are either unwilling, unconscious, or just unresponsive. Here’s an opportunity for men to safely play out a rape fantasy. Yet, interestingly, penetration isn’t a consideration. It’s female orgasm — an off-the-bat contradiction when the girl in question has been drugged into the land of unfeeling — that’s the prize.

After all, they do say rape is a matter of control, not sexual attraction. The ability to make a woman orgasm, in a way, represents a stronger level of control than just penetrating her — a control that works on both a physical and an emotional level. And video game interactivity, as we know, is the biggest controller of all, making it a perfect medium through which to put this domination into action.

All of which becomes even more interesting in light of a game like Heather Kelley’s Lapis, another title that uses orgasm build-up as the structure for gameplay. The difference with Kelley’s game though, beyond its tastefullness, is that it’s designed for women and girls to play, so that they can learn how to explore themselves — a far cry from being controlled by others.

And there’s still the larger issue at hand: Can getting turned on by a partner’s pleasure ever be an entirely selfless process? Just something to ponder…

On a more light-hearted and slightly related note, Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re currently finding love with another human being, a complicated sex toy, or just a favorite game, remember: It may be a Hallmark holiday, but that doesn’t make the chocolate any less tasty. Mutually-enjoyable orgasms for all!

Tags: Blog

23 Responses to “Orgasm: the Ultimate Game”

  1. Brummbar Says:

    The problem with playing Orgasm is that there are no save points. Also, the controls can be tricky to, uh, master.

  2. Brummbar Says:

    Also, regarding the rape fantasy thing… women have those, too. Shrinks argue back and forth about why this is, usually settling on some variation of the volitional release explanation, but a remarkable number of women friends have confessed to me that they do fantasize about this.

    Men, of course, have their own dark desires. Indeed. I’ve long thought that if you could spend one hour walking around your neighborhood and reading peoples’ minds, you’d never leave your house again. We are sick puppies, all of us.

  3. Bonnie Says:

    Oh, I don’t deny that women have that fantasy too. But no one’s made a game yet :-). It is a more complicated thing though, because it’s not a matter of control, but loosing it, which is harder to express in an art form, like a game.

  4. Brummbar Says:

    I dunno… after playing Ultima 9, I felt as if I’d been screwed against my will.

  5. New Game Plus » Orgasm: Game Over Says:

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  6. FerrousBuller Says:

    Interesting post, Bonnie. I would say sex is only a game – in the sense of being “an interactive challenge with a goal” – if you treat it as such. In conventional games, you have rules and mechanics, a pre-defined objective, and some way to either win or be scored. Sex – and human relationships in general – tend to be more complicated than that. Or rather, there are a lot more ways of approaching sex than as just a game.

    To be sure, there are plenty of people for whom sex is a trophy: the prize they receive for their latest conquest, not unlike a big-game hunter stalking and bagging the most desirable prey. And demonstrating your sexual prowess by bringing their partner(s) to climax – that too is a badge of merit, so to speak.

    But to my mind, that is sex in its most superficial, self-absorbed form. It presumes sex is devoid of romance or affection or trust or respect or tenderness; sex becomes a point on your scorecard, rather than, say, an expression of affection through physical intimacy.

    One could just as easily question the selflessness of, say, giving gifts: do you do so because you want to make the recipient happy? Do you expect something in return? Are you simply displaying your largesse to show off? And the answer varies by person and depends on circumstances: what you give to the love of your life isn’t going to have the same meaning to you than what you give your Aunt Maple.

    This, perhaps, is the main reason why videogames have so far failed to present sex convincingly: because they are unable to capture the subtleties and ambiguities of human relationships. Gaming strips sex down to its barest physical elements, without any of the emotional oomph behind it. Not that the physical components to sex are unimportant; but just that games aren’t really able to go beyond that element yet.

  7. MD² Says:

    I’m reminded of one of those ideas I’ve been struggling with for a long time. In his personal notes, Montherlant wrote that most of the time women have rape fantasies as a revenge against men. Never really understood where he was going with that one.

    Anyway, it’s strange, at first, that it seems to matter so much that you’d have to make your partner orgasm in a society which so much focus on individualism. But then there’s always the power issue. You can see that in porn in general in one form or another, or even in some less refined depictions of sexual tantrism: sex as conflict and orgasm as loss, men being sided with power/action and women with pleasure/passivity. Old Taoist sexual rites in which the important was for the man not to orgasm come to mind also.
    The basic constructs of societies are already in germ in their sexual practices.

    “The problem with playing Orgasm is that there are no save points. Also, the controls can be tricky to, uh, master.”

    Which is why before they were done away with and forbiden, it was traditional in France that a young man had to go with prostitutes, often on the father (parent)’s instigation, before getting married: the bride was expected to be a virgin, obviously as a lineage investment, but the groom had to be experienced, he needed to have learned how to satisfy her, i.e to play his part as a good husband.

    “Can getting turned on by a partner's pleasure ever be an entirely selfless process?”

    Can getting turned on ever be an entirely selfless process? I’ve been doubting this.

  8. Brummbar Says:

    I’ve talked to a fair number of women about the Rape Fantasy thing – a tricky subject to broach, to put it mildly – and those who have them (or at least admit to it) tend to fall into two categories:

    (1) Outright masochists. (I’ll assume anyone reading THIS ‘blog is familiar enough with sexual psychology to know what masochism entails.)

    (2) Reluctant erotic agents who fantasize about being “forced” to do this or that, but are really more like authors or movie directors staging scenes in which they are the “victims” – while at the same time in total control of the dialogue, setting, props, etc.

    I suspect the latter group could turn this into a game wherein such scenarios are constructed and then enacted while the authoring woman, alone or with a partner, views them for erotic stimulation.

    Imagine, for example, a “sim” game along the lines of The Movies but focusing on explicit sexual depictions. I can easily see some jaw-droppingly wild stuff resulting therefrom.

  9. John H. Says:

    I disagree. There are other things in our lives that closely follows the orgasmic pattern: we see it especially in movies these days, but the pattern emerges time and again throughout the history of just about all forms of storytelling.

    Indeed, it tends to be a closer match to the build-up/climax/exhaustion than games. Games originated, don’t forget, in the kind of two-player competitive contest that originated in sports (Pong, Combat), and in single-player, increasing difficulty games with no real end until the player failed (most classic arcade games). The build-until-final-boss-then-resolution pattern tends to be a result of a game’s story, I’d say, more than its being a game.

  10. Bonnie Says:

    Ferrous, I think the issue with your problem with identifying orgasm (or sex for that matter) as a game is that is presupposes that calling these interactions “games” is necessary a bad or reduction comment. Certainly, in the cases of flash games for example, this is a simplified and almost meaningless version of sexual interaction. But just because something is a game – whether between two people or just one – doesn’t make it any less emotionally or physically meaningful, at least not per se.

    Brummbar, you’re right, the rape thing is complicated. In my own experience, it’s a matter of masochism. At the same time though, I see masochism as a claiming of power in and of itself. In that way there’s something empowering about willing unwillingness – a paradox, to be sure, but one that undercuts traditional power structures to the extent that opens up whole new arenas for understanding the role of women and the submissive. Not that it has much to do with games, just something I’m personally obsessed with…

    John, I disagree that you disagree :-). What I mean is that I agree with you, that this pattern can be seen in many other places, specifically story. And while I would argue that even simpler, two-player games could be seen to have orgasm-like qualities (put there through the increasingly intense interplay between two players), I think you raise a good point that the more straightforward example of this, specifically in one-player plot-based games, tends to be a more contemporary model.

  11. Brummbar Says:

    Well, Bonnie, it could be a game in that there are settings, props, rules, “moves” and victory conditions.

    There’s yet ANOTHER twist in “willing unwillingness” which is the subversion of “power structures” through enacting them – after all, these fantasies involve male physical and sexual power over women; one of the most traditional things there is. So a woman gets pleasure from thinking about herself as acted-upon, when she is in fact the actor, but her agency is to take sexual release from scenarios of a man controlling a woman, but the controlled woman is the author of the whole thing to begin with, but… but…

    The snake eats its tail.

  12. Bonnie Says:

    of course, but being able to recognize that is part of the power

  13. Brummbar Says:

    The power of empowered powerlessness; so be it.

  14. Linda Johnson Says:

    There’s an excellent scientific e-book on the subject of the practical rather than theoretical female orgasm.

    It’s written by Dr Irene Cooper, a professional sex therapist in the UK and you can find it and other resources at:

    My Female Orgasm

    Linda

  15. Gabrielle Says:

    I want to play that female orgasm game! Please tell me more about it! :) Gabrielle http://www.femaleorgasmrevealed.com

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