June 29th, 2006

A few weeks back a piece of mine, “Sex in Games: It’s a Turn On,” went up at Wired News.  My assignment for the article was to investigate “what turns people on”–and over the course of the two-day Sex in Video Games Conference I tried to do just that, shoving (okay, gently prodding) my recorder into semi-uncomfortable faces, hoping to get some juicy answers.

The results you can read for yourself–or at least some of them.  For what it’s worth, Violet Blue also mentioned context, and Patric Lagny of Sociolotron talked about the sexiness of consequences.  But the article, as it stands, pretty well represents the typical response: Choice is a turn-on; freedom is a turn-on; control, safety, convenience… you guessed it, turn-ons.

Now I’m not saying that these things aren’t true, and to each, of course, her own.  But somehow these answers all seem much too neat and packaged to me. 

I can understand how that makes sense, so much positive-language talk coming from a conference intended to promote sex in games. Still, I think it’s worth asking the question again, without the tape recorder or the inclination, however slight, to sell game sex as “healthy” for Wired’s relatively mainstream audience. 

When it comes to the technology of sex, what really turns us on?

Call me a masochist (No, really, go ahead), but my personal take is that we’re turned on by our own self-defamation.  Online sex–all online communication, really–is removed from the face-to-face intimacy of real-life interaction.  This is attractive to us because it reveals us at our most distant, our most desolate, our most alone, despite our apparent connection to others online.  That sort of hollow feeling. That too can be a turn-on.

This theory (and don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing more than that) doesn’t just apply to internet sex.  Think about porn.  What makes porn attractive, sometimes more so than the prospect of real sex?  Because it’s emotional separate from us, because we can experience it without having to open up to another human being, because it is safe, because, ultimately, it is singular.

P.S. Here in PA, it’s been storming like crazy.  Flooded rivers, pooring rain, pounding thunderstorms, soon enough no electricity and maybe even no phones.  If that’s not sexy, I don’t know what is.

Tags: Blog

8 Responses to “What’ll It Be?”

  1. BrainFromArous Says:

    One reason it’s tricky to talk about this is the bare-faced hypocrisy employed by damned near everybody when it comes to admitting what we REALLY want vs what we’ll ADMIT to wanting.

    Along the lines of my Rule of Porn (“If there isn’t at least one item in your porn collection that you would be horrified to have anybody else know about, you’re not doing porn right.”) comes my Kink Adjustment Index: for every deviant act people admit to, go two steps further and you’ll have a pretty good estimate of what’s truly on their minds.

  2. Bonnie Says:

    One reason it's tricky to talk about this is the bare-faced hypocrisy employed by damned near everybody when it comes to admitting what we REALLY want vs what we'll ADMIT to wanting.
    That is so very true. You have to tiptoe around everything, and even then people are hardly ever willing to say what they really mean.

    for every deviant act people admit to, go two steps further and you'll have a pretty good estimate of what's truly on their minds.
    Sometimes I wonder if there is an end-all, most extreme kink. The best I can think of is de Sade. Somehow there’s nothing behind murder. Or is there?

  3. Noche Kandora Says:

    What’ll it be?

    I definitely know what you’re getting at, and I concur to a degree. But on the other hand, doesn’t indiscriminately opening up like that spoil the wonderful element of mystery?

    Sure, I’d speak about my turn-ons in more generic terms, but if one wants details, one has to earn it. That information is classified and special, and keeping it under wraps – save for those select individuals who win the privilege – is part of my magic. It’s how I get you. And then once you know all, you will never be the same – you are mine forever, to whatever varying degree. Because I am a religious experience. A psychological liberator. A cultural radical and bedroom outlaw.

    *Laughs nephariously*

    It's always the quiet ones"¦

  4. Noche Kandora Says:

    *nefariously

    that’s what happens when there’s no spell check :)

  5. Bonnie Says:

    doesn't indiscriminately opening up like that spoil the wonderful element of mystery?
    That’s the fun thing about debunking mysteries. It only creates more :-);

  6. Coldstone Says:

    … on the de Sade note, how about necrophelia, thats pretty much beyond death.

    Games are about fantasy, and bring in condoms and STDs destroy that for alot of people. Some people love to have that realism though too (in porn and erotica). I wrote a story where the main character used a condom and I got a very nice email from someone that loved that little detail. It made the store more real for him.

    I personally think that online sex is a better method to reduce STDs and pregnancy, but I am insane in the something something. I don’t think cybering will/should replace sex, but as a safe way to avoid the spread of species devastating diseases, I think the government should be doing less head shaking.

  7. Bonnie Says:

    but as a safe way to avoid the spread of species devastating diseases, I think the government should be doing less head shaking.

    And I think, by the end of the SiVG conference, these women I mentioned were understanding that. Granted, as far as the government goes, they’re the good ones. Who knows the crazies we have to contend with.

  8. Coldstone Says:

    Sometimes the craziest are the ones we elect, rather than the ones that are appointed or hired by the appointees.

    Look at the social issues we are still battling here in the US, sexism and racism. Unfortunatly I think levelheaded treatment of sex in games is a ways away, but SiVG is progress.

    I got a bad feeling we will have to endure the crackdown by ‘professionals’ and the government, just like comics did, before we can move forward. Seems like an inevitable pattern …

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