July 13th, 2006

Are consequences sexy? 

So far, there’s been some minor chatter (and some sort of resolution about sea mammals) on the topic, but no one’s stepped to the plate to defend the game in question: the infamous Sociolotron.

As has been mentioned before, when asked what makes sex games appealing, most people answer: freedom, control, safety.  So how is it that a game like Sociolotron, with the threat of pregnancy, STD’s, and even character death looming around the corner, can be chugging along quite so happily?

Granted, the game has a humble population, and even creator Patric Lagny admits it’s definitely not for everyone, but somebody (a whole bunch of somebodies, in fact) finds it sexy, so let’s think about why…

To me, the main question is whether players are attracted to the consequence or just the threat.  Is gonorrhea, for example, sexy?  Probably not.  But the adrenaline rush of putting your health on the line?  That might just get you going.

Then the question arises, is the excitement of a risk proportional to what you’re putting on the line?  And how much of a risk is a virtual life?  Obviously, you have time, energy, and emotions invested in your toon.  But how much has to be at stake for it to get you off?

Tags: Blog

18 Responses to “Give It to Me, Baby”

  1. FerrousBuller Says:

    Most games force you to risk something in order to heighten the excitement. Poker would get pretty dull if you didn’t bet, because it wouldn’t matter what the outcome was – who cares if they win or not? In videogames, you’re usually gambling your virtual life: how much it’s “worth” depends on how badly the game penalizes you for losing it, but it’s still a risk. So I imagine for some people, the thrill of that unknown risk adds to the excitement of sex games.

    OTOH, there’s a reason why WoW has six million subscribers, while games with stiffer death penalties have much smaller customer bases. Likewise, I think the number of sex gamers who want their online fantasies disrupted by vitual STDs and pregnancies is fairly limited.

  2. Cybersexy Says:

    I am currently playing Sociolotron, although I have played all the major RPG’s (including WoW).

    Sociolotron was an eye-opener for me, and not just because of the sex content. I like the risk. I like the danger. It makes the whole experience more life-affirming for me.

    And when the worst possible things happen, I can always take comfort in the fact it is just a game.

    Sociolotron made me realize what the people who kept crying about “carebear” games truly meant.

    There is another aspect to it which is rarely mentioned: It improves the community. In a community of adults, like Sociolotron, where you all are risking everything, the community is so much closer. We give more to each other because we are all taking the same risks.

    Truthfully, I would not mind seeing a game that pushes the boundaries even further than Sociolotron.

  3. Bonnie Says:

    Hey Cybersexy, thanks for your comment! You said: “Truthfully, I would not mind seeing a game that pushes the boundaries even further than Sociolotron.” In what way would you like to see those boundaries pushed? Could you give us some examples?

  4. Cybersexy Says:

    Hi Bonnie!

    For me, it is more of a game play issue. I would like to see a permadeath without strings attached. Sociolotron has too many strings, like NPC’s can’t kill you and you have to know someone a certain percentage before you can kill them (or they can kill you).

    This would add something from a sexual perspective. If I were to have in-game sex with a complete stranger, I would be taking a huge risk, much like in real life. It could create a major inconvenience if I lost my character to permadeath, but at the same time, it would make it more exciting.

  5. Bonnie Says:

    I see what you’re saying. But don’t you think, for some players at least, that might raise the risk too high? What I mean is, if it’s too easy to be killed, would the heightened sexiness outweigh the drop in people willing to have sex with strangers? I suppose for each player there’s an individual balance…

  6. Cybersexy Says:

    Bonnie, I fully agree that this is just me. I like the risk involved, but I know everyone else doesn’t. Even in Sociolotron, the community usually takes a more conservative approach to the risks involved.

    However, I think a niche game could find some success by allowing more risks for people like me. A mainstream game would never make it.

  7. Bonnie Says:

    Hey again Cybersexy: I admit, I’m not a Sociolotron player. Could you fill me in as to what the chances for consequences are like in the game at the moment? For example, I were to go out and have sex with another toon at random, what’s the chance, do you think, of an STD? Just curious :-).

  8. Cybersexy Says:

    Actually, the STD chances are greater with NPC’s. Most PC’s usually recognize they are sick and get treatment before having sex.

    If someone were promiscuous, they would increase their chances of getting an STD. But even if they got one, there aren’t any real consequences per se. The doctors can treat anything you get.

  9. Bonnie Says:

    Huh, how interesting, I hadn’t thought about NPC’s. So it’s almost a regulating system, like introducing new gold into a virtual economy (sorry, too much Play Money recently).

    Okay, so in order for doctors to cure you, what do you need to do? I’m just trying to understand what’s really at stake here… Virtual time, money, stigma? Thanks!

  10. Cybersexy Says:

    The doctors don’t usually charge to treat you, since they are getting experience points for treating you. They will sometimes charge you for the medicine, but not always.

    There are times it can be a pain to find a doctor. That is about the only inconvenience. Of course there are also times you ask for a doctor and 10 people respond.

    There isn’t any stigma involved since once you get treated, it is gone.

  11. Bonnie Says:

    Hmm, so what’s the real inconvenience then? What’s the risk?

  12. Cybersexy Says:

    There really isn’t any. Of course, if left untreated, there are consequences, which could involve various types of sexual dysfunction, or even death. But like real life, you can tell when something is wrong and go get it treated.

    To answer your orginal question, in terms of STD’s, consequences are NOT sexy. In a game where sex is allowed, what could be sexy about something which discourages you from having sex?

    You do have to have SOME leeway for escapism.

    On the other hand, I do like it that Sociolotron has them. It adds to the realism, even if it doesn’t necessarily hurt anyone (unless they are incredibly stupid).

    But when I referred to consequences, I was thinking more along the lines of permadeath, the ultimate consequence. Just like in real life, you could be killed by a sexual partner. Promiscuity could get you killed if you hook up with the wrong person.

  13. Bonnie Says:

    Promiscuity could get you killed if you hook up with the wrong person.
    Ah, I see. But why (pardon, again, my ignorance :-) would you be more likely to get killed by a sexual partner than any other player?

  14. Cybersexy Says:

    In terms of sex, a person would be more likely to be killed by a partner than an STD. (Come to think of it, that is probably true in real life too!)

    In general terms, any pc can kill any other pc, and that would be the most likely way to die.

  15. Socioplayer Says:

    In answer to Bonnie’s question, a character becomes vulnerable to attack by a sexual partner in the game in several ways. You usually are in a private place for the sex, where there are no in game “guards” to protect you if you are attacked. You also have your armor off, so if you are attacked they can damage you faster. You are probably distracted (hopefully at least!), so if they attack it might take you awhile to react before they could cut you down. Also, in sexual situations a character will often “let down their guard”, so their partner can grab and hold them (normally this is difficult to do), and a character that holds you can drag you off somewhere or try to chain you up and the like.

    In the current version, as Cybersexy mentioned, people have to “get to know you” before they can PK you. This is pretty hard to do, but if they have sex with you alot that is one way to get to know you in game. Earlier in the game’s development, when you could PK anyone without needing to “get to know you”, it was really much more exciting. People were not PK’d all the time back then either though, because knowing anyone can PK you makes you less likely to try to PK someone else! So if some guy runs around PK’ing people, he might have everyone attack and PK him. Anyway, hope that helped answer your question :)

  16. Bonnie Says:

    Thanks for the answer; that does help!

    It’s interesting that it’s not so much the sex itself but the act of getting intimate (and therefore vulnerable) that leaves you open for attack.

  17. Berry Says:

    I just started Socio, and it’s fun. The graphics and gameplay are very very antiquated but the risk factor makes it fun. It allows to explore certain taboo’s that are much too dangerous to explore in real life.

    The thing that gets me into the game is the RP community people are mostly here to RP bad or good. I play it that no matter what happens good or bad, I RP it out. Makes things better that way, I even had “baddies” thank me afterwords for keepin in RP.

    I do like that you have to know someone a bit before they can PK you, if it was not like that, newer players like myself would not stand a chance and would quickly get frustrated and leave.

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