Steam recently blocked an erotic game, Seduce Me, from their Greenlight service. Their statement upon pulling the title explained that “Steam has never been a leading destination for erotic material. Greenlight doesn’t aim to change that.” The developer, No Reply Games, predictably replied that the average gamer is 30 and that it’s time for games to mature along with them—and you know what? They’re completely right. While erotic games are quite a leap into the sexual genre, increasing the amount of sexual content in games would allow for greater diversity and appeal to the maturing demographic of gamers.
Now, hear me out. While I admit that there are certain issues with regards to the ease of children getting these games, I believe that barring the genre passage onto Steam Greenlight—or any other publisher, for that matter—represents unfair discrimination. Violence in games is far more accepted and prolific than sexual themes, and it arguably has a much more negative effect on the people who play them. Publishing games whose goal is to burst your character into bloody pieces rather than a game that features bodily functions that are perfectly natural in human beings shows a skewed priority of the video game industry as well as the lingering effect that religions have had on the entertainment business. Say pornography is terrible all you want, but 98% of people will access it at some point in their lives (this statistic is brought to you by our sponsor, Common Sense).
Like other mature games, erotic games focus on something you wouldn’t want getting into the hands of children. However, there are tactics in place that keep such games out of the hands of children with protective parents. Simply ensure that anything sold gets an extra ‘are you 18?’ approach before peddling it off to some stranger over the internet. Many states in America already have these regulations in place in physical stores—and while I won’t say I support them, per se, it does allow mature games to appear in a broader range of stores, since the buyer must be over 18 in order to purchase it. If the same regulations were allowed in places like, say, Australia, not only would mature games be introduced, but they would also be introduced with a regulation that keeps parents from worrying about what their children are getting into. Seeing the success of this tactic had in getting violent—but worthwhile—games onto market shelves should allow games with sexual content to progress as well—but we are seeing a stark disparity in tolerance for the two different types of ‘mature’ content.
Honestly, the publication of Catherine showed that games which linger into sexual territory could still be successful and terrific to play. Continuing to dissuade publishers from including sexual elements of any intensity in their games is equivalent to censorship—and it’s a very biased one when applied to games which already have severely violent content in them which aren’t also censored. Perhaps Steam and the other companies are trying to protect ‘family values.’ Frankly, those are overrated and just an excuse to keep sexual content in the shadows.