A look back at some of 2009's most interesting moments of sex in games.
But then, sex isn't so different. It can feel transcendent in the moment, but when considered as a passive observer the act becomes a primal embarrassment. Thinking about controlling it in some puppet drama seems ghastly. It validates the horrible truth of the mechanics over the ephemeral beauty that is so much harder to describe. Nowhere can sex be better addressed than in our art and abstract expressions. Of all media, videogames are especially well suited for representing sex, revealing its ludic absurdity, a mingling of physical act with elusive signification. So let's look back at some of 2009's most interesting moments of sex in games.
RapeLay (PC)No more heroes.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned (Xbox 360)Full frontal polygon.
iPartment (PC)Online dating 2.0.
Dragon Age: Origins (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)A cutscene of one's own; or Zevran is a rider.
Love Plus (DS)Kissing a screen.
It's an oft-used euphemism but I have literally thrown a controller into the ground on more than one occasion. Before Love Plus I had never kissed one, but now I have. Love Plus is a Japanese dating sim that builds on the traditional structure of wooing women with the addition of actual relationship maintenance once' you've successfully courted one of the game's three women. You'll be able to plan dates, share quality time, and listen to whatever happens to be on your anime girlfriend's mind. The game keeps track of each day's events in real time, and some wild reports of men identifying with their Love Plus partner have made headlines. One lovestruck man in Guam is purported to have had an actual wedding ceremony with his DS. You can actually speak to her using the DS's voice recognition and you can literally kiss the touchscreen to make her feel loved. During work hours you can call her or send emails, but if she's not happy with your dotage she might blow you off. Love Plus is a game for all those curmudgeons who think you need violence or combat to make a game fun.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Xbox 360)Dance me into the bathroom, mi amour.
The Best Years of My Life (PC)If you wake first, wake me.
It can be scary to be honest about sexuality. Its most basic functions are universal but the meanings of individual encounters are deeply personal. Videogames have traditionally been about winning and mechanical proficiency. It's easy to see how the introduction of an experience so simple and indefinable would make people uncomfortable. This says just as much about us as it does the medium. 2009 was a remarkable year for demonstrating how much sexuality inhabits videogames, if only from the fringes. Lenin wrote that sex should be no more important than a glass of water, which is to say it's both essential and completely mundane. It's the junction point between the tired trappings of daily routine and the barely perceptible fantasies about what we might become one day. While we might snicker at the thought of polygon puppets dry humping each other, this year's variety of sexual themes makes a strong case for the possibility of using interaction to grapple with our never-ending fixation of sex, that one thing we can't stop chasing but which we can never hold on to.