This isn’t to say that developers aren’t trying to bring sex and sexuality into games.
Bio Ware’s received a lot of criticism from straight male gamers for its romantic plotlines and openly gay characters (in one especially harrowing part of the game, a male character flirts with the player even if the player has chosen to roleplay as a man).
After all, everyone knows how to, you know, .” RPGs, for the most part, consider sex and romance separate and unnecessary to the plots; rulebooks rarely deal with issues of “consent, sexual diversity or orientation, or the sexual culture of the world one is playing in.” Meanwhile, romance and sexuality are the entire point of ERPs, whether it’s to further explore a character’s development, to provide a space for a player to explore their own sexuality or, for some, to get turned on.
I know people who find reading erotica to be hotter than watching porn. When an RPG provides at most the barest romantic tropes for its characters, people will always fill in the rest themselves, adding in queerness and kink where the game developers are silent.
The backlash is gendered and misogynistic in two parts: first, writer Jennifer Hepler, who wrote some of the romantic plots of the game, was harassed until she ultimately left Bio Ware, a depressingly familiar narrative for women in gaming; two, in the same way that the Romance section in a bookstore is considered full of bad literature for frivolous women, serious narrative devotion to romance and erotica in a game is “something that somehow drains roleplay gaming of its grittier essence and threatens to drown epic storylines in cooties.” Backlash aside, games that distance themselves from their romantic and erotic subcultures also tacitly reinforce the problems within our own sexual culture.
When left to write their own rules, ERP communities tend to mirror their real-life counterparts: kink-positive but with a double standard against women, heteronormative and full of casual sexual harassment (even in-game, a male avatar can pursue a female one relentlessly).
Triad is a simple sliding puzzle that tries to solve the question of how to fit three people into a bed that isn’t made to hold three people.
Through a series of letters and clues, the player discovers what happened to her parents and her younger sister Samantha.
The story deals with human-computer interactions, interpersonal relationships and LGBT issues, while also featuring “transhumanism, traditional marriage, loneliness, and cosplay.” Christine Love, the writer, has also created Digital: A Love Story, a mystery/romance set on a late-80s computer, and don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story, a game that follows the “erosion of privacy, gay drama, young sexuality, and the perils of modern online life” in a prestigious high school.
A text-based multiplayer browser game, Until Our Two Alien Hearts Beat As One lets players create beautiful alien creatures with tentacles or flippers or compound eyes and then try to interact with each other across cultural language barriers.
On the episode, contestant Liz Baxter sits in the hot seat as one of her blind dates details what went down when she was "approached" by a male waiter at a restaurant while the two were dining together.
The groundbreaking episode also sees one of Baxter's matches coming out as gay to her family on national television.