“Excuse me, we have standards.”
Even so much as explicit dialogue in the public domain is mostly discouraged within online role-playing games. GM’s maintain a standard of integrity in public interaction that reflects the overall mind set of online narrative games toward sex—it’s a no-no. While many may perceive this as protecting the younger audience or some notion of purity, but I think it’s the real aim of video games that drives this censor: profit. Ultimately the gaming industry is a business, and allowing sex into the game world would compromise a niche that has become quite lucrative for the several companies that have found success there.
Sex is pervasive. It has a way of proliferating and taking over—the explosion of content (and subsequent controversy) of Internet pornography is a testament to that. It’s like the strip club in a seedy part of town, it will attract the unattractive and deter the wholesome. If a game featured sexual aspects it would be hard pressed to keep them from taking over—the game itself would become pornographic and defeat its narrative purpose. People who wanted the sexual exposure would join the game and those who didn’t would leave, transforming the player-base from that of the 9 million dedicated World of Warcraft subscribers to…whatever number of those players that are addicted to porn. The transformation would be inevitable, sex (in any prominent role) cannot coexist with serious gaming structure; one or the other must be dominant. Although the online game Second Life is not categorized as a narrative game, the effects of sexual aspects on gamer population are evident. Given a great amount of freedom, player in Second Life began setting up sex shops and “orgy rooms”—soon Second Life was a major platform for pornography, which is why I left the game one week after starting my account. For one who values the sanctity of a role-playing experience, sex simply cannot be allowed entrance. It takes over.
Which brings me back to the bottom line: the bottom line. Profit. Why would a gaming company (used to the hefty $15 a month subscriber fees) forsake a lucrative niche for a pornographic venture that is already rooted in web-site form? Not to insult the creative prowess and dedication of gaming companies, many of which are dedicated to the deep value in the narrative and entertainment aspects of video games, but the simple fact is gaming is a business. And business goes where the money where the most profit is. To attempt to change a narrative experience to include a sexual one would inevitably lead to sexual pervasion, which would put these games in a genre already dominated by other long established businesses. The money simply isn’t there, and, to be frank, I dread the day when it will be.