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Ken Levine Criticizes Sex Scenes in Games

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In an interview with VG247, Ken Levine, creator of Bioshock, criticized sex scenes in games. “If you think about the amount of, for example, nudity in a video game … it’s not even nudity. It’s a puppet with its clothes off,” he said. “It’s more like Team America. The sex scene in Team America as opposed to, you know, the sex scene in Black Swan.”

Probably the biggest culprit is Bioware, which received as much criticism as it did praise and controversy for its sex scenes in Mass Effect 1, 2, and Dragon Age. No matter how invested you are in the characters, the scenes come off as awkward and even laughable. The animation lacks a human element.

Levine doesn't think they should be left out, however. In fact, he suggests that the industry needs to be a little less uptight about more mature content in games. “The fact that’s even controversial says that the perception of the industry is that we’re making toys or something, as opposed to making creative expressions for a range of audiences--including adults. I think there’s still some prudishness.”

Coming from Levine, whose last game was generally sex-less, it's not clear what his solution is. As awkward as the sex in Bioware games is, at least the developer is taking a chance. Compare the way it's handled in Mass Effect 2 with the original and it's already significantly better. Until the technology and animation improve, it's probably best to focus more on the character development rather than the sexual act itself.

What do you think? Does sex have a place in games? Is there a good way to go about it with current tech? Will puppets getting it on ever stop being weird?

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Joe Donato Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I've wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I'd rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.
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