Sex and nudity in video games

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The inclusion of sex and nudity in video games has been controversial since the early days of the video game industry. While many video games have used scantily clad images or characters to sell or enhance games, some go further, using sex acts or nudity as a character motivation (that is, the reason for a character's behaviors and actions), in-game reward, or simply as a gameplay element. These games originate worldwide, on most platforms and can be of any video game genre. While releases in Europe and North America have been sporadic and often unlicensed, Japan has seen the emergence of a pornographic video game subgenre—eroge, first appearing on the NEC PC-88 computer platform in the 1980s. In the 1990s NEC (on the PC Engine series and PC-FX) and Sega (on Saturn) were the only companies who officially allowed sexual content on their consoles in Japan, but eroge was more prevalent on the NEC PC-98 and FM Towns computer platforms.




One of the earliest video games (if not the first) to feature sexual themes was the 1981 text-based Softporn Adventure , published by On-Line Systems for the Apple II. Despite heavy piracy the game still sold 25,000 copies, roughly equivalent to 25% of the number of Apple II's sold at the time. In a 1981 article in Time Magazine , On-Line reported that they were making a version of the game for straight women, though this never materialized. [1]

In 1982, the video game company Mystique released three unlicensed games for the Atari 2600; Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em , Custer's Revenge , and Bachelor Party . The games were noted for their negative reception, particularly Custer's Revenge for its depiction of (what was perceived as) General Custer raping a Native American woman. Despite the increased sales (due to one of the first instances of video game controversy), Mystique went out of business after only releasing these three games. A company named Playaround began distributing these games packaged in 2-in-1 "double-ender" cartridges. These games also included re-worked versions with female protagonists, Philly Flasher (Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em), Bachelorette Party (Bachelor Party), and General Retreat (Custer's Revenge). The re-released version of Custer's Revenge was titled Westward Ho!, and featured slight modifications, such as the Native American woman beckoning to indicate that she welcomed Custer's advances. They released four new titles, Burning Desire/Jungle Fever and Cathouse Blues/Gigolo. 1983 saw the release of another Atari 2600 game, X-Man . X-man features the player as a nude man working through a maze toward a pink door in the center, past antagonistic crabs, teeth and scissors. Players that reached the pink door were rewarded with a controllable sex scene.

In 1983, a company called Entertainment Enterprises, Ltd., released an arcade game called Swinging Singles which was mostly meant for bars, adult stores and sex clubs. The game requires the player to drive through the city maze gathering dots like Pac-Man before reaching a brothel where the player is required to fight off a venereal disease and collect keys to unlock sex scenes. Once the scenes are unlocked the top door is open where the player can go and engage in a controllable sex scene, letting the player have intercourse with a woman until the player reaches orgasm and the game is over.

Also released in 1983 was Strip Poker: A Sizzling Game of Chance for the Commodore 64 and other 8-bit platforms which was created by Artworx Software. [2]

In 1986, Martech released a Strip Poker game featuring digitized pictures of Samantha Fox, on the Spectrum, C64 and Amstrad. The same company would later release the controversial Vixen , featuring another page 3 model Corinne Russell.

Also in 1986 On-line Systems (now called Sierra On-Line) asked game designer Al Lowe to create an adult game in the graphical adventure style made popular by their King's Quest series. Lowe took the basic elements of Softporn Adventure, greatly expanded it, and released it as the 1987 game Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards . Sierra didn't advertise the game and retailers were loath to carry it, so initial sales were low. However word-of-mouth spread and soon the Leisure Suit Larry series was a success, spawning two sequels before the end of the decade, 1988's Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) , and 1989's Leisure Suit Larry III: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals .


With CD-ROM and multimedia based games in the 1990s, most adult games featured video clips with limited interactivity. Both pre-rendered and real-time 3D graphics were also used. While most games could be considered nothing more than pornography, some attempted to include actual story and plot. This can be seen in some games with less explicit content, equal to an R- or PG-13-rated movie.

1990 saw the release of the first game in the Gals Panic series. The game derived gameplay elements off an older title called Qix , which didn't have sexual images. The object of the games is to slowly remove pieces of the playing field while avoiding an enemy or groups of enemies. Removing the playing field slowly reveals pictures of models in escalating states of undress. The game had nine sequels throughout the 1990s (with a final game in 2002).

Voyeur by Philips came out in 1996 for their CD-i console. While the game does not show any explicit nudity, it allows the player to spy on several characters in lingerie, foreplay, and explores taboos such as BDSM and incest.


Modern console publishers often have policies against depictions of nudity and explicit sexuality, particularly Sony Computer Entertainment with its PlayStation brand of consoles. BMX XXX for the PlayStation 2 was censored in the American release, while versions on the Xbox and Nintendo GameCube were not and featured nudity. [3] However, Sony allowed nudity in the title God of War (2005), also developed by Sony, a game based on Greek mythology set in Ancient Greece, where nudity was perceived differently. Nudity was subsequently featured in the game's sequels, God of War II (2007), God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008), God of War III (2010), God of War: Ghost of Sparta (2010), and God of War: Ascension (2013), which were also based on Greek mythology.

Sex scenes and nudity have also appeared in Quantic Dream's Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) and Heavy Rain , released for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 respectively. [4]

Sexuality and sexual frustration is also a theme prevalent in the SIlent Hill series of survival-horror games.

A new generation of adult social games has emerged that bring multiple users together in sexual environments. Examples include Red Light Center, Singles: Flirt Up Your Life and Playboy: The Mansion . While it is not explicitly intended for purely adult-oriented entertainment, the virtual world of Second Life , which is made up almost entirely of player-made content, has an array of very exotic adult entertainment including nudity and full-on sexual activities.

Adult games may take the form of bootlegs, circumventing mainstream publishers who may have policies against such games. Patches or hacks to mainstream non-adult games may add sexual and pornographic themes, mostly for humor, especially when sexuality was never intended in the original game. Examples include the Tomb Raider video games, the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Hot Coffee mod, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim , (which both have multiple such mods), Half-Life 2's FakeFactory Cinematic Mod and ROM hacks for console emulators.

The Internet has allowed adult games to receive wider availability and recognition, including amateur games in Flash or Java. It has also allowed amateurs to create and distribute adult text adventure games, known as "Adult Interactive Fiction" or AIF. [5]

Modern consumer virtual reality headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, allow users to engage in virtual sex through simulated environments. An example is VR Kanojo .


Blizzard Entertainment's 2016 game Overwatch has inspired a notable amount of fan-made porn. Short porn videos featuring official characters have been animated via Source Filmmaker and are popular on porn sites such as Pornhub and YouPorn. Despite its popularity, Blizzard has issued cease-and-desist orders to some of the creators.

Indie games have expanded the reach of adult games, and Steam now allows adult games onto its storefront. [6] Patreon provides direct funding to adult developers, allowing games like Hardcoded to appeal to niche markets that previously would not have been created. [7]


In 1982, Japan's Koei, founded by husband-and-wife team Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa (and later known for strategy video games), released the first erotic computer game with sexually explicit graphics, Night Life , [8] an early graphic adventure game [9] for the NEC PC-8801. That same year, Koei released another erotic title, Danchi Tsuma no Yuwaku (Seduction of the Condominium Wife), [10] which was an early role-playing [11] [12] adventure game with colour graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the NEC PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company. [10]

Like with Koei, several other now-famous Japanese companies such as Enix, Square and Nihon Falcom also released erotic adult games for the PC-8801 computer in the early 1980s before they became mainstream. Early eroge usually had simplistic stories and extreme sexual content, such as rape and types Yuri and hentai. [13] In some of the early erotic games, the erotic content is meaningfully integrated into a thoughtful and mature storyline, though others often used it as simply an excuse for pornography. [8]

In 1999, Key released Kanon . It contains about 7 brief erotic scenes in a sentimental story the size of a long novel (an all-ages version was also released afterward). Kanon sold over 300,000 copies. [14]

In response to increasing pressure from Japanese lobby groups, in mid-1996 Sega of Japan announced that they would no longer permit Sega Saturn games to include nudity. [15]

Many fanservice video games with sexual content have some brief nudity. The "M" rated series Senran Kagura has some nudity in both gameplay and cutscenes but genitals aren't displayed. Fanservice games rated "T" such as Hyperdimension Neptunia offer similar content but less than what Senran Kagura has. Howerver, since 2018, Sony has now issued new regulations for PlayStation 4 games with both fanservice and sexual content. For the localized release of Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal , "Intimacy Mode", a mode where the player can play with the characters' bodies was removed, but by comparison, this mode is still available in the series' previous titles Senran Kagura: Estival Versus and Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash . The PC release of Burst Re:Newal was not changed. [16] Many other recent PS4 games with sexual content are facing the same problem from Sony, including Neptunia, Date a Live: Rio Reincarnation , Death end re;Quest and the Nekopara series, although Sony did allow nudity and a sex scene in The Last of Us Part II . This controversy had become a problem for the development of Senran Kagura 7even , in which publishers Marvelous are now reconsidering the game [17] and series producer Kenichiro Takaki is now leaving Marvelous. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

Hentai Japanese pornographic animation, comics, and video games

Outside of Japan, hentai is anime and manga pornography. In Japanese, however, "hentai" is not a genre of media but any type of perverse or bizarre sexual desire or act. For example, outside of Japan a work of animation depicting lesbian sex might be described as "yuri hentai", but in Japan it would just be described as "yuri".

<i>Kanon</i> (visual novel) 1999 Japanese adult visual novel

Kanon is a Japanese adult visual novel developed by Key and released on June 4, 1999 for Windows PCs. Key later released versions of Kanon without the erotic content, and the game was ported to the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. The story follows the life of Yuichi Aizawa, a high school student who returns to a city he last visited seven years prior, and he has little recollection of the events from back then. He meets several girls and slowly regains his lost memories. The gameplay in Kanon follows a branching plot line which offers pre-determined scenarios with courses of interaction, and focuses on the appeal of the five female main characters by the player character. The game once ranked as the second best-selling PC game sold in Japan, and charted in the national top 50 several more times afterwards. Kanon has sold over 300,000 units across several platforms.

Pornography in Japan Japanese pornographic industry

Pornography in Japan has unique characteristics that readily distinguish it from Western pornography. Reflecting Japan's views on sexuality and culture, Japanese pornography delves into a wide spectrum of heterosexual, homosexual, and transgender sexual acts in addition to unique fetishes and paraphilias.

<i>Eroge</i> Type of Japanese video game featuring erotica

An eroge is a Japanese genre of erotic video game. In 1982, Japan's Koei, founded by husband-and-wife team Yoichi and Keiko Erikawa, released the first erotic computer game with sexually explicit graphics, Night Life, an early graphic adventure game for the NEC PC-8801. That same year, Koei released another erotic title, Danchi Tsuma no Yuwaku, which was an early role-playing adventure game with colour graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the NEC PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company.

A visual novel, often abbreviated as VN, is an interactive fiction video game genre, which originated in Japan, featuring text-based story with narrative style of literature and interactivity aided by static or sprite-based visuals, most often using anime-style art or occasionally live-action stills. As the name might suggest, they resemble mixed-media novels.

<i>Bishōjo</i> game

A bishōjo game or gal game, is "a type of Japanese video game centered on interactions with attractive girls". These games are a subgenre of dating sims targeted towards a heterosexual male audience.

<i>Night Life</i> (video game) Erotic graphic adventure game

Night Life (ナイトライフ) is an erotic simulation game by Kōei, released for the PC-8801 computer in April 1982.

1982 was the peak year of arcade and console games during the Golden age of arcade video games. Troubles at Atari, Inc. late in the year triggered the North American video game crash of 1983. Many games were released that would spawn franchises, or at least sequels, including Dig Dug, Pole Position, Mr. Do!, Pitfall!, and Q*bert. Additional consoles add to a crowded market. The new Commodore 64 goes on to eventually dominate the 8-bit home computer market.

Tamsoft Corporation is a Japanese video game developer, founded on 26 June 1992. Its current president, Toshiaki Ōta, previously worked at Toaplan as one of the six original team members and head of software development.


Steam-Heart's is a shoot 'em up and eroge developed by Giga and published by TGL. The story follows two siblings as they fight off a virus that is possessing the people in their world. The game features shooter gameplay paired with ample erotic cutscenes with scantily clad women. Steam-Heart's was initially released on PC-98 personal computers in 1994. It later made its way to the PC Engine CD-ROM² System in 1996 and then the Sega Saturn in 1998. All releases have been limited to the Japanese market. Critics generally found the gameplay to be average, with the erotic content being the sole distinguishing feature.

<i>Lula 3D</i> 2005 video game

Lula 3D is an adult adventure video game developed and published by cdv Software Entertainment for Microsoft Windows. It was released in Europe on June 22, 2005. It is part of the Lula video game series.

Omorashi, sometimes abbreviated as simply "omo", is a form of fetish subculture originating and predominately recognized in Japan, in which participants experience arousal from having a full bladder or wetting themselves, or from seeing someone else experiencing a full bladder or wetting themselves. Outside Japan, it is not usually distinguished from urolagnia, though they are different things: the Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals specifically defines omorashi as persistent sexual arousal toward a full bladder. Dr. J. Paul Fedoroff acknowledges this distinction, observing that "The theme of taking control of autonomic process is prominent in the paraphilia known as omorashi, which involves sexual arousal associated with the sensation of needing to urinate due to a full bladder." Westerners who make the distinction sometimes use the term "bladder desperation" to do so, though some fetishist communities in the West adopt the more specific Japanese language terminology. The Japanese term "omorashi" means to wet oneself. The word is also occasionally romanized as "omorasi" in the Kunrei-shiki romanization system. In the English speaking BDSM community, the term bathroom use control is used to describe omorashi play in which the dominant controls how and when the submissive is allowed to use the bathroom.

Hacker International Japanese video game developer

Hacker International was a Japanese video game company that developed and published games from 1990 to 2001 for the Nintendo Famicom, NEC PC Engine, Sony PlayStation consoles, and Microsoft Windows PCs. The company was known for its play-for-porn approach to gaming, with such games as AV Pachi-Slot and Soap Panic featuring female nudity as a reward for skilful playing. These games were usually distributed through mail order and sold approximately 30,000 to 50,000 copies each. Many of their games were developed by Taiwanese companies and were released in non-pornographic form elsewhere in the world; however three were released in the United States for the Nintendo Entertainment System with pornography intact by another Taiwanese company, Panesian.

<i>Dragon Knight 4</i> 1994 video game

Dragon Knight 4 (ドラゴンナイト4) is an erotic role-playing video game developed by ELF Corporation and released only in Japan for several platforms between 1994 and 1997. In 1994, the game first became available for PC MS-DOS, NEC PC-9801 and X68000, with a censored version ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1996 and later to the PC-FX, PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1997. It was also adapted into illustrated novels and an anime miniseries.

Sexuality in Japan

Sexuality in Japan developed separately from that of mainland Asia, as Japan did not adopt the Confucian view of marriage, in which chastity is highly valued. Monogamy in marriage is often thought to be less important in Japan, and sometimes married men may seek pleasure from courtesans. Prostitution in Japan has a long history, and became especially popular during the Japanese economic miracle, as evening entertainments were tax-deductible. Decreased sex drive in the 21st century has been blamed for the low Japanese birth rate and declining growth of the Japanese population.

Marvelous (company) Japanese Anime producer and video game company

Marvelous Inc. is a Japanese video game developer and publisher, and anime producer. The company was formed in October 2011 by the merger of the original Marvelous Entertainment, AQ Interactive, and Liveware.

<i>Senran Kagura</i> Video game series and media franchise

Senran Kagura is a video game series created by Kenichiro Takaki, produced by Marvelous and mostly developed by Tamsoft. The franchise revolves around groups of female shinobi, and has received manga and anime adaptations. The anime has been licensed by Funimation Entertainment in North America.

<i>Senran Kagura Burst</i>

Senran Kagura Burst is an action beat 'em up video game developed by Tamsoft, and the first entry in the Senran Kagura series. It was originally published for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan as Senran Kagura: Skirting Shadows in 2011; an expanded "director's cut" version was released in 2012, and received Western releases in 2013–2014. A remake, Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal, was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2018.

<i>Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash</i>

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash is a third-person shooting game in the Senran Kagura series, published by Marvelous and developed by Tamsoft. It was released for PlayStation 4 on March 16, 2017 in Japan, and on September 26, 2017 in North America, Europe and Australia. A Microsoft Windows version was released worldwide on March 7, 2018.


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  17. "Senran Kagura 7even impossible to release after Sony censorship row"
  18. "Senran Kagura producer explains why he left Marvelous and teases his future at Cygames"