It’s hard to believe that video game forbearers like Atari, Nintendo and Gameboy reigned in the last 30 or 40 years, given how they represent a technology entirely foreign to any modern video game lover. In place of their simply but engaging low-tech game play, today’s games now seem like interactive movies, boasting multi-layered plots and complex storylines involving intricate, multi-dimensional characters. On top of that, the graphical quality of the games has reached a point of breeding commercials whose promoted medium is difficult to discern. Is this ad plugging a game or an actual movie?
If the logical end game of video games is to reach a maximum level of realism and life-like appearance, then perhaps it’s only a matter of time that they become virtually indistinguishable from their big screen counterparts. In fact, maybe that merger is already underway. On top of countless video games turned into movies and movies transformed into video games, there was even the recent cinematic release of the fantasy / science fiction film “Hardcore Henry”, whose first person camera perspective serves to mimic the feel of a first-person shooter video game.
Another shared similarity between movies and video games is their interesting and sometimes awkward relationship with nudity. Just as the Motion Picture Association of America rates films based on the suitability of their content to certain audiences, the Entertainment Software Rating Board serves to oversee video game content and make a determination on its suitability for various demographics of potential players. As such, any game developer that might wish to shock and titillate its viewers with some extra pixelated skin may be forced to rethink the decision on account of the restrictions imposed by the ESRB.
Not that the Rating Board is an unbeatable obstacle for all developers. Some are willing to take a risk that even those whose access to these games will be restricted with a dreaded Adult’s Only (AO) rating may still find a way to acquire them, while others are open to using in-game nudity as a selling point for a game that might otherwise be deemed underwhelming and sub-par. Context is also important, as some games use sex in a very overt, alluring way, typically with attractive female characters. Conversely, video game culture has also spawned a number of counter-cultural, against the grain developers, some of whom have taken a satirical approach to what they view as a gratuitous use of nakedness by using nudity in a more comedic, irreverent context.
As it turns out, the time tested adage of “sex sells” applies in the digital world of video games too. The promise of naughty graphics on display has been known to drive up demand for certain games. But buyer beware – developers who make a play to incorporate nudity into their games are often doing so as a lazy cash grab, looking to cash in despite putting forth a poorly funded game with a half-baked concept and lame game play. Once an industry geared towards kids, the big money nature of the video game business, one in which the release of Grand Theft Auto V pulled in more green than many big budget Hollywood films, has turned nudity into a marketing tool.