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Old 2007-07-23, 08:03
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Default Sex in Games

Hello, people.

I have decided to tackle the subject of sex in games as the main topic for my research paper in my Human Sexuality class, and I'm having a bit of trouble finding useful research. As we all know, Americans consider video games to be children's toys, and only recently have parents and politicians begun to notice that this is not the case (Hot Coffee, anyone?). The Japanese, on the other hand, don't share this misconception.

Anyway, I intend to devote a section of my paper to Japanese gaming, eroge, and visual novels, anecdotally referencing typical and extreme examples of sex in games. I also would like to plug in statistics about adult gaming sales in Japan and how they compare to the rest of Japanese games and to the rest of the world. That presents a bit of a problem since I don't read Japanese, nor do I intend to use Wikipedia as a credible source.

For starters, I would be interested in finding out the average number of adult titles released in Japan each month (or each year), their average price, how much they typically cost to make, and the number of sales average and popular titles alike manage to generate. The most popular and highest grossing titles would also be useful, but I don't know if anyone would be able to find that information.

Would anyone be able to give me a hand with my research? Since this is for a Sexuality class, I have zero reservations about whatever content you throw my way. None of the print sources I have found have been very useful (as expected...), and I'm having more than a little trouble finding appropriate statistics. Thanks in advance.
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Old 2007-07-23, 12:04
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How broad is this? Sex in games sounds like a book-ish topic to me, not something you'd put in a research paper. Sex in Japanese Visual Novel markets might be something you could write a research paper on, the problem would be getting English statistics. If you speak Japanese though, I suppose that's not a problem.
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Old 2007-07-23, 14:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TDOMMX
Hello, people.

I have decided to tackle the subject of sex in games as the main topic for my research paper in my Human Sexuality class, and I'm having a bit of trouble finding useful research. As we all know, Americans consider video games to be children's toys, and only recently have parents and politicians begun to notice that this is not the case (Hot Coffee, anyone?). The Japanese, on the other hand, don't share this misconception.
Regarding Japan's console game market, the misconception certainly exists. For instance, CESA won't have anything to do with eroge (in interviews with foreign press, they even criticized the sector as being bad and embarrassing for the industry). Parents and politicians are also anxious about game violence.

I think one important difference is that the American PC and console game markets are tightly link, whereas the Japanese counterparts are only loosely related.

[The Japanese media also likes to make fun of adult games. After all, there's no mainstream market for these things, which are catered toward otaku. The typical adult doesn't buy and play eroge]

Quote:
Originally Posted by TDOMMX
For starters, I would be interested in finding out the average number of adult titles released in Japan each month (or each year), their average price, how much they typically cost to make, and the number of sales average and popular titles alike manage to generate. The most popular and highest grossing titles would also be useful, but I don't know if anyone would be able to find that information.

Would anyone be able to give me a hand with my research? Since this is for a Sexuality class, I have zero reservations about whatever content you throw my way. None of the print sources I have found have been very useful (as expected...), and I'm having more than a little trouble finding appropriate statistics. Thanks in advance.
I have no idea where you might find this info. However, PC NEWS used to publish sales figures before they folded. Various data sets (not sure how reliable absolute numbers are, but relative sales performance can be gleaned) are scattered online:

http://www.product.co.jp/ranking2000.asp
http://www.product.co.jp/ranking2001.asp
http://zepy.momotato.com/2007/03/01/...ngs-year-2006/

As for the mainstream console market, sales data is regularly supplied by Enterbrain and Media Create:

http://www.the-magicbox.com/Chart-BestSell1999.shtml
http://www.the-magicbox.com/Chart-BestSell2001.shtml
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Old 2007-07-23, 17:10
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The Japanese consider video games as children's toys too? I wouldn't have thought, especially considering their attitudes towards animation and comics (or is that just otaku?)... I'm honestly surprised. Then again, I suppose hyper-conservative prudes exist in every culture.

Anyway, I guess I should clarify my angle. Aside from sexist character designs (I have yet to find an MMO that does not have hypersexualized female characters) and sensationalized scandals that most gamers don't care about (Hot Coffee, Night Trap), there's really very little tying American video games to human sexuality, far less exploring it. Sure, you've got the now-cliche melodramatic romantic elements in a bunch of RPG, but console games for the most part stay away from sexuality by staying away from AO-rated games. I imagine this is also true in Japan (with the obvious exception of all-age ports of popular titles from the "embarrassment of the industry" such as Air, Kanon, and Fate, but are dumbed down and sanitized for obvious reasons). In the PC department over here, you've got Virtual Valerie, Leisure Suit Larry, but little else, and very few of these could be described as "good" (for my intents and purposes, Flash games and amateur works do not count). I'm tempted to mention Indigo Prophecy, but the sex in that game has little to do with the main plot.

In Japan, sex in games is far more prevalent (though, as you say, nowhere near as mainstream as I have been led to believe). Generally, these games are cheap to produce compared to console games (figures, please!), and the promise of sex can guarantee a base number of sales (more figures I don't have) by appealing to fetishists. Hell, a lot of titles are tailor-made to fetishists and otaku.

However, that doesn't impede the development of titles that make an honest attempt to explore sexuality and tell a proper story. Kana and Crescendo are two such titles, and I'm confident that there are many more that I have never had the opportunity to check out. I could expand a lot of my paper using Yuka's and Ayame's scenarios in Crescendo, but I want to try and have some variety in my paper. These two are by no means typical examples of visual novels. Nonetheless, I wish to use them as examples of how sex and games can be put together without being trashy or offensive.

Long story short: a lot of eroge are just porn, but I want to have a look at the titles that honestly try to be something more than that. Phantom (prior to being sanitized), Kana, and Crescendo all manage to accomplish this, and I'm hoping you can tell me of other titles that do as well. From what I hear, School Days might be a good example (something along the lines of "the destructive potential of love and irresponsibility"... I forget...), but I don't want to put my foot in my mouth.

If you have any figures or examples that would help, please send them my way, with emphasis on titles currently or soon-to-be available in English (ie: Family Project). Japanese-only titles are okay, as long as you can explain to me why they are good examples since I can't read Japanese. Thank you for the links you have provided thus far, but I'm afraid they don't help me much since I can't read kanji to save my life...

Also, if you have any suggestions on avenues of thought that I should explore that I may not have considered, please let me know. I don't want to make you do my work for me, but I'm always open to new ways of approaching a topic.
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Old 2007-07-23, 18:07
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Video games are seen as a new market because they are. Manga and anime have some very large followings in Japan, and it's primarily because they're old media; film and books have been around a very long time. Video games are still an infant market, they don't have a lot of Citizen Kane type titles yet.

I think you're still overestimating sexuality in games in Japan. Almost anything that is purely sexual, from porn to hentai, is a niche market, and this applies to any place in the world. Granted, it would be considerably easier to talk about sexuality in Visual Novels perhaps, but you're still thinking too broadly about your topic I think. Also, I wouldn't say sex in any market is about fetish as much as you seem to believe; sex is more about physical satisfaction. A fetish is more of a type of compulsion that aids in gratification, and it's usually more general. That being said, I'm not trying to deny the existence of fetishes, just that I think the understanding of fetishes you've presented is limited.

That being said, I think that you should separate it into two parts, because games like Crescendo are not really a whole story. They're more like divided stories, one part being sex, another part being story. The two, at least to me, seem mutually exclusive. While I'm sure there are games that try to meld the two together, most don't do a very good job. Fate/stay night for example has a ridiculous premise for having sex, as do most H-games, but they're quick and simple and the idea is to basically create an easy lead-in. A visual novel like Narcissu would, to me, have a more realistic reason for having sex, yet those kinds of situations are pretty rare.
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Last edited by Talbain; 2007-07-23 at 18:23.
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Old 2007-07-23, 23:35
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Ah... so another sexuality student took notice of this?

So... you are looking at ways that video games can significantly explore sexuality and/or story in a real way?

I heard that a scenario for one of the girls of To Heart had to be changed when they released an all ages version. I think it was because the conflict of her story was considered 18+ material.

To Heart 2 I believe had the inverse because it started out as an all-ages game, then they sold an X-Rated version with H-scenes. However, in the X-rated version there was one additional character where one of the key conflicts she had was intimacy.

Spoiler


This kind of conflict could only be explored in the X-rated version of the game.

Look it up on bluemist.animeblogger.net

Now... let me check. Is this what you are looking for or am I missing something?

Sex or more accurately sexuality can definately be melded meaningfully into a story.

The problem is that whenever a visual novel of sorts actually tries to make sexuality issues a theme, it's usually cut out when adapting for mainstream products.

If you want to take a serious look about how the dark side of sexuality is explored in commercial products, you'll probably only find them in the original 18+ versions. I do believe they do make serious messages about a mostly taboo topic.

Go to gamefaqs for the FAQ of the game Baldr Force. You'll find at least most of the uncut stuff of the storyline. When I read it, I saw several themes of how sexuality can abused by people who hold far too much power through high-level skills and/or immense influence. Probably some other things I didn't catch.

Type-moon did make fate-stay night have an easy lead-in to sex. However, at least they had a theme of gender identity. For example, Saber threw away practically all of her female gender identity. How is she capable of having a romantic relationship with a guy?

I suppose you should be able to find a lot about gender roles and gender identity in some of these games. Would those fall under sexuality?

Am I misunderstanding something? Am I off the mark?
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Old 2007-07-24, 00:59
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Sasara's scenario in TH2XR could have been played out without the sex if the writers had so wanted. The situation was one where she was willing to do almost anything to gain acceptance, which could be portrayed numerous ways. In fact, Saaryan has trouble eating home cooked meals among other things.

Mizuiro's Shindou had a surprise twist right at the onset of an H-scene, where a house of cards made of lies comes crashing down. Again, it could've been played out without that, but it was a strong dramatic device and a surprise. NNS's games are known for having at most 1 h-scene per girl for their main scenario, leaving the random stuff for omake and side stories.

It is very rare that sex is critical to the point where if taken out, a story totally falls apart. Whole tracts of euphemisms, innuendo and suggestive language were created specifically to be oblique about the topic if needed.

Speaking as someone from the sociology/psychology fields. Overall, take your eyes off the "OMG there's SEX in these things!! How come it's different from here!!" for a second. You're putting blinders on and it's coloring your ability to see the bigger picture.

If you're going to do a comparative study, start by looking at the general differences between the two cultures when it comes to sex. Only after you have a picture of that can you really measure whether what you're seeing is a broad culture thing, or just the exaggerated result of very specific marketing to a very specific niche of people who get off at 2d girls with voice acting.

Even then, you could write a whole book and then some on that one analysis alone if you wanted to....
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Old 2007-07-24, 04:53
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I'd say it's more of a cultural misunderstanding; I'd go into detail, but I'm going to try and not derail the topic.

Back to sex, I think a game, oddly enough, to look at might be Yume Miru Kusuri. At least the Aeka and... the purple haired-girl's route. (Sorry, Aeka's route was the only one that really stood out to me). The cat-girl route's a bit of a stretch. Look at how sex is addressed as a sort of social issue or social relief, rather than a cultural one. The entire game is very escapist by nature (as most visual novels are), but reality tends to come down on all the characters like a hammer. Explore that more, and why it happens more in this visual novel versus others. Address also how the social situations established in the game relate to both character interaction, plot and reality.

Realistically, considering that visual novels are indeed novels, you could probably write books on some of them alone. That being said, you really need to focus on a topic to write a research paper; social interaction in a certain sections of visual novels perhaps, or plot sequences and how