No Sex Please, We're Gamers

No Reply Games' Miriam Bellard on falling afoul of Steam Greenlight and the industry's longstanding aversion to sex

When Valve announced Steam Greenlight it seemed like another progressive move from one of the boldest companies in the industry. Steam's popularity had reached a point where, for the vast majority of independent PC developers, it was the only distribution platform with a large enough audience to offer a realistic chance of success. With the number of submissions growing all the time, Valve turned to the crowd: the community buys the products, so the community should be allowed to decide which products make the cut.

For No Reply Games, however, the reality of Greenlight has been somewhat different from its promise. Founded by two former employees of Guerrilla Games, Miriam Bellard and Andrejs Skuja, No Reply Games focused on perhaps the least developed part of the global market: interactive erotica. There were Japanese Hentai games, there were Flash games with rock-bottom production values, but there was nothing to compare to erotic literature, photography or film. No Reply's first project, Seduce Me, would effectively combine all three.

"We always intended to at least approach Steam with this," says Bellard, a softly spoken native of New Zealand, who has been living in Amsterdam since getting a job with Guerrilla. "I think we'd managed to convince ourselves that there was a reasonable chance that they'd take it, and the game was close enough to being finished when Greenlight came around, so we thought we'd get in at the start and see what the community said."

"It was just a very generic e-mail saying we'd violated and the game was being taken down. It struck us as Valve not wanting to deal with it, not wanting to engage"

The community's response was polarised. Bellard observed a relatively even split between those calling for Seduce Me to be down-voted and threatening to complain, and those who, for various reasons, believed that content of this sort should be allowed a place on PC gaming's most pervasive distribution platform. Ultimately, the community didn't make the final decision; within an hour, No Reply received an e-mail from Valve stating that Seduce Me had violated Greenlight's terms of service and had been removed from the process.

"It was just a very generic e-mail saying we'd violated and the game was being taken down. It struck us as them not wanting to deal with it, not wanting to engage," says Bellard. "We were actually really shocked when it went down, because we thought that it would at least be allowed on Greenlight to be discussed. We wouldn't have minded taking down some of the images if they were considered too racy for the forum, but there was no communication - nothing.

"Before Greenlight happened, when indie developers didn't get [a game] onto Steam there was usually very little discussion about why not. People would sometimes not receive responses to their e-mails. Based on that behaviour, I can't see them doing any different here.

"I've heard figures from other indie developers, and proportionally Steam accounts for as much as 90 to 95 per cent of their sales. Getting on Steam for an indie developer is the difference between surviving financially or not."


For Bellard, Valve's intervention undermines the Greenlight concept. There is a good chance that Seduce Me wouldn't have received enough votes to pass muster, but the balance between the community's approval and disapproval was not the deciding factor. The Greenlight website lists two restrictions on acceptable content: "Your game must not contain offensive material or violate copyright or intellectual property rights." Seduce Me was evidently cast out for violation of the former, causing offence, but this description is far too vague to be useful to any developer wishing to push the envelope in terms of content.

If it can be said that greater diversity in gaming is important for the future of the medium, and it can be said that what offends one person won't necessarily offend another, then Valve's decision to remove the game is effectively a political act. How many people need to be offended for a game to be removed? Should the moral compass of certain individuals dictate what content is offered to those with a different view? For Bellard, the side of the argument that Valve chose to take will only convince other developers to err on the side of caution, and create content that won't transgress a frankly vast possible spectrum of opinion.

"Getting on Steam for an indie developer is the difference between surviving financially or not"

Of course, these strictures on what is deemed fit for sale aren't difficult to find in the games industry. Apple's guidelines for iOS submissions have attracted criticism for prohibiting a wide range of themes and subject matter, from sex and sexuality to depictions of animal faeces, but Bellard associates Valve with a different set of values.

"I understand it more on iOS, because Apple has this air of, 'we're here to protect you, everything just works and it's a nice, safe place to be'," she says. "That's Apple's whole ethos: I don't like it, but I understand it. I don't understand Valve's, because it's supposed to be part of the PC, Linux ethos. I'd always seen them as being on the side of the underdog, on the side of free speech."

When considering this issue, it's important to remember Steam's global reach. Valve sells games to a range of different countries, each with its own standards when it comes to sex and violence: Germany, for example, is more tolerant of sex than violence in cinema, television, gaming and other forms of entertainment; in America that bias is reversed. On the face of it, there's no practical reason why these varying standards should lead to games with sexual content being excluded - it certainly doesn't when it comes to violence - but Valve's decision to remove Seduce Me could simply be an example of playing it safe in a global marketplace.

"I personally don't think Valve needs [to play it safe]," Bellard responds. "I think Valve is in a position where they could push this if they wanted to. Sure, they might lose a very small amount of their audience, but they would gain others... Why they've chosen not to is possibly that they're part of that American culture, and they view this issue with that American point-of-view."

"I personally don't think Valve needs to play it safe. I think Valve is in a position where they could push this if they wanted to"

To a large extent, the righteousness of Bellard's position is besides the point: Steam is Valve's platform, just as iOS is Apple's, and it's entitled to make decisions about the propriety of different subject matter, even if that basically places that content in a commercial and creative ghetto. Frankly, the deeply conservative response of the Greenlight community is even more provocative.

Bellard and Skuja aren't pornographers; they are independent game developers attempting to fill a gap in the market that has existed since the dawn of the industry. On one level it's just good business sense, and yet Seduce Me, which is scarcely more hardcore than 50 Shades of Grey or The Joy of Sex, provoked vitriolic opposition. The complaints went beyond simple disapproval, or the refusal to purchase a product that isn't to your taste. Many comments were nothing less than blanket condemnations of all sexual content, and Bellard believes this is indicative of the way even the most engaged gamers view their hobby.

"The people we've spoken to [about the game] here in Amsetrdam, we just never hit that intensity of disagreement. Many of them felt that it wasn't for them, but there wasn't that sense of outrage that we saw from the Greenlight forum," she says.

"There's still that historical view of games being for children, and even though the average gamer is now 30 yeas old it's still the gut reaction. With books, you have children's books, teen fiction, adult books of all genres. But we tend to view games as one solid category. I think things like this can just be about habit; it's just what we're used to."

This is an important point. Despite the ubiquity of extreme violence - a talking point following this year's E3 press conferences - the games industry has a somewhat hysterical track record when it comes to sex. The most famous example is the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mod, Hot Coffee: a mini-game depicting consensual sex between adults that somehow managed to be more controversial than the killing sprees allowed by the game's mechanics.

"There's still that historical view of games being for children, and even though the average gamer is now 30 yeas old it's still the gut reaction"

With this in mind, it's pertinent to consider how violent a game would have to be to raise a similar level of ire from the Greenlight community, and which side Valve might take in that situation. Similarly, would a product as explicit as Seduce Me have been greeted by the same condemnation if it were on a Greenlight-esque service for film or literature? In a world where Netflix can host Disney fare and art films with scenes of penetrative sex without complaint, it's certainly hard to imagine.

For Bellard, this is just another teething problem for an industry that is perhaps less mature than those who work within it would believe. The acceptance of sexual imagery and themes has been the source of enormous struggle for every entertainment form, but it was also a vital aspect of their evolution and cultural acceptance. For now, though, there is little encouragement from either the industry or the audience for developers to demolish those taboos.

"That there's no content like this is exacerbated by the fact that there's nowhere for it to be sold.," Bellard says. "Once content starts to appear places will be found for it to live, which will encourage other people to make that kind of content.

"The indie scene is quite young, and I see where we are with games as like where the film industry was in its early years, when it was dominated by the really big studios, before developments in technology allowed people to break away from their control. That's where games are at the moment. We've finally got products like Unity, which allow you to make a game for a lot less money, and allow you to break away from the control of the big companies. And big companies are always more conservative."

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Latest comments (48)

Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts9 years ago
I've not seen the game, but surely this is what rating systems are for?
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What are the legal details for selling AO rated games digitally? And what is the minimum age you must have to own a steam account? I never noticed age checks or anything like that.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
Im not particularly a fan of these games, but i dont think they shouldnt be developed. And this is what the rating system is for. I can understand if steam pulled it down because they want to maintain an image. However i do think these type of games should have an online shop to there own where people can go to purchase them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 5th September 2012 2:13pm

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Show all comments (48)
Mike Bale Database Developer 9 years ago
Could it be the hammering the games industry has received around sexulization and images of nudity has caused the community to go into shock, and anything risque down that alleyway is now too much.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
Agreed Stephen, but whether Valve is "playing it safe" or not, it's certainly within their right to determine what sorts of games they want to have on their store, just as it is with any retailer (physical or digital). I don't think this is a matter of "maturity" (there's nothing particularly mature about porn, which is consumed in huge amounts by teenagers), but just company image. Valve doesn't want erotic games on Steam, and whether I agree with that decision or not, I agree with their right to make it.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development9 years ago
It's Steam's platform, they get to decide what types of projects they publish. There's no reason why they must, so it's a little juvenile to be so presumptuous about what they should and should not allow. They get to make the rules. Who knows, they might change their stance on it, maybe not, but why must it be presumed that it's about whether the industry is "ready"?, Steam is notthe industry, and no single idea requires the acceptance of Steam to be considered something the industry is ready for.
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Jma Programmer, Crytek9 years ago
Shows that Steam is just another closed service (and then they complain about Microsoft). As for ratings iit s true, I don't recall any age checks but that would be true for all the other war and violent games they sell, no?
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senar koraltan Product Owner (with game/digital design, project management & commercialization skills) 9 years ago
If Valve doesn't want their platform to support games like this, then its fair enough. I guess its more about their reputation, they don't want to be seen as a platform that supports this kind of content. I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with adult content, if the market is there and its aimed at the right audience then why not!
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
@ Gabriel Er... of course Steam is a closed service? The whole point of Greenlight is to make it more open, but it's still not completely open, and that's because Valve doesn't want to flood it with the mountains of crap you find on open services (Android and iOS). It's a retailer. And yes, it's orders of magnitude less restrictive than Xbox Live. Those two aren't even in the same dimension of workability for indie developers.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend9 years ago
Valve have the right to deny any content they want and I can kind of understand that if they let this game in then they could get some really twisted titles popping up because of it.

But on the flipside; sex is awesome and nothing to be ashamed of. It is a basic function of human nature and shouldn't be made so taboo.
Killing people and violence is bad and the fact Steam has a myriad of uber-violent titles yet gets all squeamish over some tits and ass is a testament to how immature the games industry really is.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 5th September 2012 2:47pm

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Valve can of course remove whatever games they like, but I think they really should give their definition of what constitutes 'offensive' content if they want to avoid this kind of controversy in future. 'Game breaks rules, is removed' would hardly be a headline.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
Just to put this in context, it sounds like this game would get an "AO" rating if it was rated by the ESRB in the U.S. Basically, interactive sex in games is seen as a big "no-no" (sex in games, when depicted in a non-interactive sense, is typically more accepted). I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with what the developers are doing, but allowing this sort of content on Steam potentially opens up a bag of snakes for Valve - what they stand to gain is not that much, but the push-back from both gamers and those from outside the gaming sphere could be significant.
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Jma Programmer, Crytek9 years ago
@Nicholas yeah, that's what I meant. Was just thinking that Valve is sometimes seen as this wonderful place where developers will be free to express themselves and all that. It's good to understand that they are a business. When they complain about Windows closing their platform it's because of business not because of values or morals.
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Steven Wemyss Senior QA Engineer, Avalanche Studios9 years ago
There's also bound to be some legal issues which would affect this particularly when selling games in the States etc. While it might be fine in the likes of Holland many other countries are noticeably more prudish legally when it comes to selling Adult items.
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Whereas if No Reply had sliced the offensive parts off of the bloodied nude bodies, in our industry that would make it classy.

We are so crap sometimes.
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I remember when we were kids and we played Sex Games on C-64. Oh, Holy Mary Mother of God, they don't even have footage of the game on Youtube without censoring it... Seems we're going back in time as far as nudity/sex/erotica in games is considered.

But yes, Valve has the right to decide what they take on their platform and what they don't.
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Pier Castonguay Programmer 9 years ago
Sex games should have a place in the market. There's a lot of very good Japan dating simulation with sexual hentai parts (Katawa Shoujo is a good example). Thing is, I looked the trailer of this game (Seduce Me) and it looked very bad.
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Luke McCarthy Indie Game Developer 9 years ago
Porn always kills the host platform. Just look at what happened to the NEC PC-FX.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend9 years ago
Not always.

If I remember correctly VHS was the format of choice for porn and because of that the format was taken over Betamax even though the latter was supposed to be better.
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James Leedham Programmer, Exient Ltd9 years ago
I've heard quite a few horror stories like this from developers trying to get their work on Steam, it's a shame, but I can appreciate both sides of the debate. I usually recommend they put their games on IndieCity instead.
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I suppose we should throw gambling onto the coals as well.
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Robert Aiking Product Manager, InnoGames9 years ago
"The people we've spoken to [about the game] here in Amsetrdam, we just never hit that intensity of disagreement. Many of them felt that it wasn't for them, but there wasn't that sense of outrage that we saw from the Greenlight forum," she says.
Had to chuckle at this - Amsterdam is arguably the most tolerant city in the world - probably not the best poulation to use to measure offensiveness.
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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard9 years ago
@Nicholas Pantazis: "there's nothing particularly mature about porn, which is consumed in huge amounts by teenagers". Yup. As someone who has not been a teenager for quite some time I can confirm that only people under 20 watch porn. Just like only people under 20 play games.

There's probably a decent sized market for erotic games. Can't say I've researched it. That said, if it's not a market Valve want, that's for them to decide. It does suck a bit that they didn't engage more with the developer, but really, the end result would be the same, the game would not be on greenlight so other than some hurt feelings, nothing was lost.

Games like Mass Effect show that you can do sexual relationships in "mature" games and gamers largely came out in force to defend that (e.g. when Fox news criticised it). I agree with previous comments. Given the way *all* games are hauled over the coals when one game gets pulled up for sexual content, there can be perception that games need to be whiter than white to avoid the whole medium being criticised.
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You can blast the hell out of terrorists, eviscerate the bowels of a dragon, or burn an evil wizard at the stake. But don't you dare show some skin!

Don't forget we can't trust parents to decide which games make sense for their kids - like they would with their movies, books, or music. I can't count the number of kids in my 3rd grader's class who play M rated games...

Our values systems are corrupt and implemented poorly.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 9 years ago
Aversion to sex? In this industry? Ahahahahaha! Ahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahaha!

Most of the industry slathers its games in as many objectified, sexualized women as possible. It's hardly averse to sex. It's just adverse to admitting it.

Frankly, it would be a massive improvement to put more actual bonking into games, as it might make it more obvious which companies have missed the concept of human beings existing in more than one gender, both as their customers and their characters.

It's very easy to tell the difference between sex and porn. I'm not into porn, but there's nothing wrong with sex - it can be germane to a story, and frankly, the more media promote the idea of sex as a mutual thing between two people, rather than something done to one, the better.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bonnie Patterson on 5th September 2012 6:09pm

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I agree with you, but Katakawa Shoujo is a fan game made by a lot of devs from 21 different countries.
I mean, Clannad, Air and Kannon would be better examples of great hentai games - the kind that made you cry as a little girl in the end. =\
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
Whilst obviously Valve can decide where they draw lines, I do find it sad when the closest we have to a reason is that contains offensive material (the legal, and in most places, socially acceptable act of sex between consenting adults), whilst they'll defend freedom of speech tooth and nail when it comes to this: (the not so legal or socially acceptable act of being a serial killer).

Don't get me wrong, I play violent games (although subjectively the idea of Manhunt always seemed juvenile and tasteless to me) but the hypocrisy is ridiculous. When We Dare was supposed to come out, I saw an acquaintance who'd wrote a big essay defending ultra violent games, condemn a saucy little party game as something that needed to be banned before it corrupted society irreversibly.

For all the criticism we level at EA, it is refreshing that they went ahead with the Bioware sex scenes, and if they decide to push that and consider allowing this on Origin, quality allowing, I may actually by something from there, just for the principle.
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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online9 years ago
If two persons would not have had sex, none of us would be able to read or comment on this story.
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James Verity9 years ago
makes me wonder why the dev attempted to sell / distribute the title on such a delivery system knowing that their title would possibly be not allowed in the first place, if you want to sell such a title why have you not tried to sell it through your own delivery system instead of trying to use a third party?
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Ashley Gutierrez Animator 9 years ago
Replace sexual content with violent content, and the majority of people that are against putting it up will be singing a different tune.
The gaming industry has danced about this whole problem ever since its' early years, over and over again. What is offensive? How much can they censor?
The answer is they (barely) can, but they shouldn't.
Freedom of speech tends to be trampled on, simply because the majority of this nation is so sexually inhibited that games like this quickly turn into satan himself somehow.

Sure, some people may be offended by sex. (Strange, considering it's a natural thing) Some people may also be offended by violence, which, as we all know, is a major staple of gaming. (Halo, Gears of War, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, CoD, Battlefield) Does that mean that we can bar violent or sexual games from the media?
If you don't like it, don't buy it.
This kind of game is very niche anyway, and will only be bought by that audience.
Besides, we got ratings out of this whole mess of censorship of game developers; why not actually use them?

Our rights stop where anothers' begin. We can't dictate to others what they can or can't buy.
I love Valve, but I think they should be more careful in this arena, on the very basis that they have always been for the gaming community, rather than treating us like cash cows.
If you disrespect your developers, you disrespect the artist, the very people who the gaming community is built on.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Ashley Gutierrez on 5th September 2012 9:03pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
I think we should be careful not to associate "Valve" with "the gaming and entertainment industry", and those two should obviously not be associated with "the media".

Valve should definitely have given some actual reasons to the dev, and should obviously broaden their guideline definitions (explicitly stating no porn/extreme forms of sex and nudity), if only to make it easier to deal with fallout like this.

That said, the majority of comments here seem to argue that Valve should be the company that broadens sex within gaming. This is something that the industry as a whole should do, and something that can only be done within a wider culture of acceptance of sex and sexuality. Saying that an American company should Greenlight (no pun intended) a game developed in one of the most sexually relaxed countries in the world is a stupid stand to take. Look at how long the Janet Jackson/Nipplegate/FCC scenario has lasted. Look at how confused the American education system is when it comes to sex ed. Look at how close Roe v Wade is to being stripped away.

It is entirely irresponsible to ask Valve to be the company that broadens sex within gaming, to the degree that No Reply Games are asking. Let's not forget that Greenlight is a community-oriented means of a game becoming available on Steam. No Reply Games could easily submit their product through the standard Steam approval system, and Valve could allow or disallow it, based on economic and quality reasons, without them being seen as purveyors of filth.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th September 2012 9:34pm

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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations9 years ago
I don't know if I'll sound even remotely funny... but if we think of games as a safety valve, then we need to remember that politicians can rarely be object of sexual desire as a form of revenge for what they're doing, so they have no interest in allowing us Muppets to vent the steam this way, in games...

Puns intended, sorry for punctuation in strange places.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Andrzej Wroblewski on 5th September 2012 10:32pm

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Diego Santos Lećo Creative Director, GameBlox Interactive9 years ago
The same way you can't find sex/porn DVDs on every store, you won't find it on Steam.

Steve Jobs talked about this kind of problem (in the app store). He said that he was not confortable having sex apps, he didn't want to deal with this kind of content, so people should stop pushing and take their business somewhere else.

And there is endless discussion to be had about "What is offensive when it comes to sex?"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Diego Santos Lećo on 6th September 2012 2:41am

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Oliver Reischl Art Director, Bongfish GmbH9 years ago
Oh dear lord. There goes the US again ruining the fun for the rest of the world. Sure, Valve can take down whatever they want from their shop, but the same way i'm free to think of Valve whatever i want and that cowardly move sure made it drop several levels in my respect.
How i hate those "But think about the children"-shouts, especially when on the same shop the same child can buy a game where it can murder prostitutes. But sex? Nonono, this would seriously mess with your brain. Hypocracy ahoi!
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
Either NoReply sells their game on Steam, or they create a controversy large enough that every Steam user knows the game from the noise of the clamor. I call that Win-Win for a gimmicky game and a victory for ADD marketing; calculated controversy at its best.
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Jeremie Sinic9 years ago
@GamesIndustryBiz :
No link with the article but when I hit the "Reply" button, I wish my comment appeared below the comment I am replying to.
I see many comments that go "I agree with you" when they are actually not a reply to the comment above them, which makes the read quite confusing.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany9 years ago
In Germany is exactly the opposite; sex is tolerated a lot more than fictional violence. It's still bad to limit people's creativity, but still makes a lot more sense. Having sex and decapitating a person, which is more acceptable?
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
Sex in Germany is not tolerated for no reason. There was at least one decade in which the newly established private TV stations were trying to get attention by any means necessary. The vehicle of choice was a flash flood of soft-sex movies and TV shows (RTL's Tutti Frutti comes to mind). It just stuck better at the time than violent movies and sensationalist TV (which they also tried). But that is TV, the same never happened for computer games, meaning there is no market for soft-sex games in Germany either. Today, the initial sex flood is over, but the nudity remains. Not just on the TV stations which introduced them, but on all of them!

Videogames pushed violence into the German market over the past decade and it is unbelievable what can be sold today compared to 15 years ago in terms of violence. One can say video game based violence is much more accepted in Germany these days. With each year, the self imposed restrictions of the industry get laxer and political cheapshots get fewer and fewer. Customers also vote with their wallets, by not buying anything that might look like a cut version (Sleeping Dogs was a recent example). The growing acceptance of violence as part of games can currently be observed in real time.

Even though sex is firmly established in German TV and violence is firmly established in games, I would not go so far as to say that one could easily sell violence on TV and sex in video games. Steam is like the public TV stations in Germany before the soft-sex flood. They need competition whose audience is rapidly outgrowing them because it offers a broader and seemingly more sensational range of products. Steam are not paragons of bringing sex to the market, they will leave that to others. Then they will adapt or die, their choice. Just like your friendly German mom and pop store selling soft sex magazines next to video game magazines.
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Marty Greenwell Senior Software Developer 9 years ago
"makes me wonder why the dev attempted to sell / distribute the title on such a delivery system knowing that their title would possibly be not allowed in the first place"

I can't think of a reason either - it's not like this story has generated masses of coverage across all major gaming sites, messaging that there's an erotic game called "Seduce Me" pulled from Steam for being naughty but will be available directly from their own website in November instead ¬.¬

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marty Greenwell on 6th September 2012 10:06am

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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up9 years ago
The peripherals would have been ace as well. Damn.
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Khash Firestorm Senior Programmer, MuHa Games9 years ago
Hehe.. And what about The Witcher 2? We had there naked scenes, Tris (mage girl from the witcher) ended up in polish Playboy, and Valve was happy to publish game and even promote it, because it brings money so where is the point with other adult games? They are not AAA enough?

EDIT: sorry for double comments, some errors in browser showed up it was not send

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Khash Firestorm on 7th September 2012 4:58pm

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Tony Johns9 years ago
How many times should we as individuals be constantly denied the games we may be interested in playing when the industry itself is playing politics against us fearing the social outcry from politicians?

Just place the game with an AO rating and it should be ok. At least give us the choice.

As far as games are trying to be mature, it seems that the industry itself is preventing us from exploring many sort of storyline plots all because they are afraid of offending someone?

Steam should take a page out of the ESRB and just allow the game to be given the AO rating and made avaliable for us who decide to play it. Steam is not like the gaming retailing.

but then again, they are trying to promote their service to the widest possible audience, but the sad thing is that they are not including everyone.

It is a Utalitarism approach, or maybe a Deontology approach when it comes to what is considdered as offensive and if it offends just one person, then it should be banned from others.
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Andreia Quinta Photographer 9 years ago
Difference is The Witcher main focal point isn't sex and never was, it was always an extra perk. And while - of course - the weight of the developers might have weight on the matter compared to a indie developer, fact is that this 'sex' game primary focus would be sex, and the moment Valve opens the door for sex then who knows what's coming next, what sort of weird or extremely sexualized games would try to get on Steam next? And if they were blocked, they'd complain as to why they were locked out but that other game wasn't. It's a delicate matter because it might attract the type of developers and PR Valve does not want.

Just because a person might love sex doesn't mean they'll want sex related props, items, books, dvd's showing all around the living room for house-guests and even close friends to see. Same deal here.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
And yes, it's orders of magnitude less restrictive than Xbox Live
Ahem. Seriously?

When we tried to get a game on XBLA we were speaking with a real human at MS on the telephone within a day. One game got approved and another did not. Fair play.

I still don't have so much as an email address for a real person at Valve, and by all accounts it wouldn't be of any use if I did.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Weird how this was linked to the "Game Over: The Losers of 2013" article. Well no, not really.
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Aaron Parkes n/a 8 years ago
How is it that we have incredibly violent games on steam that no one has a problem with knowing young children are on steam yet pornography is suddenly too much for Steam. I'm not saying I'm for it or against it but I find it incredibly hypocritical to protest a sex orientated form of media on a distribution platform such as steam yet not to protest violence orientated media. Both are unsuitable for children, both will have age certificates.

YouTube is the same and I disagree with that too, violence is accepted (clips from violent films, games). Yet sexual scenes are rejected from YouTube. On another note is it not interesting to think people being harmed, hurt, killed is socially accepted in media publicly yet acts of love and passion are not.

I feel, and this is just my personal opinion (oh no my opinions on the internet), any interactive or non interactive media platform which accepts forms of violence, I see no reason should not accept forms of a sexual nature.
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Frank Trottier Analyst programmer 8 years ago
... We live in a world where violence is standardised lack of control. It's normal. Normalized. Looks like life is not always easy and pain is normal, almost cultivated. Problem is, life comes from sex but thats another mater for another endless debate. On the other side the sight of a breast, even the mention of such a thing brings things to the surface, so yes the sight of a breast can be really troublesome to many people because with the pain, the feedback comes pretty fast and people get fed up and move on but with sex and sensuality.. when do you stop ? The pain is not there to stop you. So a breast is dangerous, you have so much to lose when you think about it ;)
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Benjamin Solheim Sole Shareholder, ESPN8 years ago
I have the feeling it has more to due with the cost of the over head allowing AO games would cost Value than any care about what goes on the platform. When I was at Activision the age gates just to allow gamers over the age of 13 to post on a moderated forum, caused weeks of testing a web page to make sure what could get through. For AO games I imagine they have to go through a lot more hassle and then would likely not make as money as they spent.

It seems to me that developers wanted to make a sex game or one that revolves around anything that would require the same checks porn sites have to go through would be better served by hooking up a with a porn site to distribute their content. I mean isn't one of the most important things, when making a game is know your target audience?

Personally I think stories where the hero gets the girl (or guy or alien or whatever floats your boat), and fades to black is a lot more impactful than pixelated sex or naughty pictures. I can understand teenagers who have never seen a girl naked wanting a picture but the avg gamer is older and has kids we know what they look like.

While I think America needs to grow and stop treating naughty bits as worse than decapitations... I for one would not play any game that had more showing on a guy than what is show in most Conan images. Personally I think if we included more suggestion it would solve a lot of issues with the gender divide. From what I have seen from my personal feeds girls like muscles as eye candy, more than anything else, and that would not bother dudes... especially if cool looking armor is involved. You could have armor that leaves guys midriff bare or a tiny chest plate linked to cool looking pauldrons and most guys would not even realize that guy is half naked. The guy is looking at how cool his char looks compared to the guy next to him. Yet you put the same on girl char and suddenly it is she is half naked, not that armor is making the best assets stand out. I think if we move to suggesting sensuality and not the sex, we can get away with more and make it more appealing to everyone. So we can suggest erotica without actually going there and still have those story elements people want. IE you have character embracing and kissing instead of trying to suggest sex is better than intimacy. Then have the screen go black to let people fantasize what is happening, that will likely be better than what could happen on the screen.
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