Robert Yang: "The game industry needs to get laid"

Developer Robert Yang talks about the game industry's issues with sexual content

Indie game developer Robert Yang wants the game industry to get kinky. Yang is the developer behind a number of titles involving sex and sexuality, including Hurt Me Plenty, Succulent, Rinse and Repeat, and Cobra Club. At GDC's micro-talk sessions, Yang called for the industry to be more open about topics like sexuality, noting how sexual content is banned or minimized in certain spaces.

"The game industry needs to get laid and chill already," Yang began. "I make games about sex. I have to make these games because I feel no one else will. By and large, even AAA games you might associate with gay sex aren't really about gay sex. I firmly believe we can all do better in the future."

According to Yang, the issue is that the industry is afraid to talk about and tackle sexual content. He explained that one of his titles, Cobra Club, involves players taking dick pics of their simulated avatar that later get leaked online. For Yang, there's a host of hurdles just to get Cobra Club into players' hands. He pointed to services like PayPal and Twitch that can ban users for certain content.

"I can't even sell my game at all," said Yang. "If I do, I risk PayPal banning me as a high-risk account. I don't even want to risk arguing with PayPal. PayPal's used all over the game industry and is the eye of Sauron. Did you know that Twitch.Tv bans games too? I know this because they banned my games twice.

Part of the problem is the vague content policies in place at many of these sites. Yang pointed to the PayPal's Content Policy, which doesn't tell users which content is banned. He played a game of "Was This Banned on Twitch?" with the audience, noting that Twitch will ban smaller games for the same content found in AAA titles like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt or South Park: The Stick of Truth.

"'Certain sexualities are banned.' Which sexualities? They won't tell you. They say not to cross the line, but the line is invisible and shifting," Yang said about PayPal.

"Not only does Twitch have a bad policy in my opinion, but they also enforce the bad policy inconsistently," he added. "If I were cynical, I'd say Twitch allows games with big publishers, but they don't understand smaller developers."

Yang showed Vimeo's content policy as a way forward, calling it a "pleasant experience" compared to dealing with Twitch or PayPal. He explained that he was banned on Vimeo, but was able to email someone and explain why his work was artistic, at which point the ban was released. Nuance and understanding is better than unilateral enforcement.

"If games want to be the most powerful industry and artform in the world, don't freak out about dick jokes," Yang said at the end of his talk. "Everyone loves to play games, some games are about sex. Don't ban games just because they are about sex. Society will not collapse. Chill out, go get laid. Go get over it."

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Latest comments (5)

David Canela Game & Audio Designer 5 years ago
Not that I disagree, but while I see how Twitch vould be considered part of the game industry, both PayPal and Vimeo certainly aren't. So it appears to me he's talking about a much wider issue that is not game industry-specific...
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Shawn Clapper Programmer 5 years ago
It's a tough issue. While I think you should be able to sell your game and we need games of all type, just like in the real world we limit super selling things like sex and gambling as part of nerfing the "game".

Just like how there is no zoning in Second Life if there were not rules to games submitted to portals like Steam etc there would be an overwhelming number of sex games because sex just sells so god damn well. Same thing with gambling, if that was allowed we would see it in every game.

Although I think a lot of these practices are in place from people not understanding we need variety there are also reasons beyond that in why we zone areas of sales.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
Not that I disagree, but while I see how Twitch would be considered part of the game industry, both PayPal and Vimeo certainly aren't. So it appears to me he's talking about a much wider issue that is not game industry-specific...
I've always seen Vimeo as Youtube but better, so I think his mentioning them is to raise awareness of that company. Everyone says "Ah, get your game on Youtube and Twitch" but that creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of them always being the places to be. If there was a more concerted effort to include Vimeo in PR, it would help break the duopoly of YT/Twitch, which helps everyone in the long-run. There's a lot of people who complain about Steam being a "monopoly", but don't give a monkey's that YT and Twitch essentially "run" the gaming video business, and can therefore do what they like.

Thinking about it, I think his mentioning PayPal is for the same reason, in a way - there's a vast number of workers in the legit sex-industry (or tangentially related sexual-content-creation businesses) who are banned from using PayPal, because of their ToS. But there's not a lot of awareness of that, so again, by mentioning his issues, he's raising awareness, which will maybe help push people/companies into either confronting PP, or using different payment providers. And, maybe, that loosens PP's stranglehold on online payments. Unlikely, but I can see the reasoning behind it.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 20th March 2016 9:59am

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Andrew Watson Tools Programmer 5 years ago
the issue is that the industry is afraid to talk about and tackle sexual content
I'd say that the west in general (particularly the US) is like this, not just the games industry. And it's not something you can really change very quickly.
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David Canela Game & Audio Designer 5 years ago
Yeah, all I'm a bit confused about is how all those services are somehow considered as part of the game industry. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say "the payment and online video industries need to get laid"?

Edit: this was supposed to be a reply to Morville's post...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Canela on 21st March 2016 11:12am

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