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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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Mike Williams avatar
Mike Williams: M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.
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