As Patrick Klepek wrote last week, Ghost of Tsushima is an extremely formulaic open-world game where you complete a series of repetitive tasks across an island in feudal Japan, but that kind of mindless distraction is exactly what I'm looking for, so I'm having a great time with it.
Essentially, I run around, stab Mongol invaders, and unlock a series of abilities as I slowly become an unstoppable Samurai legend. Some of the ways to level are what you'd expect from an open world game, like killing all the soldiers in a town in order to free it. Others are more reserved little moments. For example, finding a quaint little nature scene, sitting down, and helping my character write a haiku will give me a new headband. Similarly, in order to increase my maximum health, I can visit a hot spring, go for a dip, and reflect on something.
Why a bit of introspection increases my maximum health is not clear, but much to my delight, each time I enter a hot spring is preceded by a short animation of my character getting buck naked and getting in the water. It's not a big deal, but it's not often that video games will show players a naked male ass, especially that of your main character, and after hours of role playing as the overly serious samurai Jin Sakai, it was a nice and tender moment. These wonderful hot spring moments, however, always sting at the end because they rob me of the chance to view my character's dick.
There are dozens of hot springs in the game, and they all end with the same animation. Sakai gets out of the water, we see his ass again, and he begins to turn to the right, towards the camera. For a split second, all that's blocking a clear view of full frontal nudity is his right thigh (very erotic). As he continues to turn right, milliseconds before he'd face the camera at an angle that would show dick, the camera cuts to black. When it comes back, Sakai is fully dressed and his maximum health bar is slightly larger. It's a real tease.
This is not even the only time we've been robbed of a video game penis this month. Last week, Death Stranding, Kojima's uncanny game about Norman Reedus being a futuristic Amazon delivery guy, came out on PC. If you've played it, you know that piss is an important commodity in the early game, and that the player can choose to make Reedus pee on command. On consoles, this animation was always framed from the back, keeping it PG. On PC, with players being able to hack and move the camera around, we got to finally see Kojima Productions didn't render a penis for Reedus. When you turn the camera around, he's peeing out of a ghost dick.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board, the organization that the video game industry uses to rate the content in games for appropriate ages, will not severely punish video games for showing dick.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned famously used a dick effectively in one cutscene, and that game is rated M for Mature, like many of best selling big budget video games. Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding are also rated M, and the ESRB descriptions for all of the above say they include "nudity." So it's not as if either game is making a big leap from an ass to a dick in terms of its rating.
There's a long history of putting dicks in video games that goes all the way back to 1982's Custer's Revenge and its three pixel long piece. If you want a thoughtful and in-depth game about dicks, you should definitely check out Robert Yang's dick pic simulator Cobra Club.
Video games often will portray female characters in revealing clothing or completely nude, if only to titillate a particularly horny segment of its audience that's into that kind of thing. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it would feel a lot more fair if games like Ghost of Tsushima just went the extra step and at least gave us the option to see Sakai's dick.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.