Kiss and Tell is Waypoint's column, written by Kate Gray, examining the depiction of love and romance, sex and intimacy in video games, across its many and varied forms.
Look. Let's be honest. There are, at most, about ten sexual positions you can comfortably twist your body into. But Cosmopolitan—the holy gospel for so many women worldwide—has turned the infinite possibilities of contorted combinations into an art form.
Spooning, but with one leg on a table. Doggy style, but your toes are clenched like a fist, and you foot-punch him gently in the balls as he thrusts. Missionary, but you're on the phone to his mother the entire time, relaying exactly how pleasurable the encounter is on a ten-point scale. Repeat until the eternal fires of hell consume us all, and even then you can probably get a publishing deal with the Devil.
Needless to say, it took me a while before figuring out that sex was actually rather uncomplicated once you figured out the basics. But it took me even longer to find out that the "base" system—the one that rather ungenerously compares sexual encounters to that most romantic of sports, baseball—was just total and utter trash.
(I know, I know. Video Games. They're coming, promise.)
It's something like this, although your terms may vary, and apologies in advance because I've never played baseball in my life. First Base is kissing, Second Base is "hand stuff," Third is "mouth stuff," and… Fourth... Base? Home Run? Goal? Is sex. The point being that "bases" one to three is only some of the way to sex, and the whole point of the game, the game of sex, is going all the way.
It might be fun to see someone going down on your character, no?
Too many people (myself included) grow up thinking that sex is the end goal, and that a healthy sexual relationship can't be about, you know, all the other bases too. Or none of them. Or some of them. Or just one of them. The point is: sex isn't linear, and penetrative sex might not necessarily be the best or most enjoyable option for everyone involved.
But—and here is the part where, Carrie Bradshaw-style, I attempt to turn a shower thought into a life lesson relevant to this column about, specifically, video games (which are, again, imminent)—the options in games that tackle sex often go neglected in favor of going straight to fourth base. Because, I think, that's what they do in baseball, right? Why wouldn't they want to go to the thing that scores them points? Why would they want to go only halfway and then head back to their coach, saying, "well, I had fun?" I don't understand much about baseball, but I do understand that the analogy is crappy and outdated.
Even in video games geared towards sex and sexy things, often the implication is that full, penetrative sex is the aim, which is something I've talked about in this column before. But I'm asking for something different this time: the idea that perhaps what gets people off isn't some kind of hierarchy, that oral sex (and other kinds) are somehow "lesser." It might be fun to see someone going down on your character, no?
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(I wonder if oral sex is seen as more obscene, somehow. Penetrative sex has been obfuscated so many times in so many ways that it's almost tame—two people falling back, exhausted, on the pillows. They just did a sex. But to have someone saucily sink to their knees, well, that's just vulgar somehow. Probably because we haven't been subjected to it ad nauseam, becoming desensitized to the sensuality of it.)
I've been playing a lot of The Sims lately. Maxis and EA's long-lived life simulation game series has had a troubled and understandably coy relationship with sexuality, given that its audience skews young.
The first Sims in the series didn't even have sex at all. If you wanted to have babies, at least the way I remember it, you had to have two Sims kiss each other until a pop-up, in Comic Sans, the most sexy font, would ask: Should we have a baby? No foreplay, no pregnancy, just BOOM, and then there is a baby. Maxis later patched in what they called "Playing In Bed," which FYI is not something Cosmo has ever prescribed, and their terrible tips include "slap his dick!" and using your iPhone as a vibrator.
Since then, The Sims 2 through 4 have operated on roughly the same basis: sex is a thing that happens after you've kissed at least three times in a row. Sex is the top rung on the slippery ladder of romance, and everything else is just foreplay. If you know that you want to "WooHoo" with someone—The Sims' cutesy word for banging—then you must nevertheless engage in the pre-sex make out session before the option is even available.
Perhaps The Sims is a bad example for this, given that they can't even say the word "sex," but it might be refreshing—not to mention realistic—to see a few more of the bases covered. Give me the opportunity to take my Sim boyfriend, who is definitely not based on any of my crushes, because that would be weird, and give him a quick-but-sexy hand-job in an alley. Let my Mass Effect avatar of choice say that she's on her period, and if it's okay, could we just stick to lazy 69ing in the fancy four poster bed.
And maybe, just maybe, if we get games to acknowledge that there's more to sex than home runs, the people who play games will realize that too… And we'll all have much more satisfying baseball games in future.