Porn and Pong: Videogame Sex Beyond Grand Theft Auto

A pop culturist’s longtime project connects the history of joysticks and pricks

Q: So are games just affected by culture, like Leisure Suit Larry and Tomb Raider? Or, as the title of your book suggests, do they also change the culture around them?

A: My book is actually split between those two ideas. In the research I’ve done, I’ve found that Grand Theft Auto III was the turning point between games that were influenced by culture and games that influenced the culture. It all starts in summer of 1972. That’s when Pong came out, and that’s also the same summer that Deep Throat came out. So within weeks of each other, we have the birth of the modern videogame industry and the birth of the modern porn industry…. Ten, twenty years later we have Grand Theft Auto III, and we finally have a game that’s impacting the rest of the culture. A good measurement is the pop-culture references. So we have a Grand Theft Auto III episode of South Park, a Grand Theft Auto III episode of The Chapelle Show, a Grand Theft Auto III reference on Jay Leno.

Q: And what about what’s going on now in sex in games? Your book stops with Mass Effect, the Sci-Fi game that’s been somewhat controversial. Has that had a cultural impact?

A: I think the biggest thing right now in sex in games is that video games can be somewhat of a mature medium. What I found fascinating was that, aside from the Fox News hyperbole, which was based on a misquote on what was available in the game, no one else has said a peep about Mass Effect. If we compare that to the uproar around GTA III, the amount of hype and media and protests and anger, that’s nothing. This game comes out with an erotic scene between a woman and a lesbian alien, and the only complaint you hear about it is from Fox. That’s what’s amazing to me. As far as getting sexuality accepted in video games, I think that’s a huge step.

Porn and Pong is due this October from Feral House Press.

Previously in Click Me: Coming Out Cybersexy

Click Me runs regularly on villagevoice.com. Got a question about cybersex? Write to your friendly cyberhood sexpert Bonnie Ruberg to ask advice or to share stories about sex and the internet: bonnie [at] heroine-sheik [dot] com.

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