At a time when it is still contraversial to run articles about the vagina in magazines aimed at teenage girls, Heather Kelley’s latest game idea is unlikely to hit the shops for real. But, boy, it would be good if it did.
At gaming conferences, it is usual for designers and programmers to be set challenges – aim a game at grandma for example. Well, this particular competition had the tricky theme of sex. Kelley – who was involved in the design of blockbuster Splinter Cell – won with Lapis, aimed specifically at an audience of young girls: players must touch and hum to a bunny, and they win when it “flies away”.
She says: “The way you play with the bunnies in order to win is patterned after the VARIETY of female sexual response
“This is the overall pattern but it can\x92t be achieved in the same way every time – different things work for different bunnies, at different stages of the game
“For instance you may need to use tickling at first, and then humming into the ears. But after a while that stops having an effect, and you have to start tapping on its nose.”
Kelley does not envisage young players being consciously aware of the reference to female sexual pleasure, terming the game a “stealth primer”.
“The hope is that the game would entertain females – without them ever needing to understand the sex metaphor. But at some point when they did start figuring out the connection to their own sexuality and pleasure, they would have learned some ideas and techniques behind sexual satisfaction.”
This Canadian news story connects the game to the wider issue of what type of experiences game play centres on:
“While impossibly busty heroines wearing slinky outfits a la Lara Croft continue to dominate, the industry is showing signs of incorporating sexual depictions that are more complex and nuanced, and reflect ‘the full range of the human condition,’ said Jason Della Rocca, a Montreal games designer and the executive director of the International Game Developers Association.
“‘To date, we’ve explored more the violence, fear, conflict aspects, and we’ve not really engaged on stuff like social relationships, sex or love (in video games),’ said Della Rocca. ‘What we’re seeing now is a maturing of the industry.'”