Sex and Role-Playing Games

Ah, I see that I have acquired your attention.

Much ink has been spilled to explain why sex is such a big thing in video games, including computer role-playing games (RPGs); while not nearly enough ink has been spilled to explain why sex is also sometimes a thing in pencil-and-paper RPGs.  I say "not nearly enough" because the limiting factor, alas, is that the tabletop RPG market isn’t nearly as huge as the video game market. Believe me, I’d love to have people pruriently freaking out about tabletop RPGs the way they do about the latest video game, because it’d imply that there was a similarly huge pile of money on the table…

But I digress.  A lot of folks want to know why there’s improbable costumes and exaggerated body forms and bosoms with their own internal gravity fields, and why there’s often rather infamous (yet wooden) cutscenes in certain video games, and why there’s the stereotype of the guy playing the bard who is always trying to seduce the barmaids, and so forth. There are so many, many theories, usually linked to a particular hobbyhorse or doctoral thesis (if indeed the two can be meaningfully told apart), but the reality is simple, right? There’s sex in role-playing games for the same reason that there’s sex everywhere else: most people like sex.

Note that I’m not saying that there should be sex, or that there should not be sex, nor that all kinds of sex should/should not be present.  Merely that most people like to have sex. They typically react well to having sexually-significant material present in their entertainment. Men typically like having said material provided in a certain way, which doesn’t completely overlap with the way that women like to have it present; and of course there’s the entire spectrum of… ah, variations on the theme. So game designers -- naturally enough -- will add that stuff to their games. Sometimes well. Sometimes badly. Usually somebody will call it pandering*. They’re often right, not that it matters.