the Fairgame Archive

2006-04-11: Sex and gaming.
by Meguey

Sex and gaming.


People are such mammals.

Of course gaming with sexually compatible people is sexually charged. Of course it is.

I've been in games with people I'd never been attracted to before, and seeing how they play makes me understand what it is everyone else sees in them.

I've been in games where you could cut the sexual tension with a knife.

I've been in games where players have actually fallen in love with each other over the course of the game.

I've been in games where the sexual tension was so painful it nearly sidelined the game.

I've played characters that are straight, bi, gay, male, female, poly, mono, married and solitary.

I've played out highly detailed sexual scenarios.

I've played the 'fade to black', no details, please version.

This thing recently, where the blog world (or the section I follow) is all jumpy because we might actually be talking about sex, and by extension sexuality and gender, without giggling or getting all tense and nervous, is starting to wear on me.

Of course women and men have different takes on this. Duh. But I'll bet you a donut Mo and Emily and I have different takes, same as Tony and Ron and Vincent will.

Sex and gaming. Both of these can be really fun. Both of these can reveal a whole bunch about who you are. I don't expect everyone to have the same sexual tastes as I do. Ditto gaming.

Yeash. Mammals.

2006-04-11 04:08:28 Brand Robins

I like to talk about sex and gender and power in RPGs. Hell, I was the one that said I wanted to make "Role Playing Games" to sell at Pride.

I'm not sure why it's such a threat to people.

Except in situations where you might, you know, be talking about other people's issues without their permision. That's a tricksome one.

2006-04-11 05:19:23 Chris

This thing... is starting to wear on me.

No. Joke.

Personally, I think the nervousness is a triple curtain of shame- geek social shame, western prudishness, and finally gamer shame about real emotional connection at the table.

Perhaps the ballyhoo is a distraction and delay from having to dive through all that to the real meat of the issue?

2006-04-11 05:50:53 Moyra


Ditto on all the "I have"s and the "I've played"s. I think it always comes around to this for me:

Sex is just as rife to create drama and engage story as love, honour, violence, betrayal, religion, money, family, jealousy and all the other juicy stuff out there. Mixed together with any or all of those, it's a further catalyst for intense, emotionally ripe games.

Bottom line, I'm an adult and I like adult material. I watch movies with sex, read books with sex, have conversations about sex, so I would expect that sex will be part of some of my games. We have a very diverse group that runs the gamut with regards to comfort levels of sex-as-thematic and sexual expression in our games. I always prefer it when it's open and comfortable and un-taboo with the group that I am playing with, because I want as much as possible on hand to be available to the game.

So yeah. Sheesh.

The other one: It can reveal a whole lot about you without actually ever really revealing what your actual, in-bed sexual tastes or interests are; Go fig.

2006-04-11 13:33:22 Tom


This particular thread is reminding me that I *really* want to play Bacchanal again.

That was a fun game.

2006-04-11 14:33:18 Roger

> Of course gaming with sexually compatible people is sexually charged. Of course it is.

Ehhh... maybe.  My wife's a usual player in one of my games, and I don't think either of us would describe it as sexually charged.  Not unless there's something really obscurely Freudian going on with that gelatinous cube.

2006-04-11 15:20:46 Emily

Ehhh... maybe.

Another thing that adds tension is unresolved sexual attraction. It may not come up in your gaming as much because it's not in question. It is already a comfortable part of your relationship. And also, perhaps you just don't find gelatinous cubes sexy. : ) If the content did bring you to sexier waters, you'd probably be at a great advantage over your other, unconnected or non-compatible cohorts.

And I'm completely there with Mo & Meg. Sex is such good material!  Not in a porn-type exploration, but in serious character delving and adversitizing. Can't we get over our squeamishness?

But the problem is about boundaries again.  And being vulnerable.  If I say "I kill you with my sword" there's no confusion, I'm not doing that. But if I say "I look at you with love", very likely I'm not doing that, but I sure could be and thus are emotional confusions and heartbreak born. I both hate and love skating over those levels in play.

2006-04-11 16:37:58 Matt Wilson

gaming with sexually compatible people

Psst. You're awesome for phrasing it that way.

2006-04-12 14:58:24 Roger

If the content did bring you to sexier waters, you'd probably be at a great advantage over your other, unconnected or non-compatible cohorts.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this.  What's this 'great advantage' of which you speak?

2006-04-13 18:05:30 Julia

Well heck yeah! Making stuff—stories, music, etc. is sexy. My gaming experience is limited, but I do have a sordid past with other group creative endeavours, namely, making music. Before my husband was my husband or my boyfriend, we used to play music together. Neither of us is a talented musician. We just liked each other a whole lot, so we played guitars together and sang with wild abandon just for fun, or because we'd had a few glasses of wine and were feeling...something we didn't quite have a name for yet. Lots and lots of sexual tension. At some point it kinda (finally) became a substitute for actually having sex, and sadly, once we started a romantic relationship we played our bad music together less and less. But were it not for our jam sessions, even if we had spent that time doing something else together that was less creative (or sexy), like say, grocery shopping, I think it would have taken us a little longer to find some of those things that attract us to one another.

Before the I even knew my husband, I had a group of friends I used to jam with (there was a little more talent than the CE and JB sessions, but with varying degrees of musical ability). There were many occasions where the sexual tension in the room facilitated some great music making. There was one evening where it just fueled interpretive dance, a doo wop song about Kurt Cobain, giddy mayhem, and rolling around on the floor and slapping each other with newspapers, (ahem...) All in one evening. At any rate, we were all comfortable with each other, definitely sexually compatible, and improvised some great music. I wish we had recorded some of those jam sessions.

2006-04-13 18:36:59 Meguey

Julia: Totally!

Creating together is fun. It brings out whole different interesting sides of people.

Another whole part is the 'trying it on' aspect of role-playing. The easy step is: 'what would it be like to be a gay man? I'll play a gay man and see what I can find out.'

More difficult: 'Hm, what would it be like if I was attracted to this person IRL? How would I act? Well, why don't I make a character that's attracted to zee's character, and see what I can find out?'

2006-04-18 14:28:22 Tris

Man!  You blame mammals for this?

The most screwed up our cat gets is over whether it has dominion over the small hill at the back of the garden on any given Tuesday, of if that hill is currently the province of Emperor-big-scary-orange-cat.

Even Apes, they might get jealous and come up with elabourate schemes to get more nookie, but they are at least open about this, in a scheming way.

People.  Humans.  That's what we are, and we're the only species I know of that mess about with sex in our own heads quite as much as we do.  It's taboo, and on everyones mind, and people attach their sexual impulses to things that vary from the easily understandable and quite common (anyone else here like breasts?) to the obscure and pretty strange (anyone here fixated totally on toes?) and even, to someone who doesn't feel the particular urge, the totally alien (defacating on someone is a turn on?).  Hell, we even sublimate our desires into other activities, and produce amazing works of art and literature.  We have fantasies which we would hate if they happened in real life, and we use sex to sell cars, fizzy drinks, and so on.

Don't blame the mammals.  They're easy.  It's us that have sex so mixed up and jumbled in everything we do.

2006-05-09 17:52:39 Clay

Hmm, the one time I did game with my wife there was a fair bit of sexual tension at the table.  Kinda surprised to hear that not everyone experienced that.

I am inclined to agree with Julia's opinion that creative acts with compatible people will lead to sexual tension.  It also makes me leery of collaborative creative endeavors with women who aren't my wife.  One of the regulars in my gaming group is a woman, and the only solution I've found to quell the attraction is intimacy with my wife before gaming.

2006-05-13 10:45:12 Meguey


I find it most easy to point out human hung-upness around sex by reminding us that we are mammals. Saying primate, while more accurate and interesting, doesn't seem to have the same 'knocked into reality' effect.

Cat sexuality is totally out in the open. If a female is in heat, everyone around knows about it. I think we can relate to most mammal sex - 'hung like a horse', 'sex kitten', 'doggy style'- and getting down through all the human weirdness around sex is the challenge.

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