Romance and Sex in CoG and Hosted Games--how explicit is too expicit?


#1

So, THIS happened in the Way Walkers University fan club today: http://www.facebook.com/groups/216875918439365/permalink/224874837639473/

And it got me to thinking: what *is* the line? Has it been drawn? If so, what is it and who drew it? And if not, what do the fans want–and what is going *too* far?

I ask this b/c for those of you who don’t know, i’m the author of Way Walkers: University (available on iphone and droid and web chrome and there’s a free preview on the CoG site) and my storyline centers around 14-17 year olds learning to manage their magical Abilities (amid other things) in a school for such things. Now, while it didn’t get touched in the first half, i’ve made it clear that dating will factor heavily into the sequel on which i am now working. A few people have already made mention in my forum a desire to see more ‘intense’ moments going on between their characters, but now with this poll springing up, i thought i’d bring the topic to you guys and hear your thoughts.

So, where’s the line?

(oh and if @Reaperoa or @Havenstone could please let me know if i posted this under the correct category or not–i wasn’t sure.)


#2

Realistically, in order to get onto the Iphone store you can’t be too explicit. From my understanding of the censors sex can happen. Sex can be discussed. You can tell the reader there’s sex, but you can’t show it. You can even do what Heroes Rise did and say that the two characters embraced and were about to have sex…and then black out the scene.

Besides, sex is such an odd thing for most writers to write that I prefer many of them not even try. Either they go too vague or too clinical with the descriptions and it ends up being silly and clunky.


#3

@Farside – thanx for letting me know about the censors. do u know if there are written guidelines anywhere i can view?

and lol you’ve obviously never read Jaquelin Carey or Diana Gabaldon–though i can’t say my writing skills compare to those two, i *do* agree the key to writing such things is not necessarily in the details of the *actions*, but in the detailing of the *emotions*. (though Carey does a darn, darn good job at describing both, whew XD)


#4

@WayWalkerLeigh

Hence why I said “most writers” XD I have read Carey, actually, and I know it CAN be done. There’s a certain art to it, however. Authors who write beautifully can still write horrible smut. It’s almost its own category, lol.

Weirdly, I find that IN MY LIMITED EXPERIENCE most of the authors who write decent sex scenes are female. This doesn’t mean you don’t get horrible female smut authors too, of course.

For your particular game I feel like explicit scenes would be too much, anyway. Would I like to see kissing and hints of other things? Yeah, sure. But you’ve set up a world where the focus is on other things, and to suddenly throw an explicit sex scene in there could be odd.

I think the proper category would be Game Development, actually.


#5

@Farside – Carey is awesome–though im still mad she wrote what i always imagined certain aspects of the Way of Beleskie would be like before i did–and did it better. XD lol it was a wonderful yet very sad day when i was handed her books.

I agree with the female comment–it comes down to the emotions, really, and i think overall women do have the market cornered on such things. *mostly*–there are exceptions, of course.

And for the most part i agree, it’s just that i have such a following starting already that’s clamoring for some smut, and well, lets face it, teenagers have sex. they’re gonna want to explore it as an option the same as they would in real life–perhaps even more so in the safety of a CoG book. Though just because i give them the option to pursue it doesnt mean they’ll actually get anywhere with it…;p (and i also suspect a good portion of them dont really *know* what they want, at least thus is my suspicion if they are true teens)

Still, i’ve considered doing other ‘Way of’ games, and making a Way of Beleskie one with more explicit overtones than Choice of the Romance might just do well.

game development seemed mostly tec stuff. O.o; oh well too late the edit it now…its the admins’ domain now…


#6

I’ve been thinking on this topic for a while now. While I have nothing against a bit of smut myself, I don’t know if CoG would actually be willing to host such things.

I would suggest following the example of previously released official games as far as drawing the lines. CoV and CoR are both (if I remember right) restricted 17+ in the US App Store, even with the small amount of explicit content that they have.

With something that seems to be directed toward a young adult audience, maybe avoiding the 17+ rating is the better route to go. The teenage imagination is incredibly talented at making up X-rated fanfics, anyway. :wink:


#7

Pretty sure the app store itself isn’t the problem, I’m sure you get 18+ apps on all of them. But I recall CoG saying somewhere on their website front that they won’t host explicit or mature material.


#8

I personally thought the ‘sex scene’ in HR was a good balance of appropriateness and raunchiness. I also think it depends on both what kind of story/game you want to write and on your style of writing is. Do you want it to have a more mature/explicit feel to it? Or, do you want it to have a more general/vague tone? (At least; in terms of sex scenes)

After all, if you can pull it off, I think a vague sex scene can be just good as an explicit scene, without having to limit your audience.


#9

I long for the day that games wouldn’t get too much restriction from the publishing end. If violence or sex or profanity are all over in films and books (the ones that are in good taste and not just being there for no purpose), I don’t see why content creators in our case should be limited with, say, the ratings and such. Actually, isn’t that what the rating is for? There are contents that are kids or teens friendly, and then there are, well something else.

I remember seeing on CoG website about the work better be “not highly offensive” and the definition is something to argue on, but personally I’m a little worried about iTunes. Last week I looked around and noticed that Zombie Exodus is rated 17+. I just happen to be working on something pretty dark and visceral, and surely not the first to do that around here.

Now if we specifically talk about sex scene in a work that features 14-17 y/o characters, which in turn will attract mostly audience from the same age group, that’s a little… well I don’t know what to call it. I’d probably ask myself where I want to go with my content in the first place. Too bad if we all are gonna have to water it down just because of censorship.


#10

It is kind of funny that R rated films have no where near the limitations that M rated games do. Well, at least for sex. But that’s just the US’s archaic puritanical values… Plus the fact that the ESRB is actually fairly crappy at rating games.


#11

Zombie Exodus is 17+ based on use of profanity (which I don’t even see in it), alcohol use and tobacco use (which is rare), and mature themes (in Part 3, there is a fade-to-black love scene possible). I have tried to make my game free of anything parents may deem inappropriate – apparently graphic violence is fine :slight_smile:

To answer the topic, I believe people who read CYOA want the experience and emotion. They want to be scared, confused, excited, etc. So I try to write about sex in terms of how it makes someone feel during the event. I leave out details of the act. Also, intimacy has to have purpose. Why are characters having sex? Does it share an important aspect of their character? Does it drive plot? If it is just superfluous actions, then I leave it out. This is a story, not an arcade game.


#12

People are going to be all over the map on this one. Some don’t want the slightest hint of sex while others feel that the more graphical the description, the better. Nevertheless the most popular and profitable genre by far is the romance novel. So neutering a story so that it is free of all sexual connotation to make it less objectionable to puritans is more likely to kill sales than improve them. The problem with graphical sex is that over time it can get repetitive, especially if you’re giving graphic “blow by blows” :wink: , and keeping it fresh can turn into something of a challenge. It can also very easily devolve into porn, where the intimacy no longer seems to have a purpose aside from scratching one of the author’s itches.

This isn’t to say that I think erotica can’t be done tastefully, I know it can be. It’s just that as is so often true about fiction in general, it’s the journey that is most interesting, not the destination/consummation. So when it comes to the actual consummation, less can often be more. I’d limit the more graphical scenes to those that you as an author wish to be particularly memorable for story reasons, and even then you don’t need to get bogged down in every little detail of the act, only the ones that add to the reader’s understanding of the characters involved, and the “nature of their relationship”, or that lead to future developments in the story.


#13

@WayWalkerLeigh General is probably the right category. No real rules on what each of the tabs are about so it’s pretty hit or miss, and half our members don’t seem to care (or be able to see) the different categories anyways, so Haven and I don’t really bother to correct their use.

As @Farside said, I think the only real censors you have to worry about are from Apple, as (IMO) everyone else (from CoG to all other publishers) will probably tend to be more liberal than Apple. The problem, however, is that Apple’s censorship is completely arbitrary. There are posted guidelines (somewhere), but they probably won’t help you figure out if it’s going to be banned or not, as we’ve seen that Apple’s decisions as to what to ban are based mostly on complaints (which I doubt you’d get a huge number of writing IF).

Speaking of banned Apple Apps, I found this while looking around for their application guidelines: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,399461,00.html


#14

@CS_Closet @CJW @RDT @FcA @Shoelip @JimD @P_Tigras and @Reaperoa

thank you everyone for all this wonderful insight. I believe i have a good plan with how to proceed. :wink: I won’t reveal too much, but as i said to @Farside and as several of you suggested–it’s the emotions which make the read good, not necessarily the blow-by-blows. And when push-comes-to-shove, we are dealing with teenagers in this book, and younger teens to boot. While fans might be clamoring for more, i think i’m going to settle on giving them ‘just enough’. If they want to fan fiction it up in their heads, i’m all for them expressing themselves. :wink:


#15

I use fade-to-black myself but I have a few scenes where characters get naked. They aren’t sexualised in these scenes, and the context isn’t sexual, but now I’m wondering if that’s allowed.


#16

@ScarletGeisha according to movie ratings in the US non-sexual nudity for brief periods is under the PG-13 or mild maturity rating, if im reading it right.


#17

Oh I am all for erotica if its done well. but it does need to be realistic.


#18

It’s kind of interesting that people are attempting to apply movie standards to a game that is far closer to a novel than a movie in form.


#19

@P_Tigras it think it’s b/c there *is* almost no clear censorship standard for written works–some of the things you’ll find in YA novels are far more gritty than what you’ll find in adult–and that’s not even the sexual stuff, but the violence and drug use as well. Because the CoG novels are marketed as ‘games’ we are bound by the standards of the ‘games’ which have visual elements, not imaginative ones.


#20

@WayWalkerLeigh I’ve never seen any genitalia in a PG 13 movie. I’m pretty sure any view of the female nipple or genitalia is an automatic R no matter how short.

Games are still a stigmatized medium to many people. The concept of interactive fiction is blessed with being a not particularly recognizable member of the group in this instance, so it’s a bit easier to get away with stuff that people wouldn’t think twice about if it were in a book. It’s a lot harder to shot people on cable news with text than with images.