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The first gamers were not the trendy young teens of today. Bad skin and thick rimmed glasses were practically mandatory for anyone intent on owning an Atari 2600. Perhaps it was the lack of real women in their lives, or maybe the rise of porn videos and lad mags in an increasingly hypersexualized media landscape, that led early programmers to quickly create female video game characters as roughly pixelated, highly sensualized sex objects. Whatever it was, that was only the beginning…
In his book, Porn and Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture , writer Damon Brown (Playboy, New York Post, PlanetOut) explores the ever-evolving relationship between video games and sex. From Custer’s Revenge in 1982 to the most recent incarnation of Grand Theft Auto, Brown takes us on a journey through America’s sexual awakening and growing technological savvy. In Brown’s eyes, it is no small coincidence that the increasing availability and acceptability of hard and soft core porn is mirroring the rise of sexualized imagery in video games. It’s not just hot girls in small clothing, either; there’s the “jiggle factor” (self explanatory), virtual relationships (Second Life, anyone?), and the Hot Coffee GTA mini game.
Porn and Pong lists the causes and events behind the video game sexual revolution in a humorous and intelligent way, although it skirts a key factor: real women. The book is clearly written by a man and for men; there is virtually no discussion of how women gamers feel about their sexy cyber counterparts. The culture referred to in the subtitle seems to be a young male culture, not a broader American one, and so the title is somewhat misleading. That doesn’t mean that a woman wouldn’t like it (I thoroughly enjoyed it), but it’s important to read it with the understanding that it was clearly written for a guy. So have a read, ogle the pictures, and then grab your, er, controller and get your game on.