Warning: this article contains sexual references, sexual innuendo and unlikely sexual interpretations of ostensibly inoffensive material.
It turns out that 2016 was a pretty good year for video games. Everything else might have gone to hell, but games pretty much delivered. From the showy popcorn thrills of Uncharted 4 to the sombre gothic chills of Dishonored 2; from blockbusters to rule-breakers; from lumbering epics to short, sharp shocks, 2016 had it all.
But was it a sexy year for games? That’s what we really want to know. In October, writers Kate Gray and Holly Nielsen considered the whole history of sex in games, rediscovering some of the highlights and lowlights (so many lowlights) of a chequered past. Now they’ve clambered back into bed to consider 2016’s most erotically charged gaming moments. And they’re not holding back.
Uncharted 4 (PS4)
Roguish fortune-hunter Nathan Drake returned for his fourth adventure this year, setting out to discover the lost treasure of pirate captain Henry Avery – while also saving his troubled marriage to fellow adventurer, Elena.
Kate: Is it okay if I just highlight Nathan Drake as one of my sexy games moments of 2016? Oh alright, if you need an actual single moment, there’s the bit where Nathan and Elena fall down a steep cliff together (they are always falling, it is Nathan Drake’s natural state) and then they land on top of each other and SMOOCH and, oh my goodness, my glasses are already steaming up.
Holly: OK I get it. He’s rugged and handsome, but maybe just a bit too ideal for me. I need convincing.
Kate: So, he’s got that floppy-haired, slightly scruffy, I-just-threw-these-clothes-on sort of look. He drives recklessly. He’s got a dark history. He’s sometimes emotionally neglectful. Oh no, this is getting personal. I’M JUST SAYING HE COULD THROW YOU OVER HIS SHOULDER IF HE WANTED TO.
Holly: Okay okay, he is a sexy man, and there is an undeniable “I’m about to get up to some dangerous hijinks, so let’s bang” tension to the whole game.
Kate: It’s a shame that he’s actually quite bland as protagonists go, but Uncharted 4 did expand on his personality quite a bit. There’s also a very sexy fight he has with another lady. It’s all … being pinned against a bookcase, and … being … punched? That’s not so sexy. But the sexual tension is there. Oh yes.
Holly: But Kate, why have just one sexy character creating tension when you could have a WHOLE GROUP.
Overwatch (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Blizzard’s bright, brash team-based shooter has proved one of the most enjoyable releases of the year, with its slick, co-op action and diverse range of characters.
Holly: Overwatch is a sexy game. I mean, the actual gameplay itself isn’t, but just look at these characters. There is one thing that unites the cast of Overwatch, and it isn’t duty or friendship or any of that rubbish. It is asses. Sweet, sweet asses.
Kate: I love … that … um… Torbjorn boy? He’s like a little techno viking.
Holly: I appreciate that you’re trying. What I like is that there is an arse for everyone. Like small pert and sporty? Tracer is your gal. Want a man with a fine rump? Genji has got it going on. Widowmaker, the sexy French sniper, is often the go to butt, but I think she’s a bit of a mainstream choice.
Kate: Holly, if I could just interrupt for a second …
Holly: Actually Symmettra has an excellent muscular …
Kate: Holly! What if I am not – and stick with me here because I know it seems unconscionable – a butt person? I mean, I would do terrible things with Mercy (especially Halloween Mercy, gosh dang) but I’m just not entranced by butts. Can we just talk about other appealing aspects of their anatomy?
Holly: Oh, yeah, sorry. I just got a little carried away there. A personal favourite is Soldier 76. But before you judge me for liking the deliberately generic character – it’s all about that hair. He’s king of the silver foxes.
Kate: First Nathan Drake, now Soldier 76. We’ve got very boring taste.
Holly: Well, if you’re not into grizzled men who haven’t smiled in 20 years, there is queen bae herself: Mei. She is a maiden of ice and she holds the key to my heart.
Kate: Do you know what this list is lacking so far? Boys in cars.
Final Fantasy XV (PS4, Xbox One)
The latest title in the long-running role-playing adventure series sees lead character Noctis travelling across his kingdom to re-take a magical crystal from evil overlord Niflheim. This involves a lot of driving around with his three best friends.
Holly: The moment we realised this game was basically ‘four pretty guys go on a road trip’, we knew it would be for us.
Kate: I haven’t even played it and I know which boy I care about most. I feel bad that no one wants to date Gladiolus and Noctis though.
Holly: Let’s be honest the only boys worth your time are either Prompto or Ignis.
Kate: Ignis cooks! That makes him the ultimate sexy boy.
Holly: Exactly. A lot of people like Prompto because he’s enthusiastic and always taking pictures (which I think could get a little weird). But Ignis is truly the best boy. Not only does he cook, but he’s clever, offers to drive, is caring and wears snazzy glasses.
Kate: Good god, girl, raise your bar a little higher, maybe. OK, so, the reason these boys are in our “sexiest moments” is that … they’re so close. So close. They have cute little banter sessions with each other. They ride around in the car (with NO SEAT BELTS). There’s something real sexy about seeing a bunch of guys bonding and being nice to each other.
Holly: I just imagine them all snuggling up in the car looking up at the stars and sharing their feelings about the world. Truly beautiful.
Kate: So what we’re saying is, if men want to be sexy, they should be nice to each other and snuggle more.
Holly: Thank you, Final Fantasy XV, for this valuable lesson.
No Man’s Sky (PC, PS4)
The procedurally generated space exploration game proved to be one of the most controversial releases of the year – but not for the reasons Kate and Holly are about to discuss.
Kate: Nothing’s sexier than a world where everything kinda looks like a dick. The plants, the animals, the rocks, everything. Turns out procedural generation is just a codename for “let’s make everything look like a big, purple wang.”
Holly: Every planet you land on is like a giant non-scary HR Giger painting, but made out of plasticine. And with a lot more dildo goats.
Kate: It’s like a Freudian nightmare – it’s a giant Rorschach test floating in space. And, wait, we’re saying it’s sexy? Yes. Yes we are. It is OK to defy the boundaries of what traditional sexiness is. We should learn to love our extraterrestrial dildo friends.
Holly: It’s as though the Big Bang happened at an Ann Summers party and in the moment of cosmic creation, billions of dildos, butt plugs and various other plastic pleasure toys were spread out across the universe. These slowly evolved into … bigger dildos and butt plugs. But with legs. Then we eventually arrive at No Man’s Sky. In conclusion, if a whole planet of things that vaguely remind you of sexual organs isn’t sexy, then I don’t know what is.
Kate: I think we just killed astrophysics.
Stardew Valley (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC)
Inspired by the classic Harvest Moon series, this crossover indie hit is effectively a farming simulation, where the lead character escapes the city grind to take over a dilapidated farm and socialise with the locals.
Holly: You might think that Stardew Valley is a game about farming, about getting back in touch with nature and rejecting the artificial lifestyle of the big city. However, you’d be wrong. It’s actually about giving people fruit everyday until they like you.
Kate: That’s right, in Stardew Valley, the provision of homegrown goods is a metaphor for erotic attraction. The sexy part of Stardew Valley is filling in all the gaps that the game leaves for you. It says to you, “Oh, you like that person? You can give them an egg.” But what it really wants to say is: “While you weren’t playing, your character was giving them much more than an egg. Wink wink wink.” Seriously, no one gets married in Stardew Valley without first, you know, exchanging their produce.
Holly: When you do get hitched, your partner says all this stuff to you like “ohh you look tense I’ll give you an extra good massage tonight” and of course you don’t see it because the magic would be ruined. In video games, a sexy night of marital bliss would just become a horrific and ungainly collision of coloured pixels – it’s just gross. But filling in the gaps is sexy. Filling those gaps right up.
Kate: Sometimes, less is more. And if you don’t find tantalising hints at extramarital egg-giving sexy, then you should take a long and hard look at yourself.
Holly: Long and hard.
La Petite Mort (android)
Created by Danish studio Lovable Hat Cult, this smartphone and tablet game is billed as a digital erotic experience about female sexual stimulation.
Holly: I know you’re all probably sick of games about rhythmically touching pixelated vulvas in an attempt to make them have lovely orgasms, but hear us out.
Kate: Holly, I am soooo bored of that whole genre. When can we get some more dang games about guns and violence? Enough of this vulva pleasure! You will only end up teaching children that having a vulva is fun. It’s just irresponsible.
Holly: I went in a little sceptical, but it is surprisingly engaging, and occasionally blush-inducing. And anything that encourages people to be better at dealing with vulvas gets a gold star from me.
Kate: Speaking of gold stars, one of the best things about this game is the app store reviews. The users don’t seem to realise what they’re saying, because it’s all things like “I’m either doing it wrong or my phone is exceptionally sensitive, no single experience lasts longer than a minute” and “this seemed too quick and easy”. Darlings, you’re doing it wrong. Sex – uh, I mean, relaxing audiovisual games – are about the experience, not how long it takes to complete.
Holly: Wait, are you telling me that I shouldn’t time every single sexual encounter I have, then use an algorithm to determine my overall score, placing myself within an imagined world ranking?
Kate: I’m not saying you can’t, or that it’s wrong, I’m just saying that afterwards, you probably shouldn’t go on the app store and let everyone know that you’re bad at vulva-play because you’re impatient and grumpy.
Holly: So we’re not saying all potential partners should play this, but I can think of worse things to do with their time.
Kate: What is your highest overall score, by the way?
Holly: Let’s move on.
Ladykiller in a Bind (PC/Mac)
The latest visual novel from Christine Love follows a teenager who is forced to impersonate her twin brother on a cruise, forming a number of sexual relationships in the process. Love describes the game as, ‘a story of lesbian cross-dressing and BDSM-infused social manipulation’.
Kate: This might be our first actual full-frontal sexy sex game, you know.
Holly: I’m so proud of us!
Kate: Ladykiller in a Bind is … well … it’s … OK, here’s is its actual alternative title: My Twin Brother Made Me Crossdress As Him And Now I Have To Deal With A Geeky Stalker And A Domme Beauty Who Want Me In A Bind. So, yeah, it is a game about bondage and sex and nudity and bums and secret boobs.
Holly: It definitely does cover the sort of boxes that a lot of people like to tick.
Kate: It’s like an even sexier version of the movie Cruel Intentions. Machiavellian and enigmatic motives, cross-dressing, seduction and tits.
Holly: If you want to get hot and heavy with something that’s more than just the standard “oral-penetrative sex-orgasm” of most NSFW material, this might be for you.
Kate: It has ROPES. And BLUSHING.
Holly: It has all three of the Bs: BDSM, Blushing and Breasts.
Kate: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get all three Bs.
Holly: Right. A really weird Spice Girls reference feels like a good place to finish.