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Sex sells – but will it sell enough to support five MMOEG / MMOVSGs that are scheduled to be released 06?

[note: this is an adult themed thread and many of the links will take you to content that is ‘not safe for work’]

For those with better things to do than keep up with MMO acronym variants: the terms MMOEG (MMO Erotic Games) and MMOVSG (MMO Virtual Sex Games) are used pretty much interchangeably for a genre of multi-player online game that gives primacy to some aspect of sex or sexuality (actually there are many more variation on the acronym theme and the inevitable augments over which one is best).

This year’s potential (I say potential as it’s never a good idea to count your MMOs before they are hatched) new entrants are:

Commercially the question that I think hangs over these games (like a dildo of Damocles one might say) is: What’s the point?

Well, sex. Obviously. But the problem that these MMOs face is that if cyber-sex interests you there is no shortage of ways to explore it. From email and IM to creative use of text and emotes in vanilla MMOs – cyber sex is almost always an option. What’s more MMOs avatars are getting ‘sexier’ all the time (if you are interested in what can be done with current avatars keep your eyes out for wowadult which is specialising in WoW based machinima porn). This tension is explored in lenght on MMORGY by Isabelle Pavlov in her piece Better Sex Thru MMOG or MMOVSG?   

Moreover, if what comes out of the box in an MMO does not fit your desires you can always grab yourself a Second Life account (props to Linden for joining the 100k group btw) and create whatever body, animation, location and devices you want. Also there's probably a significant group of like minded people to interact with.

While the question of whether any of these ventures will survive does come down to the basic question of this business, such as: Is it any good, what is the minimum size of community needed to make the experience work AND sustain the business model? The answers are not that simple to determine. This is because there are a number of roles / market niches that MMOEGs might address. which is illustrated by looking at the range of approaches the current crop of hopefuls have taken.

Naughty America, for instance, is basically an online dating service. As their press blurb says “This is the evolution of online dating…the chance to meet real people in the real world”. The structure of Naught America seems geared up to facilitate ‘real’ encounters as well as virtual ones - the blurb also mentions WebCam. Though with a press release that states “A massively multiplayer online world that allows players to do what they've always wanted to: be naughty.” the marketing department are being either heavily disingenuous, naive or targeting a market that knows just about nothing about online gaming - which is interesting in respect of MMOs and the mainstream. 

At the other end of the spectrum we have Sociolotron which encourages role play and actively discourages real-world contact based on that play. The guidelines make this clear, stating “You must not use the system to plan or start a real life relationship”. While it’s debatable whether Socioloron is a good game it’s certainly trying to be an MMORPG just with a lot of adult option. On the game side there is perma-death and the developer(s) provide the mechanics for a system of player self-governance.

An MMOEG that looks like it will sit in the middle is Blacklove’s Rapture Online. Rapture is attempting to facilitate online eroticism and Blacklove seem to be trying to create a genuinely quality product, but I fear Rapture might fall between the cracks being too convoluted for match making service and not broadly gamey enough for MMOers.

I wonder thought if any of this will have an impact on mainstream MMOs.  Sex and virtual environments is not new and few publishers seem like they want to add adult themes to their MMO (here I’m really thinking of graphical environments as I think there is more choice if one is talking about text spaces) and so cut out a sizable demographic. But focusing on killin ‘n skillin seems to me to be excluding a lot of possibilities and nuances that could really enrich an MMO, so maybe adult shards with some those options added in might be a way to go. Of the games out there I would encourage people to look at the mechanics of Socilotron for inspiration for ways that sex and its consequences can be integrated into game play.


Comments on Welcome to oh oh ooooh6 :

ren reynolds says:

As a coda, if you are interested in the adult gaming industry here are a few sites you might like to take a look at. As before you should assume that they are all nsfw:

  • IGDA Sex Sig: www.igda.org/sex
  • MMORGY: www.mmorgy.com
  • Nerve’s Sex In Video Games Issue: www.nerve.com/specialissues/videogames
  • Heroine Sheik: www.heroine-sheik.com
  • Slashdong: www.slashdong.org
  • qDot / Kyle / 10th Sexiest Geek of 05 (http://www.tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2005/12/top_ten_sexiest.html>it says here) Nonpolynomial Labs: www.nonpolynomial.com/
  • Art of Love’s Adult Games section: www.lovechess.nl/artoflove/archives/adult_games/index.php
  • A previous TN discussion covering some ‘adult’ themes: terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2004/06/mmo_sex_please_.html
  • And for no reason other than it being an interesting meeting of cultures, the WoW lovin’ Suicide Girl ‘posh’ http://suicidegirls.com/girls/Posh/

Posted Jan 1, 2006 3:37:34 PM | link

qDot says:

Red Light District is now Red Light Center:

http://www.redlightcenter.com/

Posted Jan 1, 2006 8:46:43 PM | link

Kelly Rued says:

There is a LOT more to MMOEGs than sex (I've at least scratched the surface of player motives over in my last blog post at http://simsexy.blackloveinteractive.com, if you're curious why people will play these types of games). Rapture Online is not even a MMO by traditional game standards, but in all the articles mentioning our game we've yet to be contacted directly so I think Rapture gets lumped in with a lot of the other sex games. RO is full 3D, and games are played peer-2-peer between private clients- with other activities/events available in more traditional MMOG lobbies and on our web site/community. It's a platform that will later have other adult games *on it* depending on emergent player interest (there is nothing exactly like RO planned or released yet so we can't be certain who all will come to the party).

Convoluted? How do you imagine players would find each other without profiles, searches, and an okcupid.com like system of "match making"? The goal of supporting true rpg play (not leveling treadmills, but character development and fantasy exploration) and running personal ads go hand in hand- what's the point of living the erotic fantasy of your dreams online if you can't easily locate others, and be located, for like-minded play? It's a very natural and necessary pairing for players to enjoy the game. Our personal ads are not designed to either encourage or discourage real life meetings but we are limiting player accounts to one "player" profile each (for the real life persona you choose to present) and then unlimited "character" profiles (for maximum role-playing flexibility).

It's like nothing I've seen and it's why I started BLI to make Rapture Online- I'm not just a game dev who saw a juicy market to come exploit, I'm a consumer of erotic media myself as well as an interactive media developer. As you say, there are other sex entertainment options online but you are wrong to think that these options are comprehensive at such an early point in the web's development. There is *nothing* that fills a desire to cyber with a full 3D av and subtle, erotic interactions with fantasy role-playing and features for creating your own stories/machinima/etc. in-game (SL is the closest thing we have now but there are SO many ways that experience we love in SL can be improved by a dedicated erotic application where all the world resources are allocated to make that sex as hot as possible, rather than chunky crude sporking animations while half your sim is crashing from particle effects and other crap). I wanted to do something way more high-poly and visually appealing that Second Life allows and create an adult cybersex community that is all about erotic fun (finding action and getting into the different sub-generes in the community should be EASY and immediately rewarding- SL operates much more like real life with social cliques and a barrier to feeling comfortable approaching peopel in a real-time world- personal ads would improve SL sex, and WoW sex, etc. which is why Rapture Online will let players from all the other games post ads and use our ad service to hook up, even for non-RO games!).

BTW, our dev team has a virtual office under construction in SL. We've been SL players since we were finalists in their game dev competition back in spring 2004- there's a lot of research and intimacy with online sex content- and so far I haven't heard much from any other MMOEGs that indicates they "get" cybersex (outside of Sociolotron, which is cool but a dark niche and very "gamer-y"). I think the chances for commercial success are favorable for developers who know what good cybersex *and* good gaming is supposed to taste like ;p The market is out there; it's the products and services that are lacking features people crave.

We're a true indie, bootstrapping and making this game as a labor of love (or lust ;p) and it shows- the game is by naughty netizens FOR naughty cybersexers, gamers, and other erotically imaginative people (plus our graphics are detailed enough we'll probably get mainstream porn fans too for people looking to take that to a novel/new place).

Posted Jan 3, 2006 1:33:40 PM | link

Ren Reynolds says:

Kelly Rued> There is a LOT more to MMOEGs than sex (I've at least scratched the surface of player motives over in my last blog post at http://simsexy.blackloveinteractive.com, if you're curious why people will play these types of games).

If I’ve got the right post, below (re-ordered) are the types of motivations that you talk about:


    -leadership/belonging (a community online always has its moderators, volunteers, good citizens, and occasional evil wannabe-dictators- the players need ways to affect the game world, community and organization in a lasting and tangible way)
    -griefing (hey, it's an online community- some people will get off on being assholes at least some of the time :D)

    -games/fun group activities (most of these MMOGS ought to have mini-games and fun things to do in them besides virtual sex if they want to keep *some* players engaged for more than the time it takes to masturbate to the pretty graphics)

    -expression/art (see a community like literotica.com or deviantart.com for a better explanation but the idea is the creator has an audience and there is support, feedback, and cross-pollination of ideas- a good MMOG will let players express themselves in the community and achieve celebrity and notoriety in that community)

    -socializing in general (making friends and connecting to people)

    -long-distance relationship or travel (real partners getting together online)

These seem to be served very well by MMOs and it is going to be hard to improve on what they do without creating a better one.


    -romance (emotional connection, love)
    -flirting/showing off (getting praise and attention or validation)
    -coming out (being able to show parts of yourself you can't in real life)
    -role-playing (being able to construct an alt self, drama, escape)
    -contests (yep, people like to get lucky in more ways than one)

These seem to be served pretty well by traditional MMOs, the focus on these that Rapture would provide might make some elements better, but I wonder if what this focus excludes (and noting the points above) will impoverish the experience overall.

    -hook-ups (real-life sex, cam and phone sex with other players)
    -learning (see/do/try new things and broaden horizons)

I can see how these could be improved upon, but again they might be served adequately by MMOs

    -virtual sex simulations (graphics, sound, text)

This does seem to be a specific feature where you can best even SL.

So again I tend to think that Rapture is falling in the middle. Its non-traditional features will have to be excellent for it to sustain an audience or it will have to be a good general game with interesting features – which to me is the best evolution of the MMO (in this particular direction that is).

I’d be interested in Nick and Richard’s comment on how this fits with ideas of player motivation – sure sex is key to Maslow and all that but I’m not sure how that links with the models we use for virtual spaces as we are in a sophisticated and sublimated time.

>It's a platform that will later have other adult games *on it* depending on emergent player interest (there is nothing exactly like RO planned or released yet so we can't be certain who all will come to the party).

Ah nothing like a B2C and B2B play in one to keep the business plan looking good.

Posted Jan 3, 2006 4:51:02 PM | link

Kelly Rued says:

>These seem to be served very well by MMOs and it is >going to be hard to improve on what they do without >creating a better one.

Ah, see this is explains your perspective. Following this logic, WoW should have never happened. I mean, once you have one MOOG that is serving people well, why make any more? I don't play any MMOGs except SL because I have no interest in fantasy/sci-fi or super-heros, and so on. I did try The Sims Online (terrible game, imo) would try another MMOG that seemed to offer sex/erotic play opportunities. This is because one of my favorite interests/hobbies and ideas of "fun" is sex. Sensuality and eroticism is fun to me. Fantasies I have don't involve killing orcs or battling to save the world (or "questing" if said quests are boring combat or courrier missions). In other words, the existing MMOGS don't interest me in their *subject matter* but a MMOG about sex would. I might be assuming too much about the world but I'm betting our company's future that more people enjoy sex and sex fantasy than what currently passes for "fantasy" as a gaming genre. A MMOG about eroticism is appealing to people who don't care at all about MMOGS or even recognize the acronym. In many ways, this genre is the first MMOG genre that could actually attract mainstream non-gamer players. People will come to the world to *do* something (a meta-goal) besides just "play a game." Rapture Online has much to offer gamers, but it's important to note they are not our target market in most respects. We want people who seek out online adult/sex entertainment and enjoy the kinds of fantasy-exploration and role-playing one finds in cybersex communities.

The subject matter, the content of Rapture Online, is what's important. It being a game is incidental- that's the medium we're delivering this experience in. The experience is erotic, sensual, and social entertainment. Do you want to lead a horde of orcs to victory or do you want to lead a fetish group in events that support your shared sex interests? Do you want to level up by whacking a bunch of increasingly bigger vermin for hours on end, or would you rather build your character through social, sensual, and sexual interactions (the animations and audio of which are a heck of a lot more enjoyable and less repetitive due to your "conquests" being real player-controlled entities to interact with- AI doesn't get as interesting as that yet)?

You mention that RO' focus on the romantic/sexual/social/sensual parts of online communities might exclude something, making the whole experience poorer for it. I wonder what we would exclude that is a valid part of anyone's "fun" in existing MMOGs? The leveling treadmill? We have an optional and improved version of that for those who care about stats and things (everyone else can ignore it). The combat? We have no problem adding on quests and more traditional rpg story lines that would necessitate a sometimes use of a combat system in the future, but only if our player base ends up demanding it. I don't think anyone will miss that type of gameplay as it's been done and done, and is widely available elsewhere. See, the funny thing is that while sex, romance, relationships, and sensuality still crop up in every other genre of MMOG- I don't believe that combat, boring fetch-me-this-item quests, and so on will "emerge" in Rapture Online. I think that what we are focusing on is, in fact, the sweet spot of adult online fun.

Also, Rapture Online can be purchased/played independently of any online paid subscription (the free membership you get with purchase of the game client is enough to do most things people will want to do) and paid subscription will be in the $5 USD/month range (possibly with discounts for prepaid annual subscriptions). So it is designed as an option for people to use *in conjunction* with their favorite MMOG. Example: you've been in CoH for a while, all of your friends are there and you have a special person you routinely cyber with. You each buy RO and then can hopefully craft a *very* similar avatar (but higher poly and with full genitalia, etc.) and continue your same affair but in the RO client, peer-to-peer, and neither of you have subscribed to anything with our site or really "moved" to our community (though at some point you will hopefully check it out as you get limited access with the client purchase anyways). This allows the players to exploit the benefit and beauty of an erotic sim app like Rapture Online in their existing online relationships. Our character editor will be designed with wonderful options (as we progress) to make characters in our art style that have the same features, name, bio, etc. as your pre-existing characters elsewhere (and following Linden Lab's lead, our TOS will allow the player to own the characters and content they create with our software).

Hopefully, these examples illustrate more of the key unique benefits that Rapture Online will offer to existing MMOG players and people from other online communities who simply need a better, more richly-featured place to do what they are already doing.

If Rapture Online players want to go to another MMOG together to get their non-erotic gaming on, that's cool too but I doubt traffic will flow in that direction very often. We are filling a need for the other MMOGs, rather than vice cersa :D

Posted Jan 3, 2006 7:46:49 PM | link

Richard Bartle says:

I worked on a sex-based virtual world for almost a year back in 2000. Here's the pitch.

Yes, it was a textual world, and that's why we went with a pornographic subject: we didn't have the money to do anything other than a textual world, so we had to find something that would sell in textual form. Porn was chosen because:
1) You can write things that are illegal to depict visually.
2) Text emotes can be freeform, therefore specific to individuals' requirements.
3) We'd get better male/female demographics in text.

Point 3) hinged on the much-observed point that women generally prefer their porn written and men generally prefer it visual. Graphical porn games might have problems attracting women, but textual games wouldn't. Neither would they have problems attracting men, because the men would go wherever the women went. We did toy with the idea of targeting the (male) gay community rather than aiming for a balance between men and women, but suffered because there were only five of us on the team, one of whom was female and none of whom was gay. When we approached the gay guy in the office to ask for his advice, it turned out he wasn't actually gay (sigh). As it was, gay people could have played anyway as all the attractiveness stuff was determined by player preferences, rather than being hard-wired. If you said your male character found male characters attractive, that would be treated in much the same way as if you said your character liked blondes or voyeurism - just another option.

In terms of progress, we got along along quite well (despite not having a design doc). Sex was implemented in the same way that textual worlds implement combat, except obviously it was the opposite of combat. Instead of counting down hit points to zero, they counted up arousal points to orgasm. Characters began in different states of arousal, based on their stated preferences (eg. woman who matches man's preferences for looks arouses man more than woman who doesn't match any of them). Actions you did based on your partner's preferences for activities would heighten (or dampen) their state of arousal, and the idea was for both parties to try and keep in step for as long as possible then to reach climax at the same time. There was an experience points system, and the points you got were for how much fun your partner had, rather than how much you had.

The project was canned when the dot com bubble burst and the company I was working for sacked its workforce. It was a shame, I'd liked to have seen how it would have gone.

Richard

Posted Jan 4, 2006 4:02:21 AM | link

Ren Reynolds says:

Ren >These seem to be served very well by MMOs and it is >going to be hard to improve on what they do without >creating a better one.

Kelly > Ah, see this is explains your perspective. Following this logic, WoW should have never happened. I mean, once you have one MOOG that is serving people well, why make any more?

Not at all. In fact I made the opposite point at the end of my post. I said that an MMO could be improved by the addition of these features, but some propositions looked like they fell between what traditionally attracts those that want to play and those that want to date. Actually, one might one to conflate those that want to date with those that just want to socialise al la the Habbo model.


kelly> This is because one of my favorite interests/hobbies and ideas of "fun" is sex. Sensuality and eroticism is fun to me.

I’m just not sure how large a demographic that this fits tho. As I was saying the economics would seem to come down to minimum numbers to sustain the community and the cash flow (which ever is larger).

I might be assuming too much about the world but I'm betting our company's future that more people enjoy sex and sex fantasy than what currently passes for "fantasy" as a gaming genre. A MMOG about eroticism is appealing to people who don't care at all about MMOGS or even recognize the acronym.

>In many ways, this genre is the first MMOG genre that could actually attract mainstream non-gamer players.

No I think that that is the Habbo / Second Life / Dating genre, from what I read Rapture is going for something semi-gamie.

I hope it works out I really do

>Do you want to lead a horde of orcs to victory or do you want to lead a fetish group in events that support your shared sex interests?

I can do both at the same time in WoW and one of them in SL.

>Do you want to level up by whacking a bunch of increasingly bigger vermin for hours on end, or would you rather build your character through social, sensual, and sexual interactions (the animations and audio of which are a heck of a lot more enjoyable and less repetitive due to your "conquests" being real player-controlled entities to interact with- AI doesn't get as interesting as that yet)?

I’m not sure if you can say. But are you going to level things. Can I be Level1 or oral sex and then progress up with practice? Is there going to be a sexual hierarchy, I’ve got to work up to going down on a certain level (as it were).

This is in the region of the integration of game and eroticism I was thinking of.


>I think that what we are focusing on is, in fact, the sweet spot of adult online fun.

>So it is designed as an option for people to use *in conjunction* with their favorite MMOG. Example: you've been in CoH for a while, all of your friends are there and you have a special person you routinely cyber with. You each buy RO and then can hopefully craft a *very* similar avatar (but higher poly and with full genitalia, etc.) and continue your same affair but in the RO client, peer-to-peer, and neither of you have subscribed to anything with our site or really "moved" to our community (though at some point you will hopefully check it out as you get limited access with the client purchase anyways).

That’s an interesting model, though if they are creating replicas of their CoH avi you get into a whole interesting area of Intellectual Property law that CoH know oh so well.

Posted Jan 4, 2006 9:54:11 AM | link

Kelly Rued says:

RO has only the issues of IP law which Second Life has: we give players tools to create their own content (and a step further in our protection- we allow the player to own the IP of anything they create- and it’s peer-to-peer not residing on our servers, another key distinction).

I don’t know that Habbo/SL/dating is a genre. Habbo is a like yahoo or aol- chat rooms with extra bells and whistles (like MSN games in the MSN messenger app). I know of no successful mmog dating game and as a personal ad veteran (from print ads before p-ads even were big!) I don’t see any market for something like Naughty America. Second Life is its own genre, a sandbox/dev platform for creative people and people with an initiative to dig into a virtual life/community. It's popular but I know plenty of people who tried it and were bored immediately and quit. There is no overarching goal set and it relies on the social aspect and player to bring their own creative goals to the table. A lot of people want to be led into a set of goals and given "something to do.”

I think it's good to look at MMOEG customers as a mix of gamers/netizens and just straight up porn consumers. I heard that one new online graphic sex game has an average user login of FOUR MINUTES. Maybe it’s sexist, but we’re calling this type minute-men players now. :) This is a valid use type and one that people already pay upwards of 19.95/month for at all kinds of porn sites. One way to think of Rapture Online is as a porn site where you can control the action, every physical detail of the performers, etc. and then you see why we’re working so hard on making med-high poly characters work!

As for margins- one of the only good things about being a small indie is that we could be very profitable with even a modest success in unit sales/subscriptions; self-publishing online means we have a very comfortable margin to work with. I think there is more than enough audience/interest to sustain many games like Rapture Online without oversaturating the market. Both gamers and porn/erotica consumers are important but one is way greater in numbers. The gamers and cybersexers will be the stars in the community, and help generate the best content, but the erotica/porn consumers will be the bulk of subscribers (my prediction).

As for leveling up erotic skills- yes, but we go one better and make sure that there is actually a pay off to leveling: you unlock new actions/skills/features which then you can *share* with partners (they don’t get to keep access to them when the shared game is over however). This gives a newb the motivation to couple with a higher level character, etc. (esp. when the higher levels also allow custom, commissioned, and exclusive moves/voice clips/etc. to vary the gameplay). It should become more personalized as you develop your character (this is where a lot of rpg games suck to me- you work on developing a character that is just a generic collection of stats *anybody* could get with little opportunity to be unique).

Richard's past game sounds cool- like a furry MUCK and other things I’ve tried online. I do think your assumptions about women were off though. Our whole leads team is female and I can tell you one major female lure is being the object of attention, adoration, and lust: a porn star, a burlesque star, a femme fatale, having the body of your dreams and all the power that entails. If graphics are respectful of the human body and give lots of options for customization, a woman is just as likely as a man to enjoy them. Plus whether we are straight, lesbian, or bi, we love seeing our sexy partners perform for us. The idea that women prefer text erotica is not true- we just really love sexy words, character development and story (context) with our sexual fantasy. All of these can be integrated in a full 3D game.

Anyways, I appreciate all the feedback and commentary- do consider coming by the http://www.blackloveinteractive.com site and posting if you have any questions or suggestions. We love discussing the direction for Rapture Online and think that we'll have a stronger product for listening to people. Originally the game was a straight open-ended sim (like SL) but the rpg-like structures were added to better entertain people who need structure/goals (many gamers fit this) to engage in the experience. Feedback from future-players has been tremendously enlightening as we shape our product.

Posted Jan 4, 2006 7:18:12 PM | link

ren reynolds says:

Kelly Rued > As for leveling up erotic skills- yes, but we go one better and make sure that there is actually a pay off to leveling: you unlock new actions/skills/features which then you can *share* with partners (they don’t get to keep access to them when the shared game is over however). This gives a newb the motivation to couple with a higher level character, etc.

That’s an interesting feature and ties into the type of relationship stuff that I feel that vanilla-MMOs (vMMO ??) could benefit from. There are three ventures into this area that I know of:

1/ City of Heros ‘sidekick’ option: here players can form a temporary relationship and some of the powers of the Hero are conferred to the Sidekick.

2/ Sociolotron – I could be mis-remembering this, but I’m sure that a lower player can be under the protection of higher player in, at least, certain areas of the game world. Also there is the whole sex ‘n consequences side of Socio that I find fascinating.

3/ ATITD Marriage – this one fascinates me. When two players get married in ATITD they get access to each other’s inventory and can log in as each other. There is no divorce. This means that you really do have to trust the person you are getting married to.

The idea of marriage / sexual-partner options in MMOs strikes me as interesting. Especially if it specific skill track that both opens up cyber-sex options (such as in RO) and has possible outcomes (such as in Sociolotron) and vulnerabilities (such as in ATITD). Also I wonder what it would to do the game dynamics. Especially given that we all know families that play together – why not have an option to declare familial relationships. Of course allowing / not-allowing same sex couples would cause arguments – so how about shards that are:

- no coupling
- family
- hetro-only
- homo-only
- whatever- you want

Posted Jan 5, 2006 4:21:43 AM | link

Kelly Rued says:

>The idea of marriage / sexual-partner options in MMOs strikes me as interesting. Especially >if it specific skill track that both opens up cyber-sex options (such as in RO) and has possible >outcomes (such as in Sociolotron) and vulnerabilities (such as in ATITD).

Those are all great points for non-erotic fantasy genre MMOs- and I have not yet played ATITD (bad me! I hear so many cool things) so thanks for that info. As a female-designed MMOEG, I must admit RO is heavy on romantic features (the skills system isn't just sexual, it's sensual, romantic, and social- you can build yourself up as a sweetheart or a predator depending on your play style and fantasies- and multiple character slots of course means you can develop/experiment without ruining one character's "reputation" and so on. But RO is also going to be the most graphically explicit sex game I've ever seen (in terms of naughty and physically accurate content), so obviously we don't have any accodomodations for "family" units or allow pregnancy type consequences (as the world has no children/teens or sanctioned use of child/teen characters- we discourage it in our TOS but do allow age-play (adult aged characters who are engaging in role-play of younger characters but with the adult bodies in RO and bios that clearly give character age etc.)). But as a gaming parent, I know a game like Puzzle Pirates would be more family-friendly if I could be a 'mom account' and have chat logs to my daughter's accounts as a matter of regular policy. Making parent-supervised and permitted gaming safe and viable for casual games like that would be wonderful.

Back to the marriage/sexual partner ideas though, minus a family distinction (I assume you mean RL family, and in RO, identifying your RL adult family is just... icky to most of us, lol). Marriage is romantic, yes, so you have to support it as gameplay. One thing we are not so subltey suggesting is when you marry in another MMOG, get RO copies each as wedding gifts and have the "honeymoon" with you characters in RO. :D Levels we offer are actually modeled on honeymoon suites etc. so why not? Plus we cover the whole gamut of romantic to sexual gestures with animations and sfx/voice. It's really an ideal combination for people.

I am very sad that we live in a world where you need shards to offer features for homo and bisexual player characters. This is something I saw under consideration by Spend the Night (a gay area or something) and I can't say how much I am against that type of treatment. RO has all sexual preferences coexisting as well as transgendered character avs. This is because we also are committed to an educational sex-positive component (RO can be viewed as a serious game for adults- a very, very entertaining one people will elect to play outside of a formal 'training' institution). So of course we will support any configuration of marriage/commitment/romance, including poly and open marriages. The players can define the limits and terms of such agreements in their "vows" at the character level. A player profile can say the person is married but we won't be facilitating "player weddings" only "character weddings" to keep the magic circle as strong as possible in a game where it is all too blurry anyways.

The player profile can also be linked to other player profiles to define real life relationships and *limits* that both parties have agreed to so other players know so-and-so is married and told their wife he wouldn't do anything past a lap dance and watching when she's not online. We're still figuring out how far this feature will go but in talking to couples who would play RO as a distance relationship- one or both partners are often wary of signing up for the service/game together knowing the partners can fool around with the same technology separately. We need an optional feature that let's people spell out their intentions (to the partner and the community) but we are not committed to having the game itself limit *all* that the parties can do- I would like the consequence and moral choice to lie with the players involved. But in terms of actual penetration/what we all agree is a form of intercourse, I think it's fair to let committed couples set the game so that is only available in their relationship. Which still leaves a great deal of fun you can have on the side, without sacrificing your main relationship. We are not keen on allowing married/partners to demand access to the logs or activities of the other though- each player will have their privacy intact, but there are options to agree to limits (which for some, might be the ONLY way they are allowed to play RO!). We have to take some actions to make RO "couples" friendly and to support our religious/more conservative players.

How would you address fidelity and commitment in a game that's supposed to be about fantasy (ie sex and romance minus the down-sides)?

Posted Jan 5, 2006 3:31:40 PM | link

Ren Reynolds says:

Ren >The idea of marriage / sexual-partner options in MMOs strikes me as interesting. Especially >if it specific skill track that both opens up cyber-sex options (such as in RO) and has possible >outcomes (such as in Sociolotron) and vulnerabilities (such as in ATITD).

Kelly > But RO is also going to be the most graphically explicit sex game I've ever seen (in terms of naughty and physically accurate content), so obviously we don't have any accodomodations for "family" units or allow pregnancy type consequences (as the world has no children/teens or sanctioned use of child/teen characters- we discourage it in our TOS but do allow age-play (adult aged characters who are engaging in role-play of younger characters but with the adult bodies in RO and bios that clearly give character age etc.)).

I was thinking of the idea of RO having just marriage. Though thinking about it; if one could designate sibling relationship in-world then one open up environment supported incest play. I guess if you don’t include such relationships into the mechanics you stay neutral in respect of this and allow players to create such role-play scenarios if they wish.

What is your stance on character naming btw. If me and friend wanted to create the characters, say to pick at random: Kirk / Spock, Frodo / Sam, Harry / Prof Snape – and made avi’s with a passing resemblance to them – would that be OK or you are taking a more NCSoft line and excluding certain specific names?

- I think we should jump this one over to sex-sig.


Kelly > But as a gaming parent, I know a game like Puzzle Pirates would be more family-friendly if I could be a 'mom account' and have chat logs to my daughter's accounts as a matter of regular policy. Making parent-supervised and permitted gaming safe and viable for casual games like that would be wonderful.

That’s a very good idea, applicable across MMOs, especially if one has a master account and the others are sub to that so technically the are all one account hence on does not get into data protection / privacy issues.

If only anyone else was reading this thread :)

In fact I think I’ll bump it into its own thread.

Kelly > I am very sad that we live in a world where you need shards to offer features for homo and bisexual player characters. This is something I saw under consideration by Spend the Night (a gay area or something) and I can't say how much I am against that type of treatment. RO has all sexual preferences coexisting as well as transgendered character avs. This is because we also are committed to an educational sex-positive component (RO can be viewed as a serious game for adults- a very, very entertaining one people will elect to play outside of a formal 'training' institution).

Tough one. My guess is that that demographic that you will get will be pretty libertarian so it will not be an issue, though you might also be preaching to the converted so I’m not sure how effective that element of the education side will be.


>How would you address fidelity and commitment in a game that's supposed to be about fantasy (ie sex and romance minus the down-sides)?

Me, I’d run the opposite direction and let someone like you design it :)

Posted Jan 6, 2006 7:52:10 AM | link

Richard Bartle says:

Kelly Rued>I am very sad that we live in a world where you need shards to offer features for homo and bisexual player characters.

We don't. We live in a world where you need shards for over-religious or strangely moral or "eww I don't like to think about it" people.

Richard

Posted Jan 6, 2006 9:28:38 AM | link

Cell says:

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Posted Jul 31, 2006 5:57:16 AM | link