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Game developers form sex 'special interest group'

Group is meant to provide a forum for those working on explicit content. Some focuses will include marketing and education.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
3 min read
The International Game Developers Association has formed a special interest group to look at issues related to sexually oriented video games, the organization said on Monday.

A prime function of the group will be to provide a forum for developers of explicit content, said IGDA executive director Jason Della Rocca.

Dubbed the Sex SIG, the group has been in the works since last March. But with the recent Hot Coffee scandal regarding sexual content in "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," the Sex SIG announcement comes at a time when the industry is facing a great deal of scrutiny.

"Critics don't understand that video games are not just toys for children."
--Jason Della Rocca, executive director, IGDA

"The whole Hot Coffee thing was very unfortunate, and it does bring some extra attention to the whole (Sex SIG) effort," Della Rocca said.

"The degree to which there was criticism and outcry from industry critics and politicians will make the SIG all that more sensitive to the issues."

Nevertheless, he added, the Sex SIG is going to focus on a lot more than ensuring that there are no further Hot Coffee-esque scandals.

"The main goal of the SIG is to provide a forum for developers who are working on games that have some degree of sexual or adult content," Della Rocca said, "so they can discuss challenges, opportunities and stuff dealing with the ratings and parental access."

Essentially, that means the SIG--which will be chaired by Brenda Brathwaite, the lead designer on Cyberlore Studios' "Playboy: The Mansion" game, and which already has a couple of hundred members--will be trying to address issues surrounding the development and marketing of adult-oriented games.

To that end, Della Rocca predicted that the SIG would be hosting sessions at a series of upcoming video game conferences, including the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, a game industry trade show taking place next spring in Los Angeles.

Further, the SIG will focus on trying to provide developers with resources about adult-oriented games, including lists of all games that incorporate such content as well as categorizations of games to indicate the extremity of the content.

While the Hot Coffee scandal has raised awareness of sexual content in games, the issues surrounding it aren't new. In fact, dozens of games over the years have incorporated everything from hints at nudity to 'toon sex. Games that have had some kind of sexual content include "The Sims 2," "Playboy: The Mansion," "Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude" and many others.

Della Rocca also said the SIG will likely work on education. He said that one of the unfortunate by-products of the Hot Coffee scandal was a general misunderstanding of the video game industry by people attacking it.

"Critics don't understand that video games are not just toys for children," he said, adding that the average age of a video game buyer is 30 and that more than 80 percent of buyers are adults.

He also argued that while there is a perception that video games are played mostly by children, critics should remember that video games are much like other genres of entertainment that come in varying forms and appeal to many different audiences.

"No one is going to tell the moviemakers to stop putting boobs in movies," he said. "So there's a lack of understanding of the medium (of video games) as a medium that can appeal to multiple audiences."