Video Games: Does having sexual themes or content oblige us not to play?

Hi all,

I know the following has been covered in similar posts, but trying to get a fresh take on it:

I really enjoy games like the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. Unfortunately, the developers feel it is necessary to have to sexual content in those games. I really have a problem with this because I already struggle with keeping my thoughts pure. And, for the most part, the games can be played without dwelling on those themes (although some of the giddups the women characters wear are a bit immodest i.e. cleavage).

So, my question is two fold. First, are we obliged not to play these games due to that content? Second, in general, I need to start learning to deal with my thoughts and not dwelling on them, but to let them pass. Am I committing a sin by playing these games even if I do everything I can to minimize my exposure to these sexual themes?

P.S. On a side note, I think violence in these games is different in that the characters you engage are not even human! But, I will concede that you should take care to not become desensitized to violence in general.

Thanks for your replies. It is very fustrating to really enjoy these games and then have to possibly stop playing them because of some stupid decision on developer's parts to include this garbage.

I was watching part of a game where a character passes a woman on a bed. Then, off camera, the character has a physical encounter with her. My first thought: What is this doing in here?

I really think we need to draw the line. Sex in video games? As a guy, all I can think of is that the developers think it's OK or they want to promote thinking about sex to anyone who buys the game. It's just not necessary and hinders a development of purity. Too bad we can't just cut those scenes out.

Peace,
Ed

[quote="edwest2, post:2, topic:230783"]
I was watching part of a game where a character passes a woman on a bed. Then, off camera, the character has a physical encounter with her. My first thought: What is this doing in here?

I really think we need to draw the line. Sex in video games? As a guy, all I can think of is that the developers think it's OK or they want to promote thinking about sex to anyone who buys the game. It's just not necessary and hinders a development of purity. Too bad we can't just cut those scenes out.

Peace,
Ed

[/quote]

I totally agree. It shouldn't even be in there. But does that oblige us not to play the game at all? Like I said, I enjoy the rest of the game, and minimize those parts by either avoiding those parts (which is possible in a lot of cases) or look away or skip a scene that has it in it. This would be similar to a movie (which is also another media that seems to throw this **** in...).

So many of us have purity issues. Didn't our Lady say that more souls end up in hell for sins of the flesh than any other sins? I would advise to err on the side of caution.

If it is possible to skip and just play the game, it could be alright. For me, I’m just tired of the constant addition of sexual material. I would never play the game I’ve been referring to. I continue to look for creative things that do not have any sexual content. It’s out there.

Peace,
Ed

I have played through both games and the 'sex' scenes are very tame, to the point that I find it hard to consider them sex scenes. Two characters rolling around in their underwear (at the worst) kissing is not a sex scene. It is barely arousing.

Why am I also not surprised to come on here and read edwest's usual misguided and incorrect opinion. :rolleyes:

[quote="edwest2, post:2, topic:230783"]
I really think we need to draw the line. Sex in video games? As a guy, all I can think of is that the developers think it's OK or they want to promote thinking about sex to anyone who buys the game. It's just not necessary and hinders a development of purity. Too bad we can't just cut those scenes out.

[/quote]

Three things.

  1. You mentioned that it "hinders the development of purity". The rating on both games mentioned in the OP is "M for mature". It's also indicated why they have that rating on the game. So, if someone is too young to play the game that's on the parents.

  2. As video games have evolved they've become a legitimate way to tell a very in depth story just like a movie. Sometimes sex is a part of that story also just like a movie. If someone can't handle that then they have no business playing the game and should stick to Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Brothers, Zelda etc.

  3. This one I can't stress enough... if watching a half naked woman on a VIDEO GAME has you thinking impure thoughts then you have issues... lots and lots of issues. I don't care how realistic the graphics are, at the end of the day it's still just the result of a large combination of ones and zeros.

[quote="mdrummer5, post:7, topic:230783"]
Three things.

  1. You mentioned that it "hinders the development of purity". The rating on both games mentioned in the OP is "M for mature". It's also indicated why they have that rating on the game. So, if someone is too young to play the game that's on the parents.

  2. As video games have evolved they've become a legitimate way to tell a very in depth story just like a movie. Sometimes sex is a part of that story also just like a movie. If someone can't handle that then they have no business playing the game and should stick to Banjo-Kazooie, Mario Brothers, Zelda etc.

  3. This one I can't stress enough... if watching a half naked woman on a VIDEO GAME has you thinking impure thoughts then you have issues... lots and lots of issues. I don't care how realistic the graphics are, at the end of the day it's still just the result of a large combination of ones and zeros.

[/quote]

To your second point, yes, but the sex is not needed to advance the plot. Thats kind of my point. It is unnecessary and it certainly does not need to be depicted by the characters rolling in the sheets in their underwear. It can just be implied if it needs to be central to the plot.

To your third point, it may not be a temptation to some, but it may for others. The fact that they have issues and should not have issues with it is not a premise for you to justify it. On top of that, it is a slippery slope. If this "innocent" display is being shown in games now, then how long before it is acceptable to have pornographic scenes? I think history has shown in other media that is the case (tv and movies).

[quote="gs013564, post:8, topic:230783"]
To your second point, yes, but the sex is not needed to advance the plot. Thats kind of my point. It is unnecessary and it certainly does not need to be depicted by the characters rolling in the sheets in their underwear. It can just be implied if it needs to be central to the plot.

[/quote]

The main plot no... but every story has many branches to it. It's character relationship development. Is it absolutely essential to the plot? No. But it's also completely optional meaning it doesn't even have to take place it's all about the moral options the game gives you in almost every scenario. You can choose NOT to pursue a relationship with any of the women potentially involved.

To your third point, it may not be a temptation to some, but it may for others. The fact that they have issues and should not have issues with it is not a premise for you to justify it. On top of that, it is a slippery slope. If this "innocent" display is being shown in games now, then how long before it is acceptable to have pornographic scenes? I think history has shown in other media that is the case (tv and movies).

I'm sorry but again if someone else is aroused by a computer generated woman then they have issues. Not to mention that pornographic scenes are highly unlikely to ever happen on consoles for the simple fact that while Mass Effect is aimed at an adult audience video games in general appeal to everyone from kids to grandparents. The idea that any of the big three (Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony) would allow a game such as that to appear on their console is laughable because they know that by doing that they're begging parents not to buy their product for their kids.

Furthermore... I hate to burst your bubble but you can already find pornographic games on the very thing you're reading this on right now. I'm not saying it's right... frankly, again I find it disturbing. But if it were going to appear on consoles it would have already so don't expect to see one on your xbox or ps3 anytime ever.

Edit: let me rephrase part of this... someone aroused by the depiction of sex in a video game has issues and SHOULD NOT BE PLAYING IT.

Dear mdrummer,

Cordial greetings.

Your remarks above make for rather sad reading and I could not disagree with you more profoundly my dear friend. The representation of gross obscenities whether it be in film, TV, literature or video games is utterly deplorable and ought to be denounced in the strongest terms by all devout Christian men worth their salt. Such offensively indecent material only serves to corrupt public morals and further debase our already exceedingly decadent age.

This has nothing to do with being a ‘Puritan prude’ or being overly prissy as regards morality, but has everything to do with keeping ourselves pure and avoiding that which is likely to befoul our souls. Of course such unsavoury content will hinder our pursuit of sanctity as it has the potential to excite impure thoughts that could well be the occasion of sin, perhaps even mortal sin. Be that as it may, it is still an offence in the sight of our all-holy God who is “of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on wrong” (Habakkuk 1: 13).

With regards to the certificate on the video games in question, this is all very well and good and we hope that the vast majority of parents will duly take note of the censors warning and act accordingly. However, parents cannot monitor their children every moment of the day and there is always the very real possiblity that they will be to access this filth from some other source (e.g. older friends or from chums whose parents are sadly not as vigilant as to their child’s viewing material).

If sexual activity is fundamental to any story then there is something fundamentally amiss with that story and it ought to be viewed with the utmost suspicion by all good Christian men. There is just too much of this pornographic stuff around in the prurient times in which are lot is sadly cast. Why should any decent man even wish to “handle” this degrading material since it “offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the allusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offence. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2354, emphasis mine).

Given are fallen nature, dear friend, and our propensity to sin, what man is there that can honestly say that observing scantily clad women on some video game or film will not arouse impure and unclean thoughts? To look at such obscene content is not only an offence to God but is surely to unecessarily court temptation that could result in sin; “Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched” (Prov. 6: 27,28); “Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10: 12). Let us not be naive as to the weakness of human nature and the ease with which it succumbs to temptation.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

Pax

Again, you insult MY faith because I use the brain that God gave me to differentiate not just between fantasy and reality but a COMPUTER GENERATED WOMAN and a real one. For someone that holds their faith in such high regard you pass an awful lot of judgment.

With regards to the certificate on the video games in question, this is all very well and good and we hope that the vast majority of parents will duly take note of the censors warning and act accordingly. However, parents cannot monitor their children every moment of the day and there is always the very real possiblity that they will be to access this filth from some other source (e.g. older friends or from chums whose parents are sadly not as vigilant as to their child’s viewing material).

Bottom line… it’s a parents responsibility. If a parent fails in this regard they have noone to blame but themselves and any “devout Christian parent” with a brain would realize that.

If sexual activity is fundamental to any story then there is something fundamentally amiss with that story and it ought to be viewed with the utmost suspicion by all good Christian men. There is just too much of this pornographic stuff around in the prurient times in which are lot is sadly cast. Why should any decent man even wish to “handle” this degrading material since it “offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the allusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offence. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2354, emphasis mine).

Once again you exhibit your ignorance by choosing to only read the points that suit your own. First, the scene in question is NOT mandatory. If someone is choosing to view it that’s on them and it shows a lack of moral development on their part which again comes down to poor parenting. Second, the scene is not pornographic, it MIGHT be the equivalent of a grown couple on a prime time television show which I’m sure is probably all the same to you because yes you do hold ridiculous puritanical views.

what man is there that can honestly say that observing scantily clad women on some video game or film will not arouse impure and unclean thoughts?

In a film… sure makes perfect sense. But this is a video game. The graphics (not the content) look about the same as a pixar movie. If you’re telling me that you would be aroused by the a half naked woman in a pixar animated film then you like anyone else that makes that claim… has issues. Because to answer your question I can honestly say that I am not aroused by a scantily clad ANIMATED woman because I know SHE’S NOT REAL.

The fact that you can’t differentiate the two is YOUR issue not mine.

[quote="gs013564, post:1, topic:230783"]
I really have a problem with this because I already struggle with keeping my thoughts pure.

[/quote]

I think you answered your own question right here. It doesn't really matter whether or not all Catholics everywhere are obligated to avoid such games. If you feel the temptation to sin because of it, it's probably best for you to avoid such games.

Now, if you can mute/skip/look away well enough to avoid the occasion of sin that such elements provide, then maybe it would be okay for you.

A good spiritual director/confessor could give you guidance in this matter.

[quote="Joe_5859, post:12, topic:230783"]
I think you answered your own question right here. It doesn't really matter whether or not all Catholics everywhere are obligated to avoid such games. If you feel the temptation to sin because of it, it's probably best for you to avoid such games.

[/quote]

Very well said.

Interestingly, IGN.com (a video game website) has an article today about sex in video games. I won't post the link as the article is a bit racy, but you can currently find the article from their main page if you're interested. It's a bit disturbing. :(

[quote="Joe_5859, post:14, topic:230783"]
Interestingly, IGN.com (a video game website) has an article today about sex in video games. I won't post the link as the article is a bit racy, but you can currently find the article from their main page if you're interested. It's a bit disturbing. :(

[/quote]

Before Portrait or anyone else has a field day with this please take note of the quote from the article which supports my earlier statement...

"Porn games are doomed to recieve Adults Only ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which automatically bars them from ever appearing on home consoles or handhelds"

It then goes on to point out that retailers (brick and online) will not stock such things.

[quote="Joe_5859, post:12, topic:230783"]
I think you answered your own question right here. It doesn't really matter whether or not all Catholics everywhere are obligated to avoid such games. If you feel the temptation to sin because of it, it's probably best for you to avoid such games.

Now, if you can mute/skip/look away well enough to avoid the occasion of sin that such elements provide, then maybe it would be okay for you.

A good spiritual director/confessor could give you guidance in this matter.

[/quote]

Thanks, I had planned on talking to my confessor about this. I just thought I'd get other people's take on this. If he thinks it would be acceptable to just skip/look away from some of those parts, then I think I will play the game (since I already pre-ordered) and from here on out have a bit more discernment before I buy a video game that has it. The game should be fun and not cause me to stress about what is in it :p

[quote="mdrummer5, post:11, topic:230783"]
Again, you insult MY faith because I use the brain that God gave me to differentiate not just between fantasy and reality but a COMPUTER GENERATED WOMAN and a real one. For someone that holds their faith in such high regard you pass an awful lot of judgment.

Bottom line... it's a parents responsibility. If a parent fails in this regard they have noone to blame but themselves and any "devout Christian parent" with a brain would realize that.

Once again you exhibit your ignorance by choosing to only read the points that suit your own. First, the scene in question is NOT mandatory. If someone is choosing to view it that's on them and it shows a lack of moral development on their part which again comes down to poor parenting. Second, the scene is not pornographic, it MIGHT be the equivalent of a grown couple on a prime time television show which I'm sure is probably all the same to you because yes you do hold ridiculous puritanical views.

In a film... sure makes perfect sense. But this is a video game. The graphics (not the content) look about the same as a pixar movie. If you're telling me that you would be aroused by the a half naked woman in a pixar animated film then you like anyone else that makes that claim... has issues. Because to answer your question I can honestly say that I am not aroused by a scantily clad ANIMATED woman because I know SHE'S NOT REAL.

The fact that you can't differentiate the two is YOUR issue not mine.

[/quote]

Dear mdrummer,

Hello again and thankyou for your response above.

If what I said was an affront to your faith, then I can only tender my sincere apologies and tell you that that was not my intention. Believe me, I can distinguish between a real woman and a computer image of one, but I am bound to say that I do not see what difference it makes inasmuch as that computer image can still be highly suggestive and lewd and thus capable of stirring up impure thoughts. Just because it is computer generated that does not make it any less morally offensive, because it still has the potential to sexually arouse and lead a man to thinking indecently about the real thing - especially in the case of adolecent pubescence.

BTW, I was not passing judgement upon people, more upon products such as obscene video games and films etc., which are the bane of the Western world and the widespread occasion of the unhealthy obsession with sex in the arts and literature.

It is not a question of parental failure, but rather the obvious fact that with the best will in the world a parent simply cannot supervise their offspring every single moment of the day. That seems perfectly reasonable and I cannot envisage any parent who would stop to argue against that. Indeed, it is a continual source of anxiety wondering what one's children are doing whilst they are out of one's sight, especially given the undeniable iniquity that abounds in our world and the many avenues of temptation that clearly exist.

As regards sanctity and separation from the world, the Puritan saints have a great deal to teach us and their vision of the Christian life was not at all disimilar to the Catholic saints. Their guiding principle was 'holiness unto the Lord' in all things, nothing wrong but everything right with that. In fact, I would venture to say that our Laodicean Church could do with much more of that.

As I have already stated, computer image or not, it makes no difference because it is still morally indecent and in very bad taste. How can a Christian who is in earnest about the pursuit of holiness have any truck with this sort of thing?, why, the very idea is risible and utterly preposterous.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

Pax

Fair enough, however given that you’re likely completely unfamiliar with the game in question let me point out that again the scene is no different than something you might see two real life adults portraying in a prime time tv show at worst.

BTW, I was not passing judgement upon people, more upon products such as obscene video games and films etc., which are the bane of the Western world and the widespread occasion of the unhealthy obsession with sex in the arts and literature.

It is not a question of parental failure, but rather the obvious fact that with the best will in the world a parent simply cannot supervise their offspring every single moment of the day. That seems perfectly reasonable and I cannot envisage any parent who would stop to argue against that. Indeed, it is a continual source of anxiety wondering what one’s children are doing whilst they are out of one’s sight, especially given the undeniable iniquity that abounds in our world and the many avenues of temptation that clearly exist.

It’s not just a matter of a parent policing a child’s activities I agree to do so 24/7 would be impossible. It’s also about having an open relationship with them and communicating with them well enough to make sure they understand right and wrong and understand that if they can’t handle such a thing (because I agree some can’t) then they are to steer clear of it.

As I have already stated, computer image or not, it makes no difference because it is still morally indecent and in very bad taste. How can a Christian who is in earnest about the pursuit of holiness have any truck with this sort of thing?, why, the very idea is risible and utterly preposterous.

You apologize for questioning my faith then you do it again. First let’s acknowledge the fact that you’ve obviously never played it Mass Effect (the game in question). I have and as has already been stated the scene in question is completely avoidable if the player so chooses. So again, this falls on the parents not in one area but in two.

  1. They need to do everything in their power to ensure their kids are not playing games that have an “M” rating.

  2. They need to have educated their child properly in terms of morality to make sure that they make the right decision if confronted with such a decision.

If you don’t think that even adults should subject themselves to it then I can respect that but I disagree. But whether you like it or not parents are responsible for these things.

Beyond that since you’ve not played it you wouldn’t know this but the scene in question is nowhere near as “racy” as you seem to think. You’re likely to find something more offensive on a daily soap opera or a reality tv show.

[quote="mdrummer5, post:18, topic:230783"]

Beyond that since you've not played it you wouldn't know this but the scene in question is nowhere near as "racy" as you seem to think. You're likely to find something more offensive on a daily soap opera or a reality tv show.

[/quote]

Not trying to stir the pot, but I think Portrait's point is that even the daily soap opera or reality tv show is usually too much. You may think that is silly, but a lot of people think this way (me included). This is why I brought up the whole original post in the first place of whether or not I should still play the game even though this content is present. I get your point of an animated character vs. a real character, but let's face it, they still look fairly realistic. It's not like they are stick figures (although that may be good comedy relief). :D

You're exactly right. The daily soap opera has moved into soft porn in some cases. As the years passed, viewers were exposed to a little more, then a little more, then a little more. The Dictatorship of Relativism wants you to believe, "Hey. What's the big deal?"

It's a big deal. We need to say enough is enough. All of us need limits, young and old. And please avoid the falsehood that some sins disappear when you become an adult. If you were taught it was wrong when you were young, it's still wrong when you're older.

No video game should have sexual content.

Peace,
Ed

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