Friday, January 25, 2013

Let's Talk About Sex(y)

Here is a question I am pondering this snowy Friday.

How much sex and/or nudity is "too much" in an RPG?

I know the stock answer is "depends on the person".  Well in this case the person is you.

I recently bought some art for inclusion in a new book.  One piece I got is a full frontal of a woman. It's line art, and not "porn" but certainly more than you would have seen in say the Monster Manual of 1979.

briefly touched on this before.

I have picked up some books recently that featured a fair bit of nudity of some sort another.
In the Teratic Tome it is meant to horrify, in Sisters of Rapture it is meant to be alluring.

For me. I guess I don't really know.
I mean I buy these games to play so the art is great, but are the words with it good?
I am an adult, but my kids also like to play and read my books.  So some books I stick on the higher shelf for now. My oldest does have his own 1st Ed Monster Manual, but he also has access to the internet.
I try to be honest with myself and say yes I like looking at sexy women, but don't want to objectify people either.
Plus why am I squeamish about this and not the violence?  I have spells in The Witch that send out waves of necromatic power to twist, break and slash people for crying out loud.
I do know what I like.

Share your thoughts.
What would you buy?


Zak Sabbath said...

People whose criteria for buying RPG books include "nudity level" are people you should stay the hell away from.

Brett Slocum said...

Well, since I grew up on Empire of the Petal Throne, which contains several naked drawings, I some nudity in the art. I'd make a really bad prude.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I have to agree.
On the other hand what I am most interesting in is what people are comfortable with.

Brett Slocum said...

I *like* some nudity in the art.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@Brett I don't mind it. But I also have the internet. ;)

Your comment made me think of this guy.

Arkhein said...

I have no problems with nudity or gore in an rpg. And I've handed rpg book with a few boobs in them to my 12 year old son without a second thought.

But honestly, I've never handed LotFP to my son. And that's because of the gore. It's just . . . yeah.

Boobs appropriate. Intestines not appropriate. lol

- Ark

David Rollins said...

I'm more concerned with the quality of art rather than the level of nudity in the art. Use the stuff you feel fits your game and your audience will likely go along with it.

If you make the game you want to play and don't compromise then it's easy to stand behind it. If you undermine your own preferences to satisfy some imaginary person, people will still find fault with it AND you won't be completely happy with the thing you made.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Yeah, I am not handing my copy of LotFP:GE to my kids either, especially when S&W would work just as well.

I guess the other question is would NOT buy something due to content? Regardless of where you use it.

Doctor Futurity said...

What Studio Arkhein said. Honestly, for me its more of a taste issue. I have no problem with nudity or erotica but there are times when the presentation is cheap and lurid, juvenile or otherwise base and exploitative. Stuff like that....not so interested in. It's a hard thing to decide. I put a fairly innocuous range of pictures in one of my books that included some reasonably tasteful nude women from older public domain art that was turn of the century, but my one buddy (a Quaker) zoned in immediately on how many naked women were parading through the book an how he couldn't let his daughters see it. I had another book marked adult content with nudity and still got negative reviews because the purchaser was angry thatthey bought it for their ten year old son (having not read the large bolded warning in the ad copy apparently). So....YMMV on this, and its highly situational to the product and the viewer.

instantapathy said...

"people you should stay the hell away from."

Eh. *shrug*

For me it's not a matter of being offended by nudity itself, so much as it's a question of why it's there. My general feeling is "If I want to look at porn, I'll go look at porn not my RPG books". Some nudity, even some sexual activity in the context of the game text, doesn't make me bat an eye... it would neither make me or make me not buy a book. At the same time there's a point where I start rolling my eyes and start wondering "Really?".

As for why sex makes people more squeamish than general violence... it's mostly just a cultural thing. Even if you don't conform to it on a conscious level, you are aware of those norms. America is rather extreme in it's acceptance of violence and nonacceptance of nudity.

Pun Isaac said...

It is a combination of the art and the text. In general not much phases me. As long as the art fits the text whatever is cool.

In game I tend to not get explicit. Most things happen "off camera." That doesn't stop comments from being made though (which doesn't bother me). And who doesn't love some good (or bad) innuendo...

I've played with some extremely prudish people though. Just the hint at sex or hell even flirting between characters or characters/npc's and he had to immediately change the subject.

Jerry Boucher said...

The nudity usually depicts , as far as I know, women. This can't be all that inclusive for women wanting to play the RPG. IMHO, the way women are portrayed in RPGs is still stuck somewhere in the 1970s. It's a pet peeve of mine which I've discussed a few times in my blog.

Digital Orc said...

As guy who writes and illustrates his own rpg products, I've pondered this a bit myself. I've done some racy pics and some nudes. Those are the posted items that get the most snarky comments on my blog.

Personally, I'm a big fan of nudity. In one of my games, a cave is filled with frescos of nude elves, so I felt it was important to include some frontal nudity. I made sure to designate it "adult" in RPGNow, and I haven't heard a whimper of complaint.

Anonymous said...

I've long been puzzled by the people who say that nude art in RPG books is a deal-breaker for them. I've thought a lot about such attitudes, and this is the best explanation I've been able to come up with:

While most people have no problem with nudity/sexualized images per se, they balk at the idea of people being objectified.

Unfortunately, since such artwork depicts fictitious characters in a for-purchase product, there's no *other way* to take such artwork as objectification.

On some level, the detractors realize that, and so they say that such artwork should be dispensed with - at least in RPG books - completely.

It's just a theory, but I think that that's what they're thinking.