Let's Get PhysicalS


For some reason, I decided to take a look at depictions of physical intimacy in four recently released games.

I don't believe my motivation was purely so that Gamer Melodico could be the first videogame blog in history to feature a Glee screengrab but it's entirely possible.

At any rate, only the God of War III video is NSFW. Some questions to think about while watching these - how does each scene portray its characters? If the scene works, why does it work? What does "work" mean? How does each scene play into or subvert traditional gender roles? Is the scene at all informed by the gameplay? In addition to issues with the uncanny valley, is there anything inherent to video games that makes depictions of intimacy difficult to pull off?

God of War III
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Fallen god Kratos walks in on Aphrodite having a three-way with two unnamed handmaidens. They're all topless and are putting out a fairly predatory vibe. After a brief conversation in which Aphrodite bemoans her want of a "real man" and explains how her husband Hephaestus can help Kratos along his path, she invites him to her bed. The camera pans away, refocusing on the handmaidens as they look on. Players are prompted to match button presses and stick movements to on-screen prompts that allegedly correspond to the act of lovemaking. Each correctly matched prompt leads to a sound effect like a sword unsheathing; Aphrodite's moans sound more impressed than ecstatic. Match enough button prompts and the handmaidens ("This is definitely mature content," says one. "Parents should not let their children watch this," replies the other) get so turned on by Kratos's prowess that they apparently have no choice but to start going at one another.

Mass Effect 2

After a drawn-out campaign, Commander Shepard is surprised to find that he's fallen for his old friend, Tali'Zorah vas Normandy. Tali is very cautious about physical intimacy - she is a Quarian, a race of migrant people who must wear protective environmental suits at all times due to their weak immune systems. She comes to Shepard after both of them have done careful research in order to assure her safety; she's understandably nervous. Tali explains that she always talks too much because people can't see her face, so her voice is the only way for her to be expressive. Shepard removes her face mask and sees her for the first time; the camera remains over her shoulder, so we aren't given the same privilege. He regards her; she pounces on him. The camera pulls away.

Alpha Protocol

Near the end of the game, German intelligence agent Sie enters a room to find protagonist Michael Thorton tied to a table. After taunting him a bit, she removes her pants and climbs on top of him. She marvels at how "ready" he is, adding that she "thought [she] would have to work harder." Michael responds, "You would, if I wasn't tied down." The camera fades out as she kisses him and an achievement called "Savage Love" is unlocked. As the camera fades back in, Sie releases Michael and says "I have done what I must do; now you must do what you must do." He seems pretty agreeable to what just went down.

Uncharted 2

(Scene starts at 3:10) Nathan Drake is preparing to pull off a heist with an old chum of dubious repute named Harry Flynn. In the previous scene, Harry introduced their third team member, the lovely and capable Chloe Frazer. In this scene, Chloe comes to Drake's hotel room, and he appears peeved at her. It turns out that the two of them are working their own angle, but she neglected to inform him that she was also posing as Flynn's girlfriend. As Drake and Chloe banter and double entendre their way over to the bed, we learn a bit of their backstory and plan. They kiss as the camera pulls away to the painting above the bed.

Republished with permission from Gamer Melodico.

Kirk Hamilton is a San Francisco-based musician, writer, and jazz instructor. He edits the gaming blog Gamer Melodico and can be found at kirkhamilton.com and on Twitter.

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