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IGDA takes sex seriously

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Gaming

Sex in games. It's an idea, topic, and all-around theme whose time has definitely come.

Of course, adult themes in games--either suggestive or blatantly sexual--are nothing new. But ever since the Grand Theft Auto Hot Coffee scandal went mainstream in June, the subject of virtual nudity, sex, sexual innuendo, and even simulated sex acts in games has gone from a narrowly discussed subject to front page and network news material.

Now, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has given the topic the same sort of prominence it gives to mobile games, issues pertaining to work place conditions, and the topic of women in game development (all have their own special interest groups) by anointing the topic with its own SIG.

The IGDA, a developer-centric nonprofit organization that arguably speaks with the most unified voice when it comes to representing game developers and creators, today said it created the Sex & Games special interest group to "address the issues and challenges facing the use of adult sexual content in video games."

The SIG's chair and founder is Brenda Brathwaite, the lead designer on Playboy: The Mansion.

"Our main objective is to encourage responsible development," Brathwaite said in a statement. According to The Republican, a Springfield, Massachusetts-based newspaper that covered a recent presentation Brathwaite made, during the design of Playboy: The Mansion, Brathwaite worked closely with SCEA on the topic of how much nudity should appear in the game.

The designer "felt some nudity was required to accurately depict the world of the men's magazine and its founder," the paper wrote.

Cyberlore Studios, where Brathwaite works, is located in nearby Northampton, Massachusetts.

According to the SIG's Web site, the newly formed group "embraces sex and sexuality as a natural, healthy and positive force in our lives and in the games we make."

The group lists a number of projects and initiatives, which include working to include the subject of sex in games in upcoming conference program sessions, developing a blog on the topic, hosting conferences so that adult content-developers can network, and generating white papers on responsible development practices, including how to best restrict underage gamers.

"Sexual content in video games is not a new phenomenon," said Jason Della Rocca, IGDA executive director. "Recent events are merely intensifying the attention to the topic, further validating the need for developers to connect on these issues."

Today on the Sex & Games Web site, Brathwaite welcomed readers and developers and outlined a few points that she hoped the SIG would address. They are: "The right of developers to work together to create sexually themed games free of censorship and regulation; a parent's need to be informed and oversee/control their children's access to content; and, the responsibility we as developers have to make sure that the content that's in the game is reflected in its rating and its rating descriptors."

According to the IGDA, the Sex & Games group has been in the making since the 2004 Game Developers Conference held in March.

By Curt Feldman -- GameSpot

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