Seduce Me

Seduce Me is a new adult interactive / erotic strategy game. Initially I, and many others, heard about it when Steam pulled it from the greenlight section due to its adult content. The issue is, and continues to be that sexuality is treated as more damaging than violent media, despite the obviousness that violence is destructive and sex can be something tender and warm.

Instantly I wanted to know more, and I preordered it as soon as it was available.

It’s been called sexist, and as a woman, and a feminist, after playing (and failing) a few times, I just have to frown at that.

The game is set in Petra’s house. She’s a rich socialite with a huge mansion built into the mountains overlooking the ocean. She has many female friends that spend time there, and over the course of your stay, you’re allowed to mingle with the guests, flirt, strike up intimate conversation, and eventually sleep with them (if you do well enough!)

The women hold all of the power. If you lose enough ‘popularity points’, you will be told to leave. You can lose popularity points by being rude and refusing small talk with a guest, by having an intimate conversation with too many women and causing one of them to get jealous, or by doing poorly in the mini games.

The most interesting aspect, however, is that you don’t just lose the minigames by failing. The goal isn’t to ‘beat’ the women at the games, but to be within an acceptable range. For example, in the flirting game, you want to stay at about the same pace as the other woman. Come on too strong and you fail, but if you’re too passive, she’s not interested either. Different women have different tastes – a desire to ‘win’ or ‘lose’ the games depending, but most people are happiest if you’re on par with them.

These aren’t women that are just going to sleep with anyone. They’re women who have a connection and a bond, who have their own secrets and fetishes and kinks, with standards and and who each have a personality. Considering that the game doesn’t have a huge load of plot, it might seem, on the surface, to make these women one dimensional, but I don’t feel they are.

I found myself curious about the characters and their stories, and wanted to hear more about their discovery of the private sides of themselves.

Just because they are women in sexual situations doesn’t inherently make it sexist, and I wonder if the gaming media has swung the pendulum too far in the other direction. They’re trying so hard to make gaming inclusive to women and make us feel more comfortable that they’re too quick to jump on everything as being offensive.

We can find women and men sexy, and want to see them in sexual scenarios and in revealing clothing without it being sexist. I don’t want games to be void of sex just because someone will be offended – and someone will be. Sex is such a personal topic that no matter how gingerly and sensitively the topic is portrayed, there will always be someone who thinks it’s too gratuitous, too objectified, too sexist.

We all have our line, but for me, Seduce Me (so far – I haven’t finished yet!) falls firmly in the camp of ‘empowered women in control of their sexuality and their sex life, horray!’

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  1. Jumwa says:

    The take on flirting and seduction really surprised me. I went in expecting a by-the-books western take on that old Japanese sex game style, but instead they seemed to have reinvented it.

    Tough as hell though to balance all those factors with the cards you’re given in game.

    • Anjasa says:

      Absolutely! I loved how it wasn’t about ‘winning’ the games, and it makes it feel so much more natural and authentic. Of course small talk is about remaining on par with someone rather than ‘one upping’ them.

  2. DT says:

    I think I understand your perspective, and while it’s a step in the right direction in that it centers women as being able to control their own sex life, for me, that doesn’t negate other problematic aspects of this representation. Moreover, that’s really the bare minimum in representing sexual interactions (without their control/consent, we’re dealing with rape, not sex, after all) and it doesn’t necessarily make them “empowered.”

    The biggest problematic aspect, for me, can best be summed up in this post:
    The idea of gamified sexual interactions can not be divorced from it’s very real and very negative implications it creates in reality (especially for women), and that’s something that needs to be addressed.

    So no, the criticism does not stem from the fact that they are “women in sexual situations,” that’s an oversimplification. It stems from the *way* those situations are represented, and how those representations are deployed negatively in the real-world outside of the game.

    • Anjasa says:

      Well, I think that it’s just a side effect of it being a game, and the only other option would be just to never present sex or sexual relationships as a plot point in a game.

      I mean, I understand, but the issue with games as they are is that they can’t be that complex as to properly represent people’s relationships. Even games I feel do it fairly well such as SWTOR or Fallout: New Vegas still have very one dimensional friendships and relationships because to fully represent the scale of human emotions and interactions would be enormous.

      And that’s not necessarily something I’m against, which is why I love visual novel games to a certain extent. It allows for more character building that traditional games for a fairly low budget.

      I still think Seduce Me did pretty good. I mean, there’s still the ‘puzzle box’ aspect, but in the game itself it seems like there’s a lot more depth and emphasis on trying to get to know the woman and her history, personality, etc.

      There’s always room for improvement, but I think Seduce Me has done (so far, still not finished), a pretty good job of moving it forward to more empowering and humane treatment of sexual relationships and women in particular.

      • DT says:

        Well I don’t think our only option is games like Seduce Me or no games that represent sex at all–what I’m suggesting is simply that sexual representations avoid the “puzzle box” problem, which I think is possible. Additionally, I think it’s worth asking why the game doesn’t have the option to seduce men as well, and how they would conceptualize that process–would it be comparable to the process for seducing women?

        I think we agree that there’s room for improvement, but perhaps we disagree about the degree of this representational problem–to me, it runs counter to sexual “empowerment” and the “humane treatment of sexual relationships and women in particular.”

        • Anjasa says:

          I would absolutely adore a similar game that revolved around seducing men, but I fear that would fall into a lot of stereotypes and come up against a lot of complaint and argument. As it is, there’s still a lot of people who a) don’t believe women play/should play games, and b) don’t believe women have/should have sexual desires.

          As well, because of the lack of women and queer individuals in gaming, I think it’d be a slower process. As is, the game makers are making games that they like, and have a passion for, and would like to play.

          Because games about seducing women have been around a bit longer, I expect more from them, and I do feel that this game advances them a bit.

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