At one point in the collectives history we were quite keen on erotic games. Ever since some of us created the Dark Room Sex Game we saw the potential for intimate, sensual and erotic content as an interesting mechanic for social interaction in games. However most erotic games are in fact not erotic, but are with blatant graphics, feels like adolescent pandering and mostly fall into the “nerdy teenager appreciation” category. This became evident when we did research in this area for content we could use in our – at the time – bi-weekly erotic game tip. The goal was to give a tip about some interesting or novel ways erotic themes had been used in games, every other week. However, as I mentioned, there just was not enough content to do so. So we quickly abandoned this idea. But that shouldn’t stop us from giving a tip of our hat to a studio for actually creating a game in this area that accomplishes the goal of being “erotic”, when we encounter one.
The game I am talking about is called Fingle and the company behind it; Game Oven Studio. They do not promote it as an erotic game per se. However, it is evident after playing the game and talking to Bojan Endrovski, one of the creators behind it, that intimacy plays a huge role in the game. At the nordic game jam Bojan was giving a lecture about his game and at the pre-party for the game jam, which the collective held, we got to play his game with him and talk to him a bit about the game.
As we realised with our game, Dark Room Sex Game, is that you do not need something to be graphical for it to be erotic. Creating “sexual/sensual” visuals for a game can quickly become, in the best case insipid, in the worst case quite ridiculous. Whatever one creates of literal and prosaic graphics, they often fall short of the meanings created in the players mind. If you, as a game designer, can get a players to fantasize and create their own sexual frame of mind, you have gotten much further than e.g. our other erotic game tip game, Sepe cumshot.
This is what Fingle manages to do with the simple mechanic of insinuation. If you look at the screenshot above, you will see what I mean about insinuation. There are absolutely no direct references to sex or anything erotic, however, the player is not in doubt about the theme. This is further facilitaed by other subtle clues in the game. It is no coincidence that the visual style leans towards a retro 70’s style, the high point of “classic” porn was in the 70’s; when pornography was being liberated and legalized (fun fact: Denmark was the first country to legalize pornography in 1969), was interesting and becoming more socially acceptable. This was also the time in Denmark where porn had it’s social high point with the sengekantsfilm (bedside films), where even notable danish actors participated in the films (in normal, non-sex related roles). The 70’s motif is furthermore underlined with the semi-tacky saxophone music in the game.
We wanted to make a socially intimate game. One that would challenge not only your puzzle skills, but also the relation between you and the other person. Around that idea, we built a complete unified experience with matching visual and auditory style. – Adriaan de Jongh in an interview in gamasutra:
Another big part of the game, is the physicality in the game. The game is played by two players around one tablet device. The players use their hands (only one each) and fingers to follow predetermined squares. When they have followed the squares for the a given duration, they complete the level. Sounds easy enough. However the complication comes through the real life aspects of the game. Moving your finger according to the squares will soon get you into a finger-twister-esque situations where you are e.g. “fingering” the other person’s hand (as seen in the screenshot). The concept for this came from Adriaan de Jongh’s (the other developer on the game) observation.
Adriaan noticed that when people accidentally touched each others hands, they quickly pulled their them away in awkwardness. – gamasutra article
One can only acknowledge and approve of this observation. Who can honestly say that this has not happened to them. There is an inherent private sphere around everyone, meaning an area in which you are uncomfortable if another person occupy it. I proclaim that there are even private spheres around the hands. God forbid that two persons touch each other’s hands (except in social acceptable rituals as hand shaking), especially if they are two men. The awkwardness is immense. And props to the Game Oven guys for spotting this and creating a game that takes advantage of it!