Talana, My One Blue Love

It’s that time of year folks, when people crowd trendy restaurants,  mail each other allergy bombs disguised as beautiful floral arrangements, and put the ‘giant teddy bear’ industry through its paces. It’s Valentine’s Day and love, misguided or genuine, is in the air. Now that I’m married and all illusions of romance have gone out the window in favor of sweat pants and delivery pizza, I find myself thinking back over my history as an electronic casanova, all the various digital women (and men, don’t give me that look) that I’ve bedded over the years, and the terrible sex scenes I’ve endured. (NSFW)

Despite all of those lustful evenings, I keep coming back to one in particular, the one lady who has stayed with me over the decades. She was my first and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The dubious honor goes to 1992’s Star Control II and Talana the Syreen captain. The Syreen are a race of blue skinned warrior women who are more at home in heels and winged circlets than any form of reasonable battle armor, the kind of fine cerulean lady that Captain Kirk would wrestle a hundred men in rubber costumes for. As a reward for your assistance in getting revenge against the race that destroyed her homeworld, Talana offers you a whirlwind course in the intergalactic language of love. It’s a magical moment (and convenient setup for the sequel.)

This was back when polygons were naught but a twinkle in the eye of some long haired keyboard cowboy. Back when graphics came in two flavors: EGA or VGA, and sound cards were optional. Video was a long way out and the Internet was still being used for hilariously expensive chess matches. All we had was a poorly animated picture that looked like a Frazetta picture that had been left out in the rain, some suggestive language, and our imagination. AND WE WERE GRATEFUL.

Yet for some reason, looking back on it now, that one moment stands out as the only sex scene I’ve ever seen that didn’t make me awkwardly look around the room in fear that somebody would catch me watching it. It was a special moment for me as a 10 year old, something that went beyond orcs, aliens, and ASCII dwarves. It was a very human moment. I’ll never forget that special cutscene between me and Talana.

(The action starts at around :50)

There’s something wonderfully personal about the entire thing. They tell jokes,  ask questions, and laugh. The thing they’re doing under the cover of darkness actually seems fun compared to the carefully choreographed dance that sex in games like Mass Effect is, or the literal QTE that some games turn it into. These two are just getting down with their bad selves like they’re having a lightswitch rave. No expectations, no demands, no rules, just two people enjoying their time together. The candor between them is so easy that their coupling at the end of the game comes as no surprise. How could they not after a moment that seemed so natural and open?

As an awkward 10 year old boy who had more misgivings about the pressures of his genitals than he had plans for them, seeing a sex scene with questions and concerns instead of mute stares and convenient cutaways gave me hope. Hope that all the complex mating rituals that basic cable had led me to believe were a necessary part of “getting some” were actually a load of crap. Hope that I too could meet somebody who seemed as genuine and caring as a bunch of blue pixels in a gold bikini. Hope that sex wouldn’t be something I would do to somebody, but something I would do with them.

Hope that maybe, one day, someone will write a sex scene for a video game that doesn’t make me immediately reach for the skip button.

If you’ve ever seen a sex scene in a game that wasn’t cringe-worthy, let me know in the comments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CronoDAS Douglas Scheinberg

    I think there are probably some sex scenes in Visual Novels that aren’t horrible, but it’s up to you whether you count them as games or not…

    • Jason Rice

      I can agree with you there for sure, but I think they’re tolerable for many of the same reasons. The lack of the whole uncanny valley thing, the power of text as opposed to visuals, the general idea that VNs are all about character instead of gameplay.