“Why!?” — An Interview About Game-Inspired Pornography
Please note, the images used for the article are safe for most environments, but the linked images are NSFW.
For a long, long, time I’ve been extremely curious about the entire subculture of game-inspired pornography. Illustrations showing not only nudity but also the sloppy, logistical horrors of penetration and orgies aren’t uncommon. At first, it’s jarring. Then, it starts to become interesting. It starts to feel more like you’re watching a car wreck and can’t turn away.
Artists who choose to draw game characters in compromising positions in turn tends to draw the ire of the internet at large. But is it all well-deserved? Are they all just a bunch of perverts and misanthropes, furiously mastrubating alone in front of their masterpieces?
Not in the least. There’s serious talent at work, and even more serious passion. I reached out to one of the artists to get some insight, and it turns out that in most instances, you’ll find people who care about these characters more than you and I ever will.
Artists’ interpretations of video game characters are as old as games themselves. Awe-inspiring box art and illustrations in manuals even brought life to text adventures and Shareware games. With the advent of the internet, anyone’s drawing could now have a home, and eventually the increased graphical fidelity of games unlocked a pandora’s box of game-inspired erotica.
It’s nigh impossible to ignore the talent behind some of these works, even the most explicit ones. But the question is, why take it to that extreme?
To find out, I spoke with an artist who shares her work under the name Tsukahime on popular site DeviantArt. The largely self-taught artist started drawing video game characters when she was seven or eight, her favorites being Sonic characters and Soba from Kingdom Hearts.
Eventually, she began depicting characters naked.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed about with the human body,” she says. “I think it’s beautiful, and so I have an appreciation for any other types of nude bodies too, human or not.” She adds that it sometimes even makes her sad to put all that work into a body, only to cover it with clothes. Similarly, she notes that drawing clothing on a body that’s anatomically incorrect just “sounds a bit silly.”
Those are simple, elegant answers, but ones that most people will think are cop-outs. However, the motivations are much deeper than that, and she suspects that most other artists feel the same way.
“Most times when I play video games, the stories are adventures and heroic tales about how these characters fight, or things like that,” she says. “I guess I just always imagine a softer side to every character and love portraying that. Every character is up to interpretation, and I love that about video games because your opinion of a character may be vastly different from someone else’s. I always like to imagine the character out of the context of their story, in a softer, more romantic atmosphere.”
“Say for instance, Shepard from Mass Effect,” she continues. “He or she is a soldier, yet I can’t help but feel like there’s always going to be something underneath that. And the little peeks into their personal lives makes me so happy.”
Again, a pure insight. But there are artists who are depicting clearly lascivious behaviour–what about those!?
“That is their interpretation of the character, and I have mine,” she replies coolly.
Elaborating, she concedes, “I can understand where they come from most times, and I feel like most characters in video games–especially women–are sexualized anyway, so a lot of people like to push that. While I don’t think video games themselves are ‘sexual’ most times, I usually don’t feel uncomfortable when artists portray a character sexually.
“Though when someone does something like this, I can feel slightly uncomfortable, but only because the characters personalities are not taken into account; they are only being used for sexual purposes. I draw a character sexually because I love them and adore them, but when someone takes apart a character for ‘porn’ reasons, I can get uncomfortable.”
Tsukahime adds that most people, herself included, draw explicit images for no other reason than to have fun with it. Sometimes, she thinks that people want these characters that they love to behave sexually, and since it won’t usually happen in-game, they will draw it themselves.
Using herself as an example, she says, “In The Witcher, I grew quite fond of Triss, and so I directed Geralt in the direction where he was in love with her.”
Alternatively citing Mass Effect, she explains, “Shepard and Garrus are my favorite video game couple, but in-game, all we get is a kiss and a fade to black, whereas for other couples, they’d get almost an entire sex scene. I think when I draw these scenes, I really do wish they would be in-game because seeing it animated is much different than drawing it.”
Were we bound to end up here? If the oldest civilizations on Earth wrote erotica, wasn’t it just a matter of time before Internet culture bred game-inspired pornography? Purely intentioned or not, to some people, this entire subculture can feel… skeezy; some simply don’t see the reason to have explicit images of their favourite characters.
Artists are more aware than anyone how their work is perceived, and to a point most of them understand the feelings these images can evoke. Tsukahime understands too, but more importantly, she provides insight into how these artists can see the issues differently than the rest of us.