Video Game Relationships

2K Games officially partnered with Playboy to include 50 hidden magazines scattered throughout Mafia 2’s open world environment. Once found, each collectible opens to reveal vintage centerfolds from real 1950s Playboy issues. The discovered magazines are then stored in the game’s inventory and are available to be perused at the player’s whim. Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series took this trend a step further by actually turning pornography into a weapon. In Metal Gear Solid 4, there are Playboy magazines scattered throughout the game world for players to find. When acquired, the magazines are stored in the game’s weapons inventory alongside rifles and handguns and serve a dual purpose. Players can look through the images at their leisure, and also use them to set traps by laying the centerfolds open on the battlefield to distract enemies.

In the first Witcher game, players are awarded “romance cards” for successfully seducing each of over two dozen different non-playable female characters. “Let’s take our relationship further.” “Come home with me. Let me thank you” “Let’s go.” Like other examples we’ve talked about, these pornographic collectibles are saved in the player’s inventory and are available to be ogled at any time. The souvenirs function as a private trophy collection, encouraging players to view these female characters as sexual conquests and acquire as many different flavors of women as possible during their playthrough. If collectibles in the player’s inventory work as a private trophy collection, then achievements serve as a public trophy case, on display for all to see. Achievements, or trophies, are meta-goal award systems built into most popular gaming platforms. Unlike collectibles, achievements are earned through in-game actions but awarded outside of the game environment itself and have no effect on gameplay.

Some achievements are rewarded for skill or completion of tasks while others are arbitrary challenges set up by developers. “Oh, please. Are you really just doing this for the achievement?… Click a door five times? Is that all that you think the achievement is worth?… No, no, no, no, no. I can’t just give these merits away for such little effort.” These systems encourage “replayability” and provide players with incentives to spend more time inside the game space experimenting with its environments and characters. By default, your achievements are visible to anyone who views your profile on a gaming platform and thus they allow players to show off their gaming skill or dedication to their friends. In other words, achievements are designed to function as status symbols for gamers. A whole host of games reward players with trophies for successfully having sex with one or more female characters. A suspicious number of those achievements are called “ladies man”. (Giggling.) “The Gods have truly blessed you, Kratos” Other games in the God of War series use a variety of euphemistic naming schemes for this. In the PS3 version of the original game, the trophy is titled “Rockin’ the Boat.” In Ghosts of Sparta players receive the “A Hero’s Welcome” trophy and in Chains of Olympus the award is called “Two Girls One Spartan.” “Oh, Nico! I really like you!” Some games in the Grand Theft Auto series offer achievements for bedding a “girlfriend.”

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