There's a new Conan MMORPG out, and I bought it. Tried it. Why I bought it and tried it requires some explanation before I even tell you the review...
I hate MMORPGs. The only ones I ever liked even a little are SecondLife (a long time ago) and Grenado Espada (what's it called here? Sword of the West or something...)
Despite my distaste for MMORPGs, I occasionally buy one and try it out, just so I can reassure myself that there has been no progress and I can still feel superior. Conan was this year's choice...
But... Conan's story has some uniqueness to it that maybe you'd like to know about.
First off, I'm just a big Conan fan. I like "low fantasy" settings, and there are very few, certainly almost none as good as Conan. It's interesting, a very unique feel.
Second, the weird reason: yes, I bought it because it has breasts in it.
I didn't buy it because I really wanted to see nipples. There are, after all, a few more efficient ways to do that. I bought it because of what nipples stand for.
In this industry, we have a million games featuring sexy, underdressed women. However, they are not usually there for any real, in-game reason... they are usually not terribly interested in the social dynamics of being terribly sexy, and if they were real people, they would assumedly be wearing something more comfortable and likely to keep them alive.
So, it can safely be said even by a non-woman like me that this practice is a poor one. It objectifies women for the sake of appealing to teenage male geeks.
SO, why do I buy games with nipples?
Not pornographic games, exactly. Just games that have nudity. Like Conan.
I feel that there are two reasons to support nudity in games. Two and a half reasons.
The first reason is that, so far, in every game with nipples that I've bought, it's actually added to immersion. There are nipples when it makes sense that there would be nipples. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Conan mythos, where lack of clothing is pretty much the standard for both sexes. It would be untrue to the IP to have everyone fully dressed all the time.
The second reason is that putting nipples in games is more than just a way to draw in teenagers. To tell you the truth, I bet it hurts sales a bit in the teenage audience, since mothers who read the label will clearly see "WARNING: NUDITY" in addition to all the other, less horrifying evils such as "BLOOD AND GORE" and "INTENSE VIOLENCE".
No, the point is that we're unable to put many things into games. Right now, we're stuck with pretty much four attributes to mix in: violence, cute, puzzle, and "adult themes". That last one means "sexy people that you can never date or kiss or otherwise be interested in".
I like the idea of moving in a direction where we can get past that. I don't like how we venerate violence and fear nudity, not simply because nudity is less likely to screw us up, but because nudity opens a gateway for games that are more about deep, personal interactions.
Right now, you cannot really get close to a character in a game. Classically, this is because computation couldn't support it, but now it's just inertia. These days, it's possible to do it well: see Mass Effect for examples. But so long as nipples and so forth are a big deal, you're very limited in the kinds of statements and situations you can use. A flash of nipple in cut scene is one step towards a game that includes real simulated romance instead of crippled, scripted romance. And by romance, I mean romance, not porn: the point is to get to a point where NOT having nudity is weird.
Anyway, I guess that reason really just boils down to "I hate censors and I want more nudity (more everything) in games!"
So I buy nippled games.
... Or maybe that's just justification...