But the arrival of the CD as a storage format introduced the limitless sexual potential of the interactive movie. One of the most notable, 1992's Night Trap, for the Sega-CD, was actually not that sexually explicit. It was basically a compilation of badly shot movies of a bunch of teenage girls at a slumber party, cobbled together into an almost-game in which you had to save them from vampires (with tights over their head). Its notoriety rests on the fact that it ended up in front of US Congress in 1993, as part of a joint hearing into the marketing of videogame violence to minors. Consequently, it sold out across the country.
An equally overstated footnote in the history of sex in games was Phantasmagoria, another interactive videogame, created by Roberta Williams (14 years after her Softporn Adventure). It, too, featured a blend of sex and violence (including rape), and spawned a sequel starring the first openly bisexual character, Curtis Craig.
But it was the introduction of polygons that really enhanced the possibilities for depicting sexy videogame characters, and since the dawn of the PlayStation era, the industry has been peppered with them. Duke Nukem achieved a certain amount of infamy thanks to its scantily clad strippers and hookers; Fear Effect's promotion push made no bones about its lesbian protagonists; and the Dead or Alive series, and its adjustable boob bounce, took its titillatory tendencies to their logical conclusion with the Beach Volleyball series. Indeed, the list is endless. The tawdry nudity in BMX XXX prompted Dave Mirra to make sure his name wasn't attached, while Fahrenheit was praised in some quarters for its mature and romantic approach to sex (although it's worth pointing out that in other quarters it was derided for featuring sex with dead people, and for playing an almost softporn-funk theme whenever a black man appeared on-screen).
The list could go on, but that would leave little room for the sexy Easter Eggs that videogame creators have gifted us with over the years. In a rare blow for sexual (and homosexual) equality, programmer Jacques Servin subverted the 1996 Maxis title, SimCopter, by replacing all the bikini-clad females with males. In an all too common blow for sexual (and homosexual) inequality, he was promptly fired. Fortunately, Konami took a less dim view when Hideo Kojima left his sexy Easter Eggs in Metal Gear Solid, leaving players free to catch a glimpse of Meryl's underwear on several occasions throughout the game (this feature was also left intact when the game was reprised on the GameCube).
And where would any history of sex in games be without a mention of all those 'unintentional' sexy moments - which doesn't include getting hold of high-definition porn for your PS3. No, this category includes stuff like the debug mode that allowed internet perverts to arrange female characters into provocative poses in Bloody Roar 3. Or the recent upskirt shots of Minna no Golf 5. Or the discovery, by females on the internet, that the Rez trance vibrator, um, vibrates. In other words this category consists of apparently innocuous games disguising offensive filth, like the female elf that you can strip down to bra and pants in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance.
And oh how the industry laughed when the famously not mental Jack Thompson described The Sims 2 as a 'paedophile's playground'. While one wonders what he'd make of all the animal sex in Zoo Tycoon, he has got some semblance of a point: although a fairly innocent game in design, in execution, there's a fair amount of provocative near-nudity and disgusting flirting. It's made worse by the ready availability of nude skins to transform near-nudity into fully fledged nakedness.
Which brings us onto user patches. While the likes of Chun-Li had been wowing gamers for years, Lara Croft was the first gaming sex symbol to break into the mainstream consciousness. So it's hardly surprising that she became the subject of the first notable implementation of the nude patch (as well as the subject of several real-life porn movies, or so I'm informed). And the nude patch industry (which is presumably a bedroom one) has never looked back, with, for example, a patch for Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball recently evoking the ire of series creator Tomonobu Itagaki.
And so to Grand Theft Auto. After creating a minor furore with the interactive hookers in Grand Theft Auto III, the series went on to spawn a proper maelstrom with the release of San Andreas. An entire article could be written about the Hot Coffee user mod, but it can be summarised thus: the creators of GTA: San Andreas left an unfinished mini-game buried in the code of the game, which was discovered by some industrious hackers, who then created a mod to allow players to take control of a simulated sex scene. A storm in a teacup, really, though, unfortunately, one that sparked a controversy that still rages in the US.
Which just goes to show that, in many ways, videogame sex reflects the real world activity: Europe's more relaxed attitudes to sexual congress can be measured by its relative indifference to Hot Coffee. Sex in videogames is almost as widespread, and wide-ranging as the real thing. From upskirt photos in obscure adventure games like Michigan to the oddly enormous breasts to be found in Stretch Panic/Freakout; from hentai depravities and the likes of Battle Raper to Erotic Spot the Difference; from discreet clinches in RPGs like Planescape Torment, to elaborate fetish scenes in online games, it would appear that the gaming world and its sexual needs are well-serviced. And I even managed to make it to the end without making the knob in your hands joke. Or any reference to sexy cos-play. Maybe next time.
If you'd like to see an unexpurgated collection of sexy game shots, and you're a consenting adult, why not sneak this linky into a brown paper bag and skulk over to the distinctly NSFW gallery of sexy business for a peek at the seedier side of gaming.