Sex is currency
She sells cars,
she sells magazines
Addictive, bittersweet, clap your hands
With the hopeless nicotines
- “Easier Than Love”, Switchfoot
Once upon a time, in a Mushroom Kingdom not too far away, there lived a plumber by the name of Mario. Now Mario spent his days as a one-man rescue unit for Princess Peach, seeing as the Mushroom Kingdom seems perennially inept at defensive measure. Sure, the odd goomba might find itself stomped on occasion, but never did eros love infiltrate the kingdom beyond a chaste kiss. The phileo love of friendship remained the common bond that united all together, including Luigi.
The video games of my youth, Super Mario Bros. from 1985 in particular, serve as the Rosetta Stone from which I interpret the digital medium. Game mechanics stood as the solid structure on which the developer built graphics and sound. Stories in gaming reflected the neon lights of a hotel inviting you in after a hard day on the road.
In light of Mario and the chastity of the Mushroom Kingdom, beyond the realms of Nintendo, sexuality in video games became prevalent, and not for the better. Often relegated to the status of a mini-game, sex depicted in gaming shows us a cheap knock off, a tchotchke of something far more valuable.
- The Mass Effect -
In Mass Effect, pixelated relationships take place in-between missions. Spend x-amount of time talking to subject “A” and eventually you can (more than likely, will) sleep with him or her.
Shepherd: “Uh, hi, how is your day going?”
Subject “A”: “Good. (I think he/she likes me!)”
Shepherd: “Uh, do you want to sleep with me?”
Subject “A”: “Sure!”
Check the box. Achievement Unlocked. But where do we see true relationships outside of a few meaningless conversations? After the pinnacle of sex, which constitutes the pinnacle of the “relationship” in Mass Effect, what happens then? Far too busy with guns-blazing galaxy-saving action, the Mass Effect series never finds time to slow down and seriously explore the final frontier: relationships. The great American sci-fi dating simulator ultimately fails, even though official marketing would tell you otherwise. Pew. Pew. Pew. I would like to note that I do enjoy the Mass Effect series as a whole. However, the way relationships are handled, with sex being the pinnacle, comes across as both cheap and unnecessary.
There are many other video games that treat sex as a cheap trick off the street:
- Grand Theft Auto series
- God of War series
- Dragon Age
The Bible espouses something of a counter-cultural view, one that directly challenges the prevailing paradigms of our day. Over and over, the same phrase is repeated in Song of Solomon (2:7; 3:5; 8:4):
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. (NIV)
Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe—and you’re ready. (The Message)
While dating my wife Tabitha, I kept the above phrase constantly in the forefront of my thoughts, a constant reminder to the nature of a lasting intimacy. To not excite love until it was time became my living mission statement. I did not want to cheapen physicaly, nor make it into an idol of my own worship. If I was so careful in guarding my relationship with my wife while dating, why am I allowing cheap imitations that amount to juvenile romance novels into my life? Song of Solomon also talks of protecting your relationship with your spouse (2:15):
Catch the foxes for us,The little foxes that are ruining the vineyard while our vineyards are in blossom. (NASB)
As a gamer, what “foxes” are you allowing into your home? What cheap imitations do you allow to deceive you? I want to encourage you to be aware of those “foxes” that try to ruin not only the relationships around you but your relationship with God. If you live in the Mushroom Kingdom, watch out for the goombas!