Can You Avoid Videogame Pornography in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt?

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has more sexual content than any other mainstream video game. Critics are raving. Today you can buy it anywhere that sells video games.

So should you avoid it?

If you’re a gamer on PS4, Xbox One, or PC, you’re considering this question. What do you choose to do? The choice is up to the player as to whether or not to activate the on-screen sex when such activities becomes an option in the story. Yet for millions of men (and women) addicted to porn? It’s not easy to say no.

Expert psychologist Phillip Zimbardo says that pornography and social isolation with video games leads to disorder in males, as noted in this article Video games, porn, and seclusion: The downfall of men? Zimbardo is a Stanford psychologist who studied 20,000 young men and their habits related to video games and pornography. The 2011 study focused on those who “play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation.” Zimbardo says, “Excess, is not the number of hours, it’s a psychological change in mindset.” And that mindset leads to men who “don’t view women as people, but as sex objects, as they have no experience with females outside of porn and the few female characters in games.” You can watch the Ted Talk that Zimbardo gave on the subject.

Sidebar: I’ve been addicted to porn. I admit guilt to each of the examples in Zimbardo’s research. However through Christ, I’ve also found a lot of freedom from those things and have found ways to enjoy games in a healthier manner. That’s not to say that I’m stupid, So let’s look at The Witcher 3 in this context.

Everything is in high definition in The Witcher 3.

CD Project spent sixteen hours motion-capturing sex scenes for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Guinness hasn’t given handed them the Record-holding award yet, but they should. The Witcher series became known for very detailed sex scenes in maximum resolution, leaving no body parts to the imagination. The first Witcher (only on PC) gave the player sexual conquest cards as a reward for sex acts. And The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings cleaned up that tackiness by just letting the sexual encounters stand by themselves on PC and Xbox 360. The Witcher’s graphic sex scenes push the boundaries for videogame sexuality. Now, with the massive power of the PS4, Xbox One and the best of present-day PC technology, the details are in-your-face.

Ciri is the surrogate daughter of Geralt, the game's main protagonist. She becomes the player character at one point in the journey.

Ciri is the surrogate daughter of Geralt, the game’s main protagonist. She becomes the player character at one point in the journey.

Nudity isn’t optional in The Witcher 3. The Witcher 3 opens on a non-interactive cutscene where at one point, the main character bathes in a tub by himself next to a woman reading in the nude. Developer Nikolas Kolm says this scene exists “in order to plant in your mind, that, at the very least, he must enjoy her company” The camera lingers on her backside in a weird way that says, “hey, we think you’ll like this.” Of course, these remain a scant few seconds in a fifteen-minute-long introduction. This does not establish a framework for some kind of risque show. Other than the lingering camera, the developers dedicate every other shot to building the world and the story. The sexualized depiction push the player towards the protagonist’s motivation to search for the woman who is now missing.

Sex scenes are optional (even if some of the nudity isn’t).

That option is the real tension when you’re talking about video games with sexual content. In a film, you can choose to not watch, cover your eyes, or watch it. You simply choose to not engage in that aspect of the experience, much like owning an internet-enabled device which allows access to porn. But, you have the even greater power not to indulge in such options. And, if you’re reading this right now? Congratulations: you have self control. The question remains whether or not you have enough self control when you’re binge-ing on the game for nine hours on a Saturday, full of adrenaline and self-isolation.

Will anyone exude self-control in that scenario?

Video games desire to portray sexual intimacy because it’s a powerful aspect of the human experience. But game developers show us a long awkward history of representation and exploration of sexuality that rarely removes the possibility of exploitation (and thus relegating it into the porn category).

Recent games like Mass Effect Age depict consummation in non-interactive PG-13 cutscenes. And even Dragon Age never shows the act despite lots of innuendo and rare nudity. Even so, developers made actually showing sex in video games surprisingly rare. Many developers discovered that videogames are better at alluding to sexual intimacy, drawing out more meaningful intimacy through player actions. There’s countless good and healthy examples of  this and I wrote an article on this site with some examples. Still, The Witcher 3 gives us an exception to the rule.

The Witcher series at large demonstrates a shoddy history of trivializing sexual encounters with women. The Witcher 3 may prove more capable of providing narrative context and tact than the previous games. But we don’t need to see the grim detail. Intimacy only exists as intimacy because such acts are not on display for onlooking viewers.

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Do you have anybody to play video games with?

Seclusion can turn into a real snare for the porn-addicted gamer. If you know such content will present a problem for you, consider inviting somebody over to share the experience. There’s a huge value in playing games with other people even when they’re single-player games like The Witcher 3. If you want to play the game with a pure heart, play it with someone else. Maybe your spouse? How can you judge its appropriateness more quickly than that?! Is your wife (or husband) able to watch you play through The Witcher 3? It might be a telling experience.

The ultimate question is: should you avoid this game or should you play it? I’m not the Holy Spirit, but I have a tiny amount of wisdom: Do you struggle with pornography? I have. Lust still holds power over me. So I might do with The Witcher 3 what I’ve done with the previous games: try it out, see if I can avoid the lure of lust, and then uninstall it the moment I find myself too weak to stand up to it. If you can keep a pure heart and run from temptation? More power to you. Just don’t be stupid: porn can destroy a person’s psyche and their ability to have healthy relationships.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of sexual content in The Witcher 3. If you’re self-controlled , maybe try it out via Redbox rental and avoid the porn stuff? Or maybe avoid the game. There’s no shame in ignoring a game because of the risk of sexual temptation.

A famous Book might even call that wisdom!

About M. Joshua Cauller

M. Joshua is a missionary to his basement — where he leads a videogames-and-spiritaul-formation group called GameCell. He makes indie game trailers by day, which you can see at mjoshua.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
  • Dennis Anderson

    I’ve searched high and low just looking for an honest answer in regards to this, which of course yielded nothing but raunchy teens making fun of the those who actually exhibit self-control when it comes to sexual matters (impossible for their little minds to comprehend some won’t trade the best part of themselves for cheap thrills).

    Very well written. Thank you for this, and for your honesty and integrity! Truly, yours is the only article I found among a wasteland of unrestrained horny pubescents who have no idea what love is.

    • Wow. That’s probably the highest compliment I’ve ever gotten in writing.

      • Damien Hill

        Yeah I agree with Dennis, Thank you Joshua I really love the girl I’m courting and by the grace of God I really want to honour her by avoiding this stuff. So I think I might just skip the first scene (just letting it run with the TV off lol) and then just play the game in small amounts while ensuring that I keep my heart focused on God. He has save me from a porn addiction a few years ago and man it is just so awesome how Jesus has given me the freedom to not be trapped by that stuff any more. What a God?! Thank heaps Joshua I really appreciate the honest Godly view you took on this, like Dennis I found nothing else out there. Thanks God for putting Joshua in this position to help us 🙂

        • Haha. Thanks so much for chiming in! I love hearing stories like this!

    • Pax Humana

      The irony is that the raunchy people are probably the ones that are craving sex the most, yet they are a. getting it the least or b. that the quality of sex that they are getting is quite low in their lives.

  • Kiana

    Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to write this! It’s really helpful with another perspective (other than the other horny teens that Dennis was talking about), especially in matters that might concern people who might be sensitive to graphic in-game pornography or otherwise.

    Unbelievable, I know, not enjoying watching sex! Haha, anyways, thank you so much for the wonderful writing, and the amazing POV.

  • Pax Humana

    I just have a simple solution for that and it is simply don’t play the game. I do not like the censorship of everything from a Christian, Jewish, OR a secular perspective, nor am I going to be like the Amish and similar groups of people and allow people to do as they please when they become of age. However, one WOULD be wise to compare the consequences of actions instead of rushing full tilt into anything in their lives.

  • Chris Ramsey

    Not sure why watching porn is the downfall of man. Why is western society in a hurry to condemn men but hold women in high Esteem in spite of all evidence that they’re more sexually perverse but outwardly saintly. Most men these days would rather be addicted to porn than enter into relationship with a woman due to the hazards prevalent in relationships between the sexes,. They deliberately and happily embrace porn.