The Woman Fighting To Keep Sex In Video Games: Brenda Romero
Sex in video games you say? Don’t mind if we do. Whether it’s Geralt and Yennifer on a stuffed unicorn, a gorgeous dancer in GTA, or a random burly blacksmith putting the ‘ass’ in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, sex in video games is here to stay. We all owe a big thanks to one developer who has been on a crusade for years: to keep games sexy (respectfully).
Brenda Romero, as well as being an internationally successful game developer, speaker, and Fulbright scholar, is an outspoken anti-censorship advocate. She publicly advocates that adult situations definitely have a place in gaming. I mean, if we can see a guy get his head chopped off, surely some elf boobs aren’t going to ruin our brains. She’s also in full support of stronger ratings systems and parental oversight for young gamers.
Romero made a splash in the gaming scene with the release of Playboy: The Mansion in 2005. It’s a sim game where you play as Hef and manage the magazine and mansion. It’s a little naughty, but some of the game’s middling reviews took points off for not being porn-y enough. Guess they were Hustler fans. That’s right, Romero has been denounced by pearl clutchers for bringing too much sex into gaming and by randy gamers for not making games hornier. You really can’t please everyone.
Romero pioneered a ‘Sex & Gaming’ conference to discuss burning questions pertaining to the adult side of gaming and the gaming industry in general. Her work to promote healthy and open attitudes towards sexy stuff in games is pretty much at constant odds with the Puritanical backwater that is American discourse. And she’s not all talk either. She was the most visible part of a collective resignation from the International Game Developers Association. A party thrown by the organization featured pretty erotic dancers that made a bunch of folks in attendance feel like they were being forced to give their creepy uncle a big hug and a kiss on the lips. Not great vibes for a work event. The resignation sparked a conversation which continues to this day. Her work throughout the years is the nuanced, thoughtful approach we need to bring to the questions surrounding sex in games. And this is really neither here nor there, but it’s a fun fact: she’s married to the guy who made DOOM and Wolfenstein.