As video games grow more sophisticated, so too do the stories they try to tell. Movies and books tell stories of the wide range of human emotion and interactions, and those moments are bound to include sexual intimacy - so why can't games get in on this action, too? There's just one problem: the uncanny valley is a real creepy place, and we've been stuck there for going on a decade now.
Video games are better at making some things look convincing than others - like cars. Cars have looked great for years. People having sex? Still looks like two Barbie dolls having their faces mashed together. Plus, it doesn't help that many game designers treat intercourse with all the subtlety and grace of a 12-year-old who just discovered his dad's hidden stash of Playboys. When you combine the two, you get this list of the most cringeworthy sex scenes in video games. Hope you have a vomit bucket handy.
This article is totally NSFW. Though you probably guessed that when you saw the word 'sex' in the headline.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Despite being filled with all sorts of grotesque humor and wanton violence and destruction, the Grand Theft Auto series has shied away from displaying graphic acts of sex (up until GTA 5's first-person mode put it all right in your face) - mostly because Americans are weird like that. Hidden away in the darkest corners of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' code lies the fabled 'Hot Coffee' mini-game, and it's only available if you actively seek it out by modifying the game. Which is probably for the best.
Once the right switches are flipped, successfully going on dates (which were a normal part of the San Andreas experience) will eventually lead to a moment where your girlfriend casually invites you inside for a hot cuppa joe. This is code for sex - horribly rigid, polygonal sex. As you bump and grind against your significant other, you have to move the analog stick in proper rhythm to keep your 'excitement' meter high enough. Though it's surprisingly tame in comparison to some of the others on this list (everyone remains fully clothed for the duration), it's CJ's mouth-agape expression that makes this scene the stuff of nightmares.
As someone who thinks that 'cinematic' means a heavy dose of melodrama and some thin excuse to show two bodies rubbing against each other in the night, David Cage is gonna be on this list a few times. And Fahrenheit (or Indigo Prophecy, as it was called in North America) features not one, but two cringe-worthy sex scenes. The first involves Lucas getting back with his ex-girlfriend Tiffany - complete with an interactive serenade foreplay sequence and some shitty Nickelback wannabe playing mid-coitous. Awkward, but not even close to the worst scene in the game.
No, that honor goes to the scene near the end, shortly after Lucas dies and gets resurrected. He finally meets up with Carla (the detective who's been tracking his every move) and they go from 'Hey, how ya doin'?' to banging out in an abandoned train car within a few minutes. There's no character development here at all and, oh yeah, CARLA IS HAVING SEX WITH THE UNDEAD. The fact that both characters look like animatronic puppets is actually the least disturbing thing about this whole set-up.
David Cage joint #2 checking in, showing just how tenuous a connection between two people can be before they make sweet, passionate, digital love. Ethan Mars has lost one son to a car accident already, the other's been kidnapped by the Origami Killer, and he's beginning to worry that he might be the culprit, like a doughy Tyler Durden. He's physically falling apart at the seams after going through several Saw-style trials, and is acting like a complete psychopath. But sure, let's have a sex scene because EMOTIONS.
Oh, let's not forget the shit reporter Madison Paige has had to deal with as well, considering the home-invasion-wait-it-was-all-a-dream and forced stripping she's had to do to get to this point. Both Ethan and Madison are in no psychological condition to be doing anything remotely romantic (nevermind the fact that they've basically just met), and yet, after a couple of choice dialog prompts, they're both making awkward 'O'-faces and hovering their virtual body parts over one another.
Beyond: Two Souls
No David Cage sexcapade is complete without mentioning Beyond: Two Souls. While not nearly as graphic as the other two games (no one gets fully naked here), the premise behind the scene is is just as cringeworthy, as you're essentially a disembodied voyeur during the whole thing.
In Beyond: Two Souls, you don't just play as Jodie Holmes; you also play as a ghost named Aiden (pronounced AYE-den - yeah, I know), who is attached to Jodie via some paranormal umbilical cord. During her date with the totally unremarkable Ryan Clayton, you can either use your spooooooooky powers to mess with her dinner (move plates, throw wine glasses, and other typical poltergeisty stuff). Or you can, y'know just sit back and watch the sexy times unfold. And by 'sexy times', I mean 'look on as Ellen Page and Eric Winters dolls move their faces together until their lips touch'. Also, if you know the plot twist regarding Aiden's relationship to Jodie, that scene just got waaaaaaaay more awkward. Hey, at least she went on an actual date this time.
Dragon Age: Origins
BioWare games are usually fantastic adventures. But sometimes, it feels like their romance subplots were bolted in because the development team collectively realized "Well, we're making a BioWare game, so you should be able to fuck somebody, right?" Dragon Age: Origins' sex scenes feel especially tacked on, mainly because there are two different sequences in total: one if you're playing as a man, the other if you're playing as a woman. The game basically just pastes in the party member you're currently boning.
OK, sure, you want to save on time, and only creating two sets of animations helps. I get that. But they're not even that well done. Sure, the tasteful fades are nice, but each time the screen comes back in, you and your partner are in a completely different position, like they're flipping through the Kama Sutra and working their way down the list a half-second at a time. And that over-blown fantasy music swelling in the background just makes it all feel even more awkward. Throw in some stilted animations and dead eyes and you'll have none of the arousal but all of the shame when a family member/significant other walks in on it.
Killer is Dead
Suda 51 is nothing if not unpredictable. Whether he has you playing as a sexually frustrated otaku with a lightsaber, or running around making dick jokes with a talking gun named Johnson, you can be sure that whatever game he's heading up will be totally bonkers. But nothing prepared me for Gigolo mode in Killer is Dead.
In this mode, you're tasked with chatting up ladies at a bar, and ogling every inch of their bodies when they turn away. Oh, and you've also got x-ray glasses that let you see through their clothes (but not their underwear - we're keeping it classy, here). Once you've peeked long enough, you can make your move, your ultimate reward being the strangest softcore sex ever offered in a video game - complete with schmaltzy saxophone music. You're even granted an Achievement that says you've made each girl your 'prisoner in body and soul'. Yikes.
God of War
No list of awkward sex scenes would be complete without God of War making an appearance. There's nothing quite like mashing a couple buttons and wiggling some analog sticks to really simulate the joy of making an intimate connection with another human being - especially when the actual act of sex is relegated to some terrible off-screen moaning and watching a precariously placed vase get knocked around a bit.
What makes God of War so cringeworthy is that each sequel feels like it has to up the ridiculousness ante. The first game's scene felt like a silly joke that we all quickly moved on from. The second established it as a running gag (this time featuring a peeing statue whose stream grows stronger by the scene's, erm, climax). By the third game, you're practically watching a full-blown porn cartoon, as two handmaidens (who look eerily like real dolls) grope each other while they watch Kratos give Aphrodite the ride of her life. This is why no one takes video games seriously (part 34,538).
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 started out with such promise. Sure, the story is super dumb, with you controlling a douchey club kid's descent into the heart of darkness. But it has some moments, mostly thanks to Vaas, who's an awesome villain - until they ditch him about halfway into the game. And it's only downhill from there.
At the end of the game, you're given a choice - do you rescue your friends and leave the island, or do you kill them all and embrace your warrior instincts? If you choose the 'kill' option, you not only get to see your friends' grisly demise at your own hands, you're immediately 'rewarded' with some POV humping between you and warrior queen Citra. Then, she stabs you in the stomach, leaves you for dead, and presumably goes off to raise a little baby Skrillex fan of her own. Congratulations! You've won? Seriously, why would you pick this option?
I hope that games are someday able to express the wide range of human expression, including that most intimate act two people can possibly share, without making players physically ill. Today is not that day. If you need me, I'll just be giving my eyes a good bleach-washing and clearing my browser history. Let's never speak of this again.
Looking for more? Check out the 9 most awkward video game love triangles or these video game moves that are secretly sexy foreplay.