The Witcher has always had sex as a clumsy, awkward part of the story, and usually comes in for a few critical brickbats as a result. So, this time, CD Projekt is trying to get ahead of the criticism by claiming that it’s not cheap exploitation to sell a few more copies! It’s a crucial part of the story!
While the game doesn’t have 16 hours of sex scenes, it does open with Geralt and Yennefer having sex. Does that seem gratuitous? No, because that’s the only way you, the gamer, would remotely care about this woman, according to CD Projekt! Seriously, listen to this justification laid out in the Guardian and try not to cringe just a little bit:
“Sex is the quickest way in which to establish the relationship and provide a justification for the player to pursue this woman,” he continues. “We couldn’t just tell you to go find someone you don’t know or care about. It wouldn’t work.”
What? Sure you can! Video games have thrived on excuses to go stab something for decades. Nobody’s buying The Witcher 3 because they feel the yearning to seek a lost love. They’re buying it to set things on fire and chop off heads.
Also, I feel bad for any woman Geralt hasn’t had sex with if that’s the only way to get him to look for her when she goes missing. “My mother? Eh, I haven’t been inside her since birth. You find her.” “My coworker? She turned me down at the Witcher Yuletide party, someone else take this one.” “My friend? Come on, you’ve heard the Chris Rock bit.”
I’m not necessarily against sex in video games, but it’s a writing challenge not many games are able to handle. For it not to come off as either a sleazy attempt to distract you from a game’s flaws or just straight-up bait for the horny teenager crowd, it has to be written in such a way that it flows from the plot, that there’s a genuine relationship there instead of a justification for shoving some fake boobs in our faces. It demands subtlety, forethought, and careful writing. The recent Witcher comic from Dark Horse, for example, had a sex scene, but it came towards the end of the story and it actually made sense in context.
Call me nuts, but I don’t think the fantasy franchise about the horny monster-stabber is going to deliver this particular artistic breakthrough in video games. Especially since, yes, Geralt will be porking his way through an open world in this one, too. Maybe instead of spending that much time mo-capping simulated boning, you could have put that money towards the actual gameplay?