Bayonetta: Too Risqué?


vg_heroines_bayonetta

Bayonetta just came out this week. That game looks like it really takes the Devil May Cry type experience to the next level, but one thing was strikingly awkward about it: the entire game is filled with explicit sexual references that are creative and imaginative yet feel completely out of place and can be more awkward than enjoyable.

I actually dislike writing about this subject as it doesn’t fit my persona or the spirit of this website, but it is so prominent that it has to be discussed. This is a major game release, from a big designer, and this is a big part of the game.

Personally, I don’t generally advocate it, but I really enjoyed lots of sexualized content that is hidden throughout games: God of War 1+2 had the humorous mini-games, Grand Theft Auto had the street walkers, the gentlemen clubs, and the girlfriends, and Yakuza had the hostess bars and girlfriends.

However, what was nice, was that if certain content didn’t gel with your tastes, or you had some company or family around where it’s just not a good time for that kind of thing, or you were just in the mood to enjoy a regular non-sexualized game, the sexualized content was very obvious and easy to avoid when the player chose to do so.

With a game like Bayonetta, the sexualized content is thoroughly baked through the entire experience, that it is unavoidable.

On a related note: GTA 4 is one of my favorites, but it really annoyed me that the game surprises the player with a very explicit sex scene right in the opening cut scene. Almost all the other risqué content throughout the game requires the player to really seek it out on purpose. But that one scene plays for brand new players, it hits you without warning, and it wasn’t just simple nudity, it was S&M stuff which can be horribly awkward when you have family in the room.

Bottom line: I’m not advocating censorship, but I would like games to keep this type of sexualized content hidden somewhat, so that it can be found by those who want it, and avoided by players who don’t.


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by fleakitten on January 8th, 2010 [ 26489 Points ]

    This completely turned me off of Bayonetta.

    The problem is this kind of content is common in Japanese entertaiment. You can see that in some of their anime, manga and games like DOA. There was a little bit of unnecessary content in DMC 4.

    Of course some societies all over the world have become too relaxed when it come to this kind of X rated material in my opinion.

  2. #2 by Eddie on January 8th, 2010 [ 44542 Points ]

    I’m fairly relaxed around any sexual content, conversations, etc.

    Knowing me personally might give you a better idea of what I mean but I digress :P

    I’m fine with this type of content…even glad that finally a game portrays it…with that said….they should be few and far between and not a mainstay of the industry.

    I’m not fond of Bayonetta just simply because I don’t care for the game…but I’m glad it ventures outside of the sociallly acceptable border.

  3. #3 by Lordincubus on January 8th, 2010

    Sorry Darrin,
    I think its more like if you are going to play a game in front of your wife and kids, make sure its not an M rated game. It’s sexual content, which really shouldn’t be as bad as you think. I don’t see anyone complaining about games like Drakes where you basically kill everyone you come across. Or even Gears where you’re shotgunning a guys body off. Sex is something that almost everyone in the world will experience whether good or bad. Killing someone in any manner should not be viewed as more acceptable then a sexual comment. Its so weird How America is so naturally Violent yet confused about Sex and Europe is less aggressive and more in tune with sexuality.

  4. #4 by Trev on January 8th, 2010 [ 26623 Points ]

    Have to say I agree with Lordincubus, not every game made is suitable for every audience. Taking movies as an example you don’t watch Basic Instinct when your mother comes to visit, you put Toy Story on.
    Its also your choice whether or not to buy it and play it, must admit I have been turned off by the inferior version and after playing it I wasn’t too impressed, I might look into it when its cheaper though.

  5. #5 by Durr Hurr on January 8th, 2010

    I’d really like it if we could have mainstream adult video games that have as much or more sexual content as mainstream adult movies do. These games, of course, should be restricted for minors (just as movies with such content are) but I’m getting really sick of people complaining about even the tiniest little bit of sexual content in games that also feature massive explosions and blood and death and torture and etc etc etc.

    Another thing that annoys me is that an extremely large percentage (if not a majority) of people playing video games in 2010 are over the age of 18. Many of us are twice that or more.

    When will video games finally be allowed to mature and present mature themes in a mature manner? Movies and other forms of entertainment have been doing this for decades.

  6. #6 by Darrin on January 8th, 2010 [ 17143 Points ]

    The M rating is worthless. Call of Duty has an M rating and most parents are completely fine with that.

    There are hardcore sex games that are completely fine; that’s like the gaming equivalent of porn. It’s for people who want it.

    But Bayonetta and GTA 4 are mainstream action titles with the same M rating as Call of Duty. Putting kinky deviant S&M type stuff in the main game is just not cool. Hide it in an easter egg or put it in more niche porn games or stick with vanilla nudity.

  7. #7 by oly1kenobi on January 8th, 2010 [ 132235 Points ]

    Why not put filters on the games u can turn on and off.. my friend who worked on Red Dead Redemtion and is now on Max Pain says there will be sex scenes in both of them… My 13yo son loved Red Dead Revolver and is looking forward to the knew one.. why not be able to skip it..?? Like in MW2 u can skip the part where u kill all the innocents..??

  8. #8 by JimmyMagnum on January 9th, 2010 [ 83111 Points ]

    since a lot of minors wind up getting the games in the first place, I think oly’s idea would be the best bet, allowing such things to be blocked and/or skipped for people who don’t want to view such material or have others view it as well (in fact, I think the systems and games should have a v-chip type deal like they do now, but have it so it locks out specific content within games and are game-specific, which will work better than any rating system ever could)

  9. #9 by apaf on January 9th, 2010

    Your attitude is exactly why we don’t have more mature games and that really grinds my gears because i think games need more maturity. I am not saying there should be sex everywhere but it should be possible to have it in there if its part of the storytelling process.

    “However, what was nice, was that if certain content didn’t gel with your tastes, or you had some company or family around where it’s just not a good time for that kind of thing, or you were just in the mood to enjoy a regular non-sexualized game, the sexualized content was very obvious and easy to avoid when the player chose to do so.”
    So you feel guilty about enjoying those and wait till your family is out of the room but its OK if they watch you inflicting violence of all kinds? Do you watch R-Rated movies that contain nudity with your family? If so what would be the difference to playing a game with similar content? And why can movies contain nudity but games can’t? Or are you against that too?

    “With a game like Bayonetta, the sexualized content is thoroughly baked through the entire experience, that it is unavoidable.”
    The sexualized content is so ridiculously over the top that you can’t really take it serious. Also it is in good taste there is not a single scene where there is full frontal nudity. I think some male players also have a problem with the fact that Bayonetta is the sexual predator in this case. If a man sleeps with 10 women he is a real man, if a woman sleeps with 10 men she is a whore right?

    “On a related note: GTA 4 is one of my favorites, but it really annoyed me that the game surprises the player with a very explicit sex scene right in the opening cut scene. Almost all the other risqué content throughout the game requires the player to really seek it out on purpose. But that one scene plays for brand new players, it hits you without warning, and it wasn’t just simple nudity, it was S&M stuff which can be horribly awkward when you have family in the room.”
    Just my point above would you have a problem if the same thing happened in a movie? Actually games and movies are pretty much the same thing in this regard. There are certain things the Director wants you to experience.

  10. #10 by Darrin on January 9th, 2010 [ 17143 Points ]

    “Just my point above would you have a problem if the same thing happened in a movie? ”

    Absolutely, I would. This Christmas, my whole family agreed to go see Avatar together. If we were all sitting in the theater and half-way through the movie, there was a completely unexpected fetish scene where everyone started pissing on each other, I would go over to James Cameron’s house and kick his ass.

  11. #11 by JimmyMagnum on January 9th, 2010 [ 83111 Points ]

    IMO, movies are full of unnecessary sexual content, 99% of which aren’t even integral to the plot. I come to enjoy family comedies more than anything, mainly because they don’t use sexuality, especially just for shock value. I much prefer movies who stick to the story and avoid sexuality altogether because you don’t need that stuff to make an enjoyable movie and it makes it watchable with the family.

    The ratings system is still broken, though, and sexuality in games is becoming overdone as well. Like I said, most of it isn’t needed, and if it’s not part of the story, it shouldn’t have to be there. As far as GTAIV goes, I bought it because of the over-the-top action and violence, not because of the sex! At least it’s just a very short scene so it didn’t bother me as much, but still, a good percentage of M-rated games have been purchased for children, and popular franchises like GTA and all that are bound to be popular with the kids. Then again, a lot of that blame should be left to the parents for purchasing the game in the first place.

    This is why I think gaming consoles should have an integrated rating system that is game-specific. Maybe something that works in conjunction with ESRB (in which the ESRB should redo its ratings as well) which makes a list of what is specifically in games and be able to use parental controls that can either block out specified content or if such content is integrated throughout the game, the game itself is blocked from play. Of course, we’re a ways off from that, and the list would be a long one as well, but at least that way, you can block excessive violence and sexuality and stuff like that.

  12. #12 by Trev on January 9th, 2010 [ 26623 Points ]

    Jimmy, never. EVER watch Antichrist ;)

  13. #13 by Blackstaffer on January 9th, 2010 [ 7261 Points ]

    I am sick and tired of the idea that a “mature” game or movie has to have sex and/or bad language. To have a mature game, it should have sex. RIIIIGGHHTTT….. What kind of logic is that?

    Mature IS about the place you are in your walk of life. Imagine a bunch of adults sitting around having a nice discussion. A five year old kid who walks in would be totally bored and leave. That’s because the discussion is not at their maturity level. Adults would have the same problem with a discussion between five year olds, though they can be rather amusing.

    I am of the opinion that most games aren’t really all that mature, by my definition. But I’m fine with that, and think that mature game (by my definition) would probably be boring. All day long I have to be mature and responsible. I like being able to relax and play GI Joe in Modern Warefare 2.

  14. #14 by The Beefboy on January 9th, 2010

    When I played Bayonetta for the first time I was excited to find a game that was obviously and unabashedly designed to be played and enjoyed by adults.

    I think the marketing and packaging for this game should make it clear that this is not a title for children, or even adults that don’t like mature themes.

    However, what I don’t agree with is designing all video games to conform to a certain crowd or audience. If Bayonetta is not for you, then there are literally thousands of other games out there that will fulfill your game fix.

    Meanwhile, let’s not dilute every game on the market because some people find this type of game “offensive”. It’s time to let mature games be mature.

  15. #15 by Darrin on January 9th, 2010 [ 17143 Points ]

    Henning, “Mature” content is a code name for sexualized content. It’s not really meant to be accurate in the normal usage of the word “mature”. Same with with “adult” content or a “gentlemen’s” club or a “massage” parlor. For whatever reason, sometimes people like to be discrete and subtle rather than just blurting out more explicit language.

    Beef, if you enjoy this kind of thing and find it a refreshing change, more power to you. I said I wasn’t advocating any intervention or censorship which is what you are implying, I was just expressing an opinion.

  16. #16 by The Beefboy on January 9th, 2010

    I think you were very fair and you clearly stated that you were not asking for censorship.

    However, you did advocate keeping the sexualized content “hidden somewhat.”

    I’m saying let the game designers present their vision however they wish, and make sure that everyone knows that there is sexual content in the game through packaging and marketing so that children and adults can make an informed decision before buying the game.

    I think you’re doing your part by telling people that this is not a game designed for children.

    I just believe that, as an adult, I should be allowed to enjoy the game as the designers intended, just as I prefer to see a movie as the director intended or read a book as the writer intended, without accessing hidden content.

  17. #17 by darrin on January 9th, 2010

    Since when is a designer’s “vision” so sacred?

    This isn’t classical music where we politely clap no matter how good or bad the music is.

    We wouldn’t be fans if we didn’t identify all the problems in the games we play and complain about them.

  18. #18 by The Beefboy on January 9th, 2010

    I think the people who design video games for a living would appreciate some recognition for the artistry they put into their work. I’d like to hear how the artists who work on video games would feel about your casual dismissal of their contribution to the medium.

    The video game industry now rivals the film industry in earnings. Contrary to popular perception, the vast majority of people who play video games are adults. The industry is big enough to have a game like Bayonetta that doesn’t have to apologize for being created for adults.

    I would be interested to hear from you how Bayonetta could be presented with content “hidden somewhat”. The way the main character walks, talks and dresses is sexual in nature. Her attacks are sexy, as are their names. There is nudity in her coup de grace. To hide all of this is to fundamentally change the game.

    Why not just find a different game to play?

    I can totally understand how this game would be offensive to people, and again, I say they should be well informed before buying the game and that “mature” in this case does not mean language or violence.

    What you identify as a problem, I see as something that makes Bayonetta unique… for a certain crowd.

  19. #19 by Killer Juice on January 9th, 2010

    I haven’t played the game, but I’m going to throw in my two cents. If you don’t want that in a game, don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. Game rating companies like ESRB give a reasonable idea of what is in the game. If you’re worried about family, don’t play an “M” game in front of them.

    Sounds like a very situational and personal problem to me that can’t be blamed on the game.

  20. #20 by JimmyMagnum on January 9th, 2010 [ 83111 Points ]

    going by the true definition of Mature, there’s very, very few games that would hold up to that moniker. Off the top of my head, we got Call of Duty MW, WaW, MW2, Metal Gear Solid series and Heavy Rain. All of which have a more serious overtone (Heavy Rain also has nudity, but really nudity doesn’t count toward mature content in a literal sense). Those kinds of games require you to have a more mature understanding, usually in a narrative and emotional sense. Most other games are made for thrills and immediate psychological response requiring little to no use of the mature thought process.

    I went to see some Bayonetta videos on YouTbe, it doesn’t seem that bad and looks to be the style of the game. I’ve seen worse. I didn’t need to see a naked senator on GTAIV’s the Lost and the Damned or the unneeded sex scene in Ballad of Gay Tony lol. Both of those could have simply been implied to have taken place.

    I just think that the Mature rating has basically blurred the line between AO and M games, coming to the point where the AO rating will never be used in cases where it should.

  21. #21 by darrin on January 9th, 2010

    “What you identify as a problem, I see as something that makes Bayonetta unique”

    Agreed (although, I’d say it’s more bad taste than a problem). That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla.

    “Why not just find a different game to play?”

    Well, that’s exactly what I did… I wasn’t really hung up on this… My goal with posts such as this one is to entertain myself, the visitors on this site, and promote discussion.

    If you think you can do better, Tosh is always looking for more quality volunteer writers. :)

    Jimmy,

    There are no “mature” (as in emotionally/mentally developed) games? I disagree. First, many games are centered around reflexes or mental challenges rather than narrative: I wouldn’t say that Tetris is immature. Movies, as an overall medium, definitely do a better job at delivering more range and quality of narratives, and characters, and dialogs. However, I would say there is some great stuff in video games as well. Uncharted 2 had great acting and dialog. GTA is filled with mature sarcasm and definitely caters to 30+ adults.

  22. #22 by JimmyMagnum on January 9th, 2010 [ 83111 Points ]

    that’s not what I meant, but whatever.

  23. #23 by apaf on January 10th, 2010

    “Absolutely, I would. This Christmas, my whole family agreed to go see Avatar together. If we were all sitting in the theater and half-way through the movie, there was a completely unexpected fetish scene where everyone started pissing on each other, I would go over to James Cameron’s house and kick his ass.”
    Yeah but thats why it is rated PG-13. I would be pretty surprised too if that would happen in a movie with that rating.
    Bayonetta on the other hand has a M-Rating and the box says contains language, nudity and violence.
    Please just refrain from buying games you know you won’t enjoy and don’t destroy the fun for people who do enjoy them by calling for “hiding” mature stuff.

  24. #24 by jerry on January 11th, 2010

    Just want to say this has genereated a great comment out cry. Good topic!


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