A concept sketch
For our local version of Game Chef, my friend Martin (co-author of Itras By) once designed a game called Sex. I played it at HolmCon, and found it to be a strange and anemic experience. But I liked the core idea: to make a collaborative storytelling game about fucking.
I’m sure there are a number of freeforms that already deal with this, but of the top of my head I can only think of Martin’s game, Jonas Trier-Knudsen’s 600 and Tobias Wrigstad’s Gang Rape. The latter two look at negative aspects of sex; the absurd alienation of a record gang-bang attempt in the porn industry (inspired by Chuck Palahniuk’s “Snuff”) and rape. I guess you could say rape is more about violence than sex, but it’s a related topic.
I’d like to see a game that was more about the everyday interactions of sex, both the positive, quirky, tricky and weird. But not “gruesome”.
I think I’d like there to be some kind of facilitator/GM function. I also envision some cards feeding the game. Maybe scenes. Maybe topics.
I think the actual intercourse is the core theme of the game, but it might also be interesting to deal with some of the immense amount of stuff “around” sex. The rules lovers make for each other, the negotiations you enter, conditioned cultural responses, forbidden desires and taboo subjects.
Sex is one of the most powerfully emotional things we do. I’d like the game to enable both giggles and laughs, but also more profound interactions. It could be a two-player game, but I think the intensity of that would be a bit too much for my tastes. I think three is a good number, with one player serving as facilitator, giving cues and hints, cutting & establishing scenes, describing setting and other stuff besides what the characters do.
I don’t know if I’d use pre-written characters, I think maybe the players can workshop some sketches, loosely based on themselves or people they’ve had sex with. Maybe you just play one single intercourse, maybe there are 3-5 scenes total. I think it should be a brief game, 2 hours tops. I read somewhere that the average intercourse lasts 11 minutes? I don’t know if that’s supposed to include foreplay, but I guess some people are skimpy on foreplay.
From 600, I’d steal the warm-up exercise where the players talk about “the weirdest porn they’ve seen”, but I’d change it into “relate some sexual experience they’ve had”. Maybe one positive and one funny? Taking turns to describe? There should probably also be some trust-building exercises. I think it’s a non-touch game, strictly verbal “sitting around a table talking”. Semi-larping like in “600” was maybe good for that game, but also very awkward.
I seem to recall “Gang Rape” (I never played it) having a rule about looking into the victim’s eyes as she narrates what your character does to her body? Some variation of that might work, but I’d like the characters in this game to have agency and for the sex to be completely consensual (but part of the game might be figuring out what you actually want and how to relate that). But eye contact is good, and maybe playing around a bit with who’s actions the players get to describe. Or that could be one of the cards: you describe what your partner does, he/she describes your reactions, or some similar weirdness.
I’m not particularly interested in making it “educational”, but I think you could learn stuff from such a game, or that it’d foster some kind of reflections.
I think it should be voluntary whether you play a man or a woman, whether it’s gay, heterosexual, group sex or something else. But I believe the intensity will increase with “close to home” play, riffing of your own experience and body.
Would I play it? Yes, I think I’d like to. Like many “intense topic” games, I don’t know if it’d be ideal with “random awkward nerd at festival”, but if we design it the right way, I think it could be robust enough for that to work as well.
Will I actually design it? Not sure. But you could, if you want to.