A Plea for Penis – Striving for Realism and Maturity in Games

Nudity in video games has been a mostly one sided affair – with the amount of visible female anatomy far outweighing that of men. Video games have featured women completely nude, breasts and groins exposed. Similarly to the movie industry, men – pardon the pun – get the shaft and rarely have their parts visible on-screen even during nude scenes within mature-rated content.

The absence of male nudity within games is ignorant, dismissive of a variety of demographics, and in some cases, nonsensical. A variety of scenarios across a breadth of genres have equal opportunity for tasteful and non-sexual nudity – as a means to show maturity within the medium.

There is an issue of inequality present. Publishers believe that the targeted male demographic can only handle seeing women exposed in video games. Bare penises in video games are few and far between. I’m not talking about the occasional suggestive joke image or dildo. Nor am I calling for more sexually explicit games with on-screen sexual activity. Logistically, we should be seeing far more male nudity than the game industry is willing to show us. Penises can be a vital storytelling tool to evoke an emotion out of the player – whether that be fear, comedy, or simply displaying a fact-of-life situation within a sophisticated narrative. But there is still a hesitation: a lack of contextual male nudity in popular media, especially in video games.

Let’s start with my favorite genre; horror. Consider this scenario: an evil corporation has transformed human beings into terrible, disgusting monsters. The mutations have ravaged their forms and the need for clothing no longer applies. All body parts are intact, but transformed. However, there is a distinct lack of monster dong.

Let’s look at this image of Resident Evil’s Tyrant. Its arms, legs, and body have increased in mass, and its skin a dull gray tone. The Tyrant is completely naked, but upon examination of its lower region, no trace of genitalia can be found. Sure, we can say that it was removed during experimentation, but where is the visible markings of removal? Resident Evil Remake has brilliant texture work, so any intent to suggest that the Tyrant had genitals prior to experimentation is not apparent. The Tyrant was simply designed to disregard this aspect of basic human anatomy. But why? Did Capcom’s designers fear that the inclusion of male genitalia, or even a slight suggestive mark, would make players more uncomfortable than gore and death? Apparently so.

Who took it?!

Looking at a Naked Zombie, also in Resident Evil Remake, there is a distinct lack of markings where the family jewels should be. As with the Tyrant, it’s as if someone simply airbrushed or covered the area with flat skin, removing any detail or suggestion that parts are missing. Code Veronica’s Naked Zombies actually had visible damage to their genital areas, which didn’t imply that the designers were afraid to acknowledge the existence of male parts, but merely had a lack of a desire to include them. The PS1 era Resident Evil titles wouldn’t have been able to render these parts if they wanted to.

If this matter is strictly due to the potential discomfort of players, then why wouldn’t a horror game make use of something so simple within the design of a nude male creature? Frictional Games’ 2007 episodic title Penumbra features a monster type called the “Tuurngait Infected”. Tuurngaits are naked, zombie-like creatures with mutilated genitals. This phallic and tubular body part that connects its stomach to its groin is the Tuurngait’s most striking feature. Had the monster not been equipped with such a strange-looking willy, its scare factor would have significantly been reduced.

Nudity makes most people feel uncomfortable. It’s socially unacceptable to go out completely nude in public. Being nude somewhat creates a feeling of vulnerability. Being confronted by a creature or person that disregards the social taboo to nudity and the feelings of vulnerability it creates, is frightening. When it comes to monster designs that are derivative of the human form, the more anatomically correct the creature is, the more discomfort it creates for players.

[Click for Uncensored]

Seen above is an image of the two brothers in Red Barrel Games’ Outlast. These two men are not creatures, but simply homicidal maniacs that lack clothing. The two brothers have a calm but threatening demeanor. Their disregard for the faux pas of public nudity further exemplifies the harsh conditions of the chaotic environment in which they reside – and their troubling mental states. Their exposed winkies have a far deeper connotation than simply being obscene.

The depiction of Lucifer’s oversized penis is meant to symbolize his pride (Dante’s Inferno)
[Click for Uncensored]

Penises don’t have to be scary, as much as some publishers and developers believe they are. They’re simply a part of the male body. If game creators want to strive for mature, contextual, and non-nonchalant displays of nudity in their games, they’re going to have to realize that the depiction of male genitalia won’t literally burn the eyes of immature and insecure adult gamers – clearly breasts and lady-groins haven’t produced those results.

Stubbs’ stub
[Click for Uncensored]

Let’s look at a few games that have featured male nudity in a light of a non-sexual nature. One of the most universally recognized examples would be in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned. In a meeting with Congressman Thomas Stubbs, protagonist Johnny Klebbitz (and players) get an eyeful of flaccid man-meat after several intentional close-camera shots. Rockstar intentionally danced around the showing of a penis in a video game as if proudly boasting that they were brave enough to do so – expecting players to drop their guard at the possibility of ever seeing a penis so clearly in their game.

I have yet to play Grand Theft Auto V, but I’m told that male and female nudity is in no short abundance. GTA Online players have the choice to run around without pants. It may be crass and humorous to some hoping to be edgy, but Rockstar’s inclusion of a natural element of the human body shows progressive and mature thinking – whether or not it’s used as a comedic tool by players.

[Click for Uncensored]

Rust, a recently released Steam Early Access title by the creator of Garry’s Mod is a game about survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Rust features a whole lot of male nudity as all player-controlled characters in Rust start out as naked, bald men. Rust is not trying to say anything or be groundbreaking with its inclusion of nudity; it merely presents the naked male form as a fact of life. In context of a survival game where hypothermia and radiation exposure are constant threats, nudity and all of the vulnerabilities and handicaps associated with it, exist to accentuate the realistic concerns that one would have while living in harsh conditions.

The Metal Gear Solid series is no stranger to acknowledging the frank and beans found between a man’s legs. Countless times throughout the series attention to a man’s parts have been used to bring comedic value to a scene – or even a means to confirm someone’s identity. I’m sure we all remember Raiden’s nude adventure at the climax of Metal Gear Solid 2, right? Comedic situations such as this can be found in a few older games as well.

In the past, during the arcade and pixel graphic days, some games humorously showed nude males and their pixel-by-pixel length wangs and/or butts. Rampage, which starred two men and a woman as playable monsters, would revert its mutant characters back into human form if they incurred enough damage to their health. The original Rampage had its characters cover up their special parts and nervously walk off screen. In Rampage: World Tour, graphical improvements gave developer Game Refuge Inc the raw technical power to render tiny pixel penises for their naked characters. River City Ransom featured a spa scene where the main character’s butt was exposed. But where there’s one semi-nude video game guy, there’s 100 times more instances of exposed women.

Practical “Armor”

Women have been subjected to objectified female video game characters for decades. A scantily clad warrior with impractical armor, the damsels in distress, etc. The fact that when we do see some skin in games, it’s mostly female characters retreading the same lazy and offensive path. Women are marginalized and ignored when it comes to the dominant demographic that most games cater to. Who’s to say that women don’t want to see some skin as well? I’m not asking for reverse objectification, mind you, but an effort to make the playing field equal. Games are largely designed to cater to a male hetero-normative demographic, despite reports stating that women make up 45% of gamers [Sales, Demographic and Usage Data, ESA]

In contrast to other countries (especially European ones), American sensibilities are still prudish – we’re a culture that’s far more supportive of violence in media than acknowledgment of human sexual nature. Murder, gore, and violence in gaming is less appalling – less challenged by consumers, than a female protagonist having a love interest, or optional gay character relationships, or something as simple as seeing a fake penis.

“Wah, I’m insecure about seeing sexual content I don’t identify with!”

For the medium to grow and to be all-inclusive, we must drop the stigma of male nudity within games. If a game developer sets out to feature nude women for titillating reasons, all the while purposefully ignoring their male characters, they’re not only perverting and abusing an artistic medium in hopes to appeal to a perceived male-only demographic, they’re promoting a double standard. A standard that considers their male demographic immature, perverse, and moronic – while showcasing their own aversion and fears towards male nudity.

Brothers, sisters, let us embrace the video game penis for all that it stands for: growth, inclusiveness, acceptance, and equality!

Note: the images are censored so the article can be safe for work. The uncensored versions are one click away!

19 thoughts on “A Plea for Penis – Striving for Realism and Maturity in Games

  1. You do realise, you strive for the penis nudity, but wouldn’t it be more safe to say we don’t want this, actually we don’t need this.
    What we do need however is the balls do freely express ourselves be it a Japanese perversion, male and female nudity or blood and gore, censorship is a sin against nature itself and heathens who oppress it should be locked away in padded rooms.
    Killers are going to kill, rapists are going to rape, but gamer’s are going to game, i see a logical pattern unfolding, So you’re child saw that pixel created mans penis, be a better parent you turd wank.

    Make games better and de-censored let me decide what i want to see or not see, and isn’t that why we have the rating system to help guide our ourselves on what we can and cannot have.

    Well that’s all i have to say on this matter for now, in a bit.

    • I’m not calling for inclusion just for inclusions sake, I’m saying there’s a clear disregard and hesitation in showing such nudity when it would make sense to be depicted. Contextual, mature, and logical inclusions.

      Nude and sexualixed women appear in abundance – a lot of the time simply to tantalize. A naked dude won’t hurt anyone – but that fear exists.

      But thank you for the comment! This is an interesting topic that I wanted to explore with a tongue-in-cheek tone.

      • I know what you mean though. but saying that cant you get some guy on guy sex play (if that is indeed what it is) via the mass effect franchise and even dragon age.
        Plus for the sake of the male section there is still the cho aniki franchise, the game industry is technically still in infancy, so one day one day rapelay will be re-leased, because hell that game didn’t make rapists, and it is fact unjustfully rejected and banned which i find is out of place in a world thats supposed to be free.

      • You do realize that graphic nude depiction of the female body is completely nonexistent in film and video games, right? The female equivalent of the penis and testicles is the clitoris and labia, and while there have been countless instances of penis and testicles in film and video games over the past 10 years or so, a woman has yet to be shown on that level in either medium.

        What you should be calling for is more (or at least for one single company to have the courage to do it) vulva on screen. Not penis. We’ve already crossed over that hump.

      • Tasteful and contextual nudity (i.e. someone that’s just naked) doesn’t involve in depth exposure of their parts – unless we’re going to approach a mature sex scene in games with full nudity.

        Yes, men have their bits outside of their bodies clearly visible and women have theirs inside. But mature nudity doesn’t involve getting up in the anatomy, at least the kind I’m talking about. That’s invasive, whether it be a woman exposure her genitals or a man pulls back his foreskin. It is a sex act.

        There is still a fear of depicting nude dudes where there is less for women, in games. I do understand your point though, since the anatomy and placement differ (outside v.s inside), but I still feel that we’re more inclined to see nude women (often in a purely sexual nature) in games.

      • You didn’t ask for “mature” nudity. You even made the claim that male genitalia is a great prop for comedy, as well as the claim that we need to “even the playing field” by giving women something to objectify.

        Regardless, I don’t see what would make the female genitalia any less mature than male genitalia. Female genitalia (the clitoris and labia, which are not “internal”) is perfectly visible on most women that are shaved, which has been common for women to do for a long time now. However, Hollywood still skirts the issue by making sure women are covered up with an abundance of pubic hair or a “merkin”.

    • I did, actually.
      > If game creators want to strive for mature, contextual, and non-nonchalant displays of nudity in their games, they’re going to have to realize that the depiction of male genitalia won’t literally burn the eyes of immature and insecure adult gamers – clearly breasts and lady-groins haven’t produced those results.

      Perhaps the facetious tone towards “more penises, pls!” muddled the point that instances like GTA (Which do use male nudity as uncomfortable humor – which I still applaud because it shows no reservations to censorship of the human body), show that there is a maturity, a lack of fear, in depicting nudity that will make the heteronormative male demographic uncomfortable and that act breaks down aversions to it.

      Instances like the ones in the article show nudity from a distance, without a major focus (we’re not zooming in and focusing on that area [unless you have camera control]. Yes, there is a disparity since women’s parts are not so easily seen, but I think there’s still less of an obstacle and concern about depicting a nude woman than there is a nude man.. That’s because of the perceived demographics and perceived maturity of gamers and their ability to handle something so benign as nudity of the same sex.

      Perhaps in the future as technology advances and the industry produces more mature and artistic content, the subject of nudity will be less taboo and a modeled genital will be no more shocking than watching a film or short of the same nature.

      I hope cleared up my position a bit! Thanks for the feedback, though. I appreciate it. We can’t improve without constructive criticism!

      • While I understand what you’re trying to say, and I agree that nudity shouldn’t be an issue anymore, I think your stance on penises in the media is an outdated one.
        Women’s genitalia hasn’t been seen in games because no one has tried it, not because the camera isn’t close enough or whatever it is you’re suggesting. The distance that the camera had from the Congressman in GTA4 is sufficient enough to see a woman’s genitals.
        There is much more of an aversion to depicting female genitalia in film and games. It is the forbidden fruit at this point.
        The movie Now And Then, directed by a woman, features several boys between the ages of 8 and 12 completely nude aside from their hands covering their privates. Can you imagine the uproar if a director, much less a male one, had asked the same of 8-12 year old girls?
        The Simpsons movie features a cartoon depiction of Bart’s penis and testicles, can you fatthom the backlash that would occur if Lisa’s vulva had been depicted instead or as well?
        Zack and Miri Make a Porno shows a bent over Jason Mewes, giving you about as graphic a view of a person’s private area as you can get. Yet that film, nor any other in the mainstream (and of course video games), dare even try to show the slightest hint of labia.
        It’s very clear what the real aversion is toward, and penis has not been it for some years now.

      • I was originally going to go into how the film and television industry has been slowly showing more nudity, but I did some edits to stick to the game industry for this. But I do see your point!

        There’s a weird flux of perception of nudity for males. It’s either offensive or it’s more acceptable and used as a comedy tool. The double standard you mentioned is def something worth discussing as I’ve noticed that as well.

        Depicting woman’s genitals in that much detail strikes a lot of fear, as you’ve said. It’s perhaps seen as invasive and extremely personal to draw or model that. Films like Lars Von Trier’s upcoming Nymphomaniac is supposed to be extremely vivid for both men and women.

        In gaming though, which my original argument is based in, is that nudity shouldn’t be shunned, but it also shouldn’t be done for no good reason. There are a lot of practical situations in which it would make sense to appear (as seen in the examples I’ve mentioned).

      • Well we’re mostly in agreement about audiences becoming more comfortable with nudity, just have differing approaches. I see the fear of vagina as more of a problem, as both industries have already demonstrated a willingness to put men on full display, but still shy away from giving the lady bits equal attention. That deserves far more attention at this point.

        Also want to add that Lars Von Trier movies are far from mainstream.

    • i am a female gamer, i am straight, and i dont want to see another naked female, it makes me feel like shit, because they all have huge tits and look like strippers, it almost makes me not want to even eat and get a boob job so i can look like that. It makes me feel uncomfortable when my bf plays games, with female nudity in it, i feel like men compare these nude females in video games to real life females and have really high expectations …females cant compete with this, and it makes us feel like shit, and/or get into a fight about it over the nudity in the game, or i just wont let him play games like that, if i cant see a hot fully nude guy, then why should my bf be allowed to always see super hot big breasted females! its double standard, i use to play a lot of video games but i am now too disgusted to even play anymore. if we had a choice to turn on/off the nudity that would alright

  2. It’s sad that our culture is so backwards compared to cultures of the past when it comes to this stuff. I mean, this isn’t even a problem exclusive to video games. Films hardly ever have the balls to show male genitalia, so it’s not surprising that video games don’t either. But yeah, nice job CJ. This succeeded in making me laugh, even as it reminded me of how stupid society has become.

  3. This is a cultural problem. It doesn’t just exist in games, it permeates in both Japanese and American cultures. A tad less in Japanese cultures due to the fact that they never had puritanical belief pushing that was as prevalent in their culture.

    I personally don’t see anything wrong with penis depictions. If they’re allowed to have this shit in visual arts, such as paintings, and music to an extent, why not in other art mediums?

  4. Ugh. WordPress ate my other comments. It’s a cultural problem in America and Japan. Less so Japan because Puritanism never got a great foothold there. It’s something that needs to atart becoming a norm.

    As I see it humans are animals and it’s natural. I have no problems with penis depictions. I am not aure why it’s allowed in visual art mediums such as paintings and through sound via music. But God forbid you expose a child to a penis in a M rated game and offend their innocent sensibilities! Haha. It’s ridiculous.

    A lot of it has to do with patriarchy and homophobia coupled with Christianity Protestantism and Puritanism. That’s why sex is frowned upon more so than violence, even if nudity is non-sexual. (Remember that the cultural norm is all nudity equals sex?)

    But I digress, my original point is male and female nudity is natural because we’re animals and if they are so kind about other visual arts why don’t we extent this kinda acceptance to video games and movies (etc) as art mediums?

  5. I helped CJ edit this post, so naturally I am going to defend it. As a gamer, I don’t think about this issue a lot. But as someone who likes to think of literature, visual arts, and performance arts in the social context of which they are created, I think this issue is very telling about the gamer culture and community, as well as a glimmer into society as a whole.

    In the Humanities, there is a phenomena scholars call the Pendulum Effect. For whatever reasons, society tends to go back and forth on an issue. One art or literature movement will reject the themes and subjects of the previous in favor of other themes and subjects. The one after that will reject its previous movement and embrace the one before last. These changes, of course, are almost always a part of the artists’ time.

    The depiction of the male body in popular culture has a pendulum of its own. Starting with the Greeks and Romans – for them, the perfect male body is something ought to be put on display in all of its glory. Then the Dark Ages came along and the Church wanted to destroy all things that were obscene. And then the Renaissance happened, and the male form was once again celebrated. Fast-forward to the twentieth century, and to the past few decades, we find that the male body was once again celebrated in terms of popular fashion. Summer clothing and swimwear in the 70’s and 80’s tended to highlight the male features with form-fitting shirts and shorter shorts, not too unlike the physique magazines of the 50’s. Then homosexuality came into the mainstream, and all of a sudden men wanted to hide their bodies behind large and baggy clothing, lest they appear gay or evoke unwanted desires from gay men.

    Specifically in the context of gaming, the pendulum for the artistic depiction of male bodies is only recently coming around for the first time since it was released from the other side. This is largely due to the fact that up until recently, games were catered towards heterosexual, male audiences. Evidence of this could be seen in the fact that female character models in video games have almost always conformed to what is seen as beautiful and sexual in popular media. CJ mentions the gratuitous showing of skin, even for body armor, on female characters. Male character models, on the other hand, are almost always fully clothed. Sure, the majority of them are muscle-bound, and that can be sexy for some audiences, but they are rarely shown off outside of a logical context. This is what Jim Sterling meant when he said that male heroes are idealized instead of objectified and sexualized.

    The reason why I mentioned society and popular culture earlier is because it also has a big influence in how games feel about bodies. There’s a reason why things catered to men often has a sexualized female attached in order to advertise it. There’s a reason why women are constantly shown what they should look like in order to attract a potential mate. And there’s also a reason why (at least right now) men’s bodies aren’t put on display to women, and especially to other men.

    I won’t go fully into those because you readers are probably already aware of those arguments, and are probably more tired of hearing them. My point is that gaming does not really escape the system of values that our Western society has created. CJ’s multiple and diverse examples provides evidence of this. As feminism continues to rise, homosexuality continues to gain more acceptance, and the lines between male and female continue to blur in our culture, game designers may become more and more comfortable depicting the male nude in their art because there is now a growing market for it.

    As a person of the LGBT community, I’m not excited for male nudity in video games because it makes me sexually excited (although naked Dante in that new Devil May Cry game came a bit close). I’m excited because finally – an audience outside of the norm is being recognized after such a long time of being seen as invisible. And when there are more gamers visible, our community will not only appear bigger, but more welcoming, inclusive, and complex.

  6. I don’t see anything wrong with showing male nudity and an uncircumcised penis in a video game. It’s natural. It’s 2014 now. Let’s be more relaxed with nudity in Mature or Adult-rated video games.

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