Screengrab via All Things D.
Zynga, creator of FarmVille, CityVille, CastleVille, and a host of other pervasive Facebook games that people are constantly inviting me to play, released a new game in the ‘Ville series today, called simply “The Ville.” In the game, which looks a lot like The Sims, players can build the house of their dreams, fill it with virtual stuff, and then invite other users to “play.” And playing can mean many things, one of which is having virtual sex with another avatar.
I decided to try The Ville in an attempt to have sex with another avatar, but I’ve never actually played any of the other ‘Ville games so I found the whole thing a bit perplexing. In the game you build a house and fill it with nice things so other virtual beings will want to hang out with you and be your friend. I bought a couch and flat screen television, thinking these objects might (as in the real world) facilitate intimacy. I did hang out with Ethan, the only avatar that interacted with me in the game, on said couch. I chose between predetermined options for interaction. We told jokes, watched television together, and hung out.
Frustratingly, the “make out” and “snuggle” options, which my real life experience has taught me can sometimes lead to other things, were locked. Apparently, I needed to build my relationship with Ethan before we could move to this next level. But relationship building in the game, as in real life, costs “energy.” I was running low and didn’t want to expend further energy just to get Ethan in the virtual sack. This brief experience taught me that ‘Ville games are boring and puzzling. The game kept prompting me to use the toilet, which I found odd. But I did “win” a fire pit somehow, which looks fetching outside my pretend house and is sure to attract some neighbors.
Ethan ignoring my advances and heading for the door
According to Rafe Needleman over at CNET, once two avatars have appropriately wooed one another, they can interact in a more sexual manner. They will partially disrobe onscreen, then hop in bed. Little floaty hearts will cover the action, but I’m sure we can well imagine what our naughty avatars are up to. Although you can get amorous, you can’t get married or have children. It’s all the sex with none of the consequences.
What makes this game play function interesting isn’t just the sexual aspect, although that’s no doubt interesting, especially considering the fact that the game has no age restrictions. What makes it interesting is its possible integration with Zynga’s new matchmaking platform, which helps players connect with users they’re likely to enjoy playing games with. With matchmaking, Zynga recommends new friends to players based on whether they enjoy similar games, have friends in common, how often they play, how often they help others and how skilled they are. And players can add others as zFriends without adding them on Facebook. However, there is an option to view the Facebook profile of an onscreen character.
Of course people already use online games to meet people, and sometimes romances develop from online interactions. But you’re not usually interacting in ways that so closely imitate real life flirtation and social interaction. And you don’t usually have the option to have sex with another character. The potential for the matchmaking platform is interesting to say the least.
If now your character is matched with other characters using the mundane information of their game usage, who is to say that Zynga can’t use your actual Facebook preferences and interests in the future. You could be sexing a Ville avatar who also shares a penchant for Aronofsky and eating hamburgers. It’s easy to foresee the dating-site-esque power of this game. Cultivating romance online is now the norm. Maybe The Ville is on the forefront of how we will integrate our Facebook selves with our online dating lives, all in a simulacrum of the real world.
Follow Kelly Bourdet on Twitter: @kellybourdet.
Future Sex explores how technology affects our personal relationships and how drugs and medications influence our sexuality. Previously on Future Sex: Rape-able Lara Croft and Women in Video Games.