Bethesda has a Sex Problem

Bethesda

Video game players are growing up, along with the writers, devs, and protagonists. The average gamer is in her 30s. Ten years ago, the only one who could save the world was usually a fresh faced 20-something; now they’re all in their 30s with a wife and/or kid in tow (to get sacrificed to motivate our lantern-jawed hero, of course).

But one thing isn’t aging along with the creaking knees unable to handle a five story fall; sex is still treated like a 13-year-old boy snapping a girl’s bra.

In Skyrim, if you wander lost into Riften, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in Helga’s Bunkhouse – a nice place if you like splinters and belligerent innkeepers. The real quest (Caught Red Handed) begins when you talk to Helga’s niece Svana. In true Skyrim fashion, she’s probably sweeping in the main hall for seven hours, or trapped in between the floor and wall calmly eating a piece of fruit.

She’s pissed that Helga makes her sweep for seven hours a day yet the floor never gets clean. Really, Helga seems to be doing the girl a favor keeping her employed despite her complete uselessness. Svana has a dream — not one that involves escaping her working conditions, starting her own inn, and dealing with adventurers reeking of dragons, one day snapping and killing everyone in her basement for funsies.

No, Svana has a clever plan, Sir. She thinks her aunt is disgusting because she beds all these men. The men aren’t disgusting. That’s just what men do. Dragons got to wipe out entire villages, and men got to fuck around. Rather than confront her own aunt, share her puritanical views, maybe ask how she managed to figure out this sex thing, Svana wants you to gather tokens from all the men Helga made the mudcrab of two backs with in this month.

Okay? So, how many tokens? Twenty?

No, that’s horrible!

Fifteen?

No, not that many.

Ten? Five? Give me a hint, lady!

Three. Collect three tokens from ALL three men Helga’s dragonboned in a month. That’s not even one a week. She’s really slacking off on achieving that slut trophy.

What makes this quest even more stupid is that Helga’s reason for giving out little souvenirs after luring those poor innocent men into her sex web is because she worships Dibella. We’re not talking one of the Daedric princes who love to mess around with mortals because evil is fun; Dibella is a goddess. She’s one of the Nine (Eight) Divine. It’s a bit like deciding that the whole church must be a slut because it’s named after Mary.

And after you talk to the men (who are all married, making Helga an even bigger tramp. It’s not like it’s the men in the relationship’s fault. Men can’t help themselves. They’re giant toddlers who might get a visit by the Brotherhood later) and get the three tokens, you must confront Helga. Nothing puts sluts in their place like a little public shaming. We’d have thrown in a public burning, but getting firewood’s a pain in the ass. Who wants to carry around a damn wood axe?

You’d expect Helga to scoff at your paltry offer, or perhaps even be glad that she doesn’t need to machine a few more tokens before the next big Dibella holiday. But of course, this is a magical, medieval-based world with dragons, lizard people with boobs, and an adventurer with bad enough breath that their words can set the air on fire (or however dragon shouts work) that still has a 1950s puritanical standard about sex. Men can be having it, ladies cannot. We’ll figure out the logistics of that set up later. For now, slut shame! Slut shame the lady who’s just performing her religion by skipping past the hymns and pews and getting right to the wine and free crackers!

Then there’s Fallout 3. This is one of many many so called unmarked quests. My theory is that their quest marker on staff (a delightful crackpot who came in from the sun after a hard day of gold prospecting and never left) gave up midway through listing all the quests and figured no one would notice.

While getting horribly lost in Rivet City, you may find yourself in the marketplace. Once again, sweeping without doing anything to remove the filth, is a woman named Angela. If, out of boredom, you strike up a conversation, you’ll learn she wants to visit Bonetown with the oblivious Diego. Except, there’s a problem — aside from him being clueless of her very existence, he wants to become a priest, and apparently priests aren’t allowed to get some.

Who had Catholicism down for being the only religion to survive the apocalypse?

The first time I talked to her, I told her, tough shit. If he wants to be a priest, that’s what he wants in life, move on! But then I was curious how the quest played out and chose the idiotic conversation topic, “So you’re a woman, go seduce him.”

That’s right, fellow ladies, if a man doesn’t seem to know you exist, just slut it up. But not too much, or judgey Svana will send a guy in a horned hat after you.

Angela’s at least aware enough to know that she’s going to need some assistance in the womanly sex arts. She asks you to get her ant queen pheromones. Now, this comes from a giant queen ant that will shoot green goo at your face because she’s not in the mood to put up with your shit. How in the hell is this supposed to get a man to fall madly in sex with you?

Can you lob green goo at his head until he gives in?

Also, I think we need to have a talk about love potions. Whenever they come up in any book/movie/game/show I get the crawlies all over my skin. They’re not precisely rape drugs, but – no, they are. They’re tricking someone into falling in love with you. In some ways, they’re worse than date rape drugs. It literally destroys someone’s choice by taking away their free will and potentially destroying their lives. But because an adorable blonde heroine dumps it onto a cupcake and gets the stalwart hero to eat it, it’s all sweet and wholesome. Uh huh.

Of course, Angela’s skin-crawling plan works, and she and Diego forge the moaning Deathclaw (I’m running out of euphemisms here). And, to make matters even more disturbing, because he was drugged and had one night of sex with her, Diego feels it’s his obligation to marry Angela.

She’s ecstatic of course, telling you all about the wedding plans and how you have to be there. Diego, however, seems resigned to his fate, all but sighing and staring wistfully out the porthole. He deludes himself into thinking she makes him happy, but internally is kicking himself for falling into such a situation.

In fact, when I sat through the wedding, Diego didn’t even bother to show up. They went through the whole thing — Angela even whispering “I love you, Diego” to thin air — with the guy hiding in that storage room with the filing cabinets. He didn’t even need to be there to get shackled into holy matrimony.

Now maybe this is supposed to be one of those evil things – these are Bethesda games after all. There’s the so-good-sugar-should-pour-from-your-wounds choices, and the you’re-the-devil-incarnate-evil options. But setting up this wedding nets +100 positive karma!

What the shit, Bethesda? You think it’s a good thing to help a woman drug a guy and trap him in marriage because…what? Sex should only be done within the confines of a farcical marriage? Drugging people is fine as long as you really really like them? Love is nice?

Because that’s not enough, if you wander into the enthusiastic Nuka-Cola collector’s house and agree to *sigh* find 30 of those damn glowing bottles, you exit to have this guy thrust into your face.

AAAAHHHHHH ZOMBIE!
See, he also wants to bone our pretty blonde collector (someone there has a weird issue with blondes). After he told me his plan I, of course, selected the “That’s disgusting,” response, and he reacted as if I thought all sex was disgusting. My character isn’t ten, you jackass. Sex is fine, it’s acting like a leech with a pretty girl just because your boner tells you to that’s disgusting. As I told Angela before, “Move the fuck on!”

Romanceable options in games seem to be as hot as custom housing and bright pink hair. The problem is that a believable romance isn’t as easy as slapping some bones across a mirror mesh and calling it “Death Portal.”

The romance option in Skyrim was laughably shallow. All you have to do is wear this amulet and a good 25% of our population will marry you and become incredibly clingy, even baking you regular home cooked meals. It’s Donna Reed with Vikings. And the few characters with real personalities weren’t options (I would have picked Brynjolf’s pockets anytime he asked).

Until the writers and game devs at Bethesda grow up past the high school mentality of sex and romance, I’d be grateful if they left all that romance stuff out of their games. Just throw in another dozen fetch quests and I doubt anyone will notice.

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