How Do You Do It?
How Do You Do It? was a video game programmed and designed by Nina Freeman and her team. The game begins in a living room as a mother leaves her house. The child watches her leave and then goes to her toy chest where she pulls out two dolls, a male and a female. Then the camera switches to a close-up of the young girl and the two unclothed dolls. The gamer is able move the dolls arms around using the W, A, S, D keys and rotate the dolls using the J or K keys. Despite the controls, the game play is clunky as the player does not have complete control over the dolls. Through the young girl’s thought bubbles which appear above her head every few seconds, the gamer comes to understand that these dolls are supposed to represent Rose and Jack from the Titanic, and the girl is trying to replicate the famous sex scene. Phrases of the girl’s thoughts include, “Why was it so cloudy in there?”, “Clouds don’t go in cars”, “I don’t hug mommy like that”, “I hope she doesn’t see this...”, “Don’t...people usually stand and hug?”, “How many hugs are there?”, “There’s a lot of hugging I don’t know”, ”They kissed too…”, “Kissing seems nice”, “Mimi said that grown-ups have sex and…”, “Maybe sex is a lot of kissing and hugging”, “Mom doesn’t like that word”, and “Why doesn’t she like it??” While the girl plays with her dolls, the girl’s expression varies between disgust and embarrassment. The goal of this game is to not get caught by the girl’s mother. If the girl does not get caught a screen appears with the words “You might have done sex 113 times and you didn’t get caught. Press any key to play again.” The number changes every game play. If the girl does get caught by her mother, the mom appears shocked and a red cartoon alert shape appears behind the mother’s head. A screen comes up stating “You might have done sex 45 times…? Eep! Mom saw! Press any key to play again.” The art in the game is made up of small pixels and it is easy to tell what all the objects are. The objects are not one dimensional as darker colored pixels are used to create depth. Nude colors are used to draw the dolls and the people.
This video game was created during a 2014 Global Game Jam in a three-day period. The theme for the GGJ was “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” How do you do it? was also nominated for the Nuvo award at the Independent Games Festival in 2015. Freeman’s team included art designer Jonathan Kittaka, programmer and designer Emmett Butler, and music/SFT designer Decky Coss. This game is available on Steam, an online video game store.
The game explores sexuality from a different perspective then traditional video games which approach the topic with over sexualized characters or sex scenes. The main character is just a young girl curious about what sex is and how it works. As a young child one is always told that sex is a forbidden topic and yet it’s so prevalent in western society that the topic is impossible to ignore. Freeman was inspired to create this game from her personal experience when she used dolls to try and figure out how bodies fit together during sex as the topic was not talked about when she was growing up. The game is awkward, innocent, and funny as the same time. This game questions the stigma of sex in our society and how sexualized our society has become. Freeman herself believes that,
Critiques of this video game also suggest that this game focuses on the,
Girls toys are often pink and revolve around stereotypical female actions like playing with clothes and makeup. People have a variety of different reactions when playing the game as some get embarrassed or think the game is inappropriate. Freeman is passionate about creating video games about honest moments and this game reflects this passion.
Nina Freeman has created another game that explores sexuality called Cibele. In Cibele the user plays as Nina navigating her first relationship online with a guy named Blake. In this game, the player is taken to a fictional world called Valteria where the player battles enemies with the help of Blake. However, the main game play consists of speaking with Blake who eventually becomes Nina’s online boyfriend. The player must navigate the relationship in text conversations, sending pictures, trying to answer the question “Should we meet up in person?”, and even reenacting her first sexual experience in the game. This game explores sexuality and relationships and how technology shapes both. Freeman analyzes how online dating is becoming increasing normalized. Similar to How Do We Do It?, Cibele was based off of Nina’s first sexual experience. She created this game to think critically about her past relationship and to make sure that she represented Blake’s feeling as well as her own. The game is awkward and uncomfortable at times. However, unlike How Do We Do It? the game lacks humor and explores a more mature and complex topic making Cibele a more serious game to play. This game has been critiqued as being too real.
Nina Freeman is not the only game developer who explores honest depictions of sex. Emma Kidwell, a game designer and blogger, developed a game called, “Well This is Awkward.” In this web based story video game, two characters are about to have sex but do not have any condoms for protection. The female main character must go out and buy condoms. This game allows the player to choose from various options as the main characters navigates through a convenience store to buy condoms. Similar to How Do We Do It?, this game reveals the stigmatization of sex, is awkward and funny. and encourages real conversations about what sex can look like. It should not be awkward to go out and buy protection since that just indicates that one is having safe sex. However, this game is text based and provides little visuals and game play except for clicking words. This game also approaches sex from an adult perspective and not a child’s perspective.
All three of these video games How Do we Do It?, Cibel, and Well This Is Awkward are attempting to have honest conversations about life experiences like sex that are often depicted inaccurately in the media and other video games. These games are trying to un-stigmatize sex in a male-dominated video game industry where sex in video games is rarely every accurate. These three games are trying to approach real life awkward moments in an approachable way in the form of a game.