Graphic Sex: Selling Technology
by Paul S. Jenkins
August 10, 2000


I was wary about using the title "Graphic Sex." I felt it might be construed as a blatant (and crass) attempt to get readers. But that's the title this piece had when it appeared on The Rev-Up Review Pages a couple of months ago, so I feel justified in using it here. And it does describe what the article is about, though perhaps not in quite the way you might expect.

Personally I'm against censorship where adults are concerned. When children are involved, however, as they most certainly are involved here, some standards need to be applied.

Have you looked at any computer games recently? Or magazines about computer games? I'm including consoles, such as Sony's Playstation, Sega's Dreamcast and the Nintendo 64 in my definition of 'computer' here.

A disturbing trend seems to be emerging, given the demographics of these machines' users, and it's all because the technology is advancing at an ever-increasing rate.

Computer graphics have developed to the stage that your average games console can display fast-moving high-resolution images with ease. Whereas in days of old the rendering of complex objects -- especially objects with fine textures and curved surfaces -- tended to produce blocky graphics with jerky movements, these days it's possible to display smooth texture, realistic shading and convincing lighting, all in fast and fluid motion.

So instead of your Amazon warrior being depicted as an assembly of crudely coloured planes, she can now be shown curvy, with smooth, realistically simulated skin tones. In fact, it seems that the depiction of skin and flesh is more advanced than the rendering of difficult and unpredictable surfaces like clothing. It's easier, in programming terms, to show a girl in the scantiest bikini than it is to show her fully clothed.

The magazines exploit this, of course. If the latest crop of games includes any that contain nubile young women as characters, it's those games that feature on the magazines' covers.

The gadget magazines seem to have a similar philosophy, and this is where it appears to be a trend. They know that their readers are mostly men aged 18 to 35. The mags and the ads reflect this; sex is used blatantly in the magazines' advertising.

A recent ad in a (UK) hi-fi magazine shows a young woman sitting on a wooden floor, her back against a wall. She's wearing a short, tight dress, and she has her feet up on the edge of a sofa. A micro hi-fi system (TEAC, in case you're interested) is positioned below her calves. The caption reads, "Personally, I Prefer Smaller Knobs."


Copyright 2000 Paul S. Jenkins