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February 4th, 2003


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04:30 am - Sex games
Thanks to everyone who commented on my last message - very much appreciated. Generalising as far as possible, I think I have problems with joining in - not just at parties, but in other situations in life. I can do it, but it never feels very natural and I often end up trying too hard. Not sure if/how I can sort it out, but I get the impression that many things in life will become easier and more pleasant if I do.

Right, onto the meat of the post. Sex games. Let's get the easy jokes out of the way; I am indeed about the least qualified person on the planet to comment on this topic, but I'm going to do so anyway as it forms the intersection of two of my favourite discussion topics. If you're looking for sauce, hie thee to the famous Rez with Trance Vibrator (not work-safe) as previously discussed. I'm also not referring to actual play within a sexual session, a different topic altogether.

This all comes as a response to discussion of "I Have Never" yesterday. Are there any other sex games like it? What makes a good sex game? Can we make a better one? This is all blue-sky thinking; there's a large chance that the game will never get played and no chance there'll be fame or fortune arising from it. After all, history doesn't record the originator of the purity test, though I'm sure they've done well out of it somehow. It's possible that there might have been some discussion of topics like these in 1960s Playboy issues, but I can't think where they'd be discussed today. (Links welcome.)

Incidentally, I was surprised to see the strength of feeling about "I Have Never" - seems I'm less out of line here than I had feared. It does seem strange how little discussion or dissent there was about playing "I Have Never" - the fact that it is in some sense traditional (albeit, by necessary time constraints, a relatively new tradition) meant that it was automatically accepted. I do hope people would be willing to proactively challenge bad tradition in general. While introducing dissent to social events is generally an unhelpful thing, I hope that "I Have Never" - or drinking games at large - needn't be felt to be compulsory. (See http://www.stophazing.org/ passim, though I know this does contradict some of my card game vices and stances.) If I am way out of line here, please do tell me - I can accept it's rational for the conclusion to be for me to change my choices of activities, rather than the world.

For what it's worth, I doubt very much that I shall ever play "I Have Never" again. I wasn't upset about any of the facts that I had to reveal, and can only add that the person whose picture I couldn't find was Natasha Collins from See It Saw It (NB, all work safe). You probably would - or, at least, I would. But that's not important right now.

I've looked into sex games in the past and been disappointed with what I've found. They broadly seem to be ways of generating approximately random lists of instructions as to which players should perform which sexual acts on which other players. To play this game seriously in a safe, sane and consensual manner, this requires that all participants are aware in advance of all possible events and must be prepared to perform them on all possible partners according to the parameters of the game. If you've got to that stage already, then you probably don't need to play the game in order to work out which. As the least worst alternative I have yet found, I commend Mental Strip Poker to the adventurous house. (Technically, for this to be real poker, all the losing/folding players should divulge/pay the information they stake to the winning player only, who is then permitted to use the information garnered as any form of currency they like.)

I pose these as axioms for a desirable hypothetical new sex game:
  • No player must ever be obliged to perform any activity without their explicit prior consent.

  • No player must ever be obliged to reveal any information about themselves without their explicit prior consent.

  • The game should respect players' privacy as far as possible.

  • The game should be sufficiently fun and exciting to play that it actually will get played.

  • The game should generate memorable, positive conversation.

  • The game should be as simple as possible, bearing in mind the possible level of inebriation of the players.

  • It should be possible for the game to come to a satisfactory, definite conclusion.

  • The game should be as entertaining when played for non-sexual stakes or relatively low sexual stakes when as played for relatively high sexual stakes.

I am not convinced that the axioms within this list are either necessary or sufficient, but they look like a good start at the very least. Here's a first draft of a set of rules for a game which aims to be governed by these axioms. Your comments on this first draft ruleset would be very much appreciated, particularly because I suspect this is really a dead simple game that I have made look unduly complex. If anybody actually tries out the game for real, I'd very much like to know the consequences and suggestions for improvement. :-)




I'D LIKE TO...
version one, copyright Chris M. Dickson, 4th February 2003
licensed under my usual Creative Commons License


SUMMARY The group aims to privately discover that all members share a taste for some activity and possibly perform it on the spot.

PREPARATION You need a group of at least three players who are sexually comfortable in each other's company; if they're all the same gender and heterosexual, this game may be an uphill struggle. The larger the group, the less likely that the game will be won - I'm guessing 6-8 reasonably open-minded people who know each other well would be ideal. You also need one plate and at least one pack of playing cards. (The only constraint on the cards is that they must be split at least roughly evenly among red and black cards, with all cards having identical backs.) Players sit in a circle with the plate in the centre. Deal the cards out roughly evenly between the players.

GAMEPLAY Gameplay consists of an identical series of phases repeated over and over again: suggestion, consideration and realisation. One player is selected to start the game - either randomly or the player who is teaching the rules to the others. They are designated as the active player and make the first suggestion.

1) SUGGESTION All players must first check that they have some red cards and some black cards; if anyone ever finds themselves with either all red or all black cards, they must trade cards freely with other players so that each player has red cards and black cards.

The active player makes a statement that "Some day I'd like to..." and then suggests some activity. Whether they would actually like to perform this activity or not is irrelevant - it's quite acceptable to suggest something that you wouldn't be prepared to do. If the players want to discuss their thoughts on the activity suggested, this is the best time to do so. Players then privately cut their own decks of cards and note whether they cut a red card or a black card.

In turn, each player then places one red card and one black card face down in the centre of the circle, one on the plate and one next to the plate. If they cut a red card, they must place their black card on the plate and their red card off the plate. If they cut a black card, then they must decide whether they would ever like to perform the activity in question through their own free choice. If they would, they place their black card on the plate and their red card off the plate; if they wouldn't, they place their red card on the plate and their black card off the plate. The mnemonic is "red card means no".

Once all players have played their cards down, the two piles are shuffled. (Separately, not together.) Both piles are then turned face up. The piles should be "opposites" of each other - one should contain a majority of black cards, the other a majority of red cards, with the majorities being equal. If this isn't the case, or if it turns out that there are not the same number of cards in the pack as players, then somebody has played incorrectly. Each player is handed one red card and one black card from the piles and the placement procedure begins again on the same suggestion.

If it proves the case that every player has played one red card and one black card, we look to see whether there are any red cards on the plate. If there is even one red card on the plate, the suggestion is defeated. The right to make the next suggestion passes to the player on their left, round and round in a circle, and the suggestion phase starts again. If everybody has played a black card onto the plate, the game advances to the consideration phase.

2) CONSIDERATION All players retrieve one red card and one black card from the centre of the circle. The active player makes a statement that "Some day I'd really like to..." and repeats the same suggestion. The voting procedure is repeated in exactly the same way, but this time no players cut the deck and all players judge where to play their black card based on whether they would like to perform the suggested activity some day or not.

The same checks take place as in the "suggestion" phase to ensure that all players have played correctly. If it proves the case that every player has played one red card and one black card, we look to see whether there are any red cards on the plate. If there is even one red card on the plate, the suggestion is defeated. The right to make the next suggestion passes to the player on their left, round and round in a circle, and the suggestion phase starts again. If everybody has played a black card onto the plate, the game advances to the possible realisation phase.

3) POSSIBLE REALISATION All players retrieve one red card and one black card from the centre of the circle. The active player makes a statement that "Right now I'd like to..." and repeats the same suggestion. The voting procedure is repeated in exactly the same way. Again all players judge where to play their black card based on whether they would like to perform the suggested activity right now in the current company or not.

The same checks take place as in the "suggestion" phase to ensure that all players have played correctly. If it proves the case that every player has played one red card and one black card, we look to see whether there are any red cards on the plate. If there is even one red card on the plate, the suggestion is defeated. The right to make the next suggestion passes to the player on their left, round and round in a circle, and the suggestion phase starts again.

If, however, everybody has played a black card onto the plate, the game immediately concludes. All players have won and then immediately perform the activity that they have all explicitly consented to on three separate occasions.

4) STYLE GUIDE The reason why this game is played is that it lets the group have communal shared discoveries that all its members share a taste for some activity, or a disdain for some activity. All players have the same opportunity to anonymously opt in or opt out; if there is not complete consensus then nobody will know who is in dissent. (Exception: if you are the sole voter in one direction, you will know that everyone else is unanimous on the issue. Probably best to keep quiet about this.)

If many suggestions are not passing unanimously, it is likely that the players are requesting too high stakes and future suggestions should contain lower stakes. It would probably be more likely that "all players describe the location where they'd most like to make love" or "all players reveal the film star they would most like to kiss" would be realised than "all the male players perform cunnilingus on all the female players". There is no penalty in starting with stakes which are too low; after all, if you realise a low-stakes desire then you can play again to realise a higher-stakes desire. It may be useful for there to be a reasonably long list of possible low-stakes suggestions, which players would be free to use, adapt or ignore.

Finally, it is not possible for players to lose this game. Either the entire group wins - the prize being knowledge of shared tastes and possibly even immediate realisation of those tastes - or the game is abandoned with nobody having won. I suppose you could declare abandoning the game without having reached consensus on any mutual desire to constitute mutual loss.




There's some pretty good theory behind this game. The "randomly decide whether to tell the truth or answer yes with the opportunity to change your mind later" technique is adapted from one that is used to estimate the proportion of participants in sexual practices that people would be unlikely to voluntarily admit to. The "everyone submits both answers and nobody knows for sure how any other person has voted" technique is adapted from the old "blackballing" practices used in some private clubs' membership admission policies. The three-stage process is deliberate to provide drama; first time round, you never know whether people really do share a taste or whether they've been forced to claim they do. Should there be any unanimous mutual acceptances at the second or third stages then the group should be able to spectacularly revel in their new-found shared passion.

Some day I'd like to play this game. In the right company it would be fun and could be a lot of fun.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: The fine works of missingdonut; review soon, Dan!

(31 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:alice_and_lain
Date:February 3rd, 2003 09:38 pm (UTC)
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*grins* Does look like a fun game. I like that there are three chances to bow out; of course, there are three chances to bow out which might be bad for those of us who tend to overanalyze situations and second-guess themselves...

~Amber
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:01 pm (UTC)
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The acid test must be "would you play it", though? :-)

Having three chances to back out (well, 2½, I suppose) makes this a lot more ethically palatable to me. After all, there isn't a rule to say that you can't go back and change your mind later. Suppose you get to stage three, play a red card only to find that everyone else chose a black one. There's nothing to stop you from declaring that it was your red card which held everything up if you really want to change your mind.

Hmm, that does identify a problem, doesn't it - we can't really allow that because there's no way to prove that it was your red card after all. If you claimed it was your red card when it wasn't then this would break the trust/privacy/anonymity paradigm. I suppose the legal way to do this would be to propose the suggestion that only you voted down first time and then not vote it down second time.

I also have a suspicion that this game's inherent safety and reasonableness inherently would lead to its failure. Would the sort of people who'd insist on playing a game which does give you 2½ chances to say no actually ever get round to doing anything in practice? The game's success is predicated on the existence of such people. I don't know if this actually is reasonable in a society with today's ethics, morals and tastes - but the only way to find out is to give it a try.

If you're up for it, I'm up for it - only a few more and we've got ourselves a game...
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:29 pm (UTC)
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Hmm... the game seems a bit, well... complex. Sex isn't that complex; I could probably explain it to someone in under four sentences. Interesting idea, but I imagine it would be used by those who aren't in a sober enough state to think.

Current music: The fine works of krazydan_11; review soon, Dan!

Well, I'm glad you got the CD, and it's a good thing I'm not reviewing it.

"Most of the CD was bland and repetitive, with #1005 through #1009 being much of the same, and #1001 and #1002 being poorly synthesised. I began to feel seasick during #1006 and began to feel sick to my stomach when I heard the slaughtering of Alan Thicke's music in #2006. Negative four stars."
[User Picture]
From:leiabelle
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:40 pm (UTC)

(Link)
Sex isn't that complex; I could probably explain it to someone in under four sentences.

I can do it in one: Insert Tab A into Slot B.

*runs away cackling*
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:February 3rd, 2003 10:45 pm (UTC)

Sorry -- I think the quiz was right.

(Link)
I can do it in one: Insert Tab A into Slot B.

*runs away cackling*


Well, you got half of the joke. Of course, sometimes there's two people with Tab A, and sometimes there's two people with or Slot B. It's then that you'd appreciate the [ahem] extended explanation :^)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 07:30 am (UTC)
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Hmm... the game seems a bit, well... complex.

Yeah, I was thinking that. All the great games have a one-sentence description, and the best I can devise for a simplified, bare-bones version of "I'd like to..." is:

"Someone suggests something to do, all players get a chance to anonymously veto the suggestion and if nobody vetoes it then everybody does it."

This game is playable on its own just like that; that's the description of the game that I'd use to try to "sell" it as something fun-sounding to do to the other prospective players. (After all, it's effectively a process that goes on in choice of group activities at the party all the time, just with anonymisation.) I dare say it's possible to come up with a better one, though - suggestions welcome. Indeed, much of the description of the game rules is to deal with the mechanics of the anonymous veto.

Admittedly the three-stage process is a technically-needless extra level of complication, but I think it's a worthwhile one. It's fun to know what other people would like to do some day, even if it turns out that they're not prepared to do it that day in the present company - this provides a partial positive result even if it turns out that this activity is not to occur. When the group finds out that they have a common interest, I think everyone will smile knowingly at each other and be pleasantly surprised. I think the first ("suggestion") stage is a worthwhile complication because it adds some tease, some mystery - a shared sense of "are people really interested in it or are they just saying that because they have been directed to?".

I also think that the three-stage nature would add a level of procedure and a level of ritual to it (excellent, perceptive choice of word, ealuscerwen) that would make the discussion much more fun and the overall experience much more fun than the straightforward "shall we do this or not?" all-action unsubtle nature of the one-veto game.

Quick review: I am happily listening to tracks 25 to 28 followed by 1 to 5 on your CD, in that order, over and over again, but I don't like #5 enough to listen to all twenty versions of it more than once. :-) My favourite bit is the little background run of 16th-16th-8th notes (?) in your Whew! resequencing. It's an odd thing to like and pick up on, but I just think they're somehow a very cool touch indeed.

Right. I suddenly feel a desire to go outside and play in the snow before it melts. Back later.
[User Picture]
From:ealuscerwen
Date:February 3rd, 2003 11:16 pm (UTC)
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That sounds like a really fun game, and one which doesn't necessarily need to end up with an explicitly sexual consensus (which helps). Apart from the purity test, I haven't seen another one which I'd be happy to play with close friends as well as with a partner - they usually involve elaborate dressing rituals, if nothing else.

Do you mind if people actually go ahead and play this game?

Eal.
[User Picture]
From:ealuscerwen
Date:February 3rd, 2003 11:19 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and I think the two and a half chances would work. People might vote yes first time and then through teasing and laughter, with the right company, end up voting yes again - I don't think that would happen if they really didn't want to do 'x', but I like the potential for humour and persuasion.

[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 09:14 am (UTC)
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Do you mind if people actually go ahead and play this game?

Not in the least - please, please do. I'm going to be simultaneously vain yet frank in stating that it is an ambition of mine to devise some game which lives for at least ten years and I am convinced this has a better shot at achieving this ambition than anything else I've ever yet done. On the other hand, I don't claim that it's nearly in its perfect form yet and only playtesting will prove whether it's a good game in practice or not. The fact that sexuality is actually completely irrelevant to the gameplay - you could play it with a bunch of drinkers, a bunch of gamers, a bunch of non-specific religious extremists or any other type of group - is a pleasant bonus.

I am completely serious about the Creative Commons license, particularly as this may be the first piece of work I've produced where it may be relevant. In short, non-commercial distribution of the game is permitted as long as you do say where it's from and you don't change any of it - so do please share and enjoy. (In practice, I'd probably rather you waited for the final version of the game, but we're not going to reach that until we actually get to play it.)

A game is only a game if it ever gets played.
[User Picture]
From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 01:03 am (UTC)
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video-games-with-vibrators? Word. Too bad I don't know anyone with a playstation.

I like your game. Think it does initially come across as more complicated than it is, but that could be fixed with phrase tweaking. The concept comes through readily enough. I like it quite; I hope people at Nimbus want to play it....

I'd also suggest that the deck be evenly divided into reds and blacks and everyone simply get an equal number of each, with the prerequisite that if, say, each person gets ten of each type of card, then after 10 rounds of the game, all the cards, both played and unplayed, are re-sorted and redistributed. This would preserve anonymity for anyone who had, for example, played a red card every single time, and ensure that everyone always has available a card for both options but does not have to actively request one. Actually, looking back at the game rules, since on every turn each person *must* play both a red and a black, each player needs equal numbers of each color card anyway.

Another sex game, of sorts, is Psychiatrist, when played in proper company. (I've also played Psychiatrist when I was ten, at my birthday party, with my mum officiating, so...) The joy of Psychiatrist is that, since often everyone's confused enough about what's truth and what isn't, with people answering for others who they may or may not know well, and constant seating changes, it's pretty easy to lose track of what's been revealed, unless you're specifically paying attention. There's no penalty if you simply refrain from correcting someone's incorrect assumption about you, which is lower pressure than having to actively come out with a yes or a no for any given question.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 09:18 am (UTC)
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video-games-with-vibrators? Word.

I know. Black card. Big black card. Ace of Spades, even. (Translation: I find it hugely impressive and rather a sexy concept.)

Your suggestion about card distribution is a good one and would cut down on the admin. It's axiomatic that each player must play a red card and a black card each time, the only mystery being which way round they are played and that the only person who knows the order is the player themselves.

I'm not at all familiar with Psychiatrist, but it sounds extremely intriguing. Please would you be so kind as to tell me more about it?
[User Picture]
From:beingjdc
Date:February 4th, 2003 05:25 am (UTC)
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> Are there any other sex games like it?

I quite like playing ShagKillMarry - fiendishly simple, yet so hard to play well.

Er, players take it in turns to name three individuals, and the other players have to state which they would shag, which kill, and which marry...

Sometimes it's easy - Tony Blair, Charles Kennedy, Ian Duncan-Smith.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 4th, 2003 09:22 am (UTC)
(Link)
Sounds like fun. Not much of a game, perhaps, but should promote some good discussions in the right company.

By comparison, see also the wonderfully-named Zobmondo!!, a game whose premise is based around "Would you rather do (unpleasant activity A) or (unpleasant activity B)?" questions. I am not making this up.

Maybe "I'd like to..." needs an exciting name like Zobmondo!!.
[User Picture]
From:dancingrain
Date:February 4th, 2003 12:00 pm (UTC)
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*imagines a group of, say, Tibetan monks trying to play*

"no-one, no-one, and no-one..."

LOL.

(apologies to Chris for my spammage of his journal of late)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:February 5th, 2003 02:07 pm (UTC)
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If it were Tibetan monks playing, then they'd end up having to indicate other members of the group due to their lack of external reference. So it'd be "him (points), him (points) and him (points)".

Having lit this blue touchpaper, retire a loooooooong way. Preferably all the way out of Tibet.

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