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. :-)
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.