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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Sep 9th, 2021

THE SEX FILES: Speaking to Mr. Hands about Adult Gaming and “Naughty List News”

There are games, and then there are games. Mr. Hands (no, not his real name) is a self-proclaimed 32-year-old “newsletter enthusiast,” happily married to a lovely woman, and he just happens to write about smutty video games as a hobby. If you flick your cursor over to Naughty List News (substack.com), you will see what he writes about. Working during the day as a programmer of video games (that he says we most likely would never have heard of or even played), in his spare time, you can find Mr. Hands working on his own game, a management sim and deck-building game about zooming through the galaxy in a spaceship with your crew of feisty women, saving the galaxy from an evil cult that wants to ban sex. It sounds like this would certainly be something fun to play (you can follow the development of his game on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrhands31).

Dipping my toe into this world I know nothing about, I had a nice sit down with Mr. Hands about naughty games, his Naughty List News, and his view of gaming.

What is Naughty List News?

Naughty List News is a weekly newsletter featuring games about love, sex, and romance. It has original reporting, links to other articles about lewd video games, and of course, funny tweets.

How and why did you start this portal?

The first edition of Naughty List News came out in September last year and was sent out to four of my closest friends. But the latest one reached the inbox of 300+ people. While I’m always happy to grow my audience, my goal is not to reach a million subscribers. I want to write a newsletter every week. If people like it, even better.

My idea was that I wanted to show people that this type of game has a lot to offer. Although a lot of adult games are definitely made for a heterosexual male audience, they are vastly outnumbered by games made by and for queer people. Creators use the medium to explore their sexuality, and these games often don’t get a lot of coverage from gaming outlets.

What is ‘adult’ gaming?

Adult games are games about love, sex, and romance. They are made to arouse and titillate and often feature graphic and interactive sex acts. An example of a game doing really well in this space is Subverse, which raised $2.3 million on Kickstarter. The sci-fi-themed game features top-down shooting, turn-based battles, as well as graphic sex with your crew members.

However, adult games also explore aspects of the human experience that are often neglected by more mainstream titles. For example, what does gender mean when you’re a robot? (Hardcoded) If you could change your genitals as easily as the oil in your car, what does it mean to be a man or a woman? And how do you deal with a cast of fantastical hotel employees if they’re all beefcakes? (Minotaur Hotel)

I want to put a spotlight on these types of artistic expressions because I believe they have a lot to teach us about what it means to be human.

How did you get involved with adult games?

I’ve been interested in adult games ever since I learned how to download games through KaZaA when I was younger. However, I assumed for a very long time that I couldn’t make those types of games.

Instead, I worked hard to build a career in mainstream game development. I’ve been in the games industry for eight years now, and I’m credited on multiple multi-million-dollar releases. But in 2017, I started to get more serious about making my own adult games. I tested the waters with friends and coworkers, and I was always pleasantly surprised when I told them what I was working on. While there was usually an initial reaction of, huh, that’s odd, everyone has been supportive of my hobby project.

When the pandemic hit, I decided I wanted to kick the project into a higher gear. I started writing about adult games as a way to build an audience for my own game.

Do you tend to see one type of game or theme more popular than another, or do trends come and go like everything else in life?

Adult games are as varied as human sexuality itself, by which I mean they are infinitely fractal. Of course, there are certain types of games that always do well. For example, sex simulators and dress-up games always do well because they appeal to the universal fantasy of being able to make a character do your bidding.

But one trend I find encouraging is an increasing focus on games made for non-male audiences. These types of games are now collectively referred to as “amare” (https://mrhands.substack.com/p/-a-booba-went-to-the-market-and-you), which helps prime audience expectations. I think this is a welcome development because it shows that adult games can be exclusive to all gender expressions and sexual preferences.

I’m assuming technology drives adult gaming. What advancements do you see coming in the future for this field?

Indeed. Famously, porn drives technological innovation. Some of the first photographs ever made were of naked women, and porn helped VHS win over Betamax. Games are becoming increasingly complex yet paradoxically easier to make than ever. Professional game engines like Unity and Unreal 5 are available either for free or at a very low cost, and the Internet has allowed unparalleled collaboration between game makers.

But the advancements I’m rooting for are not so much technological as they are sociological. Platforms like Patreon have allowed creators to earn an income while working on their adult games, but they are still hampered by oppressive policies imposed by payment processors. It’s becoming increasingly harder to sell adult games via official channels because there’s a lot of pressure from outside groups like the NCOSE to ban pornography from video games.

What I’m working towards is a future in which we can all acknowledge that naughty games are a safe and fun activity for adults to enjoy.

With Asia seemingly the leader in naughty anime, do they lead the world as well in adult gaming production?

Absolutely. In particular, Japan does not have any hang-ups about including sex in games and has a vibrant and active adult gaming scene. While Western games can often be wholly focused on “hiding the stick,” Japanese games are not afraid to add more interesting game mechanics on top of that.

For example, KISS’ Custom Order Maid 3D 2 (https://com3d2.world/main.html) has you run your own gentleman club, where you have to train the women you hire for your club and make sure they please the customers.

I’m hoping some of their influence will rub off on Western games as well!

Check out the adult gaming world either by the links Mr. Hands gives above or again peaking at his Twitter or his Naughty List News (substack.com). And let the games begin!

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THE SEX FILES: Speaking to Mr. Hands about Adult Gaming and “Naughty List News”