Mar 092018

Cards in a sex game called "Foreplay"

Why are sex games so bad?

This is an eternal question I ask myself regularly. I have a whole label in my Gmail for sex games, and it’s filled to the hilt with shitty, offensive products I’d never want to play in a million years, often including pleas for me to review them. (People love to say stuff like, “it’s not a sex toy, but it’s KIND OF A SEX TOY!”) Ha. Ha. Hahahaha.

Usually I just send the links to my girlfriend so we can ridicule the games in private, but I just got one that perfectly demonstrates everything that’s wrong with terrible sex games. It’s called Foreplay, and while it’s not the worst sex game ever, it manages to fuck up in several infuriating and sadly common ways.

So let me break it down for you, for my own amusement and as an example to potential sex game designers. I’ve even included suggestions for improvement, ’cause I’m just that nice.

Fuck-up #1: catering only to hetero, cisgender1 players

A LOT of sex games straight-up assume that the people playing are heterosexual and cisgender, despite the fact that a sizable portion of humans are not one (or either) of those things. But pshhh, why include people with marginalized identities when you can simply pretend they don’t exist?

The rules of Foreplay only work if the players are a straight dude with a penis and a straight woman with a vagina:

Take turns drawing from the deck. The color determines who reads the card.

Pink – men read and act out.
Blue – females read and act out
Black – any gender reads and acts out.

If you draw a card with a color not intended to be read by you (male drawing a blue card or female drawing a pink card) — you miss your turn and give the card to your partner.

There’s just nothing that makes me feel more respected than women being called “females,” especially when men are being called “men” directly beforehand. Nice juxtaposition, there.

How this could’ve been fixed: No color-coding of cards (why do I have to tell you this?). Stop using gendered pronouns and words such as “men” and “females.” If genitals have to be mentioned, have one activity per card apply to penises and the other to vulvas. The cards already have two activities each and this would’ve been incredibly simple to implement, but I guess upholding the gender binary is more important to the creators of this game!

Fuck-up #2: toxic masculinity & gender stereotyping

This game is riddled with dudebro bravado, and it makes me wanna puke. Choice selections include “suck on her titty like a man,” “ride your stud,” and “don’t be a bitch, try to leave a hickey.”

There’s an inordinate number of references to the male player’s physique: “rub his manly muscles,” “impress her with your strong yet gentle hands,” “touch all his strong muscles sighing with admiration, make him feel as your hero,” and one card even tells the male player to “bench press your girl.” Meanwhile, women are caricatures who love chocolate, candles, The Notebook, and Disney. Or as the game puts it, “bitches love Disney.”

But this card pissed me off most (TW domestic violence):

Put one hand on their neck, the other on their groin. Rub gently with both hands using the same movements. Both are vulnerable so, yeah, don’t go fucking OJ.

Yes, hilarious joke you have there about A MAN WHO ABUSED AND THEN BRUTALLY MURDERED HIS WIFE. I mean cool if you want to only market to dicks who’ll laugh at your insensitive “black humor,” but I’m opting out.

How this could’ve been fixed: Be a better person. Sorry, can’t do that for you. It’s probably too late now.

Fuck-up #3: non-consent

Act the line out! If you choose not to perform, you lose the next act performed on you. Pussy.

That is an actual “rule” in Foreplay: a blatant disregard for bodily autonomy coupled with a misogynistic insult. How hip and edgy! It’s especially fucked up in a game that asks participants to engage in activities such as anal rimming and deepthroating. Not exactly mild stuff, and not stuff everyone wants to do (or have done to them).

Guilt-tripping people about skipping activities in a sex game is bad enough, but it gets worse on this card:

Alternate between sucking your finger and his cock (don’t read the next part out loud). As you suck his dick, slip a finger up his butt. Surprise, motherfucker.

How this could’ve been fixed: Since games are inherently centered around rules, it can seem like consent can’t be addressed. But I’ve played plenty of regular games that factor consent into the equation for things that aren’t even physical. In Pandemic, there’s a role called the Dispatcher who’s able to move other players’ pawns, and the rules explicitly state “get permission before moving.” It’s not hard, motherfucker.

Fuck-up #4: judgmental bullshit

Before I show you this affront, I should mention that Foreplay has a half-assed sub-theme regarding checking your partner for signs of cancer. Yeah… it’s very humanitarian of them. Eyeroll emoji.

The game ends when you and your partner(s) decide to quit fooling around and have sex . . . If you burned through all the cards and are still not having sex, cancer is not your worry. Go see a sex therapist.

OK wow. Maybe this doesn’t occur to you in your little frat boy pea brain, but not everyone wants to indiscriminately fuck all the time. Agreeing to play a sex game is not a free-for-all, nor does it guarantee “sex.” Which, by the way, the activities in this game include fingering, oral, anal play… what else is left? Oh: penis in vagina. So that’s what they mean when they say “sex.” Of course.

How this could’ve been fixed: Fuck it, just say “the game’s over whenever you want,” it’s not like there’s any more complexity to the gameplay than that. Speaking of…

Fuck-up #5: it’s not even a fucking game

There’s no board. No points. No way to strategize. No hardships or consequences. No win condition. Everything that happens is random. “Game” is too strong a word for this nonsense; it’s literally just a measly stack of 40 cards with smugly-written sex instructions on them. I don’t care if I sound petty. As a fan of board games, this is offensive to me.

How this could’ve been fixed: Trying harder. Mediocre men not assuming everything they create is gold. The usual.

  1. People whose gender corresponds to the one they were assigned at birth []
Feb 282018
Review: Smooth Operators (Snazzy, Choosy, and Classy)

Blink and you might pass right over them. They’re not terribly attractive, not revolutionary in function, not aggressively marketed. These vibrators have no celebrity endorsement or PR campaign behind them, and I’d bet serious money they’ve never been mentioned in any mainstream magazine. You can judge a lot about a sex toy without holding it in your hands, but there’s one thing you can’t predict, and it’s the thing that matters most: vibration quality. This is where the Smooth Operators pleasantly surprised me.

The Toyfriend Smooth Operators — Snazzy, Choosy, and Classy — are made by a company named Tickler, and again, you could be forgiven for not knowing they even exist. [. . . read the rest]

Feb 132018
The clitoris: still the center of my universe
Or: why G-spot stimulation is not the pinnacle of pleasure.

Hi, my name’s Epiphora, and I almost always need clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm.

I thought this was common knowledge, clueless as that may sound. I mean, I write about my genitals on the internet every day of my life — obviously people must know this about me? But something happened the other day that made me realize that may not be true. That perhaps I haven’t been explicit enough about the types of stimulation I like and how, logistically, that plays out in my sex toy testing.

Recently, I struck up a friendship with a new sex blogger named Wendy. [. . . read the rest]

Jan 312018
Review: SenseVibe

The SenseVibe, much to my dismay, is not a fortune-telling sex toy. It can’t give you the weather forecast or lift your mood. It cannot intuit what your vag or clit wants. It is, despite the enigmatic name, merely a rechargeable dual vibrator from a newish company named SenseMax.

I know what you’re gonna say. “Piph, you don’t even like rabbit-style toys, why would you want to try this one?” AN ASTUTE OBSERVATION, my friend, because yes — I am normally highly averse to dual vibes. They are very anatomy-specific, significantly less likely than other types of sex toys to properly align with genitals. [. . . read the rest]

Jan 212018
Layers of hurt

CN: sexual assault, consent violation, grey areas, Trump, Aziz.

This Christmas, every time I hugged my grandpa, he feigned outrage and yelled “sexual assault!”

At my boyfriend’s parents’ house, after dinner and presents and peppermint schnapps, our conversation veered into dangerous waters. Politics. Racism. Sexual harassment. Lies they’ve absorbed from Fox News, parroted back at us with alarming conviction. Beliefs so entrenched and toxic they felt impossible to dismantle; all our attempts seemed woefully inadequate.

The topic shifted to the recent wave of sexual assault allegations. You can’t even hug people anymore! they declared. The words collected at the back of my throat, my cheeks flushing hot, desperate for the perfect rebuttal. [. . . read the rest]

Jan 132018
Buzzy vs. rumbly vibrators: SEE & DISCERN the difference!

“Buzzy” and “rumbly” are words you’re bound to encounter if you spend any time in sex toy circles. These words, popularized by bloggers and educators such as yours truly, refer to the quality (not intensity!) of vibration, with buzzy characterized as a higher-frequency, surface-level vibration and rumbly as a lower-frequency, more robust vibration.

I’ve long posited — and, to be honest, stated as fact, because I’m just that presumptuous — the idea that rumblier vibrations are deeper and more penetrating. Well raise your glasses, mofos, because now I have SCIENCE and VIDEO to prove it!

Below are some video clips made by Jeff Spitzer, a former aerospace engineer who spent over 30 years designing airplanes, engines, and scads of other gadgets before setting his sights on sex toys. [. . . read the rest]

Jan 102018
Sex toy news: thrustin', suckin', and lube dispensin'

Most important news first, y’all: Fun Factory’s Stronic G is a REVELATION. Like the other Stronics, this toy thrusts all by itself — but this one can be used hands-free, and its perfectly-hooked tip gives my G-spot everything it craves. Ooof. So good.

Lube dispensers are all the rage now and I blame me. The Touch heats your lube and will utilize any lube you want, unlike the exorbitantly expensive Pulse, which takes proprietary pods.

Sliquid has a toy cleaner! I still don’t really believe in toy cleaners, but at least I trust Sliquid not to put junk ingredients in theirs. [. . . read the rest]

Dec 312017
Epiphora's best and worst sex toys of 2017

2017 was a landmark year for this old blog. I commemorated an entire decade of blogging about sex toys, got verified on Twitter (a longtime goal, shhhh), and found myself on the cover of SheVibe for a whole dang month. It was a year of new materials, in which my vag finally experienced crystal and porcelain. I gave you a grand tour of my majestic sex toy closet, watched in amazement as a dude fucked his own ass with his own dick and, somewhat accidentally but still hilariously, got stoned via my ass. What a world.

This year, I vacationed to Maui with my mom, where I interviewed her about my queer identity, visited the local sex shop, and took photos of sex toys in exotic locales. [. . . read the rest]

Dec 262017
Review: Zumio

When you’re a sex toy reviewer, certain toys can feel like a blessing from above. Mediocre masturbation sessions are par for the course with this job, and even toys that aren’t exceptionally terrible can start to feel insulting and exhausting after a while. If you’re lucky, there’s one toy in your to-review queue that you actually enjoy using. One that is effortlessly satisfying, enough to get you out of your head a little, remind you that sometimes this gig ain’t so bad. There should be a name for toys like this… hmm, “savior toys”?

The Zumio is my savior toy of the last few months. [. . . read the rest]

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