How not to design a sex game

Dudebro bravado, gender stereotyping, and more: this sex game is everything that’s wrong with terrible sex games.

Cards in a sex game called "Foreplay"
Last updated:

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 partner 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.

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