Feb 112011

I need help from people who play video games.

I’m working on a metaphor about women’s sexuality in general and the g-spot in particular, but I don’t actually PLAY any video games, so I can’t get specific enough to make the metaphor useful. So I’ll explain what I’m going for, and maybe one of you can fill in the details?

Many people think of the g-spot as, like, a doorbell: you press it the right way, and you get an answer. But it’s not that simple, and if you treat it as if it WERE that simple, you could even do harm – physical, emotional, or relational.

Instead, think about the g-spot as the gateway to a high-value prize in a video game, where you have to go through a series of steps to open passages and levels before you can get to that prize.

My only video game experience is with the text adventure of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I’m inclined to think of successful g-spot stimulation as the Babel Fish. Anyone who has played the H2G2 text adventure knows what I mean – there is a specific series of steps you must take in order to GET the babel fish, and without each of those steps, in a pretty specific order, beginning in the first few moves of the game, you won’t be successful.

But hardly any of you have gotten the babel fish, I bet. It’s just not a very mainstream thing to do.

So I need a better, more specific metaphor. If you don’t play video games yourself, maybe you could ask friends who do?


Emily Nagoski

  21 Responses to “assistance please – video game metaphor”

Comments (21)
  1. Might as well keep it simple: Tetris

    The G-spot is like going for a Tetris — clearing four lines of blocks at once with a 1×4 block. This gets you an enormous amount of points, but requires planning, forgoing more immediate point gains, and risking mistakes. There’s no one way to make a Tetris, but you’re working with the same blocks every time.

    I’m no G-spot expert (or a Tetris expert, I guess), so I’m not sure how accurate this analogy is. But Tetris is a game a lot of people are familiar with, and it’s a very simple game to understand. A friend of mine who is a video game developer likes to say “Your game will never be as good as Tetris.”

  2. Maybe something like a combo move in a fighting game? You know, something where you need to do ‘up up left right red green red red down’ in order to launch this really amazing attack?

  3. Unlocking special features in a video game is a pretty common thing these days. The more you play, say, MarioKart, you’ll unlock additional characters, new Karts, and new race tracks. You have to work at it, beating lots of levels at various stages of difficulty, to unlock new things. But it’s great fun to get new stuff, because adds a new dimension, a new way to play in the same world.

    Perhaps that alludes to a wider point. Finding the G-spot can be great fun, and it requires patience, but it’s not required to enjoy the sex you’re having.

    De-lurking to toss in this point. Love, love the blog! Thank you!!

  4. I think it’s like good old Mario Brothers. You have to go through many levels to get there, but there are hazards along the way – errant thoughts, pushing “the button” wrong, guilt and fear about not being able to perform on both sides of the equations. But you keep going, you get knocked down, you find a ladder and try again. Sometimes it seems like too much work, sometimes it doesn’t, but we just keep playing because, ultimately, it’s fun.

    Not as simple, even, as a combo move, because it’s different on Tuesday than it was on Monday. But, once you generally learn how the route and the obstacles behave, you can get good at it. :)

  5. I think Sky’s metaphor is just brilliant! Use that one, Emily!

    It works brilliantly for the g-spot-explanation, and also as a more broad metaphor for female sexuality and orgasming. Super-interesting!

  6. to me it sounds depressing… maybe I’m just not a good tetriser, but there is a difference between “it’s not like a doorbell,there are steps and you have to look for feedback” and “it’s so complicated, it’s hardly worth trying”.

    • I’m thinking that the Tetris-metaphor says that there are different levels of difficulty. If you want to score the big points, you have to plan ahead and take risks. But you can also win the game just with easy moves and persistence. It’s all about what you want to achieve and how much you are willing to put in to it.

      Just because something is complicated and requires (possible) hard work, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Mind also that the journey is part of the goal.

  7. maybe -instead of starting with an actual video game that comes closest to the entire (arriving at the G spot ) concept, you could start with naming the levels and describing what happens at each level (what does the battle look like ect.ect) and at what point do you move onto the next level. make up your own game then turn it into an App and you’ll make a killing. There are guys who follow, get advice and learn tips from “speed seduction” gurus. These gurus (MANY-each with their own angle) have all the levels mapped out already. I think if you research the way they put it and add your ideas into it the out come will be perfect.

  8. The old game Myst might have appeal: You have to assemble various pieces of information in order to find the key to unlock your pathway to a new land…and once there, do more searching to get the information you need to return.

    You might be better off talking about Chess, except that isn’t a common game in our culture, either.

    I’d suggest cooking. There are many instances of food preparation where you have to do the right things, in the right amounts, in order to get the right result. Ever try to make a salad dressing from scratch? If you don’t get the oil poured in slowly and continuously while whisking/blending the other ingredients, it won’t emulsify properly and you’ll get a separated goo. You can have similar issues with cooking different items, or even something like baking bread.

    Pick up a copy of Cooks Illustrated. They have test kitchens where they will make several variations of a recipe in order to find just the right balance of flavors…and a technique that doesn’t require a culinary degree to achieve. That might give you a good example of how it takes hard work and a willingness to try variations in order to reach a desired result.

  9. I do play video games, and I don’t think that’s a good analogy to make at all. Video games, no matter how complex, always follow a set of rules that never change no matter who is playing. G-spots behave differently depending not only on the owner of the g-spot, but also on the g-spot’s owner’s partner. Comparing the two just suggests that the g-spot is a prize that can be attained through jumping through variously more difficult but ultimately static hoops.

  10. As a Gamer (Cards, Board, Video, etc.), I appreciate your goal of trying to relate a “complex” idea to something your students are familiar with.

    I think Sky’s Tetris analogy may be your best bet, because Video Games are much like any other form of “modern” entertainment; they have relatively distinct genres and, much like movies, people tend to play games that fit the genre they enjoy most. As a consequence, a game like Tetris, which is familiar to a *large* number of people, is arguably the best way to reach the largest number of students.

    I assume that is your goal. If you are trying to reach a niche audience, then there are other games to use for the Analogy. The, perhaps unexpected, risk you run into when using a Video Game Analogy is that a “Video Gamer” has not played the Video Game you are referencing. As a consequence, he or she misses the point you are trying to make, despite the fact that the analogy was crafted specifically for a “Video Gamer.”

    If you want to do some “hands on” research, many of the free-to-play games available at Popcap.com are played by more people than most PC or Console Video Games.

  11. I also am not a gamer and so can’t really provide the assistance you requested, but I second the cooking analogy suggestion. A recipe lays out some givens in varying degrees of specificity and description–ingredients, steps, and techniques–but there are always variables and gaps to be filled in. Even working within the framework of a recipe, the best outcomes are context-dependent (think “season to taste” or “bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown”). Perhaps successful g-spot stimulation is like that, too? The anatomy and steps are known, but there are still variables at play.

  12. Maybe you could compare sexuality to World of Warcraft damage dealers.

    There are many different character classes that are designed to do damage, and though each one has the goal of doing the most damage, each one plays a little differently. Rogues need to be close to the monster and use weapons and do various attack moves to do combos, Mages stand back and cast spells and need to worry about mana, etc.

    Any of the characters can do really good damage if you know what you’re doing, but to become a good player you need to study and practice with the character and find out how best to use their abilities. Even if you’re good with one character class, when you start out with a new class you probably won’t know what you’re doing at first. You might try tactics that you used with a different class and find that they don’t work with this new class and that you are doing really poor damage. You’ll need to do some work, figuring out the best strategies, leveling and gearing up before you’re ready to do heroic dungeons, if you know what I mean. ;)

    • Wow, this is even better! This takes in count the aspect that rsponge was talking about, that it varies not only with person but also with person’s partner.

      I’m getting all excited about this! Don’t know why!

  13. Good games use psychology: they give you intermediate goals, and reward those. They walk you through the process of getting to the goal, but don’t provide it for free; what you need to do is clear, whether or not you can do it is up to you. That way you are motivated all the way along.

    God help me, Grand Theft Auto is good for this: plenty of things to try, regular rewards and short term goals, etc. Addictive as all hell :)

  14. I agree that Myst is the best analogy for this. You don’t ever die in this game, it’s very nonthreatening. But you need to figure out what to do, what dials to turn, what buttons to push in which order, etc., to advance to the next level. I find it a very calming game, with beautiful landscapes and sounds which serve as a feedback.


  15. I throw my hat into the “combo code” ring — but for a specific code.

    The Konami code was a code that you entered at the beginning of the game — for nearly every game Konami has made. It first appeared on the default NES, and is still in use today. Moreover, any gamer who has heard of Konami will have heard of the code.

    It varies slightly depending on system, but some of the steps are always the same. The original code was up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, A, B, Start, and does something different depending on the game being played.

    I see a ton of metaphor and analogy material there. I hope it helps.

  16. Wonderful challenge – being both an avid gamer and veteran g-spot hunter qualifies me to answer this question for you, Emily. The solutions offered by my esteemed blogonauts above are too tame and obscure to be applicable in a broad context. What we need is a combination of skill and intensity to really capture the g-spot analogy. So I suggest using the classic first-person shooter game Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 metaphor: a player fights his/her way through a combat situation and unlocks achievements along the way by accumulating kill-streaks. These vary from radar to special weapons and firepower, depending on the number of enemies killed during gameplay. The ultimate reward – earned at 25 kills during the game – is a tactical nuke. That is our g-spot trigger. It may happen for any player in any session, fast or tantalizingly slow, yet devastatingly effective because the nuclear bomb is always the game-winning kill. The analogy here is that while it is certainly possible to reach this level of ecstasy, it is not easy to achieve. Practice, wit and endurance are essential to unlock the prize. Kaboom!

    See the full schedule of Call of Duty killstreaks here: http://www.mw2blog.com/modern-warfare-2-killstreak-rewards/

  17. I think Peggle might be good, or Angry Birds. Both have the plus of being super popular, have principles that are easy to understand and pick up in a matter of minutes, but there’s this element that you just can’t quite control in both of them. Dealing with that element, getting a sense of what “feels right” for whatever you’re trying to do, since exact predictions are impossible, is the only way to get better and achieve what you’re trying to do.

    • Unanticipated problem with asking for these suggestions: I will now spend my weekend playing games online.

  18. If I understand you correctly, the point of comparing interacting with the g-spot to playing a video game is to be specific about improving interaction with the g-spot. Not being more specific about the video game metaphor? Because what you’ve got right now is pretty great!

    You already explained that, “You have to go through a series of steps to open passages and levels before you can get to that prize.” Most games have some kind of series of levels and passages to be opened, so that is easily understood as a video game metaphor for almost any type of gamer.

    The only thing I can think of changing is to to make that sentence: “You have to go through a lot of levels before you can save the princess.” That’s a Mario theme and a fantasy game theme in general.

    You also mentioned that, “Without each of those steps, in a pretty specific order, beginning in the first few moves of the game, you won’t be successful.” Awesome. Done. Just say THAT. Games have steps and tricky little things you have to do to win them. G-spots have steps and tricky little things you have to do to please them, apparently. Metaphor awesome.

    Just be sure to point out that UNLIKE a game, your partner isn’t guaranteed to provide you with the fail-safe path of hints that gets even the most clueless of gamers to a single endpoint. You can miss the goal entirely. And life doesn’t have a save point so you can use the restart button! =(

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