More Video Games Should Let You Go Skinny Dipping

May 31, 2024


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Sex is great and all, but have you ever had a superbly shite week at work, gone out to the woods, cracked open a beer, had a smoke, then stripped down to your skivvies and jumped in a lake? The second that your feet hit the water, you don’t just feel good, you feel fucking fantastic because the booze and the bog wash away all of your problems, both figuratively and literally (at least in the short-term). That feeling is something that video games, for all of their positive aspects and recent advancements in their tech, have never managed to replicate inside of their virtual worlds. Well, most video games haven’t managed to replicate that feeling, but Scum does, and more titles should take note of how it does so, because I’m sick of having to drive out to a park and bust my balls at my 6-to-2 just to experience an orgasmic-like sensation.

Just to be clear, Scum has a lot of issues, and this article isn’t actually isn’t a thinly veiled recommendation for it. It’s still in Steam Early Access, and has been for almost six years. Like most games with the “open world survival craft” tag on Valve’s marketplace, it has a solid core gameplay loop, but very little in the way of an endgame or unique selling points. The closest it has to the latter is the ability to strip your character down to their birthday suit at will, and the fact that you need to manage your in-game nutrition more than you manage your not-in-game nutrition. Neither of these points are exactly worth shelling out £34 for if you’re already invested in a different open world zombie title that can technically be played offline, and especially not if they only become interesting when you’re getting shot at by other players in community servers. It’s by no means a bad game, and I’d even go so far as to call it one of the better ones in the genre, which isn’t saying much given that DayZ, Project Zomboid, and, uh, DayZ, exist.

However, going back to the whole “stripping down to your birthday suit” thing, I wasn’t being entirely truthful when I said it wasn’t a unique element. There are some video games that let you run around naked, but those games often use nudity as a way to garner sales from horny teenagers or equally horny adults. That isn’t the case in Scum, because nakiditity in it exists as a feature for the same reason your character needs to piss and poop regularly. And why 540,000 people downloaded the underwear remover mod for Cyberpunk 2077 despite there being way easier ways to see some virtual ass on the internet, for that matter: it adds a near-unprecedented amount of immersion to an already near-unprecedentedly immersive game. 

Unless you’re one of the dozens of never-nudes in the world, or have a somewhat serious medical condition, you presumably use the toilet at least a half-dozen times a day and shower occasionally. Odds are, you also have a beer, or your non-alcoholic beverage of choice, every now and again, and may be stupid enough to smoke death sticks (I type as I realise I forgot to buy a pack of Lucky Strikes this afternoon). It may be difficult to imagine what you’d do in the event of a zombie apocalypse, but it isn’t difficult to imagine the need and or desire to take off all your clothes, or to a lesser extent, what it’s like to crack open a cold one and then jump into an equally cold body of water. However, getting back to the point at hand, you can’t do that virtually in most titles, and that’s a bloody shame. 

Is this a screenshot from Scum, or a picture I took on my way back from the beach last weekend? The world will never know.

Regardless of how closely you model your video game characters after yourself, or an attractive woman because you are in fact a horny adult, and regardless of how otherwise immersive a video game is, you almost always need to suspend some aspect of your disbelief when you boot up your gaming device and game of choice. That’s all well and good when you’re playing as Master Chief in The Master Chief Collection, or a cat in Stray, but less so when you’re trying to experience something that’s supposed to be realistic in every meaning of the word. And survival craft-em-ups are almost always trying to be realistic in at least some meaning of the word. Yet because they very rarely allow you to do anything you could do in real life without any ifs, ands, or acquisitions of building materials, they almost always fail.

Scum doesn’t, though. Of course it has a few mechanics that don’t make sense, but by and large, there isn’t a lot of gamifying involved in its systems, and its ability to let you go skinnydipping is the easiest way it showcases that. Its premise for a quasi end-of-the-world scenario isn’t the most believable, and its map is both too big and too small, but you generally do the things you would in real life once you get past those two aspects of it. You drive around trying to stay awake, build primitive shelters by expending an astronomical amount of energy, get into gun battles that never seem to go your way, and if you survive any given day/night cycle, you can buy a bottle of liquor from a trader and, getting back to the point of this rant of mine, then head to the nearest warm-looking waterfront beach to down it after organising all of your clothes onto the ground while hoping you don’t end up with a hangover in the morning. You don’t need to suspend your disbelief to do the latter, as after all is said and done, being naked is the one thing we’ve all done at least once in our life, and the ability to do that in-game makes it the most realistic one on the market, at least so far as the market for indie craft-em-ups is concerned.

This is a trick question: am I an attractive woman, or is this the only safe for work screenshot I have from Scum featuring my character? The world will probably know.

But games that make you roll your eyes when you see them on Steam’s top sellers list shouldn’t be the only ones that let you take a virtual dip without your virtual clothes on, and if/when they do, they shouldn’t do so in a neutered and safe-for-work way by forcing you to keep your in-game underpants on. I understand why nudity, and alcohol/drug use, is very rarely featured in interactive entertainment: it opens up the possibility for creepy players to do things that won’t exactly make for great marketing material, but those players can go fuck themselves (literally).

If a title is marketed for adults, which, for the record, Scum is, its developers should be free to add somewhat minute but generally impactful elements to make their games as immersive as possible. Being able to skinny dip in Scum doesn’t detract anything from its gameplay, and it adds a lot with very little effort from the people who coded it. Because in what other game can you experience something that you’ve done numerous times in the past, and are probably dreaming about doing as you read this while slaving away at your 9-to-5? Oh, and before anyone says anything, no I’m not writing this article because I want the ghost of Dean Hall to let me see what my DayZ character looks like without their underpants, as Rule 34 exists and is weirdly plentiful for Bohemia Interactive’s last good game.

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Derek Johnson

Somebody once told me the world was going to roll me, and they were right. I love games that let me take good-looking screenshots and ones that make me depressed, so long as the game doesn't overstay its welcome.