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We talk to the creator of the dude-butt sensation Hurt Me Plenty

With over a million loops on Vine and almost 25,000 reblogs on Tumblr, it’s safe to say Robert Yang’s six second Hurt Me Plenty clip was the dude-butt smack heard around the world.

Referencing the “kindness coins = sex cutscene” trope in its description, Hurt Me Plenty is a game that tries to counter “how romances in BioWare RPG games are often a matter of ‘solving an NPC’ by selecting the right responses until you get a sex cutscene full of topless dry humping.” Alternately, Yang submitted Hurt Me Plenty to the Leap Motion Game Jam as a demonstration of what a more “hands on” approach to intimacy in games might look like.

By modeling the game after the common practices used for establishing consent in BDSM relationships, Hurt Me Plenty puts players in the position of a dominant. Or, more specifically, their hand in the position to spank the heck outta some virtual dude with buns of steel so tight even Channing Tatum would be envious.


“Sex is so much about intimacy and touch … flapping your hand in the air, or craning your neck around in a Rift, will rarely feel intimate,” Yang says, admitting to the technological limitations that hinder meaningful explorations of sex through virtual reality. The established technologies, like smartphones, aren’t much better in his opinion either, because, “If you think about it, smartphones are really unpleasant to touch: this weirdly warm glass, like the sneeze guard at an all-you-can-eat buffet in Florida—if you find that sexy, more power to you. Right now, I think virtual interfaces accept only a very narrow range of physical inputs. There’s a lot of work to do.” On the other hand, with virtual reality, he says, “Hardware-wise the biggest problem for sex and interaction is haptics. There’s promising research about haptic acoustic holograms and touch interfaces that use electrical current to change their surface texture, but that won’t be user-ready for years.”

To account for what the technology couldn’t deliver, Yang incorporated their limitations into the game’s concept. To leverage the motion controls as effectively as possible, he consciously avoided putting hard constraints on what the device recognized as an acceptable gesture. “It lets the user roleplay through their hand motions and understand the mood better,” he says. “Most gamers who play this will quickly understand that the system is pretty permissive and will accept nearly any hand gestures. But that’s not the point—that would be like cheating at Solitaire. The point is to do the hand motion anyway, and ‘perform’ your role and get into it.”

Consent, it turns out, is hard to program. 

And “get into it” you can indeed. Hurt Me Plenty‘s structure mirrors the important three step process to safely engaging in BDSM encounters. 1) A negotiation of boundaries and roles, 2) the actual act, and 3) an “aftercare” exchange. Yang admits the biggest difficulty he encountered in recreating the process was actually the first step—the consent part—since “negotiating with a computer would involve questions of AI/machine consciousness/human-computer relations that I can’t really answer.”

Consent, it turns out, is hard to program (can I get an Amen?), at least according to Yang. So instead, he settled on creating a scene where, depending on the enthusiasm of your handshake, you agree to a randomly generated set of boundaries as well as a safe word.

Next, the step we’ve all been waiting for, with butts clenched and palms open eagerly at the ready. One important aspect of consent the game does manage to tackle during the spanking scene “is the idea that it can be withdrawn at any time—as the player, you can choose not to spank the dude at all and change your mind, and the scene will end.” Though, Yang adds, “most players will spank, and internally in the code, the dude has a ‘soft limit’ and a ‘hard limit’ of pain and intensity, which I tried to model after a particular ‘theory of pain’ in the BDSM community.”

When your beefcake partner decides he’s had enough, he invokes the safeword. Originally, Yang says the scene ended automatically with that. But after playtesters insisted on the importance of having the option to be “bad” and violate their virtual partner’s trust, Robert made spanking past the limit an act that causes consequences after the final scene is over.

“Aftercare” describes the vital step of ensuring your partner feels both safe and satisfied with what happened during your experience, allowing the couple to address anything distressing that might’ve come up. “In Hurt Me Plenty, the dude talks about his feelings as you rub his back or some other tender gesture. If you didn’t spank him at all, he might express concern over why you withdrew your consent and changed your mind, and if there’s anything he could do better. If you violated his safety by spanking him past his safeword, he will be rightly afraid of how dangerous you are.”

Though there’s a definite silliness to Hurt Me Plenty, which most likely accounts for its semi viral-ness, the issues Yang aims to address with it are anything but. “It’s dangerous to think of sex as a puzzle like in pick-up artist (PUA) culture, to think of sex as something you ‘get’ instead of something you do/negotiate/discover/practice/play. Hurt Me Plenty tries to frame ‘sexual spanking’ as a process instead of a cutscene reward.” 

Those who have ventured down the counterculture avenue of NC-17 flash player games know that the sex-as-reward-and-possession mentality isn’t just relegated to big studios like BioWare. Aware of what typically transpires in these more explicit games, Yang ensured Hurt Me Plenty featured “a cartoon-physics white male, rather than some ‘realistic simulator’ that lets dude players abuse a woman.”

While some of those NC-17 games might very well have been created by people who believe in the importance of safety while exploring sadomasochism, the fact that most don’t even remotely address the vital role that consent plays in the enjoyment of those acts is concerning. In most of those games, the submissive females—most likely programmed by a male creator, and more often than not being manipulated by a male player—are voiceless objects in a way only games can disturbingly achieve. I mean, even most bondage porn bothers to include a pre-interview that allows the submissive participant (who, nine times out of ten, is female) to expresses explicit permission and interest in the activity. So, what gives, games? Are we really going to let violent porn seem like the more female-friendly atmosphere for sexual exploration?

“Videogames need a lot more diverse body images in general. Dude-butts are just the beginning.” 

Games aren’t just desperately in need of more man-cheeks flapping around while engaging in PG-13 naughty exploits. As Yang says, the medium doesn’t only underserve dude-butts, but also “large butts, flat butts, soft butts—videogames need a lot more diverse body images in general. Dude-butts are just the beginning.”

So to all you butts out there, consider this your forewarning of the impending “Games Made Exclusively for Tina Belcher” movement.

For now, you can play Hurt Me Plenty for free on PC and Mac. If you don’t have a Leap Motion device, you can still get the experience by downloading the version with mouse support.