[The Aberrant Gamer is a new column dedicated to the kinks and quirks we gamers tend to keep under our hats-- those predilections and peccadilloes less commonly discussed in conventional media. Hentai gaming, fantasy fanfics, twisted psychology and notes from the dark side-- we'll expose, discuss and enjoy the delicious underbelly of our beloved gaming universe.]

- The H-Game genre is a peculiar one; many people have played at least one cracked title traded furtively over message boards, and they're easier to find on torrent sites than many mainstream ROMs-- yet they're almost never openly discussed.

Recently, though, H-Game discussion's begun spreading like venereal disease, piquing the curiosity of the uninitiated and leading to some inevitable questions-- are these really just sex games, or is there more to the story?

Though The Aberrant Gamer will examine individual titles in further detail (as Sexy Videogameland has done with Kana: Little Sister and with Nocturnal Illusions), an over-arching truth emerges as a commonality among all of these decidedly bizarre titles-- there's always something else going on.

Some of these games make an earnest attempt at the romantic-- even if their vision of romance resembles that of a fifteen year old boy (give flowers, receive sex marathon). These "dating sims" can be all the more haunting in that respect-- it feels a little uncomfortable, a little greasy-handed, to nobly woo a sweet-faced high-school girl in a game that you play-- let's be frank-- to get off.

- On the opposite end of the spectrum, H-Games can feature elaborately complex, often dark storylines-- sometimes a flimsy smokescreen that seems designed to forgive sexual situations that would raise the eyebrows of some criminal psychologists, and at other times a downright suspension of reality, making the entire masturbatory experience seem downright surreal.

Whatever the device, H-Games inevitably evoke some reaction other than plain old arousal-- you might laugh at them, you might feel like a creep, you might be rather offended (yeah, since we gamers are so sensitive to ambiguously-aged anime chicks). Or, as with Kana: Little Sister, you might even get a little choked up. Far from being simply a more interactive alternative to plain ol' porn, the H-Game is definitely its own animal.

Among other issues, The Aberrant Gamer will review these games regularly, and welcomes your tips and suggestions about the strangest, best, worst and silliest Hentai titles you've seen-- and anything else sexy, creepy, twisted and clinically aberrant in the gaming world. More to come, so keep your eyes peeled and send me your tips!

[Leigh Alexander is a blogger at her Sexy Videogameland site and reviewer for outlets including Paste Magazine. She can be reached at leigh_alexander1 AT yahoo DOT com.]