[The Aberrant Gamer is a weekly, somewhat NSFW column by Leigh Alexander, 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.]

- Can you call a game a “sex game” if there’s no sex?

It’d be tough to classify old chestnut Princess Maker 2, originally created by Evangelion maker Gainax in 1993, as a Hentai game—in fact, it’s probably most appropriate to call it a parenting sim. More similar to Nintendogs than it is to any sex game, the player is tasked with raising a girl child to adulthood. A laundry list of stats—things like strength, grace, morality and stress-- combine to determine what kind of woman she’ll be. Her health and well-being, her job, and even her future husband are the result of the way you raise her.

The story begins under a fantasy premise—“the gods” bestow you with a little girl about ten years old as a reward for defeating a demon lord and saving the city. Apparently, there’s no gratitude from the populace in the form of monetary compensation (there never is, is there?) because despite being a supernatural war hero, you must immediately put your dewy-eyed ten-year-old to work. Each job causes a boost in some stats and a decrease in others—working at the farm, for example, boosts strength but lowers refinement. You can also affect her condition by gifting her with pocket money or scolding her. Finally, the game has an RPG-style adventure mode, which allows you to raise a little fighting heroine, in addition to snagging special items.

There’s a dizzying number of possible endings— among others, your daughter might end up a nun, a scholar, an innkeeper, a lady-in-waiting or a lumberjack. She can also be a soldier, a bounty hunter or a street performer. She can even become Queen, if you raise her up real well.

But what if you don’t? You wouldn't entertain dirty wishes for your little girl, would you?

- The game’s already a step ahead of you—your little girl can start working at the “Sleazy Bar” at the age of 15, and at the “Cabaret” by 16. You’re responsible for her “sin” and "sex appeal" statistics, and it’s possible for your dear daughter to develop into a bar wench, bondage queen, or prostitute (regular or “high class” varieties). Additionally, you've got rather precise control over the child’s body size—even allowing you to administer pills to enhance her bustline.

It is perfectly possible to be a sterling parent and play it cute and clean for the duration of the game. But it’s also possible to dress a 12 year old girl—who calls you “Daddy”— like a whore. With the help of the widely available “UnDress” patch, you can even dress her in nothing at all—while she continues to stand front and center of the main screen, beaming devotedly, perfectly secure in your fatherly guidance.

True Hentai games usually feature absurd scenarios—your father’s just remarried an insatiable woman with five equally insatiable daughters, or you’ve just inherited a mansion staffed by sexually available maids. Compared to this, the simple premise of raising a daughter seems quite tame. But Hentai games, much like the rape that often plays a prominent role, are about control. The idea’s to give the player a “what-if” sexual scenario where anything goes and everything usually does. You cannot have sex with—or even sexually touch—your daughter in Princess Maker 2, but the undercurrent of manipulation, of ownership, that undercuts the entire child-rearing process is nearly as intense, and no less sexual.

- All H-games are a little twisted—that’s what makes them fun. Hard to say, though, what’s more twisted—a graphic rape game, or a parenting simulation that can be sexualized.

It’s not too uncommon for members of either gender to fantasize that women enjoy rape, and the fantasy reaches hyperbolic proportions in H-games—despite a violent nonconsensual coupling, the girl always comes away grateful, transformed and in love. As for your little princess, when her eighteenth birthday arrives, a potential husband comes knocking. And if you don’t want to give your beloved child away, it’s possible to marry her yourself-- though it's the most challenging ending to achieve.

You put her to work in the bar, starved her to keep her waistline down and dressed her in skanky clothes. And yet, radiant-eyed and adoring, your daughter will approach you, saying that she wants no man but you. Princess Maker 2 might not be a Hentai game, but it's more like one than not.

[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.]