Real people starring in porn games is a surreal new frontier

(Image credit: Eek! Games)

House Party is a pornographic Steam game that aims to recreate the rowdy depravity of '90s comedies like American Pie by setting you loose in a houseful of deranged partiers, most of whom will have sex with you so long as you say and do the exact right thing. Until last week, these characters were purely fictional stereotypes—the macho guy, the obnoxious bro, or the jealous younger sister—but several weeks ago, House Party's developers added a new guest voiced by and modelled after a real person.

Her name is Lety, and on YouTube she has over 63,000 subscribers who watch her play games, or model swimsuits, or review TV shows. Over on Patreon, though, subscribers pay a cumulative total of $10,000 a month to access Lety's nude photoshoots and her community Discord, and she also writes adult comics. While she's no stranger to taking her clothes off on camera, Lety is one of the first people to loan her likeness to a pornographic videogame where her in-game character does a whole lot more than that. "It's one for the history books," Lety tells me. "Some super, super weird history book."

Heads-up: This story talks a lot about sex, in case that wasn't obvious. 

Open House

Being able to have this kind of connection through a weird, goofy sex game is just really exciting to me.

Lety

Back in November, the developers of House Party held a contest players could enter to be added to the game and win $1,000. Considering House Party owes much of its success to a horde of YouTubers who introduced it to their audiences, it only made sense that the front-running contestants were people like Lety and Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, the duo behind Game Grumps (who will be added in a later update) whose 17-part video series on House Party has been watched over 20 million times.

For Lety, though, it wasn't just a good marketing opportunity but a chance to become a permanent fixture in a game she'd been a fan of since it was a janky, crass one-man project shared around on image boards like 4Chan. Since then, House Party has grown to become an immensely popular porn game selling more than 500,000 copies.

To be clear, though, House Party is still janky and crass. It launched on Steam Early Access in 2017 before Valve overhauled its restrictions on adult content. Though porn games weren't supposed to be on Steam, House Party somehow fell through the cracks and gained notoriety when Valve threatened to remove it unless it censored all the sex. In 2018, however, Valve reversed its position on explicit adult content and House Party players could go back to playing its uncensored version.

Today House Party remains an Early Access game—and not a particularly great one. The idea is that you're invited to a house party with a dozen other guests who each have distinct personalities and stories. It's like a point-and-click adventure set in a sandbox sim. You talk to each guest to learn about them and, if you choose, what you need to do to get their clothes off and have sex with them—or you can just start masturbating on people without consent.

Completing character quests typically devolves into brainless, trial-and-error puzzle solving that I find annoying, and some of the tasks are extremely sleazy. You can help Ashley get revenge on her older sister by stealing her phone and sharing her nude photos with other guests, for example, or you can secretly follow phone-obsessed Katherine around with a signal jammer to coax her into a private room so you can get her to take topless pictures. Though the people at the party are all awful in their own ways (one owns an amateur porn website that frequently hosts revenge porn), the worst guest is you—a cruel asshole who will say or do anything if it means getting laid.

But thousands of people, like Lety, love that House Party is janky, weird, and sordid. During its early development, Lety became one of the bigger faces in the House Party fanbase, so when she first heard of the contest, she knew she had to enter.

Winning meant that Lety not only got to be in the game (and win a thousand dollars) but also determine her character's personality, dialogue, and overall story. Unlike the extreme stereotypes the other guests are based on, Lety says she wanted to make her character more authentic to her actual persona. "That was a major challenge for me," Lety says. "I'm really introverted and anxious. Like, even in college, I'd get invited places and I'd always turn it down. I had no idea what I would even do at a party or what it would be like, and eventually I was like, okay, that's going to be it. That's going to be my character. I'll be the super awkward girl that fucks everything up."

Digitizing Lety 

As an adult model everyone knows what my naked body looks like, so it was super important to me to get that right.

Lety

Writing and voicing her dialogue in an improvised home studio was just half of the challenge. Lety also had to take high-resolution photos of her face from "20 different angles" so the third-party animation studio developer Eek! Games used could properly model her face and body.

"As an adult model everyone knows what my naked body looks like," Lety says. "So it was super important to me to get that right. So, in making the model, I took HD photos of my skin to be mapped onto the character. I even added the weird birthmark thing that I have on my back."

"I think the whole design process from taking like the first photo of my face to the finalized model took about half a year," Lety explains. "I remember when we were like five months into the process, I decided to show off some photos with my patrons on Discord, to show them what my model was going to look like. And a bunch of people called out that it was missing this little beauty mark I had, literally, between my butt cheeks, and it's smaller than a grain of rice. And everyone was like, it's missing the beauty mark on your butt, man!"

Unlike the other guests, Lety isn't invited to the party until you break into Ashley's laptop and trick her into coming by pretending you need an "emergency Spanish tutoring session." A few minutes later, Lety awkwardly arrives with a bag full of Mexican-themed trinkets like a bottle of mezcal, spicy peppers, and a wall-mounted talking fish wearing a sombrero. Her story involves the player helping or sabotaging her awkward and bumbling attempts to socialize at the party—with the obligatory sex if you manage to say and do the right things.

Lety's character background might seem like a thin punchline to a joke, but she says she wanted to use it as a platform to show off another part of herself: her Mexican heritage. "What a lot of people don't know is that I'm actually Mexican," Lety tells me. "But growing up in Hispanic neighborhoods here in [Los Angeles], I got bullied a lot for looking different and not being a 'real Mexican' because I'm a lighter-skinned Hispanic. But yeah, when I was presented with an opportunity to create a character that would potentially be seen by millions I just had to have my character speak Spanish. It's very important for me to kind of show people and have people see that like, hey, lighter-skinned Mexicans do exist."

Recently I did a photoshoot where my entire body was Thanos' face, and then I sat on all the Avengers before Ant-Man crawled inside my ass and expanded and killed me.

Lety

That Lety poured so much of her personal identity into her in-game character surprised me, if only because pornography is often so fabricated, with actresses and actors using psueodonyms or playing specific characters in unlikely situations. Lety says even her photoshoots are often bizarre works of fiction. "Recently I did a photoshoot where my entire body was Thanos' face, and then I sat on all the Avengers before Ant-Man crawled inside my ass and expanded and killed me," Lety says.

But it feels like there's a distinction between someone passively looking at a nude photoshoot and actively having sex with a digital representation of a person. There's also the prevalence of online sexual harassment to consider, something that women content creators are often subject to. Despite those unknowns, Lety said she had "no reservations" about being a character players could have sex with. "I was immediately just like, let's fucking do it," she says. "This is fucking awesome."

Unlike how it tries to simulate social situations, having sex in House Party is more akin to an interactive cutscene. Players can choose from a variety of positions and acts like doggystyle or going down on certain characters, but all the movement and gyrating happens automatically. "I didn't have much input over the actual sex acts I could perform, that's actually all done by Take One," a motion capture and animation company that also worked on The Witcher 3, Lety points out. "The only real input I gave is that I wanted to be able to do everything, 'cause like, what's the point of being in a sex game otherwise?"

Doing the deed with in-game Lety is surreal—especially if you try to talk to her while she's giving you a blowjob because she even went so far as to make it sound like her mouth is full. But it's clear that the developers at Eek! Games have stumbled into a strange new frontier of pornography into which others will likely follow. Though its simulation of sex might be crude, that it's a conduit for a new and uncharted kind of connection between a creator like Lety and her audience is significant.

"I'm super excited that people have this opportunity to interact with me," she says. "Like, some parts of my character are exaggerated for comedy's sake, but I feel the core personality is super true to who I am, and now people have a chance to kind of get to know me beyond just watching me in a video or seeing me as a photo on their screens, so being able to have this kind of connection through a weird, goofy sex game is just really exciting to me."

Steven enjoys nothing more than a long grind, which is precisely why his specialty is on investigative feature reporting on China's PC games scene, weird stories that upset his parents, and MMOs. He's Canadian but can't ice skate. Embarrassing.