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The Game Grumps are the latest people to be added to comedy porn game House Party

(Image credit: Eekl Games)

House Party is a pornographic comedy game with a weird twist: While some of the partygoers you meet and have sex with are fictional, a growing number of them are based on real people. 

Developer Eek! Games held a contest in 2018 for players to win the opportunity to be added to the game, voicing their own lines, writing their own backstory, and having their likeness turned into a digital avatar. The first of those winners, adult influencer LetyDoesStuff, was added in an update in August 2019, but yesterday two other winners joined House Party: Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, better known on YouTube as the Game Grumps, a gaming channel with over 5 million subscribers. And even though the two don't get naked like House Party's other characters, it's another bizarre chapter in one of Steam's most popular adult games.

Eek! Games' decision to add real people to House Party takes it into surreal, uncharted territory.

House Party started as a janky comedy game passed around on internet forums like 4Chan before it launched on Steam Early Access in 2017. Back then, Valve still prohibited pornographic games on Steam, but House Party managed to slip through unnoticed. When Valve eventually cracked down and mandated the game had to censor its sex scenes or be removed, the change to Steam's policy incidentally gave House Party a spotlight. YouTubers like Game Grumps and Lety capitalized on House Party's mix of sex and humor, helping propel it to over one million downloads. In 2018, however, Valve changed its tune and began allowing adult games so long as they provided the proper content notices and filtering tags.

But House Party has been controversial not just because of its adult content, but because of the way it attempts to blur the line between consensual and non-consensual sex. Previous versions had a quest where you could blackmail characters into having sex by threatening to leak nude photos of them. That quest was the reason Nutaku, a popular marketplace for porn games, refused to sell House Party. That storyline has since been removed because "it was buggy," a developer wrote in 2018, but it will be re-implemented in a future update. Though not as direct, this kind of manipulation is prevalent in a lot of your interactions with different characters, as you lie and steal to coax them into bed.

(Image credit: Eekl Games)

I don't think House Party is particularly entertaining, but it's easy to see why it appeals to so many players. The game taps into an unserved fantasy: attending a rowdy house party where you can meet attractive people, get into wild shenanigans, and, if you're lucky, have some grauitous sex. It's like a videogame version of Van Wilder movies.

But Eek! Games' decision to add real people to House Party takes it into surreal, uncharted territory. Though she had been producing adult content for years, being able to have sex with a digitized version of Lety represented a significant evolution in the relationship between a creator and their audience. And her portrayal in House Party is so authentic that it even includes a birthmark on her back.

"I'm super excited that people have this opportunity to interact with me," she said in an interview with PC Gamer last year. "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."

Now Game Grumps are in a similar position—only players can't actually have sex with them (though I suspect mods could change that). Like most new characters added since House Party's initial release, Dan and Arin have to be unlocked by completing a few quests.

(Image credit: Eekl Games)

In this case, players have to befriend Katherine by listening to her drone on about her failing relationship and then getting her drunk. It's only then that she'll reveal that she was supposed to attend a Game Grumps' live show but won't be able to make it. To cheer her up, players devise a plan to sabotage the hot air balloon Hanson and Avidan are using to travel to the show, forcing the duo to instead land in the backyard. With the two Grumps now at the party, Hanson and Avidan do what they do best by providing upbeat and gregarious commentary to everything happening around them.

It's like if Andy Samberg made a cameo on Pornhub.

Compared to the other guests, I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed Hanson and Avidan's shenanigans. Though their animations are still crude and stilted, the duo's voice work is much livelier and more entertaining than the deadpan delivery given by other partygoers who frequently sound like they're reading the script for the first time. Hanson and Avidan also break the fourth wall in some entertaining ways. At one point I found Hanson in the bath trying to convince Avidan to drop a toaster in it in hopes the shock would take him out of this dream world he's in and back to real life. Another time, I found the two snickering in a bedroom about how weird it was that they were now inside of a game they used to play on camera together. Rather than feeling forced, the moment felt surprisingly genuine.

But it is also so strange that these two YouTubers would loan themselves to an adult comedy game, even if in a limited fashion. It's like if Andy Samberg made a cameo on Pornhub. Unlike every other character, Hanson and Avidan can't take their clothes off or have sex (even with cheats), but they can still watch and comment while I and others do the deed—yes, it's as weird as it sounds. These moments aren't nearly as provocative as Lety's virtual sex scenes, but being able to flash my penis to a pair of YouTube celebrities is every bit as surreal.

Though I don't find House Party nearly as appealing as its 90-percent positive Steam reviews indicate some others do, I'm fascinated by the way it's pushing the boundaries and limitations that creators have traditionally had with their audience. It's a unique overlap of PC gaming's "anything is possible" spirit with the parasocial relationships actively fostered through platforms like YouTube. Though House Party is held back by its sometimes troubling antics, it's hard to see this not becoming more common over the next few years as internet personalities of all types find new ways to connect with their audience. 

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.