As visual creatures, we humans are hardwired to derive emotional responses from things we see. Cinematic movies pluck tears from our eyes at their sheer beauty, the image of a whirling snowstorm conjures goosebumps, and watching people pash gets us all tingly in our nethers. It’s science.

But not all of those smooches are worthy of a cheeky junk shudder.

Movies might have it right most of the time, so what about video games? This is a medium that allows us to CHOOSE if we want to get our mack on, but is it all capable of getting that reaction? Sadly no.

if you’re gonna kiss an alien, they better sweep you off your feet.

But that’s okay, because over the course of PAX Australia this weekend (11th to the 13th of October) in Melbourne, a panel of esteemed, maybe slightly randy judges are going to evaluate the best pixellated pashes once and for all.

For the uninitiated, PAX Australia stands for Penny Arcade Expo, and it’s essentially Christmas for Australian nerds (myself included).

We all come a’ flocking down to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to spend three days playing through demos of up and coming games, admiring unconventional PC builds, collecting pins and watching panels.

Thus, the panel ‘Rating the Making (Out): The Best Smooches in Video Games‘ was born.

oof the little face touch.

The panel synopsis sets you up for exactly what you can expect, detailing how:

“This group of games industry experts (hailing from animation to production) tackles this important quandary, discussing examples of lip-locking from video games throughout the ages and rating them on a very scientific scale of ‘wow that’s a janky smooch’ to ‘believable snog’.”

Seeing as though the panel consists of Lucy Morris (Studio & Creative Director, Starcolt), Lauren Clinnick (Managing Director, Lumi Interactive), Victoria Tran (Communications Director, Kitfox Games), Lucie Bee (Activist, Sex Worker and Writer), and Joe Toole (Animator, Method Studios Melbourne), we’re dealing with experts.

We had a quick chat with some of the panellists to nail down what drew them to the panel — and how janky a kiss really does have to be to make it to their blacklist.

that’s quite the glitch you’ve got there, FIFA.

According to Lauren Clinnick, “There’s a lot more innovation and experimentation to be done in the realm of games that manage to focus on love, sensuality and more subtle interpersonal emotions than the well-explored areas of competition, mastery and destruction as satisfying rewards.”

“Kissing can be awkward in real life, and it certainly can be awkward in games as well – but we kiss more people than we kill in real life, so let’s study it further as an industry to do a better, more satisfying job of offering or depicting it.”

The most satisfying for me? The smooch between Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher in Uncharted 4. This might not be the steamiest depiction of video game mouth mashing, but the MECHANICS are there.

Check out the video below for high stakes, romance and mechanics so well developed that you can even see her nose slightly smush at the pressure JUST LIKE A REAL ONE WOULD.

yes I have a crush on Nathan Drake, shut up. 

Meanwhile, for first-time panellist Joe Toole, Heavy Rain’s fucking awkward sex scene takes the cake for jankiest kiss.

“I see the whole make out/undress scene from Heavy Rain play out in my head when I think of jank. That weird QuickTime event of unbuckling a bra, the music swell, the nonsense camera angles. There’s something just so… OFF”.

The characters essentially look like a Sharon Strzlecki special as they smoosh their wide-open traps against each other in awkward and gross movements. NOBODY KISSES LIKE THAT, and if you do, please find an amenable soul to practice your tongue-dancing with immediately.

I’m so sorry to inflict this upon you.

There are so many other smooches in video games that I haven’t even touched on — but they will. Pop down to PAX Australia on Friday the 11th of October to pop in for their panel at 8pm in the Fruitbat Theatre for more jank and steamy smackeroos.

And if you’re extra keen for some more randiness, there are plenty of other romance and sex-related panels to scope out. If you want to get real weird, come discuss which video game cryptid would make the best lover (ahem) on the Saturday night (yes, this is a real thing that I will be discussing in 2019).

But either way, the next time you make your Sims makeout or plant a peck on your favourite Mass Effect love interest (Garrus is the only acceptable answer, I’m sorry to break it to you), take a moment to reflect.

Because jank aside, there are plenty of junk tingles to be had.

Image: The Sims 3