LOS ANGELES -- Playboy is taking a chance on silicon instead of silicone.
The October issue of the men's magazine features several video game characters posing in the nude - images created by the game companies through detailed computer illustration.
"Hopefully the purists won't get too bent out of shape. This is just the next version of the pinup," said Playboy senior editor Scott Alexander, who developed the project.
The computerized models are part of the magazine's video game preview, titled "Gaming Grows Up." The five-page section starts with a topless image of the half-vampire, half-human title character from "BloodRayne," a leather-clad woman who fights with three-foot blades attached to her arms.
The next image is a full-frontal, two-page foldout of a character named Luba Licious from the upcoming mature-rated comedy game "Leisure Suit Larry," which is about a shrimpy guy who travels a college campus courting impossibly buxom coeds.
The images even feature the signature Playboy centerfold-style bio. "We treated these women just like they are celebrities," Alexander said. "We treated them real, as if they had turn-ons and turn-offs."
In between are short articles about upcoming games like "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," racing games like "Need for Speed: Underground 2," and "Gran Turismo 4," and battle games like "Men of Valor," "Full Spectrum Warrior" and "Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault."
"Part of the thrust of the piece is that gaming is not just for kids," Alexander said. "We want to establish the way Playboy's going to be covering video games. We want to cover them from perspective of an adult who has a life. We're not writing video game reviews for kids who play five hours a day. We're writing for the grown-up who may play five hours a week, if that much."
While real models with silicone-implanted curves are no stranger to Playboy pictorials, digital women rendered through silicon computer processors could become a regular feature if reader reaction is positive.
All the images from the October issue are from mature-rated games carrying Entertainment Software Ratings Board warnings that the titles are inappropriate for those under 17.
Charles Hirschhorn, founder and chief executive of the G4techTV network, a 24-hour cable channel devoted to video games, said grown-up gamers aren't prudes, so Playboy's pixel-torial was unlikely to offend.
"Video games are inherently based on fantasy," he said, "so it's only natural that you'll be able to race cars, and go into outer space and find attractive sexy women as characters."
Not all the video heroines bare all.
The Native American vampire Tala, from the upcoming horror-shooter "Darkwatch," is featured in a smaller image wearing only a feather in her hair, while an anonymous model from the "Sims"-style party game "Playboy: The Mansion" is shown with only a joystick.
The blonde, chaps-wearing Daisy from the female wrestling game "Rumble Roses" is depicted topless, but strategically covered by her elbows.
Other modest models: the kitana-blade wielding Mileena, from the new "Mortal Kombat" fighting tournament, bares only her midriff. "Red Ninja's" Kurenai sports her signature crimson miniskirt robe. And Ayane from "Dead or Alive: Ultimate" wears a tiny turquoise bikini.
Persuading game companies to showcase their characters was a delicate task, according to Alexander.
"There's a funny kind of almost paternal feeling that a lot of these game creators have about their creations," he said. "'Are you going to let your little girl pose in Playboy?' is the question we were asking. But a lot of them saw the benefit, both aesthetically, and ... hey, sex is part of life."
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