Picture, for a moment, that you’re a man in an unlit bedroom. Empty beer cans litter the floor and piles of cigarettes gather on the desk. The grime of your surroundings echo the gloominess of your mood — you feel stuck and unable to find a good job. The government has failed you. The most exciting thing going on for you right now is an affair with your elderly neighbor’s wife.
“Yes, I love MILFs,” you say matter-of-factly to an unseen audience, glancing up at your Fidel Castro poster while your phone’s lock screen glows with its own Castro portrait on the chair next to you. But this isn’t real life, and your neighbor’s wife’s “rotten truffle” doesn’t await you next door. This is Sex With Stalin, a video game made by Russian game developer Boobs Dev — also known as Georgiy Kukhtenkov — and you can buy it on Steam for $3.99.
Inflammatory title aside, Sex With Stalin isn’t what you think. Apart from an intimate alternate ending in which you wash the dictator’s back with soap in a communal shower, you never even come close to having sex, and are instead sucked into what appears to be a political dating simulator with one of the most infamous (and sexualized) mass murderers in history. In the process, you’re exposed to an excruciatingly dense selection of dialogue about Stalin’s life, as well as Kukhtenkov’s occasionally unhinged opinions about modern Russian culture.
That said, the gameplay is simple. You’re a young, disgruntled Russian who gains access to a time machine via his neighbor’s MILF wife. After traveling back in time, you’re deposited in front of a pretty accurate digital rendering of Stalin, and have dense, lengthy conversations with him about things like science, art and BDSM. Eventually, talking gets old and you’re brought to one of 25 endings based on your dialogue path.
Each ending is cartoonish, sexual nightmare-fuel, but they bring a welcome reprieve from the dull monotony of the actual game. At one point, the dialogue I chose led my player character to tell Stalin that sex dolls are used by people as an alternative to “raping their real grandmothers.” (Can’t say I agree, but those are actual words the game lets you say.) Another ending involves a naked Stalin peeing on a clone of Hitler, who wears a little black harness and thigh-high socks. In most of the game’s finales, Stalin is naked, his dick flopping around through a loving attention to graphics, and three of them feature buttholes as prominent plot points.
Peppered throughout are true facts about Stalin’s life and references to Marxist literature. At first, these feel like they’re being presented to paint Stalin in a positive light — his rule is referred to as “unflinchingly pragmatic and efficiently cruel,” and his regime’s penchant for murder is treated, quite literally, like a game. But Sex With Stalin also involves contorting Stalin into ridiculous, undermining positions, like in one ending where his head bursts from a bloody stomach like the xenomorph babies in Alien. Can Stalin be such a formidable, laudable historical figure if he’s exploding like a rocket from someone’s tummy?
The Russian Communist Party doesn’t think so, at least not according to The Moscow Times, which reported in English that the leader of the Party called for “law enforcement agencies [to] investigate the game for signs of extremism or incitement.” But per Kukhtenkov, Sex With Stalin wasn’t intended to incite Russian insubordination or to provide the horny cummunists of the world with masturbation material — it was simply, and inexplicably, to get people to learn more about Stalin as a historical figure.
“The idea of this project was based on these two commonplace expressions: ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions,’ and ‘Do not create an idol for yourself,’” he tells me. “I was inspired to create this game by memes, idiotic Russian books about accidental travelers and by stories I heard deemphasizing the role of Stalin in the fate of the whole world. I realized how deeply [he] was embedded in our society, and that people who were discussing Stalin knew so little about him. I decided to fix this by creating a non-standard game combining real historical knowledge and facts with satire on the topic of dictatorship and repression.”
But while Kukhtenkov admits a lot of the game is a joke, he also believes it raises some “serious topics related to the state structure.” “Governments constantly infringe on their citizens’ rights for the sake of the country’s well-being and preservation of statehood,” he continues. “And they often go too far in doing so.”
It’s doubtful that a sequence of Stalin frolicking through a field dressed as a Sailor Moon character can really stoke the kind of political introspection people need to take action against that, but the Community Party appears to be doing everything they can to stop a Sex with Stalin uprising. Kukhtenkov says that in addition to receiving regular death threats from civilians, the Party has plastered his face and name across state TV, where he’s often referred to as a “fascist” and an agent of the “[American] State Department.”
“I have nothing to do with fascism or the State Department,” he vows. “I haven’t got a single dollar from the American government, which is a pity. I wouldn’t mind becoming a secret agent or a spy.”
It’s not just Mother Russia that’s out for him, though. The game might have a 90 percent approval rating on Steam, but players certainly have some problems it, most of which are related to the lack of sex with Stalin’s sweet animated bussy. “No actual sex with Stalin,” writes user Swagiii in a Trump-like Steam review. “Sad.” Almost all the comments filed under the site’s “not recommended” section are like this, an observation that led me to wonder: Did some people actually want to have sex with Stalin?
It’s hard to say, but after perusing the facetious and grotesquely violent posts in subreddits like r/lewdgames and r/NSFWgaming — both of which boast more than 100,000 subscribers — I wouldn’t be surprised. In one post from r/HentaiAnal, a naked, pink-haired, elf cartoon sits on a large black dildo with her impossibly small slit of a vagina dripping under the post’s title, which reads: “You came to your home, and there is an elf girl. What would you do?”
Since this is Reddit and since “what would you do?” is a recognizable meme format, the comments border on the absurd. “Sell her organs,” writes one user. “Homicide is badass!” says another. “My favorite part about posts like these is the savage answers y’all give,” offers a third. “Ninety percent of you are voting to murder the bitch and sell her organs. Fuck, this subreddit is too good sometimes!”
At first, I felt bad for the tiny vagina-ed elf girl, and worried that the people commenting about her wished her — or real people — actual harm. It was the same pang of concern I felt while playing Sex with Stalin — couldn’t the fantasy of boning a dictator minimize the real death and violence he caused, however “joke-y” it may be? I was convinced it could, but after talking to one of the developers behind Slaves of Rome — an indie sex game where you play as an Ancient Roman slave master (ugh) — I started to think otherwise.
Questions over exploitation and consent might arise in real-life sex and porn, but the developer argues that games offer a different, safer outlet for fantasy. Though many games (including Sex With Stalin) depict violence and occasionally, actual rape, the characters are moving pixels — not living, breathing human beings — and both the developers and players are hyper aware of this distinction. As such, they tell me, there’s very little blurring of fantasy and reality for most gamers, and no universal desire among them to see their carnal ideations played out IRL (though there are plenty of exceptions to that rule, I’m sure).
Ultimately, Sex With Stalin is no different. Being the absurdist-educational experiment that it is, it mostly just makes you feel confused about how you should feel about Stalin, not like what he did was okay. If anything, after seeing his digital penis from a variety of angles for far too long, I felt even more familiar with his horrifying history.
And he was definitely a real dick.