At the end of January gaming Twitter was packed full of penis. Big ones, small ones, GIFs, it was a total sausage factory. The penises in question all originated from Conan Exiles, which had just gone into early access on Steam. Among the many customization options available in the open-world survival game was an "endowment slider" that allowed you to choose the size of your appendage.
"We're a bit shocked about how much it took off but I guess part of that was just because we didn't talk about it," says the game's creative director Joel Bylos. "We thought it's there and people will find it, I thought people would just sort of see it and laugh and move on but I wasn't expecting the attention, the viralness of it."
NSFW but Conan Exiles has an endowment slider. Big dong, little dong, big dong, little dong pic.twitter.com/MNgGsmlv32— Chris Livingston (@screencuisine) January 30, 2017
One GIF of the slider in action was retweeted around 3,300 times, and there was even a song titled 'Winkie Slider' tweeted out by Weebl, known for making animated musical videos like 'Badgers' and 'Narwhals.'
The game certainly isn't the first to feature male nudity, fellow survival game Rust also featured male genitalia, but players had no power over size. Something about the slider functionality in Conan Exiles – and the resulting GIFs really were hypnotic to watch – just sent the internet wild.
"We talked about the nudity in our leads meeting. I remember this very clearly because we had a chat, we thought nudity kind of fits the Conan universe and we could easily make it so people could turn it off if they wanted to, and server admins could choose to turn it off. So why not do it? It fits the setting and it's fun," says Bylos.
"Then I had to go and tell Jenni [Saarinen], the character modeler, 'Jenni, we need penises.' I'm not kidding, for the next three weeks she had her screen full of reference material. So that was fun."
It's not all fun and games though sadly, and not every version of the game will have the infamous endowment slider. Microsoft's Xbox, like a strip club trying to build a sheen of respectability, will only feature top-half nudity.
"Xbox has been pretty clear with us that it's not going to fly," says Bylos. "It's just going to be off by default I think. I don't know if partial nudity might be OK. We haven't spoken to Xbox about breasts. They do allow breasts in some of their games, but the penises definitely won't be there," he says with a shrug.
"There was a lot of talk from our team in Japan – because the game is translated in a lot of languages – and the Japanese translation team said 'you'll be banned in Japan because you have penises. That's a flat out ban.' But we haven't heard anything."
Conan Exiles is available in Early Access now on PC with Xbox and PlayStation 4 versions planned for the final game. It's already sold over 3 million copies.