"...a blancmange of ineptitude and misogyny..."
March 8, 2018 11:01 AM   Subscribe

“Do you live local, around here somewhere?” “Yeah,” she replies, doing most of the talking. “Ah, that’s nice,” Richard stumbles aimlessly in a script he wrote in advance of filming his imaginary wank fantasy. “Do you spend a lot of time in this area?” Seriously. That’s his follow-up to asking if she lives here. “I do, yeah,” the confused human replies, once again just dominating the conversation, as Richard begins telling the person who briefly agreed she knows the area that there’s a coffee shop around the corner.
Rock Paper Shotgun reviews PUA Video Game "Super Seducer." by John Walker [TW: All the worst PUA shit imaginable]
posted by Navelgazer (78 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 


just reading that review makes me need to take a shower. i wonder if this trainwreck is going to get much action (uh, sorry) on Twitch or youtube from people doing Let's Plays while dragging it mercilessly? i'm ashamed to say that i might watch one out of morbid curiosity but i would feel shitty about La Ruina getting even one copy's worth of royalties.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:12 AM on March 8


Videogame Dunkey: Super Seducer

well that answers that
posted by murphy slaw at 11:13 AM on March 8


Polygon review: ...Super Seducer stumbles recklessly over the line between encouraging straight men to be conscious of how they treat straight women and instructing them on how to single-mindedly pursue women as if they were collectibles.

(It's a lot less blunt than the RPS review, sadly).
posted by nubs at 11:20 AM on March 8


Which of these "wrong" answers gets this dickweed kicked in the nuts? I'd like to see that tape.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:22 AM on March 8 [10 favorites]


Given how much of the PUA community is about assigning people levels and then min-maxing specific stats, I'm honestly a little surprised that this isn't a terrible RPG.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:28 AM on March 8 [10 favorites]


From the RPS link:

La Ruina himself has been filmed teaching techniques to sexually assault women and “get away with it”. (Warning: this video is just so gross, with La Ruina physically demonstrating ways to grope on a woman live on stage.)


Aside from its horribleness, this clip features La Ruina mansplaining to an Italian audience how to do hand gestures.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:29 AM on March 8 [15 favorites]




This sequel to Dragon's Lair sucks.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:40 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


It's fitting that PUA is onomatopoeic for the sound of vomiting.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:41 AM on March 8 [28 favorites]


Is that this guy's real name, or is it an embarrassingly-punned pseudonym?

I am somewhat surprised that this isn't a VR game, honestly.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:42 AM on March 8


"...a blancmange of ineptitude and misogyny..."

do we really need another US politics thread
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:42 AM on March 8 [29 favorites]


I can't recommend videogamedunkey enough, he's a masterpiece
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:43 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I am somewhat surprised that this isn't a VR game, honestly.

I can't decide if this game is better or worse than that class of game where women appear purely as pleasing objects to ogle, touch, and disrobe. At least this game operates on the a premise that women have a will of their own (which must be bent to your own, of course). They're each vile in their own ways, it may just be comparing rotten apples to moldy oranges.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:48 AM on March 8


do we really need another US politics thread
Just reading the FPP (and not the linked article) made me think of the upcoming White House 'Summit' on Violent Video Games and respond "this looks like one game Trump would certainly approve of".

As a cishet male, I tried to stop this shit way back when it was "Leisure Suit Larry" and failed.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:52 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


this would be a lot more fun to laugh at if video games didn't have a long history of treating relationships and sex as one-dimensional combo meters that you feed with gifts and banal pleasantries until you hit LIMIT BREAK and are treated to 15 seconds of awkward CGI foreplay before fading to black…
posted by murphy slaw at 11:57 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Given how much of the PUA community is about assigning people levels and then min-maxing specific stats, I'm honestly a little surprised that this isn't a terrible RPG.

this would be a lot more fun to laugh at if video games didn't have a long history of treating relationships and sex as one-dimensional combo meters that you feed with gifts and banal pleasantries until you hit LIMIT BREAK and are treated to 15 seconds of awkward CGI foreplay before fading to black…

At least Bioware games give your sexytimes partner some character development before you get to "Let's bang, ok?"
posted by tobascodagama at 12:10 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


the one thing i have never seen a game do is have the object of your affection just not be into you no matter how hard you try.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:21 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


There is a certain irony to a video game site criticizing a video game for teaching men how to treat women like they are characters in video games.
posted by straight at 12:24 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


the one thing i have never seen a game do is have the object of your affection just not be into you no matter how hard you try.

I can think of one really interesting example of this but saying what game it is would kinda spoil the whole premise so uh
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:26 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


the one thing i have never seen a game do is have the object of your affection just not be into you no matter how hard you try.

The princess in Mario tried this but she only had so many houses she could hide in.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:29 PM on March 8 [47 favorites]


There is a certain irony to a video game site criticizing a video game for teaching men how to treat women like they are characters in video games.

Not inherently? As games journalism sites go RPS does a pretty good job of taking an actively progressive editorial stance on stuff and explicitly rejecting some of the toxic tropes in the games industry that otherwise have been abetted and normalized by look-the-other-way passivity. They're not perfect but they certainly make an active effort and I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for that.
posted by cortex at 12:32 PM on March 8 [38 favorites]


the one thing i have never seen a game do is have the object of your affection just not be into you no matter how hard you try.

Oh, hai! Welcome to Stardew Valley! You're gonna either like it or really, really hate it here!
posted by The Bellman at 12:39 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


the one thing i have never seen a game do is have the object of your affection just not be into you no matter how hard you try.

Isn't that most games? Though I guess it depends on how you count it. Most unromanceable characters in games with romances don't even let you try.

And I mean, what would it look like if a game did? Would it even help to let someone constantly hit on a character who doesn't ever have the option of romance? Or just randomly block off a few romance options at the beginning of the game, so it's just a matter of luck? Honestly I think that option might be worse, because it might just encourage cheating and manipulation to get to see the whole story.

I mean with walkthroughs, guides, ability to mod or manipulate things, it's almost impossible for a video game not to be a power fantasy of some sort without very conscious effort to make it not be as an explicit point of the game, and even then.

On a tangential but related note, though it's not exactly about romance (though I think the chraacter didn't have a romance arc, I really respected that the character Jack in mass Effect 2 always stayed an angry and fucked up person, and th writers didn't let you magically fix her traumas by spouting a few nice platitudes to her over the course of the game. On a personal level, I kind of disliked her, but I really liked the fact that I disliked her, that not everyone was going to be nice and happy just because you picked the right dialogue options.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:44 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


At least Bioware games give your sexytimes partner some character development before you get to "Let's bang, ok?"

This.

I would really love a smut-filled, smut-obsessed video game that won't leave me feeling utterly awful about the treatment of other human beings, please. Can we do that? Can we have adult sexy fun times without it being a garbage fire of sexism or abuse or shaming or generally shitty behavior? Because I'm not gonna play a game that makes me feel like I'm being a dirtbag even if it's toward completely fictional people.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:48 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Most unromanceable characters in games with romances don't even let you try.

true. i guess to be more specific, it's weird that games have "romanceable" and "unromanceable" characters? and that if a character has the "romanceable" flag, you can succeed with them, and if they don't, the entire set of romance mechanics aren't even available for them? they don't rebuff you, they're just functionally asexual?

dunno, i'm not formulating my thoughts on this well.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:50 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


the one thing i have never seen a game do is have the object of your affection just not be into you no matter how hard you try.

Romance interactions in Bioware games do, in fact, include plenty of "just not into you" results. Characters have their own identities. You can flirt and fall in love and/or bang in Dragon Age and in Mass Effect, but the who and what is all dependent on what character you create and the choices you make.

Dragon Age: Inquisition included at least one shutdown that left a crack in my heart. But in its defense, that shutdown was also hilarious.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:51 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


I would really love a smut-filled, smut-obsessed video game that won't leave me feeling utterly awful about the treatment of other human beings, please.

Dream Daddy will deliver half of this for you. There are only fades to black, but the romance, the sexiness, and the kindness is there. (And as for the smut, well, Tumblr loved this game, and --)
posted by Countess Elena at 1:01 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


Can we do that? Can we have adult sexy fun times without it being a garbage fire of sexism or abuse or shaming or generally shitty behavior?

What strikes me is even the basically smut-free or even in some cases smut-averse realm of a lot of Dating Sim games seem to fail at avoiding shittiness. You need to get the right sort of writer working with good devs and a shared purpose and that's harder than getting people with dodgier motivations or skillsets to produce Something, especially on a budget.

It seems like folks felt Dream Daddy did a pretty good job of the dating story interactions, even aside from from being notably explicitly queer-positive by design. More of that sort of thing would be a good start.

And, heh, jinx.
posted by cortex at 1:02 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


There is a certain irony to a video game site criticizing a video game for teaching men how to treat women like they are characters in video games.

Uh, despite all my years of Super Mario Brothers, I haven't ever killed a turtle by jumping on top of it.

Engaging in behavior in a game doesn't mean supporting it in the real world.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:04 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, BioWare is also pretty good about avoiding the "playersexual" thing, too, in a couple of different ways. For one, the romanceable characters have defined sexuality preferences, so some will only get involved in heterosexual romances, some will only get involved in homosexual romances, and there's usually at least one character per game who is bisexual. For another, -- granted this only happens in Mass Effect 3 out of the ones I've played -- there's a scene where two of your squadmates, both of whom are potentially romanceable, will end up with each other if you don't romance either one of them.

I'd personally like to see a lot more of the latter as a way to contexualise the player's romances and make the whole romanceable/not-romanceable thing a bit less awkward. Not all of the NPCs other than your One Hand-Picked Lover need to be ace/aro. (And that would also create contextual space to have other NPCs be explicitly ace/aro.)

As for the alleged irony... Fucking hell, criticising a game that explicitly aims to teach people how to behave in shitty ways in the real world isn't ironic, it's the bare minimum standard of decency and responsibility you should exhibit when covering any kind of media.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:06 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


At least Bioware games give your sexytimes partner some character development before you get to "Let's bang, ok?"

Saint's Row 4 romance is best romance. Especially Kinzie, where SPOILERS her romance track is: (1) Walk up to her (2) Push "ROMANCE" button (3) Your character says in your chosen voice, "Hey Kinzie! Wanna fuck?" and (4) she punches you and throws you down onto the floor of the alien spaceship you live in after Earth was destroyed.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:16 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


dunno, i'm not formulating my thoughts on this well.

Oh no, I think I got what you meant quite well. It's just that my first instinct is that it's actually a bit difficult given the nature of the medium - where it's easy to look up in advance to know what the results of your actions or goign to be, or even change those results by modding if it feels to random and unfair.

I think, yeah, to do it right, it can't just be arbitrary, or a function of stats or just picking the right options, it kind of has to be... well... different people liking you based on the choices and personality you give the character you're playing? Like taking risks and charging in and being reckless might excite a character in game whose adventurous and make them more into you, while pushing away a more measured sort?

I mean, hopefully someone whose an actual writer could come up with better ideas.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:17 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Saint's Row 4 romance is best romance.

I laughed at the fake-out of that, with the game seeming for a moment to be wandering into very out-of-character territory with a romance arc subgame before immediately torpedoing it with that short blunt parody. Hard to read that scene as anything other than a response to the huge visibility of the Mass Effect trilogy at that point, though; it was cute but a little empty, which is a fair comment on a lot of funny throwaway stuff in SR4.
posted by cortex at 1:22 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


And SR4 also has an example of "they're not into you" - Keith David is happily married, and rebuffs the romance option.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:36 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


RPS is one of those places where I expect to see regular feminist criticism of games, along with more detailed criticism.

But more broadly speaking, it's complicated, involving a lot of issues as to whether a game should be an interactive story or a well-designed system of mechanics. Story-based games, IMO should be read more along the lines of a limited-path interactive short-story. I'm kind of down a rabbit hole of otome games, which are explicitly romantic, primarily for a female audience, and at least the ones I've hit have involved openly negotiated relationship boundaries and consent, even though the stories seem pretty much on rails.

On the other hand, there's Fallout 4 where there is a point system, but it has a lot more to do with how you choose to play the game and various factional alignments than giving the right gifts. The Minuteman isn't going to like it if you kill settlers for kicks when he's around.

Traditionally, romanceable characters were not flagged as such, and you had to discover that on your own or read spoilers. Often non-romanceable characters have their own romantic or family life that doesn't involve the PC. Baldur's Gate had one in-party marriage. Mass Effect 3 had a "pair the spares" moment between Tali and Garrus. Aveline shuts the PC down repeatedly in Dragon Age 2 and gets married to someone else.

Ladykiller in a Bind probably is worth mentioning here for a game that tells you that it's about a crossdressing lesbian getting laid in kinky ways and manipulating her brother's friends from the start. I think it's a mixed bag myself. I'm personally fond of the relationships in Supergiant's games, which are sort of on rails. Bastion pulls off one of the best narrative twists in gaming, and the tragedies of Transistor are the Ted Chiang short story of gaming.

PC romances are a feature that have received a lot of analysis and criticism over the years. But I think this is a distraction from the FPP of a PUA creating the equivalent of an "educational" DVD game as a vehicle for self-promotion.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:40 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


And most of the criticism I've seen of PC romances in the last decade or so have come from the GG side using those features as evidence that gaming has been "feminized."
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:46 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


But I think this is a distraction from the FPP of a PUA creating the equivalent of an "educational" DVD game as a vehicle for self-promotion.

(And probably as an excuse to feel up some pretty actresses with the excuse of "hey, come on, that was just for the scene".)
posted by tobascodagama at 1:50 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


i wonder if this trainwreck is going to get much action (uh, sorry) on Twitch or youtube from people doing Let's Plays while dragging it mercilessly?

We Hunted The Mammoth did a post on this that contains some playthroughs, but I think they are all from sympathetic players.
posted by chainsofreedom at 2:03 PM on March 8


I doubt ProJared is sympathetic, given his video title has "DO NOT WATCH THIS" in it, and the "Worst Game Ever" reviewer managed to get a false DMCA takedown from the "creator".
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:18 PM on March 8


Demonstrating his keen grasp of journalism ethics, Forney has written a cheerfully positive review of Super Seducer on his web site. The post is literally sponsored by the game maker. The game maker paid him to review it.
See, now that's irony.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:27 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


I've been talking to a couple people about this "game", some of whom have dismissed criticisms of it by pointing out that violence in video games doesn't create mass murderers, so why should this game create date rapists? The response to this, of course, is that games like Fallout 3 or CoD or what have you are not deliberately marketed towards people aspiring to become mass murderers, and isn't frequently interrupted by someone explaining to you how to apply your shooting skills in real life.

I agree with RPS. This isn't a game; it's a marketing tool for PUA seminars, at the very least attempting to give aspiring creeps techniques for harassing, belittling and assaulting women. I wish I were optimistic that the sheer terribleness of its execution will tank it quickly, but I expect it to limp along for a while to come yet, buoyed by the desperation of a few hopeless men.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:45 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


Uh, despite all my years of Super Mario Brothers, I haven't ever killed a turtle by jumping on top of it.

Most kids who play Mario don't stomp on turtles and most kids who play Call of Duty don't pick up guns and start shooting people.

But it seems like there are quite a few people who play games where the women "characters" are machines that will give you sex if you push the right buttons who also go on to try to treat real women as if they are machines that will give you sex if you push the right buttons. So I think we are a lot more justified in raising an eyebrow at those games and asking questions about whether or not they have an effect on the attitudes of some of the people who play them.
posted by straight at 2:59 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


You can flirt and fall in love and/or bang in Dragon Age and in Mass Effect, but the who and what is all dependent on what character you create and the choices you make.

Yeah, but it real life there are people who won't want to have sex with you no matter what choices you make.
posted by straight at 2:59 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


it was cute but a little empty, which is a fair comment on a lot of funny throwaway stuff in SR4

Just so long as you're not including the Roddy Piper bits in that.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:01 PM on March 8


A majority of gamers have been women for the better part of a decade. I suspect that number shifts to a supermajority if you look at those genres that are explicitly about romance and sexuality. "Romanceable" characters in RPGs have also tended to be a minority of the cast, with a few notable exceptions.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:16 PM on March 8


This beautiful line in the RPS review seemed to sum up the experience of playing:
For complete efficacy, Richard’s extraordinary seduction techniques could only work in the imagination of a man lying in a room on his own, eyes closed, his hand down his trousers.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:45 PM on March 8


Wait, did this prick release his game on international women's day? Ugh.
posted by Berreggnog at 3:49 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but it real life there are people who won't want to have sex with you no matter what choices you make.

This is also an aspect of reality Bioware presents in their games. In fact I can't think of a game that doesn't include it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:05 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


This is also an aspect of reality Bioware presents in their games. In fact I can't think of a game that doesn't include it.

Yeah, but doesn't that just mean they "aren't romanceable"?

It's not that she isn't interested in me, it's just that she's not romanceable. A "romanceable" character is one who will fall in love with you if you just push the right buttons.
posted by straight at 4:13 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Justin McElroy has confirmed that, despite his masochistic commitment to the genre, this is the first FMV game ever released that he has absolutely no interest in playing.
posted by howfar at 4:32 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


That's not to say that we shouldn't criticize games for what they say, but understanding what a game says requires understanding the the "text" and audiovisual design of the game in addition to the mechanics behind the click. Likely the most invasive and micromanaging relationship game ever created was Sims 2: Nightlife, which is one of those games whose audience skewed to women. Misogynists in the gaming world tend to dislike Bioware and love The Witcher. Bioware has female protagonists and LGBTQ characters, leading to the famous fan meltdown over DA2. The Witcher gives you cheesecake cards of the women the singular male protagonist sleeps with (sometimes with minimal gameplay involved).

Those mechanics have been used to raise awareness of teen relationship violence and help people engage in self-care as well. I'll beat the dead horse that computer games are tabletop, parlor, and educational simulations packaged into code. Super Seducer is shit as media, but it would be shit if run as a workshop as well.

It's not that she isn't interested in me, it's just that she's not romanceable. A "romanceable" character is one who will fall in love with you if you just push the right buttons.

I'm not certain what the distinction here is. I'd say across Bioware's entire catalog (and I have a love/hate relationship with the way they handle story) a majority of secondary characters who are given extensive dialogues and animated scenes developing them as characters are simply not interested in the protagonist. They have other lives. Explicit "flirt" options are a rather recent addition, and not all characters who have flirt options have a "romance" arc. Aveline in DA2 will always shut you down if you try to flirt with her.

And many publishers don't have "romance" plotlines or roleplay. Some Bioware games don't.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:35 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


He has the same creepy "ironic innocent" voice as Noel Fielding. Makes my skin crawl.
posted by howfar at 4:57 PM on March 8


I think y'all are rubbing up against the real problem with romance and sex in video games, but are not quite hitting it. Every single game that people have put forward here as examples of good game romances, from Bioware games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age to visual novels like Dream daddy, all have the same flaw. They all feature a "romance track" that is a preprogrammed series of interactions and responses that will inevitably and without fail lead to you getting with your preferred character. I could look up a FAQ right now that would give me step by step instructions on how to "romance" Tali in ME3 or get the "good ending" with Damien in Dream Daddy.

How, ultimately, is that different from the PUA instructions taught by the shitass game in the linked article? Sure, the characters in these better games are well written with more depth and nuance, but at the end of the day they're still just NPCs responding to specific triggers in a script. This just further promotes the idea that there's a specific right path that leads to sex and all you have to do is connect the dots. People in this discussion seem to be implying that a character's "romanceability" is somehow attributable to their agency and is a better analogy for real life, when it's really just the game's writers deciding who to spend time scripting dialog for.

This is ultimately an offshoot of a problem that occurs every single time a video game tries to model some interaction realistically. In real life, if you get riddled with bullets you die. In real life, people decide to like you or not based on their own preferences. In real life if you run into someone's house and break all their pottery they call the police. In games, however, none of this matters. In a game you get to try again and because games rely mainly on predictable variables you can come up with the "correct" response to any situation. This is both by necessity and design, since more complex games are harder and more expensive to make, and no gamer really wants their game to be a perfect simulation of reality because reality mainly sucks.

There certainly are ways to make more realistic romance in games, and some games have tried to greater or lesser extent. I'm not going to sit here and pontificate about How Games Should Be Made, but giving "Romanceable" NPCs some simulated desires and interests of their own that can't be easily predicted or influenced by players could be a nice start. We give clever AI to the enemy soldiers we mercilessly gun down, why not give some to the characters we care about too?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:58 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


People in this discussion seem to be implying that a character's "romanceability" is somehow attributable to their agency and is a better analogy for real life, when it's really just the game's writers deciding who to spend time scripting dialog for.

I'm going to say that's a Watsonian vs. Doylist interpretation.


One thing most of those games have in their favour over the PUA game is that at least the path for "correct" behaviour, simplified power fantasy as it is, usually expects you to be nice to them? Even if "nice" is simplified to "give them presents" or "side with their faction in a conflict" at least the correct choice isn't "make fun of them for eating hamburgers."
posted by RobotHero at 5:20 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


I mean, we're talking about a game that literally claims to train men how to pick up women. Whatever hairs you want to split, that's a bad thing worth criticising.

(And, you know, a lot of people doing the criticism of Super Seducer have also criticised romance mechanics in other games.)
posted by tobascodagama at 5:26 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Like, what is even the fucking point of bringing this up? I think you're trying to point out the plank in their eye, but in this situation Super Seducer is the plank, actually.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:27 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


now i want to release a game that purports to tell you how to pick up women and then consists entirely of lessons concerned with proper lifting form, how to execute a fireman’s carry without injury, etc.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:30 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Comparisons to Mario or Call of Duty aren't salient here. This is more like a "Learn to Play Poker Like the Pros" game. A very bad one, and morally repugnant, and designed to teach players to use its "techniques" IRL.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:46 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


(1) Walk up to her (2) Push "ROMANCE" button (3) Your character says in your chosen voice, "Hey Kinzie! Wanna fuck?" and (4) she punches you and throws you down onto the floor.

Go on......
posted by rokusan at 5:51 PM on March 8


Listen, Super Seducer is definitely a shitpile far above and beyond how most video games depict romance, since it's actively teaching you predatory and gross tactics to use on actual real-life people. I'm not arguing anything other than that, nobody here is arguing anything other than that.

I said what I said because the discussion was getting into the weeds about "Romanceability" and seemed, to me, to be implying that because a character isn't scripted to be romanceable that's somehow indicative of some level of agency that character possesses. The way romance works in most games is at best questionable, since it's attempting to represent complex interpersonal relationships in a way that is fun and satisfying. I'm a huge Mass Effect fan, and I can say that the romance options in the game are largely well written and tasteful, but I wouldn't bring them up as an example of something that simulates how humans and aliens actually fall in love.

Anyway, like Navelgazer says, this entire digression about games with good romance options isn't salient. Super Seducer isn't trying to be a good romance game or a bad romance game, it's trying to teach people who don't know any better the "right way" to make someone have sex with them.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:53 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Didn't there used to be stupid sexy graphic adventure games well beyond Leisure Suit Larry? This smells like that era.
posted by rhizome at 5:55 PM on March 8


I think my original comment was badly worded.

I was not saying RPS or anybody else are hypocrites for criticizing this game. I was saying it's ironic that this bad video game is bad because it advocates treating real women the way one might treat characters in a bad video game.

(But I also think most video games are kinda inherently bad about romance because it is unavoidably mechanical and gamified in ways that are unfortunate mirrors of real-life bad ideas about romance.)
posted by straight at 6:06 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I mean, everything in video games happens because you push the right buttons. You can save the world by pushing the right buttons, which is also deeply unrealistic. I'm pretty okay with that being how video games work, as long as the story that plays out on the screen after I've pushed those buttons is itself one that treats the love interest character as a real human who requires something in the way of plausible shared experiences to look at your character romantically.

I mean, I'd love games that had more nuanced gameplay involved in social interactions generally. But the offensive part of this is not that the gameplay itself is shallow.
posted by Sequence at 6:14 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


This showed up on my Steam "Discovery Queue" for some reason. I hadn't realized before this that in addition to the buttons for 'add to your wishlist', 'follow', and 'not interested' that I needed a 'please shoot all copies of this into the sun along with the creators' button as well. I was tempted to buy it and refund it just so I could write a review trashing it.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:19 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


They are narratives, not simulations. They're interactive dramatic works that discuss dragons and giant robots in the same conversations as "do you like me." As such, text, performance, art design, and everything else involved with presenting a narrative to the audience all matter when we discuss why Transistor has better romantic relationships than Super Seducer.

And on Bioware, I find the romances to be some of the least problematic aspects of their storytelling.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:22 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


In the abstract, the idea of romanceable characters is tied into the idea of "roleplaying" in "roleplaying games." The player, being above the universe of the game, can choose to portray any type of person within the game world. The various dialogue options and so on are there to provide the tools of such portrayal. So it's not exactly meant to be "romance works by saying and doing very specific things and getting sex," but rather a way to be the kind of person that that non-player character would be interested in having a relationship with. In the real world, we (hopefully) engage in romance by saying and doing things that demonstrate our interest and our personality, and then our chosen partner uses that evidence to decide if we are compatible.

Now, in games you tend to have situations where the same "person," i.e. the player character, ends up being everything from a heartless murderer to hapless woobie, but this is more for the convenience of the player, who might wish to play multiple roles within the game and might not want to play the same story over and over to experience them.
posted by Scattercat at 6:33 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


One neat little Easter egg in Final Fantasy VII is that it's possible to go on The Date at the Gold Saucer with Barret. The bummer is that it's basically a booby prize for actively pissing off all the other romantic options.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 6:53 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Games are inclined towards power fantasy, where the player feels in control. So a dating sim isn't going to give you a bunch of dates where you "don't have chemistry" or whatever. (And Scattercat has a good point, if you want role-playing then who you are within the confines of the game is also a choice for the player.)

The pick up artist stuff sells itself by appealing to a similar power fantasy, about being in control, but where the game dev is in a position to actually deliver, the PUA foists it off to real-life women to deal with the consequence of not living up to expectation.
posted by RobotHero at 8:14 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


One thing I find interesting about the dating sim/visual novel space is that the low barrier for entry means there's a lot of LGBTQ experimentation that AAA games won't touch.

Another thing is that there's a weird bias that having fantasies about killing hordes of aliens or cyber-zombies is apparently less suspicious than developing a relationship with a partner, primarily through discussion, and having satisfying sex with affirmative consent.

The mechanics of clicking after every utterance and picking a dialogue options are about as interesting as paragraphs and chapter breaks IMO.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:33 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


This doesn't sound like an actual game so much as one of those corporate training modules with cheap actors in simulated situations and a silly quiz at the end of every few slides and at the end congratulations you have completed your cybersecurity certificate for the year. Except at the end of this module you're supposed to be certified to go out and annoy if not outright harass women.
posted by casarkos at 9:44 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


It saddens me (but doesn't surprise me) that Steam has no issue with allowing this on their platform.
posted by jzed at 10:23 PM on March 8


It saddens me (but doesn't surprise me) that Steam has no issue with allowing this on their platform.

It's part and parcel with Gaben's belief that he can use algorithms instead of people. Valve needs actual curation of the games they take on the service, and that requires actual people.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:03 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


This showed up on my Steam "Discovery Queue" for some reason.

Mine too, and I really wanted an "oh what the HELL no" modifier on the "Not Interested" button.

Steam seems to keep wanting to recommend new-release garbage at me in the Discovery Queue. I suspect maybe recency overrides everything else it's learned about me. Which you would think would be a lot: it knows what I've marked as "Not Interested", what I've wishlisted, what I've bought, what I've played and how much. But no: it still keeps on trying with "well, maybe this upskirty anime fighter, then?" Feh.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:14 PM on March 9


I want to make a game geared toward racists that has a world where the racist tries to do racist shit and say racist things, according to the plot of the game, but every time they step to someone they get beat up. Like, the player never has more strength than their target and the only way to survive through the game is not to do racist shit.
posted by rhizome at 12:23 PM on March 9




I really want to reenact this entire "game" and end each scenario with "NO! DON'T DO THAT".

But that would require slogging through the whole game and I value my sanity more than that.
posted by lumpenprole at 4:57 PM on March 9


There's probably an interesting game idea out of doing the reverse of this; you're a woman who keeps getting approached by dudes of various levels of creepiness and need to figure out how to respond. It could work as either an education tool for girls or as a genuinely challenging game.
posted by suetanvil at 8:49 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


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