Ghost Pepper Mondays: Playing at Love

I think that one of the greatest economic (let alone aesthetic, political, and ethical) failings of the mainstream games industry is to ignore the nearly-untapped potential for games that are about romance and relationships.

This past week, I’ve seen some good news on that front. The progress is coming from the margins, the indies, as usual.

Choice of Games‘ titles are all well-written branching narratives. On Friday, they announced the completion of the Choice of Romance trilogy. That’s three games / stories with a focus on love and romance (and court intrigue) all in one package.

There’s also Gone Home, a game where you explore an empty house and uncover a story of young love, coming out, and family tension. Gone Home is subtitled A Story Exploration Video Game, a prosaic description that reads like a disclaimer: CAUTION! This Game Does Not Contain Frenetic Gunfights, Swordfights, or Nuclear Weapons!

…and the videogame zinesters have done it again, with the Boob Jam, about the fact that while the industry considers breasts to be a decoration and a marketing tool, for most people “boobs aren’t necessarily playthings for other people. They’re just something we have.” That’s right, a game jam where “there is no design criterion except this: make a game that talks about boobs without resorting to the ‘straight male gaze.’

And, as I continue my search for non-schoolgirl yuri, I’ve come across Manga no Tsukurikataa comic about being a mangaka, and about a lesbian romance. It has it’s moments, and apparently won awards in Japan, but it feels like it is much more about drawing manga than falling in love. It’s so indirect and ginger about the romance that I still don’t know if the couple who have been dating for years have so much as kissed. The most intimate moments come over the work of drawing and writing manga itself, as in this scene:

Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 1.11.14 PM

I think it’s fair to say that the greatest love in Manga no Tsukurikata is the story’s love for the craft of creating manga.

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