Jan 152016
 

Consensual Torture Simulator

Much like Robert Yang and his game Hurt Me Plenty (previously discussed), Merritt Kopas has done some interesting experimental video games involving kink, such as the Twine game Consensual Torture Simulator.

As described by Kotaku:

Consensual Torture Simulator is a Twine game where players have to make their girlfriend cry. There are many means to do this—maybe you use your hands (you can punch and slap for example), or maybe you use a tool/toy, like a cane. It’s up to you how you want to go about it but your goal is the same. Basically, you read passages and descriptions of how you and your partner are feeling and you react accordingly. You then choose whatever option seems the most appealing/interesting to you—maybe you want to focus on spanking, or maybe you switch your methods up. Maybe you give your partner lots of breaks. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type deal.

The important thing to note here is that everything you do in the game is negotiated—not just beforehand via, say, agreeing to a certain ‘safeword,’ (as in, a code word that tells your partner that you are about to hit some sort of boundary) but also as you go along, as you gauge how your partner is doing.

[…]

“The idea came out of hearing about the torture scene in Grand Theft Auto,” Kopas said. “It seems like AAA video games are invested in providing more and more detailed representations of really horrific violence…so I was thinking, what would a simulator of a scene about consensual violence look like?”

GamaSutra picks up from her strong misreading of the torture scene in GTA:

Upon hearing of the scene, she had an idea: “I was thinking, well, something really edgy would be hitting someone who wants you to hit them, in a context where you want to do that.”

Kopas also wanted to challenge a narrative she’s sometimes seen in portrayals of kink in culture: One where the person who’s topping is “there as a dispenser of something, or is a machine,” just the catalyst for the submissive partner’s great revelation at their hands.

It was important to her, with the game, to challenge players to manage their own stamina, physical and emotional response as they interact with their partner. Both characters need breaks from what is often an intense, complicated, adrenaline-fueled experience that requires a great deal of trust, communication and patience.

[…]

I ask Kopas whether maybe people who are deeply interested in games may be more able to relate to kink relationships, which are about scene-setting, communication, mutual negotiations, and rules, often in ways that seem similar to video games.

“I’m not someone who in personal relationships is approaching things in that way, but I think for me, the broader parallels between games and kink is that both of them, at their best, can allow for exploration and re-definition of symbols and meanings; they can be useful and transformative,” she says.

I’ll admit that, in thinking about the idea of representing kink as a videogame, I thought of the top position as a sensation-dispensing automaton, ignoring the top’s subjective experience of emotional responses, physical fatigue, etc. That’s something that is perhaps easier to convey in a text-based medium like Twine games.

From Rock Paper Shotgun’s S.EXE interview with her:

The problem with incorporating sex into games is that to me, good sex is not mechanistic — it doesn’t always follow predictable paths towards established goals. It’s very playful, exploratory. Which is actually not a very popular view of sex or videogames.

There’s this quote from this psychologist Leonore Tiefer that I really love, where she describes orgasm as a very American means of thinking about sex, because it’s a quantifiable, discrete indicator of sexual ‘success.’ She actually uses the word ‘score’, which of course makes me think of games. And for me dominant understandings of sexuality are actually very much in line with dominant understandings of games and play: we believe that both must have win conditions, that they follow predictable patterns, and so forth.

This aligns with the mainstream, scientia sexualis view of sexuality, in which productivity (an orgasm, a pregnancy) is the objective, versus the ars erotica view of sexuality common in BDSM (though not universal), in which success is more about personal experience.

Games like Bioware‘s Mass Effect or Dragon Age franchise include sex scenes as a result of player interaction, but the sex itself is in cutscenes that the player receives passively.

This makes BDSM an interesting match to videogames about sex.

So in something like Consensual Torture Simulator, I wanted to show a loving relationship where pain and power is part of it. And I wanted it to be sweet and playful and hot, too, because I’m not interested in making media that’s overly didactic or solemn. If I’m making a game about sex I want to engage the player, to make them feel something.

[…]

And in my experience games have this wonderful disarming quality that persuasive nonfiction writing or literature doesn’t always have. Like, I can make a game about an almost unheard-of sex act, or about a D/s relationship, and people are going to play it because it’s a game, because they feel some level of comfort in navigating that kind of media. So there’s the potential there to reach people who might not even realize, beforehand, that a game about sex or kink or something your body could do that you didn’t know about might be useful to them.

 

 

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)