CORRECTION: PH Lee is Ben Lehmann. I think I knew that, but they told me during the height of migraine time, and my memory still has gaps. I am going in to make edits.
So, yeah, we were having some serious internet issues last night. I finally just got seriously grumpy and gave up. The Martian had to reboot everything. And I had to go to work for a couple hours this morning. After my boss kicked me out, I headed home. And can finally write this.
Ok, at the risk of alienating the fuck out of a lot of you, I am not about to pillory PH Lee for this game.
Hot Guys Making Out is designed to emulate a very specific type of Bishounen anime.
Do I think everyone should play it?
Dear Gods, no! I, honestly, think it should be festooned with trigger and content warnings. I tried playing it once. I will likely never play it again. It isn’t that it isn’t well designed. It’s that I can’t deal with the subject matter. Does this mean I don’t think it should have been designed?
The designer created it for a very specific type of play for their own reasons, some of which are not mine to say, but just know that, yeah, there are reasons.
Do I think people should be urged to play this game? Not really. It has too fucking many landmines in it for a lot of folks.
Do I think this should be a pick up game at conventions? Sweet Zombie Jesus, no!
I have seen people play it and enjoy it. One of those people has no sexual assault history or trauma. Another person who I know enjoys it, likes it because it helps them work through their shit in a way that works for them.
Look, I’m not wild about it. I will only recommend it to people with a shitload of caveats. I know the designer fairly well (memory gaps not withstanding). Do I think they intended to create something that triggered people? No, I don’t.
Do I think they intended to glorify child sexual abuse? No. I know they didn’t.
I am not about pile on the designer for this.
Look, this game was initially written well over a decade ago. Shit has changed, and changed a lot since then. I mean, hell, looking back at drafts of Guns & Glamour, I have taken out some things I initially had in there because I didn’t think it was a big fucking deal, and at the time no one else did either. But what is acceptable has changed, people are more cognizant of harmful subtext than they were. I mean, this is maybe a shit example because he’s just an odious human being, but it’s one some other folks have used:
Joss Whedon. In the 90s, Buffy was Feminism’s poster girl. And yeah, for the 90s, that show was hella progressive.
FOR THE 90s.
That was 20 years ago. Gods, I’m old. Now, we look back at the pedestaling of Buffy, the Nice Guy ™-ism of Xander, the denigration of Cordelia, the fetishization of virginity, the fridge-ing of Tara, all of it, and cringe at how creepy and not good it is. And, don’t get me started on Dollhouse. Fuck.
I am not a fan of this game. BUT, that said, I don’t think PH is a bad person for writing it. They wrote it to do a specific thing, which it does. If there’s one thing they’re guilty of it’s in underestimating the impact of a game like this on others.
You can agree with me or not. Like I said, I’m not cheerleading this game. But neither am I going to demonize the creator. They sought to emulate a very specific subtype of anime, and they did that. It follows convention of that sort of anime really well. It does what it was meant to do.
It’s just not for everyone.
And should probably be labeled accordingly.
The one person I saw who was really incensed about this game got it sprung on them at a convention, which no. With no real warning of what it was. And THAT is a problem with whomever talked them into playing.
I still consider PH Lee a good friend.
They aren’t advocating child abuse by writing this game.
And you may think I’m making excuses for them here, and hell, maybe I am. You can decide that for yourselves, just as I have. You are adults after all, and contrary to how the MRAs and their creepy incel buddies depict me, I do not actually have mind control powers.
Gods, if I did the first thing I would do would be to teach people how to fucking merge on the highway.
Sorry, traffic was shit today.
So, hey, have a good Friendsgiving, and donate to an Indigenous American charity. Or punch a Nazi. I’m good with that, too.