As I mentioned Tuesday, I’ve been playing a lot of visual novel/sim games in my spare time lately, and I’m going to tie a couple more of them today to legal issues facing the trans community. Spoiler warning up front, again, regarding these games. Today, I’ll be looking at two games by Christine Love, Analogue: A Hate Story and Hate Plus. In a short summary, these games are science-fiction games taking place about 2900 years in the future, where you serve as a lone investigator, trying to unravel the mysteries behind the Mugunghwa, a generational ship that was sent out from Korea in the 25th century to form a new colony, but never arrived. With the help of the ships AI(s), you dig through the log files trying to uncover what happened to the ship to leave it stranded in space with no crew. This just reveals another mystery, what happened to the ship that caused a radical change in culture as well as reset all the clocks (when you arrive, the computer thinks it’s year 944, despite it being the year 4989), and the second game is unraveling this mystery with the help of the AI(s) that you saved at the end of the first game.
Here’s the thing, these games aren’t your traditional visual novel/dating sim where you just tell the girl whatever she wants to hear and then bag her. No, these games are based on hate, not love or lust, and thus they’re designed to make you feel bad for doing that. The entire history of the game is one based on hate: between the AIs, toward the two societies by the AIs, toward others within the societies by others within the same societies, etc. This is one way that the games accomplish their ultimate goal: trolling the player.
Let me put that more into context for you. Not only do the games intend to make you feel bad for saying whatever the girl wants (for example, telling *Hyun-ae that her act of mass murder on everyone on the ship is ok, or telling *Mute that the backwards traditions of the new Josean dynasty on the ship are good, rather than pointing out that they led to the issues), but they also troll you in other ways. In the sequel, Hate Plus, there is one point during *Hyun-ae’s path where the game tells you to go out and bake a cake in real life for her, even chiding you for not taking the time to do so. It gets to the point where *Hyun-ae tells you that she’s not some character in an eroge game for you to try and please. There’s an actual achievement within the game for actually baking the cake, but it requires you taking a picture of the actual cake and emailing it to Christine Love, the dev of the game. This is a trolling of the whole trend of guys doing real dates for their virtual girlfriends. Another way the game trolls you is through the achievement Level Four Revive Materia, where you successfully complete the game with *Mute in her traditional dress. Here’s how this is trolling: *Mute commits suicide between the second and third days, and there is no way to prevent this. The new *Mute wears a uniform from the old Korean space agency. The only way the suicide does not happen is if you are running the harem route and have both AIs, so that *Hyun-ae stops *Mute. However, not even this unlocks the achievement, as the achievement isn’t even coded into the game, and never will be.
And here’s where it gets to trans legal issues. Just as we have the visibility of an achievement that will never be unlocked by any players, there are laws affecting transgender individuals that will never be passed. I speak of course of the variety of bathroom bills that frequently pop up in various states, including three right now: Florida, Kentucky, and Texas. None of these bills have ever been properly placed into law, the one that most closely made it being the Arizona bill from 2013, which passed the legislature but was vetoed by the governor.
These bills are nothing more than conservatives trolling the transgender community, rattling sabers to make it look like they’ve actually tried to make changes that their extremist constituency wants but were prevented by those more liberal from coming to fruition. They use this as a way of trying to stay in office. However, that being said, it is still a constant series of microaggressions against us, contributing just one more insult on top of all that we face daily. And the thing is, sometimes trolls succeed in doing more than just trolling. If we ever drop our guard against these bills, one may finally get passed into law some day. And in making us remain vigilant for these laws, they manage to distract us from other, bigger battles, like a trans-inclusive ENDA. We can only respond by getting more allies, and being more vocal in our needs for equal treatment under the law.