This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us a preview of consensual tentacle sex game Consentacle and a new documentary series on women in games.
Writing about the final episode of Life is Strange, Ayla Arthur criticizes the game's callous treatment of its queer characters (Content Warning: discussion of suicide). On Indie Haven, Simon Rankin writes about playing through the game together with a friend and how their relationship mirrors the central friendship of Max and Chloe.
Meanwhile, at Unwinnable, Riley MacLeod gives us a brief look at Naomi Clark's sensual card game Consentacle:
"A lot of strangers have been enjoying playing it together," Naomi tells me when I ask her how the play sessions over the weekend of Indiecade have been going. The game was designed as a way to examine intimacy and consent, though not to teach players how to navigate it: Naomi says, "My nightmare is that it gets turned into an educational tool. It won't work."
In this way, Consentacle seems like a radical departure from many other games about sex and intimacy -- n exploration rather than an effort to define or explain. Naomi's games about sex and love also strive to do more than simply celebrate it. They challenge, go to uncomfortable places, and use unique mechanics and themes to get players thinking about the role all kinds of joy plays in our lives and how we pursue it.
"Games should be wasteful [...] If they aren't they get subsumed to production. So as long as games are wasteful, why shouldn't they have a palette of pleasure?"
Along a similar theme, The AV Club's Jake Muncy writes about the expressive power of Nina Freeman's Cibele.
Over on Leigh's old stomping ground of Gamasutra, David Craddock interviews a ROM hacker known as infidelity about their craft, while Fusion and Latoya Peterson debuted the second in the documentary series interviewing women developers and why they make games (video).
In case you missed it, here's Leigh Alexander herself on Offworld, talking about Twitch's Bob Ross revival and why he's a perfect gamer hero. Finally, dovetailing nicely with Leigh's piece, The Guardian's Naomi Alderman argues that games don't have to teach us things to be an enriching experience.