How the Developers of 'Haven' Tried to Make Video Game Sex Seem Normal

Warning: Later in this story, there is discussion of a plot point in Haven involving forced conversion therapy.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jgqz3p/how-the-developers-of-haven-tried-to-make-video-game-sex-seem-normal

On hearing this around launch, any interest I had in the game went out the window. This is so… this shit should not go out the doors.

Yeah, I want games to have have better writing about relationships, about sex but like:

  1. Visual Novels are already doing this kind of writing and are just largely ignored.
  2. Its not going to come from a game that tries to tell me this hetero relationship is revolutionary, that gives me The Last Night vibes. Jesus.
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Me reading the above pull quote wondering who the hell thought that mess was a good idea
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Was curious because I did enjoy the teams previous game (Furi) but oh boy idk about this one

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I am so baffled because I hadn’t heard anything about the game–though also I’ve been very out of the Twitter games discourse loop lately. Shame because I loved the soundtrack for the game and I was looking forward to a lighthearted RPG romp with that soundtrack in the background.

Who the fuck thought this was a good idea??

I’ve been playing this game today probably because I’m lonely and a lame heterosexual relationship sounds nice right now…

But this game has pretty bad “third wheel” vibes. They’re pathetically in love and you’re just… there. No real room for you in this ship.

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man this plot sounds like the kinda thing you write when you’re angry about the Gay Agenda lmao

What do you mean by this? I thought it was just them as the playable characters, is there a third person hanging out with them?

You’re a floating first-person camera in the ship segments, so you’re not really playing as either of them. They’ll be on the couch or in bed. You move past to craft or cook or make them sleep. You get the sense you’re not really part of this, just watching.

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If you’re the person who rolls their eyes and considered skipping ahead 30 seconds when HBO has yet another extended sex scene in a show, this game is designed to torture you. I wanted to like it, but I found that sort of structure and the games all in earnestness on a young relationship (with problems that are a little too easy to see) a little too much .There’s also something that bothers me about the setup – these two people are literally alone on a new world with no way for friends to moderate and provide insight that gave me a bit of a red flag.

Still, I hope to run into something in the general genre of this that I do like someday.

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Ew.

I know there’s a more constructive critique about recognizing the implications of where the camera is placed AKA porn already wrote the book on this.

But really, just ew.

And then also ew about the forming a false equivalency by including forced conversion therapy of the hets, of course.

Wait, an actual in-world physical object camera? Or an abstracted “this is a video game camera” camera?

Because I treat most video games as me as an outside observer watching the events unfold. The characters aren’t me, they’re the characters.

Abstracted “this is a video game camera” camera. This game has enough roots in RPGs that I do wonder what my connection is to these characters. It is a romance but you’re not really either of them. It’s a weird feeling because movie romances can easily handle this sympathy for both characters, you’re watching a story but not inhabiting it. Typically in a game romance you’re role-playing as one character’s POV, not both. I’m basically in this spaceship with them as some kind of mysterious guiding spirit or a shared mind or something. They intend for it to be just watching like a film, but I’m also physically in this space as the camera, which creates a reality for “me” separate from the characters.

It feels stranger since this game opens in medias res, so they’re already deeply in love and you don’t have any context for how this started. We didn’t build to get to the puppy love stage, we’re just here now. It’s a level of intimacy with strangers you’re dumped into suddenly and it feels a bit uncomfortable to me.

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I’m sure there’s a reading of this that is fine, but the framing of this is just… so absurdly bad that I’m baffled it didn’t get intercepted at any point.

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Honestly, what you’re describing, as a study of storytelling, I’m starting to become more interested in how they pulled off this anxiety(?) for the player than how they could’ve avoided it. Like you said, “movie romances can easily handle this sympathy for both characters, you’re watching a story but not inhabiting it.” A lot of how to make it work was in front of them. I wanna know how they dodged all that and got to that Blue Valentine sexual relationship where the viewer so certainly doesn’t want to be in the space.

It is possible I am largely alone in feeling this way. I am probably more uncomfortable with intimacy than most. And I’ve only played a few hours.

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