In The Name Of Love(‘s Next Game): Ladykiller In A Bind

By Graham Smith on January 6th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

I am constantly frustrated by videogame names, as too often they’re oblique, or cliché, or unsearchable. Christine Love knows how to do it right. The creator of Analogue: A Hate Story just announced her next project: My Twin Brother Made Me Crossdress As Him And Now I Have To Deal With A Geeky Stalker And A Domme Beauty Who Want Me In A Bind!!

It’s short name is just as good: Ladykiller in a Bind. It’s an erotic visual novel about social manipulation.

Christine Love is the very excellent game designer and writer behind Digital: A Love Story, which Kieron raved about back before any of us were born but when he was still very old. Since then Love has made the similarly excellent (and long-named) Don’t Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story, and Analogue: A Hate Story and its semi-sequel Hate Plus.

As Kieron wrote about Digital: “I can’t think of a better love story in the western medium.” Ladykiller in a Bind looks to be taking another glance towards romance, though this time with a different spin. Speaking to Polygon, Love outlined some of her goals:

“Sort of like dating sims or the Persona games’ social links, but with a much more honest portrayal,” Love wrote. “Really, dating sims are inherently about manipulating other people — pick the right dialogue choices based off what you think they expect, learn about their interests so you can give them perfectly tuned gifts, make decisions based off whether you’ll impress them or not — but like to pass it off as being about romance.

“Well, fuck that. You can still do that in Ladykiller in a Bind; we’re just not going to pretend that it’s anything other than manipulation. It’ll have consequences.”

Which is typically acerbic, and maybe means we can all continue stretching “Love On Love” puns for another decade or so. The game doesn’t have its own site yet, so go here and wait.

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100 Comments »

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  1. BTAxis says:

    But that’s what romance is. It’s a number printed in a (usually heart-shaped) box. How else are you going to know how someone feels about you?

    • KDR_11k says:

      Wait, I thought that was the health gauge! Oh man, wrapping her in bandages was the wrong approach then…

    • The Random One says:

      I just type showaffectionlevel=true in the console.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      How else are you going to know how someone feels about you?

      <Eeyore>That’s easy, nobody is attracted to me.</Eeyore>

  2. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    …and this jumps right into the Top 5 of my most anticipated games. Christine Love is amazing, and her games have always stuck with me. Between this and the To The Moon mini-episode, this is a great day of news for me :D

  3. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Talking of unsearchable, I used to really like a band called “A”. God it was hard to Google them. You had to go by album names or band members

  4. marlin says:

    Is the title of the game the answer to the question ‘Why do I have no friends and never get invited to parties’?

    Sorry, Mock the Week…

  5. Williz says:

    But is it a game? No? Okay.

    • swimming anime says:

      can we just make “not a game” bannable? in jest or no?

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        I tried to fight this fight for a while (in the “These things *are* games” side); maybe today I’m just tired, but I have given up. These “not-games” are clearly going to continue being developed cause people buy them, and if some people still feel the need to call them “not games” (with the associated belief in the very flawed equation “It’s not a game = it’s boring” and the intent to make fun of them and exclude them from their medium) let them do so. It’s not really a community I want to be part of. Plus, they’re missing out on a lot of great stuff, so, too bad for them.

        • bit_crusherrr says:

          Just because something is not a game doesn’t mean its bad.

          I wouldn’t call Hate Story a game but at the same time it’s not bad.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            As I have tried to argue before, I believe most people who try to dismiss these things as “not games” do so with the intent of excluding them from “their” medium” and negating their value.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            I prefer the term “Ludological Abomination”

          • bit_crusherrr says:

            Well personally I like some of these not games. To me a game has gameplay, stuff like Heavy Rain etc to me are more interactive films than video games. Where as “Visual Novels” as people like to call them are just that. They aren’t video games they are like those Goosebumps chose your own adventure books but in digital form.

          • Kitsunin says:

            I don’t disagree, but I think that the medium of “games” has quite a problem of being more than games, and the name fails to fit in the first place. At any rate, the argument for not calling things games really only exists because of people that want them to stop being covered by anyone ever, seeing as there aren’t any popular news places that only feature interactive fiction-type experiences. I think the majority of people who would follow a blog such as RPS would have interest in less traditional games, so there’s not much point.

        • sophof says:

          Basically these people are saying something different but lack the vocabulary to accurately express themselves. On top of that they think they are being witty by being derogatory.
          I guess what I am saying is, it’s not really a big deal. The only shame is that they’ll likely miss out on something good in the future because they appear to have mislabelled why they dislike something. They’ve started to believe their own lie that it somehow matters what a ‘game’ is.

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        darkChozo says:

        It’s a moderately useful definition, or at least shorthand, when talking about the Dear Esthers and Stanley Parables of the world, I think. It’s mostly an issue when it’s derogatory or exclusionary; just because they’re “not games” doesn’t mean they’re not worth talking about, because even if they’re not games they’re clearly very closely related.

        Besides, if we can’t talk about not-games than we can’t talk about ice cream and that would be a shame. Ice cream is delicious.

        • Tacroy says:

          How about we extend the term “interactive fiction” to cover things like The Stanley Parable?

        • Geebs says:

          You can use the time-honoured great/shit classification for those two games though. As in, the Stanley Parable is great…. You can work out the rest I think.

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            jrodman says:

            Ah yes, Stanley Parable is great, and your judgement is shit! :-D

            And now we will have a duel with pistols.

          • Kitsunin says:

            …and Dear Esther is also great! :D

            Somehow I feel like I missed something though…

          • Geebs says:

            Unfortunately I was unable to make it to your duel because I was being funnelled down a linear path while a man who seemed to mistake me for his chiropractor complained about his back pain.

    • Simes says:

      Is it “an activity that one engages in for amusement”? I’d have to say yes.

      • Vinraith says:

        If you’re suggesting that as a definition for “game,” I’ll just point out that it carries with it a few obvious problems.

        • Simes says:

          Oxford Dictionaries’ suggestion, not mine. Just getting a bit fed up of the overly narrow definitions of the word “game” which generally tend to boil down to “things which I personally enjoy or am in favour of”.

          • Vinraith says:

            Wow, that’s a terrible dictionary definition. I mean, think about it, that implies that ANY activity engaged in for amusement is a game, be it reading, watching TV, vacationing, or what have you.

            Anyway, personally I’m tired of people trying to broaden the definitions of words to such a degree that they cease to have any meaning or utility, but I know that’s a lost cause in these parts.

          • Simes says:

            I don’t think that’s pertinent in this particular case, however. And besides, the term already encompasses charades, Pac-Man, Call of Duty, Mario Kart and Zork so I think it’s fairly broad as it is.

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            jrodman says:

            People frequently call Children’s Make Believe a game.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            “Anyway, personally I’m tired of people trying to broaden the definitions of words to such a degree that they cease to have any meaning or utility,”

            I fail to see how “broadening” the definition of game to include things like this would cause the word to “cease to have any meaning or utility”. It’s not like “game” has traditionally had a narrow restrictive meaning to start with – we’re talking about a word that can equally be applied to chess, Agricola, poker, darts, rugby, tennis, Battlefied 4, Tetris, Crusader Kings, Pooh sticks and hide&seek. It’s already such a staggeringly broad definition, how the hell would also letting it cover this make the word less meaningful? Do you honestly think people are going to become confused as a result?

            Seriously, step back and listen to yourself. It’s a “lost cause” around these parts because it’s a stupid argument.

          • Baines says:

            But after you broaden the definition of a word to a point that makes it useless, you then have more justification to make new words to mean what the old word had previously meant. So instead of just “game”, you can create a fancy new language of games that you can use at speaking engagements, to write books, and to otherwise make yourself part of the circle of people that use that language.

          • Grygus says:

            Yes, that is how language works. There are broad terms, and then there are more specific definitions. If I tell you that I arrived by vehicle, only very basic information was actually conveyed, and if you are interested then there are terms such as car, plane, or ship, then even more specific terms from there in many layers, depending on the level of detail you need. Complaining that “car” doesn’t tell people that your particular car has four doors, and is therefore useless, is missing the point. You correctly perceive that game is definitely a very broad description, and that’s on purpose; complaining that it is broad and then, incredibly, mocking the more strict definitions that you are actually demanding just shows that you haven’t thought this through very carefully. Whether something is a game is actually unimportant; if I tell you that I was playing a game, it doesn’t matter whether you would consider what I was doing a game, yourself. All that matters is that you understand I was doing something for enjoyment; it’s a very basic communication, and such nuances are intentionally left for other, more specific terms. Working as intended.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            ^^^^ Word

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I think we should just call these types of projects video “games” (with quotes intact) and be done with it. A happy middle for all sides of the argument.

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      RedViv says:

      It is highly amusing to me that this debate is now reaching more mainstream audiences, when it has already been dealt with and concluded to not be a big deal in a few niches. Possibly in the most relevant way among the Interactive Fiction crowd.

    • Blackcompany says:

      If we’re going to go down this route, is most of what AAA developers/publishers push out to be considered a game, at this point?

      Consider campaigns like those found in DMC or CoJ: Gunslinger. Both good games for those who enjoy their genre (loved Gunslinger and liked DMC, but it wore out fast).

      And yet…and yet. Are they games? I can’t really say. To me, subjectively, a game has a set of rules and known goals. The method in which those goals are achieved, and the actual outcome of the attempt to achieve them, are both unknowns. Games, as I understood them growing up, have no certain, carved-in-stone path to success nor any guarantee thereof.

      We call AAA titles games. The fact is, they’re far closer to Interactive Movies.

      tl;dr: We can either call a spade a spade (and a movie with a ‘Win’ button a movie, or we can just let well enough alone and broaden our understanding of what makes a game, a game.

      Personally, I am choosing option A. I see what pigeon holed genres have done to movies, books and music. Especially music. I don’t want to go down that road with games as well.

    • TheBarringGaffner says:

      Do people seriously still bitch about this?

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      But are you tedious? Oh, definitely yes.

    • Williz says:

      I’m not dumping on VNs , I quite liked katawa shujo

  6. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    “My Twin Brother Made Me Crossdress As Him And Now I Have To Deal With A Geeky Stalker And A Domme Beauty Who Want Me In A Bind!!”?

    Man, I hate it when that happens.

  7. Chicago Ted says:

    Good lord, the title reads like it’s an actual Japanese light novel title.

  8. Brosepholis says:

    Of course, the fact that these games are elaborate parodies of / commentaries on actual Japanese games is lost on the RPS hivemind.

  9. bit_crusherrr says:

    This is same girl who includes drawn images of a topless under age girl in one of her games. Which I had no idea you could actually access until I saw a thread about the game on a forum, I’d assumed the images were inaccessible as the password is the girls middle name which is never mentioned within the game. But can be found with googling.

    Other than that transgression I have sort of liked Christine Loves games so far. Can’t see me playing this as I don’t play dating sims.

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      You make her sound like some kind of perverted pedophile. The image is also easily accessible in the folder of the game (/…/Don’t take it personally…/game/profiles – the images you are talking about are called naughty1, 2 and 3).

      In context, it’s simply a lesbian girl exploring her body and her sexuality with her girlfriend, sending her “naughty” pictures of herself, and it’s far from morbid or perverted. And if you look at the pictures, it’s drawn very tastefully and doesn’t look pornographic at all. If I were to rate it I wouldn’t even prohibit it to 12-year-olds.

      EDIT: I include the picture for everyone to see. NSFW, I guess? http://img42.com/KF8nA

      • bit_crusherrr says:

        It’s not the situation I’m bothered about it’s that the images were included with no warning. In UK law chances are that’s considered illegal and regardless of how “tasteful” you think it’s done, do you want to be on the sex offenders register? Cos I don’t.

        However I do get why she put the password out there but not in the game, but she still could of just changed the pictures to not have the nudity and still have the same effect. While I’m not the kind of person to call for censorship It would of at least been nice to have an optional version of the game that doesn’t put those images onto your computer without your knowledge, or at least a warning.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          US law also has quite arbitrary and bizarre behavior around such images. Witness people being designated sex offenders for having nonsexual pictures of naked children.

          I don’t really blame Christine though, the law is wrong, but someone should probably tell her to be more careful here.


          Errr on second thought, I am unsure if pretend pictures are considered differently from real ones. I’m certainly no authority.

          • bit_crusherrr says:

            I think (I’m not 100% sure) it can be considered it in the UK. Either way a warning wouldn’t of hurt, or changed the game in any way.

        • Baines says:

          If you want to parody/reference the source material, then use one of the methods that they use. The old mosaic for games, objects placed to conveniently cover body parts even if they otherwise make no sense, obvious fog, or the increasingly popular blinding light or pitch black shadow with no logical source at all. (Some anime in recent years have ended up with scenes where half the screen is blocked out by 1000 watt bulbs or super black smears.)

    • Deano2099 says:

      Most people would at least have the defense that they didn’t know about the images and didn’t view them though. Not you though, you googled for the password, and since you appear to know how smutty the images were, you clearly looked at them too. So it’s a bit rich to be moralising about it.

      (Which of course, was the point of including them in the first place…)

      • bit_crusherrr says:

        >Which I had no idea you could actually access until I saw a thread about the game on a forum, I’d assumed the images were inaccessible as the password is the girls middle name which is never mentioned within the game. But can be found with googling.

        Read my post, I didn’t know they existed until I was reading a discussion of the game on a forum, and the images were described there (and I think within the game as one girl is asking the other to do stuff). It was actually a couple of weeks after I’d played and uninstalled the game I found out about it. And even if “I didn’t know” did count as a reasonable defence it’s far too late by then as your face would of already been in the papers.

        Also as the game was linked on RPS (And other gaming sites) would that also count as sharing the questionable material if it is illegal?

  10. Watered-Down says:

    ‘Don’t Take it Personally’ still annoys me. I guess from all this praise I should at least try the others.

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      I’m not sure what annoys you about it, but if it was that anime feeling, you should try Digital, which is her only game that doesn’t have that, neither in the graphics nor in the dialogue and setting.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        Loved Digital, couldn’t stomach Babe for 10 minutes. So I guess agreed. i haven’t tried the others.

  11. Totally heterosexual says:

    2014 starting on a high note I see.

  12. Premium User Badge

    lowprices says:

    That reminds me, I should finish Hate Plus. I got to the bit where you are asked to bake a cake in real life, decided I didn’t feel like waiting until the game was ready to let me move on, and never went back.

    • mechabuddha says:

      I luckily had just bought a cake in real life the day before, and still had leftovers. That counts, right?

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        If I was your waifu and you gave me leftovers, I’d ask for a divorce.
        Where’s the love? You heartless monster D:

  13. Eight Rooks says:

    I have no problem with anyone making the argument that love sims/dating games/whatever are inherently ridiculous and damaging and so on and no-one should play them without realising they’re engaging in horrible, horrible behaviour. There’s a lot of truth to that argument, I think, and it deserves to be made (also one of my online friends counts Persona 4 Golden as his favourite game of all time, and the thought of him getting angry at this amuses me). And I say that as someone who counts Sakura Wars as one of his favourite videogame franchises of all time, without a shred of irony, either.

    But Digital: A Love Story struck me as mediocre at best. Twee nostalgia without any depth or real wit or intelligence or any point to it at all. Not trolling, I just played through the whole thing and thought “Sorry, is that it?”, and then thought about it some more and couldn’t for the life of me see a single thing I’d missed out on. The acclaim it got from nu-VG journalism types just struck me as ridiculous, and it’s that as much as Christine Love’s writing that’s basically kept me from having anything to do with any of her other games. I have no problem with video-“games”, or non-games or art installations or whatever you want to call them, but everything I’ve read about her work and what I know of it means they come across to me as little more than interactive sociology essays, and… yeah, I just can’t get excited about them at all.

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      That second part really makes you seem like a pretentious wanker my friend. I think you might want to edit that.

      • Geebs says:

        On the contrary that was a clearly expressed opinion. On the other hand your post makes you sound like an intolerant jerk.

        • Totally heterosexual says:

          Nah, I’m totally correct and you are wrong. It’s a fact (not an opinion) because I said so.

    • Acorino says:

      Digital is amazingly accurate at capturing the spirit of the BBS era, of a time when the internet was barely in its infancy. Maybe it has to be understood what it’s about before it can be appreciated?

    • vegeta1998 says:

      Yea I “played”/read Analogue and was pretty disappointed. I have zero idea what all the fuss was about. It was a wall of text about the size, depth and breadth of a chapter from Twilight. The creepy character kawaii-loli anime pillow portraits earned me concerned looks from my significant other, the bright background made the endless text hurt my eyes and the mega tame lesbian descriptions barely aroused me.

      It also had an ms-dos style mini game in it that dictates 95% of the player input and story tree decisions.

      I wanted to like it. Except it was not good. You can have more fun reading Anaïs Nin with a twelve sided die, or masturbating to a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

      • Laketown says:

        I hate people that say twilight esque as an insult. Because no fucking way is anything Love does is anywhere close to the level of Twilight. I read all of those books. Honestly? people say not worth the paper it’s printed on, but it wouldn’t even be worth the megabytes for a digital copy. They’re trash at the highest caliber. As much as Hunger Games is a Battle Royale rip off, at least it’s not as fucking damaging as Twilight.

        Although if you thought those lesbian trysts were there to arouse you maybe you would enjoy Twilight more.

  14. realitysconcierge says:

    Whelp this looks like it will be my first visual novel!

  15. kwyjibo says:

    Because having a guy interacting with two girls is not weird enough.

  16. yesterdayisawadeer says:

    I’m incredibly frustrated that larger western auditories so vigorously applaud To The Moon and Analogue. There are numerous masterpieces in the genre of visual novel that blow those two out of the water in all aspects, from script and sound to graphics!
    It’s like never having eaten anything other that rye bread you are amazed and fascinated by the wheat bread, oblivious of throngs of cookies, cakes, pies and other confectionary existing just around the corner.

    Check out english-translated versions of G-senjou no Maou, Fate/Stay Night, Tsukihime, Swan Song, Steins;Gate, ef – a fairy tale of the two, Saya no Uta or Hanachirasu. There are literally dosens of widely recognized exceptional visual novels that completely and utterly dominate the aforementioned two examples.

    • tormos says:

      being angry that people like stuff has never struck me as a great way to spend my time

      • yesterdayisawadeer says:

        I’m not angry they like stuff. I’m frustrated they like inferior stuff because they don’t know better.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          Do you have a link to your favourite one or two?
          Mind, I can’t stomach Analogue for the medium conventions but I loved To the Moon and also Digital A Love Story.

          Meanwhile being frustrated that they like things similar to what you like for being ignorant of the things you like more…. WEIRD!

          I tried digging into the games you suggest.

          Googling Swan Song gave me a nudie pic of a person who looks like a young teenage girl. This is not for me.

          Fate/Stay Night is described “Fate/stay night (フェイト/ステイナイト Feito/sutei naito?) is a Japanese visual novel developed by Type-Moon, which was originally released as an adult game for Windows.” This is also not something for me.

          “Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two (stylized as ef – a fairy tale of the two.) is the overall title of a two-part Japanese adult visual novel series by Minori for the PC as a DVD” I’m seeing a theme here. Why do all these games have sex in them?

          “Saya no Uta (沙耶の唄?, lit. Saya’s Song) is a visual novel by Nitroplus with horror elements. The original plot is written by Gen Urobuchi.” Well, this seems to avoid the sexytime but I’m not much of a horror fan either. Oh wait, I spoke too soon… “The third ending … created by researching the (spoiler?) obtained during sex with (spoiler?)”

          So overall I’d say that To the Moon is *not* the same style of game as the typical eroge (sp?) type creation.

          Steins;Gate, subtitled: Punctuation&Fail, looks pretty interesting though. It seems it will be available in the future for 40$. I doubt I’m forty-dollars-interested in a genre that I’ve generally not enjoyed in the past. Oh well.

          • yesterdayisawadeer says:

            Swan Song is about the social and behavioural collapse of a small town due to a severe natural disaster and isolation. It’s ironic that you were turned off by nudity, as in the case of Swan Song it’s actually there for a plot-related reason and not just a fan service.

            I believe that dismissing a work of fiction on the sole basis of it having nudity/sex scenes is a great way to miss out. Not only the sex can have perfectly valid in-universe explanation (as in the case of a society reverting to more tribal and carnal state in the wake of destruction of standing social institutes in Swan Song) it is also an incredibly powerful storytelling tool if used properly to show the characters in their most intimate and vulnerable state.

            If you don’t like “sex for the sake of sex” than not touching anything tagged “nukige” is the way to go. Such visual novels are basically porn, by definition don’t have any literary value and can be safely ignored. For the record, none of the works I mentioned are nukige.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Sorry, when an entire genre has sex in every single game, I do not accept that it’s not there for explicit titillation of the player. I’m not a prude and love many films, books, and other creative works that contain sex, but the ever-presence and titillation factors present in eroge visual novels remind me of nothing so much as Piers Anthony novels.

          • yesterdayisawadeer says:

            Welp, it’s your loss. I’ll have to mention though that not “every single game” has sex scenes (for example Narcissu, Planetarian, Kanon or Clannad don’t have any) and of those that do many display an option at the start to disable and omit them.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Or maybe it’s really not my loss, and I really don’t enjoy them and they’re really not as great as you think they are.

            I’m kind of impressed that you haven’t recognized that these games are significantly distinct from the title you think they’re superior to.

          • yesterdayisawadeer says:

            Are you claiming that without actually playing any of the proposed titles? Seriously?

          • blahman9 says:

            For some reason, the two of you are blowing this way out of proportion, which is understandable considering that this the internet, where we express our very first thoughts despite the fact they might not be the best way to express ourselves. I for one have played Fate Stay/night (the only one I played out of those), and I can say that it’s pretty darn good. I got into it after watching Fate/Zero (An really good, if not excellent anime that was the prequel to the VN). The sex scenes in that game does seem to be there for the titillation for some of the audience, but it by NO means defines the game. It is in fact a very small part. The remade version for the PSP/Vita doesn’t have them at all I think. I understand if you get turned off by the thought of it, but you seem to be rather rude about it, even if you felt the OP was being too pushy.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            I’m rude about the idea that it’s decided for me that I’m actually wrong about my own tastes. That deserves scorn.

            Maybe I should assume it was an accident of phrasing, but the whole thread started when it was declared that *lots* of people are wrong about their taste.

            The comparison with Piers Anthony sticks. The books I read of his (too many) in middle school were not about sex, but you could count on it to always be wedged in there.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jackablade says:

      Saya no Uta is the one about the guy who sees the world and everyone in it as rotting meat, right? I started watching a playthrough of that on Youtube. It’s compelling but it’s super bleak stuff.

  17. Junon says:

    Isaac Schankler and Raide are back on deck for this one, too. It’s gonna be good.

  18. Premium User Badge

    airknots says:

    “…pick the right dialogue choices based off what you think they expect, learn about their interests so you can give them perfectly tuned gifts, make decisions based off whether you’ll impress them or not — but like to pass it off as being about romance.”

    Just like in real life.