Brushing Up: Painters Guild Comes To Steam

Painters Guild [official site] is a charming little management sim where you run a guild of artists. I wrote about it a little while ago thanks to a free demo but it’s out today on Steam so I’m re-mentioning it.

Currently all is not well at the Guild of Pip. My main artist is languishing in a jail cell after brawling because I couldn’t pay his fine leaving my newly recruited trainee to hold the fort and keep a roof over all of our heads. He didn’t do any on-screen brawling. As far as I could tell he was tucked up in bed but the pop-up said otherwise and thus I am in a bit of a pickle.

I think we’ll be okay, though, I just need to get through a little period of this one guy grinding pigment, painting commissions, and having naps.

I have big plans for my current guild. I want to keep costs down by not hiring superstars from the Renaissance, so I’m recruiting from a local city and then using the money I save to buy furniture that helps with my reputation, as well as letting people rest more efficiently and grind pigment simultaneously.

The thing that I’m a little unsure of is these pop-up events. They add a bit of interest beyond the basic events of the period (news of important inventions and deaths are delivered via courier) but there’s one which might just screw up your guild entirely. It’s that there’s an option to start the game with a gay character and the game points out that it’s “historically punishable by death”.

I had a different save on my main gaming machine and a pop-up related to my character’s orientation triggered carrying with it a 5% risk of execution. That would possibly have put an end to my guild entirely. I get the point that the option makes but I think leaving it as an option is a mistake, both from a symbolic perspective (i.e. gayness as a choice) and from a gameplay one (if you’re going to invest time into the game you’re less likely to go with the option that might end the game early, or at least significantly affect your progress).

Maybe that’s okay because it’s still making the point about historical attitudes, but the choice element is one I keep chewing over because I don’t think it quite works.

Anyway, yes. Painters Guild is a tight management sim which I’m rather enjoying.


  1. Pantalaimon says:

    Can anyone who has played it talk a bit about the simulation elements? Is it like the Kairosoft games?

  2. wraithgr says:

    That’s a bit of a strange addition to gameplay… I (think I) understand the attempt at a statement, but on the other hand there seems no “politically correct” way to balance this in a gameplay context: do you confer gameplay advantages on gay artists, to offset the risk of one of them being persecuted? Do you just penalize (randomly, no less) someone who chooses that option by killing their character off? Doesn’t seem like any choice exists that would be safe from being called a stereotype…

    • Pantalaimon says:

      It just seems like a bizarre inclusion, given the feel of the game. ‘Oh, one of your characters has been murdered because they’re gay, also you just lost the game.’

      It shouldn’t be optional and it shouldn’t be permadeath enabling. Random unavoidable permadeath is just a stupid thing to include in games like this regardless.

  3. Beefenstein says:

    Gay characters as some kind of ‘Hardcore / Difficult Mode’ is, I think, an interesting way of exploring the reality of prejudice against non-standard sexual orientations in a game and I would applaud that. However the mechanic would need to be more “pay X to bribe Y to not divulge your clandestine sexual activities”, “pay X to bribe the Vatican for indulgences so that you don’t go to hell” and so on. Not ‘hey you’re gay and dead!’.

  4. Kefren says:

    No! I can’t play it because they haven’t installed an apostrophe in the title!

  5. DragonOfTime says:

    I don’t think that there is a problem in making the “gayness” a choice. Plenty of other factors that we have no control over in real life have been choices when creating a character for ages, such as race and gender. It is not a character choosing whether or not to be gay, it is the player choosing whether or not to play a gay character, which I don’t personally see the problem in.
    The whole “random chance to die” handling is pretty annoying though, I’d much rather have a bunch of scandalous intrigue such as what Beefenstein proposes.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      The problem with that is that the majority of players are probably going to choose to play a straight character, so much of their audience won’t ever see those events. That’s fine if homosexuality is only one out of many traits you can select during character creation that unlock new possible events, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      Honestly, the option simply feels out of place in this game. Why does it even need romance?

  6. Jediben says:

    I think it’s brilliant. Now for the ethnic minorities too be randomly enslaved and females to be burned as witches!