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Super Seducer is a blancmange of ineptitude and misogyny

PUA-lite but no better for it

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Super Seducer is a game made by self-described “pick-up artist” (PUA) Richard La Ruina, aimed at teaching straight men so-called seduction techniques for attracting women. The result is a farcical and disastrous laughing stock of a game. But PUAs aren’t a funny joke, rather they’re a frightening reality of a deeply misogynistic culture that in its less PR-friendly moments has frequently advocated sexual assault against women.

Super Seducer is clearly intended to be part of the PR exercise, an attempt to portray PUAs as just guys looking for ways to convince girls to like them, albeit through techniques that are primarily focused around lying and manipulation. It’s an attempt to put a friendly mask on an ugly face. What’s so peculiar about it is that it’s not only bad at its attempts to do this, but it’s cringingly bad at everything.La Ruina here is so demonstrably terrible at his professed talent, so revealingly incapable of holding even a scripted conversation with an actress paid to pretend to like him, that he at once reveals not just how idiotic the concept is from the ground up, but also can’t help but slip and show the true grim face of this movement. Super Seducer is the world’s most incompetent Trojan clown-horse for the true depths of PUA culture, and that deserves to be called out lest it get past anyone.

The format is video clips of La Ruina mumbling at the floor in front of pretty actresses, pausing for us to make a choose-your-own-misadventure choice of what approach he should take next in a variety of scenarios. Should he start touching himself in the street while talking to a stranger, or say something nice about her hair? Literally that level of idiocy, throughout. Choose the “right” answer (and believe me, the scarequotes are out in force for this one), and Richard will compliment your choice in instructional garble-barble confusion from the comfort of a hotel room. Get it wrong and he’ll explain why, and give you another go. And that’s it, in a series of increasingly uncomfortable and unpleasant encounters with this shambling creep.

“You’re walking and a girl catches your eye. Can you stop her, get her to talk to you, and make her want to see you again? Goal: Instant date.”

So begins your first challenge. And how do we stop this innocent person in the street? I choose to politely wave to her from one side. WRONG!

“You made it too easy for her to walk past you and brush you off.”

According to the game, the correct way to approach a complete stranger in the street is to walk directly in front of her, forcing her to slow down or stop. Crikey, I had no idea! It seems most people in most streets are apparently trying to seduce me. I’d thought they were just selfish pricks who don’t look where they’re going, but it turns out they all want to do me!

His victim at this point is of course completely helpless to his getting-in-the-way charms, and now suggests this peculiar man join her in the park! Here you have the option to a) let her do the talking, b) do most of the talking, or c) tell her she’s beautiful and lean in for a kiss. At this point, early on, I choose c), because honestly, I’m not sure what this idiot thinks can work, and thankfully she rejects his attempts and leaves. “I’m not trying to fuck you up the arse or anything!” Richard calls after her, because oooooooohhhhhh Goooooooodddddddd.

OK, let’s go with what hopefully any reasonable human might think is the polite response when talking to a stranger one wants to get to know: let her do most of the talking. So Richard induces this by delving deep into his repertoire of chatty banter. I quote, verbatim. “Do you live local, around here somewhere?” “Yeah,” she replies, doing most of the talking. “Ah, that’s nice,” Richard stumbles aimlessly in a script he wrote in advance of filming his imaginary wank fantasy. “Do you spend a lot of time in this area?” Seriously. That’s his follow-up to asking if she lives here. “I do, yeah,” the confused human replies, once again just dominating the conversation, as Richard begins telling the person who briefly agreed she knows the area that there’s a coffee shop around the corner. Oh dear, that was the last straw, and presumably physically exhausted from all that talking, she’s off now. We cut back to Richard in an anonymous hotel room, his beard three times longer for some reason, telling us that oh-ho no, that was all wrong:

“In the beginning the girl actually shouldn’t do most of the talking, so you don’t wanna ask a bunch of questions. You wanna make statements and do most of the talking yourself.”

Oh you dreadful little man. (For record, in this hellscape scenario of a woman getting to speak, she spoke a total of four words.)

So what should one say?! Here’s Richard’s pre-scripted dialogue to woo this lady:

“Yeah I was just walkin’, there’s a nice park down there, and then I’m gonna meet some friends but I’ve got like forty minutes and that’s why when I saw you and I fort you looked friendly so that’s why I came over and said hi.”

Careful ladies! And why does this work?

“In the early stages of an interaction, you actually do want to make most of the conversation, so she has a chance to relax, get comfortable talking to you, and snap out of the mindset she was in, thinking about what she’s doing and where she’s going, so that’s the right one.”

During these hotel room lessons Richard is, for no explained reason, joined on the bed on which he’s sat, fully clothed, by two women in their underwear, who look outstandingly bored throughout his inane gibberish. Watch carefully and you’ll even see them subtly rolling their eyes at points.

For complete efficacy, Richard’s extraordinary seduction techniques could only work in the imagination of a man lying in a room on his own, eyes closed, his hand down his trousers. These are the only realistic circumstances in which the complete strangers he intends to seduce are ever going to reply with the required lines for these nonsensical techniques to work. Because after Richard has stopped a lady by getting in her way on the pavement, he then tells her how “elegant” she looks, which of course causes her to become all overwhelmed with lust. She immediately begins volunteering information about her plans to go feed some squirrels, which Richard immediately mocks, then concedes, like a gentleman, that “squirrels are cute”, and throws out the sort of killer line that no one would know without paying for his help: “Do you like animals?”

And so it goes on, showing you how to bother women in public in peculiarly dreadful ways. Two girls sitting at a bar chatting? Respect that they’re having a conversation and leave them alone? Consider the notion they may be a couple? Good heavens, no. Go manipulate your way into their conversation by saying all the “right” things.

And Richard just doesn’t know how to talk! In a supposed guide to tricking women into liking you, the best he can manage is to mutter, “Yeah, cool,” after most things women say to him, then look down awkwardly. If it weren’t for the camera cutting back to his creep-den, every scene would end with the women looking confused and making their excuses.

All the way through, the game attempts to disguise the repellent stupidity of the whole process with the outlandishness of the “wrong” choices. So those two girls in a bar – should you click on, “Ask them if they know what you like in a girl. The answer being your dick”? Ha ha! No! That won’t work! They’ll say, “Ew!” and ask you to leave! Much better to instead just creepily invade their lives for your vile creep motives.

These choices serve two purposes. They give you the option to watch Richard say the deeply demeaning thing to some actresses, and laugh at that; and they allow the so-called “right” option to seem, in comparison, much less lecherous. In reality, of course, you’re just picking the least creepy option of a bunch of creepy options, the result still being incredibly, repellently creepy.

Oh, and so you know, the way to trick these ladies into talking to you is to lie to them about having a best friend “who is a girl”, for whom you’re trying to buy a present, and can they help you? “A coupon” suggests one of the ladies, clearly bemused by the idiocy of the question. Richard meanwhile is dazzled with this rudimentary shopping advice. Cut back to Richard on his hotel bed with two deeply bored cold-looking ladies, as he explains that this is “guaranteed to work”.

He keeps trying to pretend that there’s any other goal in mind than sex. You could be friends, he pretends, for seconds at a time. When you find out a woman you’ve been chatting to has a boyfriend, it has the option to respect that and leave. Wrong, of course! Richard says to us that sure, we could do that, but we could stick around and maybe make friends with her (oh, really?), perhaps date her when she’s single, or perhaps she might become part of your social circle, and have other “plenty of other attractive friends” (oh I see). Or, he suggests, “You could pull the old switcheroo, go for her friend.” This immediate change from “make friends” to the immature vulgarity of “go for” is so embarrassingly revealing.

But what’s more insidious here is how cowardly and deceitful the whole project is about its true methods. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to read anything about the so-called Pick-up Artist world, you’ll know that these deluded single men believe in far more unpleasant and reprehensible methods. The most famous self-described PUAs are intrinsically woven into truly terrifying behaviour, with the likes of Julien Blanc refused entry to the UK in 2014 on the basis that his teaching, according to then shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, “directly exploit[s] vulnerable men who buy into rape culture.” La Ruina himself has been filmed teaching techniques to sexually assault women and “get away with it”. (Warning: this video is just so gross, with La Ruina physically demonstrating ways to grope on a woman live on stage.)

Another big aspect of the PUA handbook that’s revolting is “negging” – phrasing critical or unpleasant comments about women in such a way that they undermine or demean, without coming out as outright insults. The intention being to make one’s victim feel worse about themselves and thus, PUAs believe, be more vulnerable. Richard never directly states to do this in the game, but instead just piles it into the conversations, unmentioned, between your choices.

He’s faintly critical, voices lowest common denominator assumptions, and so on. When he finds out the girls in the bar are studying business and economics (having guessed drama and fashion), he goes on to incompetently mumble about how good it is that they’ve picked such difficult subjects, because “most of the girls” in the bar will “be studying Instagram”. He keeps saying things like, “Well done,” (even after asking if they got good grades!) as if its his position to compliment these lesser beings for having studied a supposed man’s subject. A woman who smokes is chastised as if a naughty child, then teased, then chastised again (you can see this scene in the video below to see how grim it is). Anyone who does their job for money rather than love is instantly condemned. He incessantly assumes the least of women, acting astonished when it’s contradicted, and then patronising in response. It’s relentless.

A woman jokingly says, of her love for some TV shows, “I’m a freak about…” Richard interjects, in a cutscene ostensibly about asking about her interests, in a jarringly unpleasant tone, “Yeah, I was going to say.” She carries on regardless. In the same conversation, having established she doesn’t have a job at the moment, in the guise of asking if they have an early start the next day sneers, “You don’t have to get up, because you don’t have to go to work…”

Choices are sold to the player as appropriate because they’re “playful” or “cheeky”, rather than labeling them as they are: downright insulting. When the two ladies explain they had burgers for dinner, Richard is disgusted at this. There they are, all pretty in their fancy dresses, he says, and yet they ate a burger??! They laugh, because they’re actresses being paid to not punch him in his face. “It’s something they know they shouldn’t do, so it’s nice to tease them about,” says Richard to us.

The negging aspect gets more and more revolting the further I waded through this. One particular section was so grim I watched through my fingers at points, and had to record it to demonstrate just what this is like. The following, edited down portion, contains pretty much every aspect: the constant criticising of the woman, the explanations of how to manipulate, the background homophobia, and a bit where he paid a woman to tell him how good looking he is.

I also, from earlier in the same scene, had to edit together all the bits of Richard’s best dancing, which he uses to successfully woo a lady, because IT IS THE BEST.

Please share this handy gif of the middle bit with your loved ones.

Of course, alongside its inherent grossness, PUA is complete woo from top to bottom. It’s entirely reliant on men who are so completely clueless, and so completely in denial of a woman’s agency, that they aren’t able to recognise that their ridiculous pack of “techniques” are a sordid fantasy. The concept is completely entwined in this idiotic notion that women are a near-inanimate castle to be conquered, just a series of routinely deployed defences to break through, before reaching the treasure hidden inside the walls. Rather than, oh I don’t know, being other humans.

Everything in Super Seducer is tragic. It’s deeply offensive, of course, perhaps even more so for what it deliberately leaves out than the wretched drivel it includes. It’s not too far fetched to believe that this is intended to be a gateway to the PUA world, PUA-lite, all of the lying and manipulation, none of the sexual assault techniques. Buy the game, then come to our seminars. Yet even what is here are concepts entirely rooted in a spiteful misogyny, where women are denied humanity, dignity and safety. It’s repellent, hiding behind genuinely astounding ineptitude.

This is a man who can’t manage a coherent conversation, pre-planned, with a paid actress, making him easy to dismiss as a laughable fool, right up until he utters words like, “This works psychologically because you’re taking away her independence.”

The “methods” here are simple to sum up, such that anyone tempted to buy the game can instead learn everything he has to teach from this: awkwardly lie to women, and then pay them to pretend they can’t tell. There is nothing else this has to offer.

Super Seducer is out now on Windows and Mac, via Steam. It was originally meant to be coming to PlayStation 4 as well but Sony blocked its release.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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