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Your files want to smooch in A Desktop Love Story

Here’s a free little something to raise a smile before I (mostly) disappear for the holidays – it’s a new Nathalie Lawhead game-o-thing! Desktop Love Story is sweet way to spend ten minutes – living on your desktop in two folders are two files. They’ve never met in person, but the ambiguously_shy_file.exe has a bit of a crush on cute_file.exe, and it’s your job as admin of all the files in your domain to help them. Go on, grab it from Itch and lend them a hand. Or read Lawhead’s design notes on how something as simple and small as this was a headache to create. Love ain’t easy.

Given that you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you helped those two weird little dorkuses find love. Either that, or you’re tormenting them forever, monster. There’s not much to talk about regarding the game itself (though I did like the contents of the text files being shared), but the design notes are a good read. Understandably, it’s Windows-only for now, due to OSX’s Gatekeeper keeping its gate firmly barred. For the time being, it should run on most Windows PCs, but an OS update could easily break it, and whatever comes after Windows 10 could easily kill it outright.

It’s an inherently impractical, ephemeral thing that makes no sense to really create or maintain and turned out far more complex than it looked – a bit like love itself. But that’s the thing about love, whether it be for your fellow data files, or for a medium. You make those efforts and you hope somebody has a smile on their face at the end of the day, even if you don’t get to see it.

All that said, I want to see someone expand on this idea. A vast, sprawling ARG set in a maze of folders with their own files and characters and arcane interactions would be brilliant. I’m also aware making it would probably also kill whoever tried to make it, especially if the interactions between characters went deeper than just moving files. Let’s not kill Nathalie, okay? She makes nice things.

A Desktop Love Story is here on Itch. Go try it if you somehow got all the way down here without reading anything above. You should also check out her other works such as Everything Is Going To Be OK, Cyberpet Graveyard and, of course, Tetrageddon, all of which play with computer interfaces in ways far less liable to break.

Happy holidays, all! And may you find your perfect file to smooch on too.

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Dominic Tarason

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