It's late in the year, but between Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015, Metal Gear Solid V, and now Robert Yang's Rinse and Repeat [official site], might 2015 become known as The Year of the Video Game Shower? Maybe. You know. It could happen.
A game about scrubbing a hunk in a gym shower, Rinse and Repeat is the latest in Yang's fascinating series of free sex games exploring physical intimacy, boundaries, body image, gay male culture, and waiting. It's also his second Twitch have banned.
Rinse and Repeat takes place in the shower room of a gym with macho-sounding sessions like Tactical Zumba and Apocalypse Cardio. The player character's a pudgy dude with a crush on a hunky dream dude (so dreamy, he wears shades in the shower), and gets to scrub the hunk down. Bodypart by bodypart, he'll ask you to help with his back, abs, biceps, bottom, waving your mouse around to soap him up. He'll rate you and eventually leave, then it's time to wait.
Interestingly, the game runs to a real-world schedule. Randomised class times are posted on the wall, and after the first visit you'll need to come back during a one-hour slot to catch the dude again. Miss it, and you'll miss your chance for that day. The story draws to a conclusion after a couple of showers, confronting infatuation and desire and longing and being alone and unloved. It makes great use of full-body awareness, letting players look down and see... not their legs, because the guy's legs are hiding beneath his belly - a far cry from the toned chap he's rubbing down.
Yang's blog post about making the game and its themes is very good. It follows on from Hurt Me Plenty, Succulent, Stick Shift, and Cobra Club, exploring issues of gay masculinity, the "platonic gay male ideal", desire, patience, consent, and fantasy.
Less fun is his other recent blog post, about livestreaming service Twitch putting Rinse and Repeat on the very short list of games users are forbidden from broadcasting - joining his dick pic 'em up Cobra Club. He writes:
"On one hand, it is extremely validating as an artist to be acknowledged as 'dangerous' -- thanks, Twitch. On the other hand, the Twitch policy about sex and nudity is shitty and I'm going to complain about why I hate it and feel it's unfair, and also really unhealthy for video games as an artform."
Rinse and Repeat is pay-what-you-want for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Itch.
[Disclosure: Robert Yang has written for RPS before, producing the excellent interview-o-game-make Level With Me series.]