Pig-Min interviewed Christine Love, who made Visual novel [Analogue : A Hate Story]. It's really unusual one. Korean culture + SF + IF(Interactive Fiction) style. Very unqie game, I had to do interview. You could check her game at official homepage
Korean version1. First of all, please introduce yourself.
Hi! I'm Christine Love, a lesbian writer from Canada who makes indie games. I'm 22 years old, and I always thought I'd be a novelist or something like that; I only got into making games in 2010, when a game I wrote called "Digital: A Love Story" suddenly became popular practically overnight!2. Your games seem to be very different from others. Not only for recent [Analogue : A Hate Story], but also for earlier ones as [Digital : A Love Story] & [Don't take it personally, babe. It just ain't your story]. Please explain us how unique they are.
Well, they're visual novels, so they involve a lot of reading. But within that genre, I try to do as much as I can to immerse the player in the story. In Digital and Analogue, the protagonist isn't just a stand-in for the player; they are you, staring at the exact same computer screen that you are. The biggest sign that a novel is successful is that while reading, you start to feel like you're a part of that world. I think that's important, and stories being interactive let you take that a step further still.
My talent may not quite be up to where my ambition is right now, but I try to make games that take you to other worlds, and have likeable and interesting characters; but also that offer you a new perspective on things. For example, DTIPB is about the changing nature of privacy in modern times. Whether or not I'm successful at that is debatable. But that's my goal. 3. I know that there are some Shojo Manga fans in US & Canada. Some of them might like BL genre, some of them might play Visual Novel. But as I think, only few of them makes Visual Novel. How come to make some games?
It's true, it's not a popular medium here at all. That's starting to change a little; the recently released Katawa Shoujo, for instance, has actually managed to get mainstream attention. My games tend to push the boundaries a little bit, and as a medium, it's still very, very young.
It's a form that gives you the benefits of visuals and music like a movie, the benefit of written prose like a novel, and the benefit of interactivity like a videogame. There's a lot of potential in that. There haven't been any great works of literature written as visual novels yet, but I think the possibility exists.4. For [Analogue : A Hate Story], this is really unique one. Based on Korean culture, some diary log based on SF, old school IF(Interactive Fiction) style. I never imagined like that. How come to make some game like that, Korean culture + SF + IF?
It's sort of hard to say; the game certainly is a convergence of very unlikely ideas, I'll admit! Here's the core of it, though. I'm not sure whether this is as common in Korea or not, but in the west, we have a tradition of what's called "epistolatory novels," which are novels that are written in the form of a series of letters between people. It's a really great way to write a story with many perspectives. Digital was in many ways, an electronic form of this, and Analogue takes it further. What better way to tell a story about the lives of entire families, than by presenting it in the form of diaries and letters?
But since I didn't want everyone in the story to be long-dead, I put in the AI companions, who serve as librarians to help you dig through those diaries and letters. It's something to bring things into the present, and I thought, since this is a story that's fundamentally about traditional marriage, that it would make sense to have those AIs be romanceable characters like they would in any other visual novel. 5. For Korean culture, how come to learn & make it as a game? I never expected to see 'NamJon YeoBi'(Men are honoured, women are abased.) in Western game. I played only few minutes so not sure how correct Korean culture is in this game, however it was really shocking experience for me as Korean. Did you watch a lot of Korean TV drama? Even so, there might not be some serious 'NamJon YeoBi' situation in Tredny romance drama for twenties.
I must confess that while I've seen a couple, for the most part, I don't really watch Korean dramas much at all. I imagine you're probably right, that doesn't seem like a subject that would come up much in those sorts of shows! For that matter, I don't watch their Western equivalents much, either. There's always a few shows that are really good, but for the most part, I don't think too much of TV in general.
I have, however, had an interest in Korean history for a while now, and while I know there will inevitably be some oversights and mistakes, I hope my research shows through?more importantly, I hope it does seem respectful.
In particular, the society that it shows is one that's very closely modelled after the Joseon dynasty; fundamentally, it's about how oppressive misogyny in that culture could be, which is exemplified by "namjon yeobi." What has always struck me about Joseon is how it particularly stands out in Korean history as being a very large step back from the dynasties that came before it.
My goal isn't to villify that era, or the country. Part of it is that I want to look at how things went from being more fair and egalitarian, to the way they were in Joseon, and to ask, "could that happen again?" (The other part, I'll explain in a bit.) It's a question that scares me, and I think it's an important one. In the story of Analogue, the conflict is between the Pale Bride, who has the values of modern Korea, coming to clash with the traditional ones; but this is something that I think anyone in the west can relate to, too.
In North America, we have people who want to take away rights from people (in particular, gays and lesbians), and they use the phrase "traditional marriage" to invoke a nostalgic image of the past. I use the phrase, too: to show that "traditional marriage" is not something we should aspire towards, but something that was used to oppress women. 6. Further about Korean culture. You might learn & study about them by yourself, not only watching some drama, but also investigate some more. How come to find information about Korean culture? Books, Schools, or something else?
In the past, I've done a fair bit of research about Korean history in general, and a lot on the subject of the Joseon dynasty in particular. For an English-speaker, it's not nearly as easy to study as western countries, or countries like Japan or China; for some reason, the west tends to overlook Korea, which I think is a huge shame, because it's a fascinating history. Fortunately, I'm a university student, so I have access to pretty much every scholarly book in the country, thanks to interlibrary loans; it never would have been possible without that! So having gone through a lot of reference materials that way, I already had a pretty good idea of where to look when it came time to write Analogue.
While history books were necessary, especially in trying to understand the specifics of Neo-Confucianism, what I actually found to be most useful was studying contemporary writing from the period, especially pieces that were written by women. And while looking in that direction, it's really hard to not be struck by how incredibly little there is that still exists, because the attitude of the time said that women shouldn't write, and if they did, then it should be destroyed. Reading poetry in translation is difficult because you'll always lose something, but even still, it's impossible to read things by women like Heo Chohui or Hwang Jin-i and not feel in awe of the simple beauty or sincerity.
Because there isn't very much writing by women from Joseon, it made me wonder: what would it feel like to be a wife in that time? How would one try to cope with surviving a society like that? That question is the other part of why I wanted to write a story that takes the form of women's letters and diaries: I wanted to try to understand that. 7. For [Analogue : A Hate Story], how gamers react? It could be too difficult for plain gamers, that 'NamJon YeoBi' might be too different (or too shocking) thing. They might have hard time to read Korean name, even if you made 'how to pronounce' page.
Well, it's only been out for a single day, so it's pretty hard to say right now! But I think it's much more intuitive to play than Digital: A Love Story was, and people didn't seem to find that too difficult. It's obviously very niche, of course; I don't think a game like Analogue will ever have mainstream appeal. And it's a very complicated, and heavy subject, to be sure, and there will be people who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that people really did have the attitudes depicted. I can't do anything about those people.
It's true that Korean names are something that Westerners have a hard time with, and it is a very shocking subject. But I do think most people will be able to deal with that. I don't want to make it sound as if it's completely serious or dry; it is, after all, also a story about interacting with cute AI girls! I want players to leave with a new understanding of misogyny, but I also want them to enjoy the story. And from the responses I've gotten so far, it sounds people do seem to like the AI heroines *Hyun-ae and *Mute. So I'm not worried about that. 8. Please pick up 5 good games & explain why.
BioShock ? It's been accussed of being simplistic by people who miss the point, but I find its morality system to be one of the more striking uses of interactivity in a storytelling medium. It offers you the choice of doing the wrong thing, not because it wants you to: but because it knows that doing the right thing is only meaningful when you have the choice not to.
Collage ? Not really a game, it's a visual novel that doesn't branch at all. But it's a fantastic story, and it's only because I was so impressed by its presentation that I got into the medium.
Hotel Dusk ? I don't normally like adventure games too much; I find them to be difficult and confusing. But Hotel Dusk is about solving a mystery by talking to people, and it manages to avoid all those problems.
Chrono Trigger ? I think it's a clich? to mention it on your favourite games list, but it's just a really great adventure story, and what inspired me as a kid to start considering the storytelling potential of games.
Dwarf Fortress ? Probably the most interesting narrative videogame ever, completely by accident. Despite the fact that it's just a simulation game, it's impossible to talk to anyone about Dwarf Fortress without hearing about some hugely elaborate story that they watched unfold, with their imagination filling in the blanks and turning it into something special. Anyone interested in telling stories with videogames needs to try to learn from it as much as possible, because it's absolutely a glimpse of the future. 9. Have you ever experienced or heard about Korean games? If so, please share us your opinion.
I'm afraid that most of the Korean games that are translated here tend to be MMOs, and what I'm most interested in is games that tell stories. This isn't to dismiss MMOs out of hand, of course! I have a friend from high school who I was very close with, but don't see very often anymore; we've kept in contact by playing online games like Air Rivals, Cosmic Break, or Dungeon Fighter Online together.
But I still do think it's unfortunate that the west's only exposure to Korean games is through things like those. I would love to play and learn more about Korean RPGs, for example; but unfortunately, those very rarely get translated, so it's impossible. 10. Please leave some message to Pig-Min readers.
I know it might be surprising for a westerner to write a game based on something like this, but I hope you'll understand that it's written out of respect for Korean history. If you do play it, I would love to hear what you think. Thank you for reading this interview, and I hope you like Analogue!