Black Book

GWJ Conference Call 775

Resident Evil: Village (PS5), Returnal (PS5), Loop Hero (PC), SNES Emulators (PC), Boyfriend Dungeon (PC), Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous(PC), Black Book (PC), your emails, and more!

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Amanda, Rich, Glendon, and special guest Scott Benson talk about games were playing, listener emails, and more!

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about, or whatever else is on your mind.

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00:12:15 Resident Evil: Village
00:13:49 Returnal
00:14:30 Loop Hero
00:15:12 SNES Emulators
00:20:20 Boyfriend Dungeon
00:34:36 Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
00:39:16 Black Book
00:46:58 Your Emails

A veggie lootbox is the best description I've ever heard of a CSA. I used to get one in grad school and I do miss it, it was really awesome.

On the piracy thing, growing up in Argentina, pirated games were definitely the norm. This was definitely more prevalent or obvious on PC but it also happened on consoles. We even had entire knockoffs of consoles, which were engineered to run pirated cartridges. This has changed a lot in recent times because of DRM and because Steam regional pricing made paying for games reasonably accessible to a lot more people. It was definitely a weird cultural change for me to move to a country where piracy was actually seen as something wrong.

I bounced out of Boyfriend Dungeon mainly because I found the dungeon crawling part of it really boring, and I don't consider myself an avid dungeon crawler. All the rooms are rectangular rooms maybe with a couple of flower pots in the middle so there isn't much use of or interaction with the level. All the enemies attack in a straight line towards you, and although you have different combos of your light and heavy attack, the difference between them is so minimal that you might as well just mash whatever comes out of your fingers. The dating sim side also made me uncomfortable because of the reasons you discussed in the podcast but perhaps not to the point that I had to stop playing the game, but that might be more because of my condition of a straight cis man than because of the content of the game.

However, one issue that this whole controversy brought up for me is the limits of content warnings, what they are for and what they can and cannot do. I went a bit down the rabbit whole of reading Twitter replies and threads about this and what I saw was that people had an issue with the content of the game, not with the warning. Maybe that's obvious, but it makes me wonder whether Kitfox understands the issue when they're reply is to apologize about the content warning and not say anything about the content itself. Obviously, the former is much easier to change so maybe that's just a strategy. However, this reminded me of a scene in the classic film Talladega Nights where Ricky Bobby says "with all due respect" and proceeds to say something incredibly offensive to his boss thinking it's ok because he started with "with all due respect." But the Geneva Convention doesn't work that way. As for content warnings, I think there's a difference between sensitive content and problematic content, and a CW lets you caution the player that there is sensitive content in the game, but it does not allow you a pass on problematic content. In this case, some of the content in the game is problematic for a lot of people and no content warning is going to fix it. And I'm not sure Kitfox's response reflects an understanding of that.

Me at the beginning of the podcast: "Where have I heard of this Benson guy before?"

Me at the end of the podcast: "Oooooh, Bombsfall!"

Great conversation on boyfriend dungeon. Pink Stripes, I appreciate you sharing your take on it. I am also a cisgender heterosexual man, but I have lots of LGBT+ friends. The idea of same sex love and romance is completely normalized in my mind.

That said, I didn’t get very far in this game. I hated all of the characters that I encountered. I didn’t even like the cousin, who in my opinion was way too f*cking pushy. I didn’t like the supposedly “nice” characters and I hated the gross characters. I would never spend time with people like this IRL, and I have no desire to have a fictional interaction with them in this game.

It triggered something in me that has to do with boundaries. The game gave you an option to be nice or mean but no option to say, “I’m not interested. Leave me alone.” And isn’t that the definition of passive-aggressive behavior? I could be wrong about that.

Pink Stripes wrote:

However, one issue that this whole controversy brought up for me is the limits of content warnings, what they are for and what they can and cannot do. I went a bit down the rabbit whole of reading Twitter replies and threads about this and what I saw was that people had an issue with the content of the game, not with the warning.

Twitter has a tendency to overexaggerate a response to any given topic. As someone who backed the game on Kickstarter, all of the messaging that came with the every update was that this appeared to be a lighthearted visual novel along the same lines as Dream Daddy. Every update started with "Hello Sword Smootchers" or some variant therein and never really hinted that there were be some unpleasant/uncomfortable topics that were going to appear in the game.

Nevertheless, the content warning at the beginning certainly gives the player a little warning that there are some sensitive topics that are going to be tackled. Honestly, for an indie game and althe fact that it's a visual novel/otome game, it's really not all that surprising. What was surprising was that the topics weren't really talked about in the marketing, and that the content warning made no indication that those topics would make up the main part of the story. It also muddied the waters a little bit by immediately letting you opt out of another part of the game (the texts from "Mom").

So, people that backed the game already and had already bought in were a bit blindsighted by the subject matter and then left wondering why they couldn't block other unwanted content. Granted, after playing for a bit you realize that it's center to the story, but if you're already put off by it within the first few moments...then it's understandable that you could feel a bit let down by the game you thought was going to be lighthearted and fun. You can certainly still be a Sword Smootcher and enjoy other aspects of the game, but it sours the experience a little bit.

I think updating the content warning is a great move by Kitfox and it shows that they are willing to help clarify the game a bit more and that they understand there may have been a misstep. I'm not advocating for anything more than that as they would change the core of the game and that'd be wrong, imo. And the harassment of the studio/voice actors that has happened on Twitter is just as ridiculous.


I don’t have tiktok but maybe I should for that jam session thing.

Horray! Thank you for mentioning the GWJ adventure game club. In fact, the poll for the next game (September) is now live, so be sure to check that out!

Regarding Boyfriend Dungeon, I was interested to hear the talk. I've actually kinda voiced my concerns in a bunch of places, namely the GWJ Slack, and I agree with a lot of what CptDomano said, but in short, I appreciate that Kitfox is doing some great things, by focusing more on characters that aren't white cis het dudes. I appreciate that they listened to the feedback and adjusted the trigger warning accordingly. I appreciate that they make the texts from "Mom" optional.
I also want to stress that NOTHING justifies the harassment of talented voice actors that portray "bad" characters, nor the devs/writers who bring them to life.

Now that all that's out of the way, there's one particular sticking point that wasn't at all mentioned, neither here, nor in another podcast I've listened to. Some of us Kickstarted this game back in 2018. We gave our support on the basis that this game would be an upbeat dating stream / dungeon crawler. All of the marketing was extremely positive and though the Kitfox team communicated widely about the swords, who they were, their design, at no point did they even hint about the extremely dark themes that were going to be brought up and be an integral, central part of the plot.
We aren't saying this kind of story shouldn't be told. In fact, I'm all for telling these stories, because they NEED to be told. Too many people are ignorant of the dark reality many of us have had to face. However, we can pick and choose what media to interact with. And maybe I don't want to experience a story I've already lived through, multiple times, still experience today at times. This is not what I signed up for, and "just don't play it" doesn't help much when you've already backed it, at a pretty prestigious tier too. So yeah, you accept it as a sunk cost. I'm still glad I gave Kitfox my support, but it does feel like misleading marketing and being sold an idea on false pretenses.

Finished off Boyfriend Dungeon this past weekend. And regarding the controversies... I think there is very much a time and a place to explore the dark side of dating and relationships - stalking, coercion, manipulation. Boyfriend Dungeon struck me as being neither the time nor the place.

This is an immensely shallow game in every way: the combat is shallow, the dungeons are shallow, the dating aspect is shallow. It's a game about weapons that turn in people, for God's sake. And I don't use "shallow" pejoratively; I very much enjoyed blasting through a fun and frothy indie game that wasn't trying to be Serious Art or impress me with many complicated systems. But, because it's so light and airy, the stalking subplot felt really out of place. I don't blame people for being unprepared and uncomfortable.

Great to hear some intelligent and thoughtful discussion on the podcast, anyway.