Wholesome Games

Before the thought bubble of it dissipates out into the aether I am going to perhaps put words to why I personally think the whole “wholesome” thing (not even just games) is deeply alienating, and also why I strongly suspect why others might also feel this way.

I'll put it in a cut 'cause this is a fun thread and I'm gonna go a little hard on this:

>!

To preface this, I don‘t think my problem is with the games or the media that is described as “wholesome.” It should go without saying that a lot of those games are good, even great, and they are good on their own merits, and I’ll even say for a lot of them I imagine lots of good intentions and even strong humanistic values were applied in the creation of them. And I‘ll even go so far as to say that a game with a strong intention of having some kind of positive influence on social consciousness is able to achieve that through nothing more than presenting an unapologetically socially progressive or even radical narrative. I don’t think it‘s controversial to say that fiction and art can be transformative, at least on an individual-to-individual basis. Like, I don’t think The Word for World is Forest is going to incite an eco-revolution by itself, but you definitely can‘t say that it didn’t introduce a lot of people to that possibility or that it didn‘t convince anyone it’d be a good idea.

>!

However,

>!

I think the really alienating aspect of this is the aestheticization of moral wholesomeness. And while it‘s definitely deeply intertwined with the commodification of moral wholesomeness and its use as a marketing gimmick, there’s an important distinction to make, here (as such I‘ll try to set aside that aspect of it, just assume it’s also at the heart of everything I'm saying, though).

>!

It‘s maybe also worth pointing out that this use of the word “wholesome” stems from a more recent connotation to that, judging by a Google Trends search of the term, steadily grew in prominence from the early-mid aughts, peaked in usage around March 2020 (lol @ this happening in this Particular Month in This Particular Year, that might be meaningful but I’ll resist the urge to go on a tangent about the conspicuous timing), and has been declining since then. My rough understanding is this primarily came out of Tumblr. “Wholesome” roughly seems to refer to some kind of offputting compound of I guess what we‘d call twee (affectedly quaint, a sort of forced down-to-earthedness or non-threatening-ness that overall comes off disingenuous and pretentious), and overall what I’ll identify as a well intentioned celebration of things which are innocent, child-like (in a good way, on paper), accessible, bright, colorful, relaxing, validating, and so on and so forth. The latter overall being the saving grace for what might make a game identifiable on its surface as a “wholesome” game, but one which is still, like, good, cause none of that is actually bad.

>!

Where I think the bad parts come in is, as I said after continuing my preamble despite seeming to get into the body of my argument, is (stay with me here) kind of symptomatic of modern progressive political movements and positions. I won‘t get into how fundamentally broken our institutions are because then I’d be here until sunrise, but the important aspect for this particular expression is how often wholesomeness has become aestheticized rather than actually practiced or made tangible. I don‘t think it’s unfair to say that, for the most part, left wing communities and people on social media and within online culture are really disappointingly emblematic of the “do nothing left,” which, glaringly when it comes to the sorts of people or communities that seem to value things that are “wholesome,” is pretty contradictory. Valuing media or aesthetics that are accessible and bright and colorful and positive and inclusive is great, but, like, have you seen fandom in-fighting? There ain‘t nothing wholesome about causing schisms within already loosely interconnected social groups and launching popularity contests and bullying people over petty disagreements and blocking people. Which isn’t the universal but I don‘t think it’s unfair to say it happens a lot out there.

>!

The aestheticization comes into play when things of a certain artistic style which are created with a “wholesome” moral character, degrades into things of a certain artistic style which are created within the presentation of a “wholesome” moral character, which degrades into things of a certain artistic style being created with a visual style indicative of some kind of wholesome moral character. And it ends up being emblematic of the modern mainstream pseudo left because it is about appearing to do or be something or meet a high ethical standard of behaviour, more than it is about actually performing ethically constructive works or conducting oneself within social settings to that high moral standard. And, I promised to not go back to marketing but it does need to be pointed out that I don‘t think it’s conspiratorial to point out that the way these games end up being lumped together is because they look or sound or play a certain way.

>!

I‘m sorry to say, though, while there is now some kind of informal category of “wholesome games,” a videogame can’t truly be “wholesome,” really. This is because the things or beings we might identify more literally as wholesome (like, idfk, a volunteer at your local food bank, or an action like sincerely apologizing to a friend you inadvertently harmed and making it up to them through tangible acts, or cutting the brake lines on a cop car) are defined by a wholesome effect they have on the world around them. It‘s great when a game is inviting and cute, but, for the most part, what tangible effect on the world does the playing of a videogame have? There’s the infinitesimal-if-widely-dispersed benefit of bringing low stakes and reliable entertainment to individual people on an individual basis, however, if the marketing is based on the game's themselves being “wholesome,” that kind of feels like false advertising. Like the result of a lot of cyber pseudoleft posturing, consuming media that is the aesthetically wholesome or making aesthetically wholesome statements or visibly taking whole political positions has become the status-quo-reinforcing substitution for shit like organizing or community building or being real with your friends and loved ones.

>!

Like, fuck. The Games for Impact category at The Game Awards is described as being “FOR A THOUGHT-PROVOKING GAME WITH A PRO-SOCIAL MEANING OR MESSAGE.” Sure, great, but “making people have their thoughts provoked” is pretty far from anything I'd describe as “pro-social impact.” If getting provoked into having thoughts had a social impact then that one review of Depression Quest would have been manifested into existence (alas, kool-aided g@merg@tors remain the stupidest gamers to ever exist).

>!

Anyway. Yeah. I think that‘s my theory as to the revulsion I feel from the designation of “wholesome games” and I think it has gotta be at least part of what others feel when they see that category being forced on to the discussion (and let’s not even get into that it seems to encompass a lot of frankly very disparate games). Playing cute games that make you, an individual, happy, is great, no complaints there. But I don‘t think I’m being overly dramatic when I point out that there is a chronic problem with idealism and a disconnect from reality within left wing communities (which don‘t get me wrong is often for understandable reasons since it puts a target on your back for state violence) or progressive people or groups, and our pro-social humanistic values become commodified and defanged by reducing those values into an aesthetic or vibe attached to media, the consumption of which has great individual value but little to no social or political impact. A game cannot be wholesome because a game itself cannot have an effect on the social world. It’s really up to us to be wholesome, and maybe we can unwind and recharge playing “wholesome” games, but like, if you can‘t act pro-socially after playing a fuckin stupid and very not wholesome game like GOD HAND you really probably got something else going on, speedrunning Little Gator Game or listening to some fuckin Whoa-Oh white boys playing ukuleles isn’t gonna help you.

@“Gaagaagiins”#p104361

There‘s a difference between wholesome games for actual children to consume and wholesome games, i.e. games for adults with victim complexes to escape from reality into a fantasy world where their problems don’t exist, don't have to be confronted, and human predators only want to lock you up peacefully in a jail cell or hang you over a menacing vortex of ambiguous evil.

_Dragon Quest_ is an actual wholesome game for children, _Yakuza_ is an actual wholesome game for adults. If, as an adult, you need to pretend you are 10 and think you should be playing _A Short Hike_ for more than an opportunistic 30 minutes instead of literally taking a short hike so you don't blow your knee the next time you pick up a grocery bag full of beans and rice, you need to reevaluate exactly how much accountability you're accepting for the situation of our shared reality. You might be some kind of _Adult Baby Game Liker_.

A _wholesome_ game is one that lets me beat a dirty cop into a coma with an entire motorcycle.

>

@“Gaagaagiins”#p104361 March 2020 (lol @ this happening in this Particular Month in This Particular Year, that might be meaningful but I’ll resist the urge to go on a tangent about the conspicuous timing)

Not sure what you're alluding to, but it was certainly because _Animal Crossing New Horizons_ released, no?

And look, I don't want to get caught trying to defend video game's potential to effect social change, because I ultimately agree with your argument, but I believe there's a little more going on than an aesthetic appreciation. Or at least that aesthetic appreciation is more complex than you make it out to be here. A video game is an object of design after all, a series of interlocking systems that together define boundaries on what is and isn't possible within it's world. Noticing when and how these systems conspire to allow or encourage acts of kindness, humility, socialism, etc... in contrast to the societies we live in, is more complex than cultivating an appreciation for the cute character design of _Animal Crossing_.

@“RubySunrise”#p104385 I think games can also just tell stories that aren't stupid and trivial. The option is there.

@“IncompatibleKaiser”#p104396 isn‘t that a matter of perspective? Is the story of Spiritfarer trivial? It’s subject matter isn‘t, and it’s a popular “wholesome” game. I‘ve never played it, so I’m actually asking.

The design elements I'm talking about can work indepently of a game's story, although it's often more effective (within context of itself, again not arguing in favor of games' potential for social change) when they work in conjunction.

_Papers Please_ does what I'm talking about but "in reverse." It uses it's design to draw attention to how the systems that contain us tragically limit us. Is this kind of design also insidious? Is it OK because it's an exaggerated simulation of reality rather than an escape? Is it not insidious because it has a clear intention behind it?

EDIT: had written "gals potential for social change" the first time, changed it to games. I believe fully in gals effecting social change.

I wonder if a conversation on wholesome games could be split off into a separate thread? There‘s probably enough to talk about that it’d survive past the discussion of this podcast ep. [size=1]^I ^would ^make ^it ^myself ^but ^uh ^I ^don'^t ^want ^to ^be ^responsible ^for ^that ^lol[/size]

I think there‘s a difference between what’s marketed as a wholesome game and what players claim to be wholesome, at least there could be and there's also probably games that feel wholesome to each specific person.

I think it's important to acknowledge the term escapist media too. I don't think I'd call A short Hike a wholesome game because it let's me escape my troubles, pretty much all games do that, my troubles are too varied and boring to fit into game mechanics.

A short hike is probably wholesome because it reminds us that hiking is cool, talking to people on hikes is cool and that there's no better feeling than the sun on my skin and fresh mountain air in my lungs. _I need to organise that hiking trip_

I agree wholeheartedly with @“Funbil”#p104403 that this discussion warrants its own thread.

I'm fine with making it myself, but perhaps @"Syzygy"#279 can collect the posts we've made so far and shove them into their own thread? I can't remember if that's more or less difficult if you're making a new thread and adding existing posts to it or if it's easier or equivalent to move posts between threads, so I'll hold off for now.

~~Will put this response to @"RubySunrise"#864 and also at least partially to @"beets"#206 too under a cut as well just to not dampen or clutter the episode discussion.~~ This is now its own thread, but, I'll keep it collapsed anyway!

>! >

@“RubySunrise”#p104385 Not sure what you’re alluding to, but it was certainly because Animal Crossing New Horizons released, no?

>!

I‘m genuinely not sure if this is a joke or not, but, just to be safe I’ll take your phrasing of this as a question at face value. No, what I was alluding to was the beginning of western states meaningfully responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with lockdowns/stay-at-home orders. So what I was alluding to was, perhaps, that for better or worse (well, if we‘re being honest, it’s more for less worse or more worse), was that the resounding failure of our societal institutions ends up being a protracted moment of more stark social awareness, and thus cynicism, which may or may not make people less susceptible to being marketed a “wholesome” experience than before. But, you know, marketing campaigns which are themselves also cynical are planned far enough in advance that you can't just pull that sort of thing just because the world turns on a dime. So, perhaps the decline since then being gradual is less out of a generalized distaste for it (I think being repulsed by it the way we are in here is probably still mostly a fringe position) and more out of caution from marketers in overpromising on fuzzy-feel-goods.

>!

Either way, I will also say that I don't think that you associating that statement with Animal Crossing: New Horizons is only because you mistook what I was alluding to, AC:NH is about as synonymous/emblematic of the beginning and then playing out of the pandemic and as an example of a “wholesome” game as a single videogame could get.

>!

Anyway. You've made excellent points and much like yourself I will also say upfront I agree with you as well, but I would like to reiterate that I mean to draw a clear distinction between the experience of media as being a transformative experience on an individual level and something that in of itself prompts or effects social change.

>!

I guess what I‘m coming more and more to realize is that media, entertainment, or even just public statements aren’t in of themselves social change or progress. If you ask me, they‘re at best markers of it happening actively, or evidence of it having happened, or perhaps embody the wish of the creators for it to happen in the future. Media or public statements in their most radical form would, well, be basically agitprop, I guess. Which, you know, as a communist, I don’t mean to use as a pejorative at all, it‘s just that I can’t think of many notable examples in videogames where there are political ideas or a social values being openly, expressly appealed to the audience. I‘ll even also say that maybe Papers, Please comes close, it’s a pretty visceral simulation of the violence inherent in totalitarian nation-state borders and probably comes pretty close to actually , but at least for me falls a little flat in how it is cage-y about condemning a border that was simultaneously clearly obviously put into the trappings of a Soviet bloc or recently Soviet block border, but also still about a purely fictional place, and thus too readily invites the player to compartmentalize its social critique into being abstract. That's probably an extended tangent but what I will shoot off before exiting it is that I bet a realistic Papers, Please set in the U.S. - Mexico border could be some real agitprop.

>!

But, I think perhaps I was framing my position a little too cynically, because while I did say that I think personal experiencing of media/entertainment/fiction/whatever can be transformative and even radicalizing, I left the critique of this phenomenon on too much of an open, haterly note. Perhaps what I really mean to get at is that as understandable as it is to revel in haterdom of an annoying trend because perhaps we‘ve figured out the kind of insidious social phenomenon that is perhaps driving it, we also shouldn’t the best aspects of this aesthetic trend trend lull us into a false sense of accomplishment. But, it‘s not because these games and this aesthetic doesn’t reflect value, but because it is perhaps too tempting for many to see the games as themselves being something of social value, which in turn actually underrepresents or even limits where that value actually is. It‘s not in the aesthetic or the narrative of a thing one experiences in private or in semi-public if it’s a multiplayer game. Games, entertainment, media, fiction, doesn't in of itself embody or effect social change, where the social change becomes real is through people embodying and effecting social change, because only people can actually form sociality. This is not made real by the game itself, the game itself is not “wholesome,” which is what I think the cynical marketing position wants to sell, that the games existing is some kind of social change in of itself.

>!

@“beets”#206 brought up something very excellent and helped me place a term to what I'm thinking of:

>! >

@“beets”#p104424 I think it’s important to acknowledge the term escapist media too. I don’t think I’d call A short Hike a wholesome game because it let’s me escape my troubles, pretty much all games do that, my troubles are too varied and boring to fit into game mechanics.

>!

It‘s the escapist angle here that I think is really key. The “wholesome” game can be very escapist, but I guess what I’d say is also that even at the same time as seeming to be confronting to the player about a particular social issue, it can't _not_function in effect as an escape from dealing with that social issue. Yes, it can be validating and liberating to be playing a game and being confronted with a social issue that we know to be firmly based in reality, and being able to confront it in a way that allows us to simulate personally getting justice or demonstrating a vision of what we might want to see in reality. And so, while things like this can teach us things and be gratifying individually, it remains that a simulation of justice within a videogame does not extend past the personal emotional or intellectual experiences of those who play the game.

>!

And, you know, I think it‘s also fair to say that this isn’t just a problem with media or fiction either, it extends to political theory or even sociological analysis. I mean, fuck, is academic data and analysis on social issues not the equivalent of escapism for the neoliberal state? It's just this fun little exercise or story it can tell to itself about how intellectually explaining or examining social issues is just as good actually doing anything about it, the effecting and realizing of social change which needs to be done through social relationship is always conspicuously absent.

>!

HEY WAIT, ok, kind of a sidenote but kind of not but, shit. It took me a whole day of thinking about it because I am not no book learned communist, but, goddamn, is this not a really bald-faced, purposefully construed example of commodity fetishism/reification/alienation?? Is the whole “wholesome game” thing alienating because it‘s, like, basically quite openly purposefully presenting the value of “wholesomeness” as attached to all of these games as (at least to me) just too brazenly trying to make these entertainment products embody social change in order to justify their value on the market, not to actually effect or create or maintain them. I’m not enough of a theory guy to disentangle exactly how a Marxist theorist might categorize this but at least for me the especially alienating factor is just how intentional it seems to be. Gosh, that Marx guy was pretty smart. Marx literally had NO IDEA about The Game Awards, and yet…

>!

Anyway, case in point in terms of differentiating between what a piece of media is capable of with regards to social change, and what I suppose I want to say further on the subject of what kind of social change I think is worth arguing for in relation to “wholesome” media so that we don‘t fall into the trap of leaving the consumption of it as a stand-in for social change… I think this very discussion does at least carry real potential to effect social change in a way a videogame could never. It is, in fact, at least a small scale attempt we are making at effecting social change–we are, after all, having the discussion publicly, and it is being read by people, and probably more people than are engaging in it too. As well, whether we intend them to be or not, our words and positions and intentions on social issues always hold some kind of educational or persuasive or agitating potential, but only if we’re taking the time to put them out to other people. In a literal sense, the games themselves did not actually prompt this discussion, at least not explicitly (well, maybe they did, but I feel like we‘d be mentioning it if a game explicitly instructed you to actually go out and do things and talk about stuff with other people). But even if they did, the inanimate object can only give you the idea or present the argument to do so. The choice is still with the player and the action of social change is, well, only possible through social relationships, it’s what social change is made out of. Only we can prevent forest fires effect social change.

>!

Perhaps, though, I‘ll soften my position just a little bit further and say that perhaps these kinds of games in their best forms are at least an indirect communication between the player and its creators. Even still, though, I’d prefer to not say that, idk, Celeste is a game that is effecting positive social change, and would then rather say Maddy Thorson and everyone at Extremely OK have effected social change through the medium of videogames which contain and express pro-social and humanistic values, and reached a wide audience. And, even then, it's still up to us to propagate and embody social change through our own social connections. An inanimate game will not do it for us.

>!

One last case in point which is:

>! >

@“beets”#p104424 A short hike is probably wholesome because it reminds us that hiking is cool, talking to people on hikes is cool and that there’s no better feeling than the sun on my skin and fresh mountain air in my lungs. I need to organise that hiking trip

>!

Really couldn‘t have embodied what I’m talking about better here, @“beets”#206. It‘s not the game that’s wholesome, it‘s YOU!! Organize it!! If it was remotely possible I’d totally want to come on this hiking trip.


@“Gaagaagiins”#p104471 I think it‘s alienating because of good old ludonarrative dissonance and lack of verisimilitude. The systems in games ultimately turn us into creatures of avarice, manipulators, even perverts who seek gratification at the expense of nature, of our imaginary friend’s autonomy; we actualize ourselves in games and deactualize everything else in the game that would otherwise represent independent entities and ideals in a real situation. What appears to be a wholesome game can never be as such when we treat it as a god's playground or a themepark built for a single person. They need to be real stories that are about something, about someone for them to have meaning as a story in reality, as something we chose to participate in. To that end they cannot simply disregard the existence of real problems, they have to say something about what is actually happening to us, they have to present a situation that could actually happen to someone. Perhaps we have an instinctive, subconscious awareness of when a game is simply lying to us, when a creator has made something to be a commodity on purpose, when we are being sold something without a soul. Nobody can look at the Mother series or NiGHTS or Undertale and claim there is something insidious and fake there underlying a “wholesome” experience, someone put a part of their own self into something they considered important in their own mind.

If I buy a game because I play games and someone made the game I bought because they sell games, surely that's entirely different than someone making something they wanted to, because they cared about it, and I bought it and enjoyed it because I am a living being with the same emotions.

wholesome also very recently became an internet lingo meme thing, which imo kind of sucks the life out of it when it‘s being misused so much by people who definitively do not have healthy values or lifestyle, therefore can’t identify wholesomeness very keenly, just memely.

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/BBL5vPi.png]

something that appears to be wholesome could be totally not wholesome, like a predatory farming simulator that uses the world "wholesome" in it's advertisements. it reminds me of mcdonalds and other giants misusing the word "Love" in advertisements.

I think we're seeing it as a meme because there are so many people online who are thrashed about by media and are thirsty for a more healthy disposition. There's a lot of perfectly healthy stuff that internet people react adversely to.

Anyways I liked Boku no Natsuyasumi since way back in the day. Can you summarize what this discussion is about? I feel like Tim's comment on the podcast was just an offhand remark about the wholesome meme diminishing a very awesome swath of video games over the years.

i will destroy all wholesome ga- gets shot by my CIA watchdog

I thought the wholesome meme was a buzzword used by self-infantilizing millennials, like the kinds who leave those comments on yt videos for game soundtracks about going back to a time “when things were simpler” or whatever.

I hope it's not also related to puriteens who can't handle complex characters or unreliable narrators and think all media needs to be instructions on how to live.

Like, what is it saying about games that are "unwholesome"? That they are lesser? My Bloodbornes and my Ladykillers in a Bind? Is this word a dog whistle antonym for "degenerate"?

Could this also be a clumsy off-brand westernized term for [iyashikei](https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Iyashikei)?

Anyway, I also don't like the word.

>

@“treefroggy”#p104517 Can you summarize what this discussion is about?

Well, I can only summarize what I was trying to say, but I think my feelings of alienation around the use of "wholesome" to describe (and, more cynically, advertise) media/entertainment for its moral goodness or approach to addressing social issues is that it engenders passivity (hehe). Both because it is a distraction from the importance of actually interacting with and building community with other people, and because it's such an individualistic view of social issues (as in if enough individual people play the "wholesome" games it will result in positive social change).

I guess what I eventually came to is that even if the games are good and of substance and are meaningful and transformative to individual people, it's still ultimately up to people to solve social issues together, a "game" is not wholesome, people are.

>

@“dicegame”#p104523 i will destroy all wholesome ga- gets shot by my CIA watchdog

/me dives in front of the bullet (sadly it instead kills both of us)

I need a keyboard to type a reply, if it's even worth it. I feel like we all agree, and only want to briefly clarify what I typed this morning before I had my tea.

One thing worth clarifying right now from my phone: I'm not sure _why_ I used the phrase "not sure what you're alluding too..." when I knew you @Gaagaagiins were talking about lockdown starting, and I just wanted to bring up the release of Animal Crossing as the clear explanation. I didn't consider the tone would clearly read as facetious and, quite frankly, bitchy. I apologize for being a jerk on the internet.

@"treefroggy"#p104517 we're getting into how and why the wholesome meme feels alienating, particularly when it's used to talk about games and especially in game marketing. An aspect of that is how a game's design impacts the conversation around it, i.e. Animal Crossing at the beginning of lockdown. What might it mean when a game is praised for it's "whoelsomeness" in that kind of context? Is a question that's being explored.

Screw it, I'm going to go for it, phone typing be darned.

I 100% agree that games are not wholesome, people are (you know, _potentially_), or rather, actions performed by people. This has been nicely fleshed out by @"Gaagaagiins"#429 @"IncompatibleKaiser"#1489 and @"beets"#206. I think I differ on my perspective on when people praise a game as wholesome. I take it as good when someone expresses a desire for "nice" escapist fantasies because it shows a potential for latent frustration/dissatisfaction/absolute rage for the systems we actually live in. This is possibly incredibly naive of me.

I'm sorry for temporarily derailing the episode thread. Thank you for sequestering us @"Syzygy"#279.

>

@“RubySunrise”#p104530 I didn’t consider the tone would clearly read as facetious and, quite frankly, bitchy. I apologize for being a jerk on the internet.

Oh, no no! I didn't interpret it that way at all. I didn't take offense in the slightest. Your unbroken streak of being a very sweet and thoughtful non-jerk on the internet continues on with no signs of stopping.

>

@“RubySunrise”#p104530 I take it as good when someone expresses a desire for “nice” escapist fantasies because it shows a potential for latent frustration/dissatisfaction/absolute rage for the systems we actually live in. This is possibly incredibly naive of me.

I'll gladly align myself with that particular naivety, if naivety is indeed what it is. Individual solutions might not be the be all and end all, but they _aren't_ pointless, and accepting the value of rest, whenever and wherever we can get it, is among the most radical individual positions one can take. Collectively it is something we absolutely must keep fighting for.

>

@“Gaagaagiins”#p104361 My rough understanding is this primarily came out of Tumblr.

I hate to defend tumblr, but I believe wholesome is a reddit creation. Tumblr was a cesspool of stan culture, shipping, fanfic, and 𝒶𝑒𝓈𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓉𝒾𝒸 (✿◠‿◠) but those teenagers were not sheltered the way redditors typically are. Every Whovian was one click away from tsundere furries and emotionally manipulative livejournal reblogs. Tumblr users did enjoy twee Buffy gifs or whatever but didn't seek out innocence. Reddit on the other hand, is where r/humansbeingbros ask to marketed to in a r/oddlysatifying way.

All that being said... I think _wholesome_ is just a marketing shorthand for games that will not attempt to challenge a player narratively, in a similar vein to how _accessibility_ is shorthand for a game that will not challenge a player's proficiency. There's a literal definition (a game with escapism or adaptive controller mode), but then there's the added associations (the game needs to have cute frogs or the game needs to let me fulfill a power fantasy.)

I think what wholesomeness represents sucks, and I hate to see it applied to games that didn't ask for it in the first place. There is a difference between a Monet and a Thomas Kinkade, in the same way there's a difference between Stardew Valley and le wholesome du jour, and it's not fair to tar them with the same brush.

I don't know if anyone here followed the _Boyfriend Dungeon_ rollout, but it was fascinating to see people feeling so betrayed by the marketing just because the game actually had conflict in it. It is fascinating as someone who has played some fucked up otomes to see the response to a mildly bothersome villain had people DEMAND the game is changed to suit their expectations. The makers of boyfriend dungeon didn't set out to make a wholesome game but the people demanded it. I think it's a sad sign for people who want to tackle non-traditional subject matter.

@“Tradegood”#p104543 I hope someday to make a game that necessitates a public health warning on startup because its so aggressively hostile to comfort and tolerance of reality. I want someone to cry on tik tok. I want it to be illegal for children to play it and for grown adults to claim that I ruined their lives.

>

@“IncompatibleKaiser”#p104552 I hope someday to make a game that necessitates a public health warning on startup because its so aggressively hostile to comfort and tolerance of reality. I want someone to cry on tik tok. I want it to be illegal for children to play it and for grown adults to claim that I ruined their lives.

That sounds like to ilicit that response would require the game to have some kind of meaningful substance, but what would be the social benefit?

@“IncompatibleKaiser”#p104552 hmm do you mean League of Legends :face_with_monocle: lol jk jk >!(kinda)!<