Interview with Christine Love (Love Conquers All Games)

Christine Love Photo

First off, tell me about yourself? and for those unfamiliar with you can you tell me a little about the type of work you do?
I’m Christine Love, the co-founder of Love Conquers All Games. The sorts of games we make tend to be a little different every time—for example, in the past we made visual novels, but we’re now working on an RPG—but the one thing they have in common is they’re all queer and narrative-focused. 

How many games have you made and what has been your most popular game to date?
We’ve made three commercial games so far: Analogue: A Hate Story, Hate Plus, and Ladykiller in a Bind. “Popular” is kind of hard to quantify; I know more people have played Analogue, our first game, but definitely more people have heard of Ladykiller, especially after it won an IGF award for Excellence in Narrative.

Which of your games took the longest to develop and why?
Definitely Ladykiller in a Bind—we spent nearly four years on it, which is way longer than anything I’ve done in the past. A big part of that was just that we were very ambitious, and we wanted to get it right. There was also a very huge learning curve to writing for the unique dialogue system, which is much harder to write for than more linear systems, and as a result, a lot more time-consuming.

Knowing what you know now would you change anything about your older games? If so why?
I always try to learn lessons from the mistakes I’ve made, but I mean, they were also necessary to make or I wouldn’t have learned from them. I think my design process has evolved a lot over time, and my earlier games don’t have as strong a sense of player flow and can sometimes be difficult to follow. But they also very specifically came out of the constraints and circumstances of the time, so it’s not as if I could have done anything about that except learned lessons going forward.

Following on from that question which of your games is your favourite/do you consider the best. Does this reflect the reception it has received from fans and critics?
Definitely Ladykiller is the best work I’ve done yet. Everyone has their own preferences, of course, but objectively, my design and storytelling skills have improved a lot over the past seven years I’ve been making games. 

If you could sum up your games/game design style broadly in a few sentences what would you say?
The most important thing about storytelling in games is the player interaction. If it’s really important to the story, then it needs to be a decision that the player made, so they feel like they’re a part of the story.

For someone interested in doing what you do, do you have any tips or resources you’d recommend?
Honestly, the biggest game development skills you can learn is how to finish a project. Game jams are really great; personally, I got into development by doing the month-long NaNoRenO visual novel jam. The most important thing you can do is start doing something small, and actually finish it, even if it’s not actually good. You can learn how to make things good once you’ve gotten “done” figured out, and it’ll be a lot easier.

What attracted you to visual novels and can you recommend any other visual novels people might like?
What got me into visual novels was reading Collage for the first time, an old doujin game with really stylish storytelling. More recently, I really loved Heaven Will Be Mine.

For storytelling purposes do you prefer linear or non-linear storylines?
Linear stories are definitely a lot easier to write, that’s for sure! That said, I think it really just depends on what the story calls for. None of my previous visual novels have been linear at all, letting the player choose how they’re going to learn about the story at the pace they want, and interact with the characters they want to, because that’s what worked best for them. But in my upcoming RPG Get in the Car, Loser! the storytelling is a lot more linear, because it’s a more straightforward adventure story. In general, though, I think non-linearity is one of the great strengths of videogames as a medium.

You touch on a lot of different topics in your game such as consent, misogyny and LGBT matters, how do you approach discussing these issues and were you worried about potential backlash?
Misogyny was obviously a big theme of Analogue and Hate Plus, but what I was really interested in was not just looking at how bad it is, but how different women find different ways of coping with it and surviving it. I’m less interested in providing any sort of straightforward moral—I mean, yes, misogyny is bad, obviously, everyone knows that, and you don’t need me to tell that—but rather in providing a space where the ramifications can be explored and thought about.

As for queer issues, well, as a queer woman, I’m just gonna keep writing the sorts of stories I personally want to see, and the sorts of romances between women I want to see.

Your previous games feature or use technology quite prominently but Ladykiller in a Bind does not, was that a deliberate choice and if so why?
Yeah, it was definitely deliberately—an earlier design of Ladykiller featured a social networking feature, but we decided to cut it out in order to make things feel more focused. A big part of that was that we wanted Ladykiller to not just feel like the same game I’d done several times before, so we focused on making the storytelling mechanics revolve around what that particular story was about.

Ladykiller in a Bind also deals with sex in a more outright fashion than previous games was there a particular reason for this and how did you approach it for this game?
After making two incredibly depressing games in a row, we wanted to do something fun, which is how we ended up doing an erotic romantic comedy. Mostly, we just decided that if that was what the game was going to be about, then being sexy and being funny needed to be the fundamental basis of what the game was. We had a lot of good ideas that worked dramatically, but if they weren’t funny and they weren’t sexy, then they got left on the cutting room floor. It’s just what the kind of love story we were making called for.

And following on from that question how do you feel modern gaming deals with sex and sexuality?
I think we’re definitely seeing a lot more interesting approaches lately, a lot more nuance, a lot less compulsory heterosexuality, and frankly, most importantly of all… a willingness to actually be sexy instead of just going through the motions. I’m really excited about the next few years of games about sex, for sure.

Lastly what is one thing about you that people would be surprised by?
Hey, I have to keep some secrets!

 

First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org


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