Yesterday, an exciting secret was revealed that eagle-eyed social media watchers could well have guessed was coming: Depression Quest developer and anti-harassment crusader Zoe Quinn is developing a video game with erotica author and internet icon Chuck Tingle.
If you’re unfamiliar with Chuck Tingle: he’s a somewhat notorious author whose short e-books - all published on Amazon - invariably involve the protagonist being pounded in the butt by some supernatural creature, topical event, or abstract concept. Tingle titles include Space Raptor Butt Invasion, Slammed In The Butthole By My Concept Of Linear Time, and Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt. Those titles bely an intelligent and self-aware writer who - let’s face it - has a pretty good thing going. He’s also apparently a Tae Kwon Do grandmaster and doctor of holistic massage, so he’s got some fallback options.
The announcement came via a ten-minute VICE documentary that gives an overview of the game, its creative process, and Zoe Quinn herself. It’s definitely worth a watch - more for the pelvic thrusting unicorn cop and excited, enthusiastic creative team than for the inevitable mention of GamerGate and its legacy. For all the positive impact Quinn’s work in online security has had, it’s hard to fault her decision to change tack to a game this fucking bonkers:
The two creatives’ collaboration will come as no surprise to anyone who’s played her wide range of short comedy games. The two share an anarchic sense of humour, and it seems logical that Quinn would be the one to adapt Tingle’s work into a game. They bonded over Twitter some time ago, and Quinn even attended the Hugo Awards in Tingle’s stead - hilarious, given that Tingle was only nominated because a group of alt-right fucks (which has a significant crossover with GamerGate) mobbed the voting system, thinking it’d be lulz to nominate him for Best Short Story. He didn’t win, so Zoe didn’t get to deliver a speech, but the significance of the substitution was not lost.
The game itself, referred to here as Project Tingler, is a dating simulator wherein players attempt to seduce a range of characters informed by the Chuck Tingle oeuvre. It’s entirely created in FMV, or full motion video - a format of game that conventional wisdom would suggest died in the early ‘90s (the terrific, innovative Her Story notwithstanding). But Zoe Quinn has never really abided by conventional wisdom, so the genre that reached its ridiculous zenith with Night Trap returns, in suitably goofy form.
If nothing else, it’s heartening to see Zoe working on a game again. GamerGate would have put anyone off working in video games; we’re all lucky it didn’t deprive us of one of indie development’s most original voices. She describes the project as “just fucking fun,” and offers a knowing testament to the link between depression and comedy. I do both, too; I know they have a seesaw-like relationship; I for one hope Project Tingler continues to keep the seesaw the right way up. Creativity'll do that.