Artwork for podcast Pixel Therapy Pod
Games as Explorations of Desire with Writer and Adult Developer Ana Valens
Episode 2420th July 2021 • Pixel Therapy Pod • Pixel Therapy Pod
00:00:00 01:44:28

Share Episode

Shownotes

Note: This episode includes discussions of sexuality, with some references to BDSM and kink.

Howdy, y'all! Spencer and Jamie kick things off this week with a little HOT, SPICY, and SPIRITED debate (for us) on Armature Games' new surreal narrative adventure: Where the Heart Leads! Tumble into the time sinkhole with us as we delve into this 600,000-word everyday epic about a family man who finds himself reliving the formative moments of his life, including his present and even his future- and gains the ability to change them.

Then we're joined by the wonderful Ana Valens, a writer and adult game developer who, in her words, "specializes in the intersection of sexuality and video games and what the two have to say about the other." UMM, how cool is that?! We unpack the capacity for games to engage with sexuality beyond providing titillation, from education, to self-expression, to helping us gain deeper understandings of our own desires and providing safe places to explore them. We interviewed Ana during Pride Month, so we also touch a bit on the last few decades of U.S. LGBTQ+ history and the importance of honoring and understanding kink's place in queer culture! It's truly an action-packed episode so thanks for reading this far but please stop and press play!

Check out Ana's queer adult games: https://acvalens.itch.io/

Follow Ana on Twitter (private, but listeners can request access): https://twitter.com/acvalens

Check out Ana's book, Tumblr Porn: http://www.instarbooks.com/books/tumblr-porn.html

Side Quest

Red Canary Song

Originally founded in 2017 to provide legal and healthcare support to the family of massage worker Yang Song who was killed during a police raid, Red Canary Song is today a grassroots massage worker coalition in the U.S. and organizes transnationally with Asian sex workers across the diaspora in Toronto, Paris, and Hong Kong. To learn more and support their work, please check out:

https://www.redcanarysong.net/

About Pixel Therapy

New episodes drop every other Tuesday. Learn more at pixeltherapypod.com or follow us on social media @pixeltherapypod. We're proud members of the But Why Tho? Podcast Network: visit ButWhyThoPodcast.com for everything pop culture in an inclusive geek community! If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate us, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts (or your listening app of choice) & subscribe! Want more? Unlock monthly bonus episodes for $2/mo and help us save up for streaming equipment at patreon.com/pixeltherapypod !

Transcripts

Jamie:

Pixel Therapy is a member of the But Why Tho? Podcast

Jamie:

Network.

Spencer:

Go to butwhythopodcast.com for an

Spencer:

inclusive geek community offering pop culture news,

Spencer:

reviews and podcasts.

Ana:

And for some people, they're gonna play that and then

Ana:

be like, 'Oh shit, that's hot. I didn't realize that. I didn't

Ana:

realize this was the desire I could have. But also I didn't

Ana:

realize that I could explore and experience desire through this

Ana:

way, in a way that feels good for me and doesn't feel like it

Ana:

has the complexities of like, say, expectations being placed

Ana:

on me from a culture or a society of sex that I don't know

Ana:

if I want to have.' I really think games, you know, games is

Ana:

play, and play usually is a really good way for us to sort

Ana:

of piece things out and understand ourselves better. And

Ana:

that's definitely true of sex games and adult games.

Jamie:

Welcome to Pixel Therapy, the video game podcast where we

Jamie:

look at the games we play through the lens of the player,

Jamie:

where what you play is just as important as how you play it.

Jamie:

And where emotional intelligence is a critical stat. Every other

Jamie:

week, we bring on a guest who may or may not consider

Jamie:

themselves a gamer to discuss the games that have made them

Jamie:

and changed them, and all the feelings they have about our

Jamie:

favorite pastime. I'm your co-host, Jamie pronouns she her.

Spencer:

And I'm your co-host Spencer, pronouns they them and

Spencer:

trying to talk directly into the mic.

Jamie:

And this is Pixel Therapy. We have no new or

Jamie:

noteworthy items to share this week, gasp!

Spencer:

We're boring.

Jamie:

So instead, I'll just remind everyone that we can't do

Jamie:

what we do here on Pixel Therapy without the support of our

Jamie:

lovely listeners like yourself. If you like the podcast, and

Jamie:

you'd like to get a little more, we do release an exclusive

Jamie:

monthly bonus episode on Patreon. So go to patreon.com /

Jamie:

pixeltherapypod and subscribe for just $2 a month to get that

Jamie:

extra dose of Pixel Therapy in your life! Our July bonus

Jamie:

episode will be dropping next week. And if you're not on

Jamie:

Patreon, you won't get to hear it.

Spencer:

Sorry.

Jamie:

Sorry. But if that's not in the cards for you remember,

Jamie:

it also helps to rate us and review us on Apple podcasts. And

Jamie:

we'd love to read your review on our next episode! So get out

Jamie:

there and do it. Or just keep hitting that download button

Jamie:

when we drop an episode. We're happy to have you here, no

Jamie:

matter how you choose to support the show. Alright, folks, it's

Jamie:

time to get cozy. It's time to pull up an armchair. Feel free

Jamie:

to lie down on your couch. Let's talk about our feelings.

Jamie:

Spencer, how are you?

Spencer:

Oh, good. Well, I wanted to close the loop on what

Spencer:

I said earlier which is, Jamie informed me that professional

Spencer:

podcasters are really good about making sure they talk into the

Spencer:

mic and professional-

Jamie:

We are not professional podcasters.

Spencer:

I just, I can move around when I talk I use my

Spencer:

hands sometimes. And I always I sometimes forget that I have to

Spencer:

be good. For good audio. So I'm gonna work on that, it's an

Spencer:

opportunity area for me.

Jamie:

Yes. Well, me as well. It certainly wasn't a critique that

Jamie:

was directed at just one of us.

Spencer:

Well, I mean, thanks for asking how I am, this is

Spencer:

actually a really exciting weekend.

Jamie:

Yeah,

Spencer:

because this- Okay, Jamie, over to my house. And it

Spencer:

like I I'm not joking, even though we've been friends for

Spencer:

years. Like you've literally never been to a place that I-

Spencer:

well. You've been to places I've lived but like it's been a long,

Spencer:

long, long, long time.

Jamie:

Yeah, it's been a while.

Spencer:

And I The reason for that is just because like, I

Spencer:

don't know, I would always have like a tiny room and I just live

Spencer:

in a place with a bunch of people just like not have spaces

Spencer:

to entertain and so it's felt really nice to wake up this

Spencer:

morning. And Jamie and Colt were there.

Jamie:

We were there. And our dog Tess, driving your cats up

Jamie:

the wall.

Spencer:

Yeah, they were not as happy about the weekend. But

Spencer:

that's fine.

Jamie:

The cats didn't care for the visitors, particularly one

Jamie:

visitor named Tess.

Spencer:

And it was wild though cuz I have a tiny, precious cat

Spencer:

named Naomi, I call her Nomi. And she- I'd never seen her so

Spencer:

angry, like she took it upon herself, she decided that it was

Spencer:

her duty to protect the house and that there was a wild beast

Spencer:

in her space. And her tail puffed out and she was coming

Spencer:

for Tess. Like claws out, hissing and spitting I was like-

Spencer:

I've never seen her like that!

Jamie:

And I was amused because Tess is a 50 pound hound dog

Jamie:

who's just completely oblivious. And like, was not even giving

Jamie:

this like, hissing, spitting cat the time of day.

Spencer:

Eight pound cat, yeah.

Jamie:

Literally walked past Naomi just like doing other

Jamie:

things, and Naomi's like, "IMMA FIGHT YOU!" Tess is just like,

Jamie:

"What? Hi, hello, who's that?" But yeah, then we just had to

Jamie:

keep them on two different sides of a door. And, but Naomi was

Spencer:

We had to hold her back. But other than that I

Spencer:

right there. Every time someone opened the door she was ready.

Spencer:

She was like, "Is the dog here? I'm ready. I'm ready

Spencer:

actually, okay. So shortly after you left this morning, I just

Spencer:

wanted to- since we're talking again, to record this episode, I

Spencer:

wanted to tell you about this, this hike we went on. So I just,

Spencer:

we just moved to this kind of small town, very Stardew Valley

Spencer:

vibes. And we walked to the park. And we noticed that the

Spencer:

park had this unmarked trail. And it seemed to go pretty far

Spencer:

back into the woods and in the general direction of our house.

Spencer:

So we were like, why don't we just walk down and see where it

Spencer:

spits us out?

Jamie:

Uh huh.

Spencer:

So we're walking, walking, walking. And it kind

Spencer:

of- a lot of different nature; saw lots of different types of

Spencer:

mushrooms. It was, you know, we kept walking and we weren't sure

Spencer:

where we were going. And we came upon a sign. And the signs on

Spencer:

the trail were saying things like, restaurant this way, other

Spencer:

restaurant that way, like general store this other way.

Spencer:

And we basically realized that our town in addition to like the

Spencer:

main streets, they just have these, this network of trails

Spencer:

that you can walk to get to various landmarks in the town,

Spencer:

which we just thought was like really charming and cool. So we

Spencer:

got home because the, the place it just kind of said like, "name

Spencer:

of restaurant, rad burgers this way!" We just kept following the

Spencer:

trees, and it spit us out at, at this restaurant that's right

Spencer:

down the street from our house. So, it was cool.

Jamie:

That's awesome. I love that.

Spencer:

It felt very open-world exploration.

Jamie:

Yeah, did you gain any experience?

Spencer:

I feel like I did. I feel like I gained stamina. And

Spencer:

also, is there a skill about just general orientation?

Spencer:

Navigation! Wayfinding.

Jamie:

There you go. There you go. Yeah, nailed it.

Spencer:

How are you?

Jamie:

I'm good. While you were hiking, Colt and I were driving

Jamie:

the two and a half hours back to our home.

Spencer:

This makes it sound like I'm so active. And I'm not.

Jamie:

While you were out for your hike, I was sitting very

Jamie:

still in the car. Yeah, no, it was it was super nice to get to

Jamie:

see your home. And we really appreciated y'all hosting us

Jamie:

overnight, and feeding us and taking us to your quaint little

Jamie:

breakfast slash market that you have nearby. And yeah, we're

Jamie:

just we're just really happy for you and your partner and the

Jamie:

home that y'all are building out there. And we can't wait to come

Jamie:

back and visit again.

Spencer:

Hell yeah.

Jamie:

Yeah.

Spencer:

Jamie and Colt slept in the PS5 room.

Jamie:

We did. We did. And I kicked everyone's ass at Catan,

Jamie:

so I'm happy to do that again anytime.

Spencer:

Great. Come back soon.

Jamie:

What are we talking about today, Spencer? Aside from

Jamie:

hiking.

Spencer:

Speaking of hiking, we're going to talk about a game

Spencer:

where you walk a lot, do a lot of walking,

Jamie:

Definitely walk a lot.

Spencer:

And running. So this is a really good segue, right? I

Spencer:

thought about that one, like

Spencer:

Yeah, no, that's great. You remember how I said earlier how

Spencer:

we're not professional podcasters. But go ahead.

Spencer:

Oh, and there's also lots of rocks and moss and water. But

Spencer:

it's called Where the Heart Leads. Developed by Armature

Spencer:

Games. It came out on for ps4, but also PS5.

Jamie:

Yeah, it's playable on PS5. And Armature Games. I was

Jamie:

kind of, I'd never like, I didn't recognize the name. So I

Jamie:

was kind of looking through their stuff. It looks like they

Jamie:

primarily do ports. Primarily a port studio, so they port games

Jamie:

to other consoles and stuff. But they did make Batman Arkham

Jamie:

Origins Blackgate in 2013, which was a game that came out on

Jamie:

Vita. And it did get pretty good reviews, if I recall correctly.

Jamie:

And then they also made Recore in 2016, which was one of the- I

Jamie:

think it was supposed to be a launch exclusive for the Xbox

Jamie:

One. I don't remember if it actually hit launch or not. But

Jamie:

I remember there being a lot of buzz about it. And then some

Jamie:

disappointment on the other side of the buzz when it came out.

Jamie:

But just suffice it to say they don't- they've worked on a lot

Jamie:

of games, but in a lot of support capacity and porting.

Jamie:

And this is kind of their first narrative adventure.

Spencer:

Very ambitious.

Jamie:

Yes, an ambitious narrative adventure game. With a

Jamie:

winding and complicated narrative. The like, primary way

Jamie:

you interact with the game is that you're moving a character

Jamie:

through a 3D isometric viewpoint of the world. And you are mainly

Jamie:

just pressing X to interact with characters and objects

Jamie:

throughout the world. But it is a narrative adventure game. So

Jamie:

you're making narrative decisions that ultimately affect

Jamie:

the story. And I think you got to do this as a review copy,

Jamie:

Spencer, so I was thinking you, they said in the review

Jamie:

information that there were 16 endings?

Spencer:

There are 16 endings, and over 600,000 words of

Spencer:

dialogue, which is actually longer than Infinite Jest by

Spencer:

David Foster Wallace, which is a very long book.

Jamie:

That's a lot of writing.

Spencer:

Yeah, so. And it, yeah, it has dozens, there's thousands

Spencer:

of choices, dozens and dozens of branching paths. And like Jamie

Spencer:

said, like, yeah, 16 endings, of which we've maybe collectively

Spencer:

have maybe seen two. Yeah, two. Yeah, I'm like, halfway through

Spencer:

my second playthrough.

Jamie:

There you go. Yeah, I'm not sure what they consider to

Jamie:

be the different endings because you get endings for various

Jamie:

characters in the game, so I'm not sure where they're counting

Jamie:

the sixteen.

Spencer:

Oh, true. I guess Whit's- Oh, right. Oh.

Jamie:

But, but set the game up for us. What's the narrative of

Jamie:

the game?

Spencer:

Okay, so Where the Heart Leads. You are Whit

Spencer:

Anderson, a family man waking up on your farm, your homestead.

Spencer:

You have a lovely, you have a beautiful, beautiful, a really

Spencer:

cute little brown dog named Casey, who you love very much.

Spencer:

And you wake up on a dark and stormy night, essentially,

Spencer:

lightning is crashing, you come outside after running after your

Spencer:

family. And when the commotion- when the dust settles, you

Spencer:

realize a huge sinkhole has opened in your front yard. And

Spencer:

not only that, but your little doggie has fallen right in. Not

Spencer:

too far, though, just a few feet down. So Whit, kind of- they had

Spencer:

this kind of pulley with a bathtub on it that they were

Spencer:

using as a swing and Whit jumps in, pulleys himself down. And

Spencer:

this is where, just for example, of the many branching choices

Spencer:

you can make. You can either try to save Casey, or you can wait a

Spencer:

little bit longer and see if you can figure out another way to

Spencer:

get her out. And so regardless of which direction you choose

Spencer:

upon which the multiverse opens up, the rope snaps and Whit is

Spencer:

hurtled into the depths of the sinkhole. And so begins a

Spencer:

journey back to the top, which is much longer and much more

Spencer:

surreal than the journey down.

Jamie:

Yeah, so as Whit's trying to climb his way out of the

Jamie:

hole, he starts to encounter events from his life. And the

Jamie:

story like pretty quickly, you find yourself coming through a

Jamie:

crevice and exiting as young Whit, on his family farm,

Spencer:

Seventeen years old.

Jamie:

Seventeen years old. And that opens up the meat of the

Jamie:

game, which is that you essentially play through the

Jamie:

bulk of Whit's life reliving his life experiences and having the

Jamie:

opportunity to make choices for him about the direction that

Jamie:

he's going to go in his life, the way he's going to color the

Jamie:

relationships that he has with his family and his friends. And

Jamie:

yeah, ultimately influencing the entire life trajectory of his

Jamie:

life and where he ends up. And you play through his entire

Jamie:

life. From there on through the game. I think that this

Jamie:

narrative, this core narrative of Whit and this idea of the way

Jamie:

even decisions that can feel small, or moments that can feel

Jamie:

small can have really dramatic and long lasting impact on our

Jamie:

life on our relationships with folks. I think that this is the

Jamie:

both the heart of this game and also the thing that the game

Jamie:

does best. I definitely have some issues with this game,

Jamie:

which I think we'll get into in a little bit. But I want to

Jamie:

start by just saying like, narratively, and the line by

Jamie:

line writing of this game is some of the best I've

Jamie:

encountered in a game. Like period hands down, or even as

Jamie:

you know, as a piece of literature. I think you could

Jamie:

almost consider this with the 6,000 words. 600,000 sorry. So

Jamie:

many words.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And I read a lot of them. But yeah, the the actual the

Jamie:

characters that are on display here are the relationships that

Jamie:

you're building and making those decisions. There were so many

Jamie:

times the decision point would come up and I felt truly frozen

Jamie:

by the idea of like, which direction should I take this?

Jamie:

Even when it seemed like something that was small in the

Jamie:

moment, I think the game does a good job of helping you quickly

Jamie:

understand that these decisions are likely going to have a

Jamie:

lasting impact. Because there, there are decisions that Whit

Jamie:

makes within the conversations of the game. You're not choosing

Jamie:

every line of dialogue that Whit speaks. It's very specific

Jamie:

points where the game's, like, here's a decision that you need

Jamie:

to make. And I think that helps cement that those are the real

Jamie:

turning points in his life, or the real points on which is his

Jamie:

future will hinge. And I found I found a lot of that stuff really

Jamie:

compelling. And a lot of the dialogue really compelling. What

Jamie:

about you?

Spencer:

Yeah, I? I felt like the- Wait, I'm sorry. Pause.

Spencer:

When you're saying you weren't talking for him? Like the, it's

Spencer:

more about giving you like general paths, then then the

Spencer:

literal dialogue that he's saying, is that? Is that kind of

Spencer:

what you meant?

Jamie:

No, I mean, like, you're not- in some games with a

Jamie:

narrative like this. Every time a character speaks to you, you

Jamie:

would have a choice of what to say back, you're not choosing

Jamie:

every response that Whit gives, you're only being- a lot of the

Jamie:

times, he's speaking for himself. So you're still being

Jamie:

presented with like, who Whit is as a character, like he's still

Jamie:

grounded in himself, he's not entirely an avatar for you, the

Jamie:

player. But when he comes up against key decision points,

Jamie:

then you're given the choice to choose between the options that

Jamie:

he has. So you're not getting to completely decide who he is, he

Jamie:

exists separate from you. But you do get to steer him down

Jamie:

specific paths.

Spencer:

Yeah, I think that's the part that I think there was

Spencer:

an initial shock when I first started playing the game,

Spencer:

because it wasn't at all what I expected. I think I felt like I

Spencer:

would be Whit more, than sort of being an observer of his life

Spencer:

and kind of a force pushing or, or tilting him in different

Spencer:

directions. And the really interesting part of the game, as

Spencer:

we kind of touched on is that you're not only living through

Spencer:

Whit's past, and the events leading up to him falling into

Spencer:

the sinkhole. The way you live his life, you could you actually

Spencer:

are rewriting his present as well as his future; you're

Spencer:

living through his whole life. And so I think I kept waiting

Spencer:

for it to- initially when I first was sinking into it, my

Spencer:

first couple hours, I was like, okay, when are we getting, I

Spencer:

don't know what I was expecting necessarily, maybe more of an

Spencer:

adventure, like maybe I was expecting the scale to be

Spencer:

something bigger than just his life. But really, what this

Spencer:

story was, was super super grounded in these characters

Spencer:

living, you know, small lives and just trying to figure out

Spencer:

who they are and, and balancing work and family and, and home.

Spencer:

And I think it all just it, it shocked me how real it felt. And

Spencer:

then when I sort of realized what I was playing, I did start

Spencer:

to really, really enjoy it. And I was really blown away, like

Spencer:

you by the writing. Like, I felt like I really knew these

Spencer:

characters. So all of that. It's unlike any- it's really singular

Spencer:

in I felt like, how personal and intimate it was with these very

Spencer:

specific characters. Like reading, like reading a novel.

Jamie:

Yeah, Yeah, I would agree with that. And I think, again, I

Jamie:

think that's what the game does best is that they really, the

Jamie:

writers clearly really knew who these characters were. And

Jamie:

presented them to us as like fully realized individuals and

Jamie:

did it in a way that felt very natural that didn't feel like it

Jamie:

was just full of exposition. Or that characters had to like walk

Jamie:

up and speak exactly who they were what they were thinking or

Jamie:

feeling all the time. I think you know, as far as like, script

Jamie:

writing goes, the interactions always felt really natural and

Jamie:

honest to me. I think they kind of articulate this a bit in a

Jamie:

conversation that that I was privy to later in the game that

Jamie:

Whit has with his daughter, and I don't think everyone can

Jamie:

actually come across this conversation, but the

Jamie:

conversation I had with her she she makes this point about

Jamie:

"messy." They're looking at something- I don't want to spoil

Jamie:

anything, so they're looking at something and Whit says that the

Jamie:

shape of it is messy. And she says, "Messy is also a shape,

Jamie:

you know. The shape of broken things. We take wholeness for

Jamie:

granted, I think. Messy is better sometimes, more true or

Jamie:

real. The pieces don't always have to fit back together, it's

Jamie:

okay to see the cracks, the flaws. It's beautiful in its own

Jamie:

way." I think that's one of the thesis- thesisii?

Spencer:

Theses?

Jamie:

of the game, is this idea that like, realness is

Jamie:

inherently like flawed and messy.

Spencer:

Yeah. And I think to building on that a little, like,

Spencer:

the game really seems to be encouraging you to embrace the

Spencer:

fact that even if you do everything right, or even if you

Spencer:

try your hardest, like, sometimes things just don't work

Spencer:

out. And sometimes your life ends up looking way different

Spencer:

than you may have planned when you first set out. And I think

Spencer:

it teaches you like, at least for me, like I, it felt like

Spencer:

what it was saying about adulthood is like something that

Spencer:

already like me as a young old person, as tender age of almost

Spencer:

of reading my late 20s. Like, I know that there's a lot of life.

Spencer:

But I still, you know, I think back to the, the, I'm reaching

Spencer:

an age where I'm able now to think back to the person I was,

Spencer:

you know, three, five, ten years ago and thinking about decisions

Spencer:

I made and how they've impacted who I am now. And wondering

Spencer:

like, oh, what if I had done something different. And to the

Spencer:

all the time you have when you're like a young person, like

Spencer:

there's just endless, endless time. And I do feel like what

Spencer:

this game brings into focus is the fact that like adulthood can

Spencer:

really be about understanding that the choices that we make

Spencer:

every day have more and more weight, and that there are some

Spencer:

things that we never will experience because we made a

Spencer:

choice, or there are ways our life will turn out that never

Spencer:

would have been possible before because we've made a choice. And

Spencer:

it just, you just start understanding so much more about

Spencer:

that, I think, as you get older, I thought the game did a

Spencer:

beautiful job of really teaching that lesson.

Jamie:

Yeah, yeah, I'll say that the game, essentially, as you're

Jamie:

playing through its life, it breaks itself up into three core

Jamie:

chapters. The first being focused on this, we're at 17.

Jamie:

And the chapters essentially are a stretch of time where you play

Jamie:

the game and time does not really fast forward in a

Jamie:

significant way, you're playing through this, this long stretch

Jamie:

of the game that's really set at a specific age and time in

Jamie:

What's life.

Spencer:

Because like critical moments, yeah.

Jamie:

So you have this chapter where he's 17. Living on his

Jamie:

parents farm, you have this chapter, where he's I read him

Jamie:

as probably late 20s, early 30s. He's got two young kids and a

Jamie:

partner, and they have a home together, and you're making some

Jamie:

decisions around the direction the family's going to go. And

Jamie:

then you have this final chapter, where he's middle age,

Jamie:

past middle age. And there's kind of like these interstitials

Jamie:

in between these chapters that give you a chance to like check

Jamie:

in on characters and make a few key decisions as you move into

Jamie:

the next chapter. But essentially, those are kind of

Jamie:

the three focal points of the game. And the game kind of like

Jamie:

I don't remember exactly how it delivered this message, but

Jamie:

early in the the first chapter where you're 17, it kind of

Jamie:

makes this suggestion that there may not be enough time to do

Jamie:

everything you want to do. And so as I was like making

Jamie:

decisions in the first chapter, I kept thinking like, Okay,

Jamie:

well, if I decide to help my dad build the barn, I might not get

Jamie:

to go hang out with my girlfriend, so. And I was trying

Jamie:

to like run around and balance priorities. And I kept I kept

Jamie:

finding that, like, the game wasn't actually restricting me

Jamie:

like everything was available. And I was like, well, that's

Jamie:

weird. Why did it try to tell me that like, I might have to make

Jamie:

decisions about who I'm spending time with if I was going to be

Jamie:

able to spend time with everyone. And then you move into

Jamie:

the next chapter. And suddenly things don't work that way

Jamie:

anymore. I found that like, if I want, like, I missed talking to

Jamie:

certain people, because I prioritized other conversations.

Jamie:

And I think that like really, it's like very subtly clicking

Jamie:

on this point of like, when you're young, it does feel like

Jamie:

you have all the time in the world and you can do it all. And

Jamie:

then as you get older time starts to condense and suddenly

Jamie:

like choosing to go have a conversation with one person

Jamie:

might mean that you don't have a conversation with another person

Jamie:

that could have opened a door for you. I thought that was a

Jamie:

really subtle, interesting way to do it. And it was in that

Jamie:

second chapter that the game really clicked for me. Because I

Jamie:

was operating under the assumption that the game was

Jamie:

still working the way it did in the first chapter when I was

Jamie:

young. And I made a few decisions about how, who I was

Jamie:

going to speak to, throughout this day. And I thought I was

Jamie:

going to have an opportunity for a specific, I thought I was

Jamie:

going to have a specific career opportunity made available to me

Jamie:

that had kind of been hinted at, but I didn't go and talk to the

Jamie:

person who would have been my boss, if I had taken that career

Jamie:

opportunity. And the day ended. And I went to the bar with my

Jamie:

partner, and she had been offered the career opportunity.

Jamie:

And I had like this sinking like moment of realization of like,

Jamie:

Oh, shit, like, the game has just taught me that I let that

Jamie:

go by. And I didn't even realize I was making a decision to let

Jamie:

that go by. And it was one of the most powerful moments of the

Jamie:

game for me personally, and it was what hooked me into the rest

Jamie:

of the game was this, the sudden realization that like, without

Jamie:

even realizing that I was making decisions that were going to

Jamie:

impact my opportunities. I was doing it just by how I was

Jamie:

setting my priorities within the game.

Spencer:

Yes, absolutely. I think, to your point about

Spencer:

messiness, like the quote about messiness, and the beauty there

Spencer:

and the imperfections, like, I feel like I don't know, I'm used

Spencer:

to like, I think, in this game, it exists too, like, when you're

Spencer:

presented with options, there's like dialogue options, or

Spencer:

branches. There's one that kind of stands out as like a good

Spencer:

answer, and one that's maybe like the more chaotic answer, or

Spencer:

sarcastic answer or oppositional answer. And so you kind of feel

Spencer:

like you generally have a good idea of, of where to take your

Spencer:

character, if you're trying to be a certain kind of person, or

Spencer:

put like a good run, you know what I mean? And I think what

Spencer:

really surprised me, but also, something I really appreciated

Spencer:

about this game was that like, even if you tried to be the best

Spencer:

father possible, there still might be things outside of your

Spencer:

control that spin characters away from you in ways that you

Spencer:

may not have expected. And it makes me think of what you just

Spencer:

said about how sometimes your priorities like you may not have

Spencer:

ever intended, you know, to be not around for your kids, for

Spencer:

example, you thought that by picking the options where you'd

Spencer:

have a better job and be able to provide more that your family

Spencer:

would would prosper and be happy. But maybe you didn't

Spencer:

realize the impact that that had on your kids who interpreted you

Spencer:

as never being around, there's just things that don't even

Spencer:

occur to you. And when it's condensed into this, you know,

Spencer:

10-12 hour game, it really stands out how in real life,

Spencer:

like years can go by. And you can like that can happen. It

Spencer:

happens in real life. And it's not often that you have, that

Spencer:

you're given the opportunity to be aware about it, aware of it

Spencer:

until it's too late. And you're looking back with regret. So I

Spencer:

just I was really struck, by the way that it sort of made space

Spencer:

to show you that like sometimes relationships or the way things

Spencer:

work out is just hard regardless of of your actions or, or maybe

Spencer:

you didn't intend something to go a certain way. But that

Spencer:

doesn't mean that the universe cares about what your intention

Spencer:

was.

Jamie:

Yeah, and that you can't do it all. I think, yeah, it's

Jamie:

like, you know what you're saying right there. It's like,

Jamie:

if I lean into one relationship, or if I if I lean into

Jamie:

prioritizing, if I prioritize my career, maybe I'm not as there

Jamie:

for my family, and I don't think it's never like, I think

Jamie:

sometimes these things can be made out to be more like-it's

Jamie:

not demonizing any of it, right? Like, it's not like if you

Jamie:

choose to, like really prioritize your career, your

Jamie:

family isn't going to like completely abandon you and

Jamie:

they'll all be terrible people. But there are things that will

Jamie:

happen throughout the game that you just realize, like, because

Jamie:

I wasn't there for XYZ like this is now my relationship with my

Jamie:

son or this is now my relationship with my daughter or

Jamie:

my partner like these things are different now because I had a

Jamie:

different priority than them. And same as if you prioritize

Jamie:

them or you prioritize something else, then maybe you won't get

Jamie:

where you wanted to get with your career. And I think the

Jamie:

game does a good job of saying like, this is all okay, like it

Jamie:

doesn't. It doesn't make your life not worth living because

Jamie:

you made One little wrong choice. But you do make these

Jamie:

decisions on a daily basis and you do set your priorities and

Jamie:

you're not going to be able to max every relationship out.

Jamie:

You're not going to be able to be there for every single person

Jamie:

all the time, you're not going to be able to have it all.

Jamie:

Because time is fleeting. And life is fleeting.

Spencer:

It's all so fleeting.

Jamie:

Yeah, I you know, and I think this kind of the other

Jamie:

thesis statement that I think the game makes it i think is,

Jamie:

like still resonating for me is there's there's actually a

Jamie:

moment in the game where Whit is having a conversation with his

Jamie:

son. And he's talking about why he likes stories. And he says,

Jamie:

"I guess it's because stories are like dreams except

Jamie:

permanent. You never forget them. Because you can always go

Jamie:

back and read them again. And they do the same things dreams

Jamie:

do - they tell you about the world you live in. But they also

Jamie:

help you imagine a different one, maybe a better one." And in

Jamie:

a lot of ways, I think that's what this game. Yeah, it's like

Jamie:

very, I think that's very much how the game and the game

Jamie:

writers see this as a way to kind of reflect through the

Jamie:

story to reflect life and the way we make decisions and set

Jamie:

priorities back at us. And asks us to just kind of think about

Jamie:

it and recognize that you're making decisions every day that

Jamie:

might feel small in the moment, but are setting your priorities

Jamie:

and your focus and will have an impact on your relationships and

Jamie:

where you get in life.

Spencer:

Absolutely. If we're talking about thesis statements,

Spencer:

I have one too that I wrote down because yeah, I again, this

Spencer:

game, like, writing wise is bonkers good.

Jamie:

Really, really good. I don't have complaints about the

Jamie:

writing except that maybe there might be too much of it.

Spencer:

Yeah, well, I mean, see, that's one of the things

Spencer:

that I loved about it was how sprawling it was like, it felt

Spencer:

like an epic like I was, it felt epic. The scale was epic. Yeah,

Spencer:

it was something that felt really special. Like I, I, I

Spencer:

really felt like I was diving, like, like someone's life had

Spencer:

been preserved in this game. It's really cool. I'm sorry, let

Spencer:

me Okay, so this quote that I had written down, it was a

Spencer:

scene, one of the transitionary scenes where we're kind of just

Spencer:

reflecting on his life. And he says, "If you made different

Spencer:

choices, you'd be a different person now. And the person you

Spencer:

are tends to feel like the person you were always meant to

Spencer:

be. Here's the problem, every alternate version of yourself

Spencer:

that could exist would feel like they're the only one who was

Spencer:

meant to exist, just like you do now. So how much stock can we

Spencer:

put in that feeling? Maybe 'meant to be' is just our way of

Spencer:

coping with the space we can't cross between what is and what

Spencer:

might have been?" And it just too, like, this game is making

Spencer:

the impossible possible. It's allowing you to have that power

Spencer:

to ask what if? And that is really special. Should we now

Spencer:

talk about the things that frustrated us about the game?

Spencer:

[both laughing] No, we just have some loving critiques, because

Spencer:

we love this game, or at least I really love this game. And I

Spencer:

felt like they were just a few things that would have taken it

Spencer:

to the next level for me, but I felt like because I was so

Spencer:

focused on the story, it was telling me and I don't know, it

Spencer:

didn't bother me that much. But I know Jamie, you had a

Spencer:

different experience.

Jamie:

Yeah, I mean, I feel really conflicted about this

Jamie:

game. I think this is like this year's Spiritfarer for me where

Jamie:

I love what they're doing narratively, but I hate how

Jamie:

they're getting there mechanically. And, and I think

Jamie:

that this one even like, got on my nerves way more than

Jamie:

Spiritfarer. There were the you know, we mentioned earlier that

Jamie:

it's a 3D sort of isometric viewpoint of the characters. The

Jamie:

way that pans out in so many situations is that you feel

Jamie:

really distanced from your very small character on the screen.

Spencer:

You're like God looking down on this world.

Jamie:

Yeah. And for such a personal and like intimate story

Jamie:

that's being told. I don't think that that did it any justice.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

I think the the actual like mechanics of moving the

Jamie:

character around and especially the way the camera functions to

Jamie:

like follow the movement are, they're just kind of bad.

Jamie:

They're just kind of bad.

Spencer:

I kept wanting to be able to zoom in more like I

Spencer:

didn't understand why it wouldn't let me zoom in closer.

Jamie:

It gives you a zoom button and then inexplicably at

Jamie:

various points, you can zoom in, like barely at all, you can

Jamie:

bring your character from being an inch tall on the screen to

Jamie:

being an inch and a half tall on the screen. And that's the end

Jamie:

of the zooming. Whereas at other points, you can zoom all the way

Jamie:

in and feel like you're in the room with the characters. And I

Jamie:

just didn't understand like, what was doing that it seems

Jamie:

like it's obstacles that are in the foreground of the screen

Jamie:

that are preventing you from zooming all the way in, to which

Jamie:

I say, Why are there obstacles? Why when I'm trying to run up

Jamie:

these stairs, is there a tree in the foreground that's blocking

Jamie:

my view of the stairs? So I just have to guess where the stairs

Jamie:

are, and then try to run up the stairs? Just just weird

Jamie:

decisions.

Spencer:

Yeah, for how detailed and thoughtful the I thought the

Spencer:

world design was, like, like in terms of literally the objects

Spencer:

in the space. And that kind of the character of like, like Whit

Spencer:

and his brother, Whit the main character. They're like, artists

Spencer:

and sculptors and this like what, like buildings, and

Spencer:

construction are big aspects of the game. And so it was puzzling

Spencer:

to me as well, why we couldn't kind of you know, zoom in more

Spencer:

on all this cool art. And like the spaces that we're moving in,

Spencer:

it did feel very distant.

Jamie:

I also don't think - so for much of the game. Because

Jamie:

you're, I mean, you're in the surreal space, right? Where

Jamie:

you're essentially getting to-Whit's life is essentially

Jamie:

flashing before his eyes, and you're kind of playing through

Jamie:

it right, and then making these decisions. Because of this, Whit

Jamie:

is the only character that is like fully drawn out. And all of

Jamie:

the other characters in the game are presented as these ethereal,

Jamie:

like ghostly light beings that have really no details outside

Jamie:

of an outline. First of all, half the time, they were hard to

Jamie:

see. There were so many points where I was looking for someone,

Jamie:

and I just legit couldn't find them, because I could not

Jamie:

fucking see them.

Spencer:

They all look the same too, yeah.

Jamie:

Why?

Spencer:

Yeah

Jamie:

They all look the same. I want to see these characters

Jamie:

that I'm getting to know, I feel like it took so much away from

Jamie:

the characterization to not be able to actually see these

Jamie:

characters and who they were and what they look like. And they

Jamie:

give you these really simple drawings of them in some of the

Jamie:

interstitials. But like, I wanted to know what these people

Jamie:

look like that I was spending all this time with. And then so

Jamie:

you inevitably, like create a version of them in your head,

Jamie:

and then they bother to give you the drawing in the interstitial.

Jamie:

It's like, well, that's not what I pictured. Like, why, like, Why

Jamie:

or why this half measure? To me, at the end of the day, it felt

Jamie:

like a misapplication of resources, like you have this

Jamie:

excellent narrative, you have this really interesting like

Jamie:

point that you're trying to make. And I just feel like they

Jamie:

they built mechanics around that, that it was like they

Jamie:

wanted to give people something to do besides, it was like, they

Jamie:

were afraid to make a visual novel. They were afraid to make

Jamie:

something that was just totally focused on the narrative and

Jamie:

felt like they had to give players something to do

Jamie:

mechanically to keep them invested. And I would rather

Jamie:

they just leaned into what they had.

Spencer:

Right, because what it kind of turns into is running

Spencer:

all over the map, trying to find the right ethereal blob to

Spencer:

trigger the next conversation or next plot point.

Jamie:

And half the time, they don't even put their names over

Jamie:

their head or anything. So you have to go up and try to talk to

Jamie:

everybody until you find the right person.

Spencer:

Yeah. And then there's moments where you don't

Spencer:

immediately know where to go. Just because you are just a

Spencer:

person running around. Like it can take some time to get all

Spencer:

across the map to find the people you need to find. So

Spencer:

yeah, that that frustrated me as well. I did feel like I wasn't

Spencer:

sure if the point of the ethereal spirits was just that

Spencer:

because the writing is so vivid, like maybe they don't need to be

Spencer:

personified because you get well, I don't know even because

Spencer:

even the drawings that were included if you kind of just put

Spencer:

basic detail onto the like yeah, they could have it was rough.

Spencer:

That part.

Jamie:

Yeah. And like it felt like I don't know if this is

Jamie:

what happened at all, but it just felt like they ran out of

Jamie:

time and resources because they don't animate their the other

Jamie:

characters movement either. And so it felt to me like they just

Jamie:

didn't have time and resources to animate all these characters

Jamie:

and design them all and so they did this as like a way to fill

Jamie:

them in and I just feel like at some point in the process, I

Jamie:

felt like they made the decision. Speaking of

Jamie:

priorities, I just felt like they made the decision to

Jamie:

prioritize the wrong thing. I also do think, you know, 600,000

Jamie:

words, a lot of the line by line is really good. At the end of

Jamie:

the game, I felt like it was getting a little long in the

Jamie:

tooth. My playthrough was 15 hours. And I was just like, I

Jamie:

got the point, I got what you're trying to do. I don't - and the

Jamie:

delivery, there's, there's a point at the end of the game

Jamie:

where they're kind of giving you almost an epilogue for all the

Jamie:

characters that you met in the game. And the way a lot of that

Jamie:

presents is like just pages of text on the screen.

Spencer:

Yeah,

Jamie:

it was, it was tough it especially because it was like

Jamie:

10 different characters, that it was just presenting, like pages

Jamie:

of text on the screen. I don't have a problem with visual like,

Jamie:

I love a visual novel. But it was just like, the way they were

Jamie:

doing it. The text wasn't very big. It was a lot of extraneous

Jamie:

detail that I didn't feel like I needed that didn't serve the

Jamie:

story. So I do feel like they also could have maybe used an

Jamie:

editor like yeah, maybe we only needed 500,000 words.

Spencer:

Yeah. Yeah, I think zooming in, I think trading some

Spencer:

of the mechanic complexity for just being able to see these

Spencer:

characters and really get that rounded out within the settings

Spencer:

would have been awesome. I think one of the things that stood out

Spencer:

to me was, like I mentioned Whit is an artist and a builder. And

Spencer:

he's someone very gifted with construction, he has the vision

Spencer:

and is able to deliver the execution. And throughout the

Spencer:

game, you have these various opportunities to, you know,

Spencer:

create buildings, repair barns, make sculptures build homes. And

Spencer:

the functioning of that, like, again, when we talk about

Spencer:

resources that maybe could have been allocated differently is

Spencer:

like, I would have traded, being able to run around freely during

Spencer:

these chapters in this open world and trying to find people

Spencer:

for just being able to, in those moments where you're

Spencer:

constructing something, have that be really interactive,

Spencer:

because throughout the game, all you do to build things is hold

Spencer:

down a button, you hold down a button and everything just

Spencer:

magically flies and lands into place and the thing is done. And

Spencer:

it just felt sort of distant from who Whit was like as an

Spencer:

artist, like I wanted to kind of feel like I was being part of

Spencer:

that. And so like, Yeah, I would have been cool with not with

Spencer:

just having scenes where it's dialogues zoomed in talking

Spencer:

heads. And then when I'm building something which happens

Spencer:

several a handful of time, like half a dozen, or maybe even a

Spencer:

little bit more than that. I'm having that feel more like I'm

Spencer:

having an impact and shaping that woulld have been cool.

Jamie:

Yeah I don't. Yeah, I don't know, if I full on like

Jamie:

recommend people get this game. I think it's $25 I do think the

Jamie:

narrative is worth checking out. Just, you know, be aware, it's a

Jamie:

really good narrative, it might - the mechanics might frustrate

Jamie:

you.

Spencer:

Yeah, like, I don't know, I really liked the game. I

Spencer:

think I'm - I agree that some of the mechanics were a little

Spencer:

frustrating, but I felt like what I was experiencing was

Spencer:

really special. And it gave me a lot in terms of what I was able

Spencer:

to take away from it. And so I think if you're someone who

Spencer:

really likes reading, like seriously, like if you're

Spencer:

someone who loves books and stories, and sort of games that

Spencer:

aren't necessarily about-

Jamie:

A slice of life, this is a slice of life . It's like the

Jamie:

drama of everyday life.

Spencer:

Yeah, I think I just really, I really like things

Spencer:

that feel real and grounded in that so if you if you're really

Spencer:

into slice of life stuff, I recommend it.

Jamie:

Yeah, so that's what we think of Where the Heart Leads.

Jamie:

Some mixed feelings around an overall like really thoughtful,

Jamie:

compelling story.

Spencer:

Yeah, rich, rich discourse. Lots of opposing

Spencer:

viewpoints on Where the Heart Leads [laughing]

Jamie:

I'm not sure that we've like disagreed on a game like

Jamie:

that before. You weren't as hot on Spiritfarer.

Spencer:

Yeah, but I felt like we - you understood why like we

Spencer:

kind of had similar reasons why we weren't as into it, but you

Spencer:

were able to see it through whereas I sort of petered off.

Spencer:

But with this game, I don't know. Yeah, it does seem like

Spencer:

we're like, I think your reaction to the mechanics is

Spencer:

like more visceral than mine because I was so sucked into the

Spencer:

story that I almost kind of didn't care. It's just

Spencer:

interesting.

Jamie:

Yeah. I wonder too if like, you got a review copy. So

Jamie:

you had some more time to breathe with it. I got it on

Jamie:

Tuesday and crammed through it in four days. So I wonder if

Jamie:

that maybe has an impact? Like I think-

Spencer:

It's a lot to speed read.

Jamie:

I wanted too - it's not even the reading. Like, I have

Jamie:

no problem with the amount of text that was in the game. I

Jamie:

don't like - Yeah, it I was, I would have appreciated, the way

Jamie:

the interstitials played out where they really took control

Jamie:

out of your hands, and you were just being presented with

Jamie:

screens of characters talking to each other. I think if the game

Jamie:

had been more that I would not be as frustrated with it as I

Jamie:

was. I just really did not like moving through the world. But I

Jamie:

think also if maybe I had just taken more breaks while I was

Jamie:

playing it, maybe the frustration wouldn't have felt

Jamie:

so intense. But yeah, I'm glad that we played it. And I'm sure

Jamie:

we'll disagree again in the future. [laughing]

Spencer:

Can't wait looking forward to that.

Jamie:

All right. We'll go ahead and move over to our interview.

Jamie:

Our interview for you today is definitely not safe for work. So

Jamie:

well, you know, unless maybe you work from home. I don't know. As

Jamie:

long as you work from home by yourself.

Spencer:

have privacy at home

Jamie:

have privacy at home when you listen to this interview.

Jamie:

Our guest is the prolific Ana Valens who we discovered through

Jamie:

her reporting work for the Daily Dot, where she specialized in

Jamie:

online queer communities, marginalized identities and

Jamie:

adult content creation. But she is also a game critic, has

Jamie:

written a book called Tumblr Porn, and has developed several

Jamie:

adult games herself. We had a riveting and at times

Jamie:

titillating conversation with Anna about sex in games, the

Jamie:

necessary exploration of desire, leaning into pleasure, and the

Jamie:

importance of kink as both a historical and current feature

Jamie:

of LGBTQ culture. At the time that we interviewed her Ana was

Jamie:

still working and writing for The Daily Dot and you'll hear us

Jamie:

reference it throughout the interview. However, quick note

Jamie:

that she did recently take a position as managing editor for

Jamie:

We Got This Covered a pop culture news and review site

Jamie:

covering movies, TV, comics and games. So congrats on the new

Jamie:

job, Ana. We had a lot of fun chatting with her, we think

Jamie:

you're going to enjoy it, too. So without further ado, here's

Jamie:

our interview with Ana Valens.

Spencer:

Hello to our wonderful guest. And thank you so much for

Spencer:

joining us in the virtual Pixel Therapy studio.

Ana:

Thank you.

Spencer:

We're so happy to have you.

Ana:

Really, really, really honored to be here, so.

Spencer:

Could you take a moment to share your name and pronouns?

Spencer:

And just a bit about how you spend your time?

Ana:

Yeah, sure. So my name is Ana Valens, I use she/her

Ana:

pronouns. I'm, I am a little bit of a games writer, a little bit

Ana:

of like an adult games developer, I specialize mostly

Ana:

in the intersection of sex and sexuality and video games and

Ana:

what the two have to say about the others. And surprisingly,

Ana:

there's a lot that sex can tell us about games, and there's a

Ana:

lot that games can tell us about sex. They both have to do with

Ana:

play, right. So a lot of my work looks at that stuff, looks at it

Ana:

from a, I would consider a very accessible and approachable

Ana:

level, since a lot of that sort of writing can be very, like

Ana:

academic-y, jargony, and kind of hard for folks that really

Ana:

aren't in that world to understand. And I'm very, very

Ana:

queer. You know, I create like adult games that are like

Ana:

predominantly about like lesbians and trans lesbians. So

Ana:

that's really, really my shtick.

Spencer:

And Ana, how did you sort of get into this beat of

Spencer:

writing at the intersection of sexuality and gaming?

Ana:

It was largely a coincidence. So I always loved

Ana:

games that had a lot to say about sex. And were interested

Ana:

in exploring sex and sexuality. But what actually happened for

Ana:

me that got me into writing more about it was I was working at

Ana:

the publication that I'm at right now, which is Daily Dot.

Ana:

And we had to do something called search engine optimized

Ana:

content. This is sort of like your listicles and guides,

Ana:

guides to things like, you know, this can be everything from like

Ana:

in the games world, like walkthrough guides to things

Ana:

like top 10 lists of like games to check out for this year, you

Ana:

know, that kind of content. And what ended up happening was, I

Ana:

was writing a lot, because there is a demand for it and because I

Ana:

was interested in sort of pushing and prodding and seeing

Ana:

what I could write about it. There is a demand for doing

Ana:

content about sexuality. And I took that and was writing like

Ana:

BDSM and porn guides. And I was like, What if I write this about

Ana:

video games, too? And it's like one thing led to another and I

Ana:

ended up doing a lot more writing about games and sex. You

Ana:

know, what are some good adult games out there? Why do again,

Ana:

you know what do games have to tell us about sexuality? And I

Ana:

kind of fell down the sexual rabbit hole, so to speak.

Spencer:

I'm curious to hear from you like what makes a good

Spencer:

adult game? Like I like I guess I feel like in film, and in art,

Spencer:

and in books, like sex is very much accepted as being a really

Spencer:

valid part of understanding a character or moving a narrative

Spencer:

forward. Like there's plenty of stories that contains sex, and

Spencer:

some like really explicit sex, but we don't think of it as

Spencer:

pornography we think of it as, like one film I think of is like

Spencer:

Brokeback Mountain, for example, which is like lauded as

Spencer:

critical, you know, piece of film and critically acclaimed

Spencer:

piece of film and we don't look at it and automatically

Spencer:

disregard it or discard it, because it contains graphic sex

Spencer:

scenes. We see it as something like emotionally impactful and,

Spencer:

and valid. And I feel like when we talk about sex in games,

Spencer:

there's this immediate, like, connotation that, oh, it must be

Spencer:

a farce, or it must just be pornographic, which is also

Spencer:

fine. But I guess I'm, I'm just curious to hear from you like,

Spencer:

like, what makes a good adult game? And what kind of what kind

Spencer:

of varied experiences can we have with sex in games?

Ana:

Yeah, totally. I mean, I think it really does depend, it

Ana:

depends what kind of, you know, it depends what the creator is

Ana:

setting out to create. And it depends what the player base is

Ana:

setting out to enjoy. I've seen over the time that I've written

Ana:

about and also developed and played adult games, right? Um,

Ana:

I've seen all sorts of games come out of this world that try

Ana:

to accomplish different things. I've seen games that really try

Ana:

to talk about like, what is our cultural understanding of sex?

Ana:

What is sex education? What is the way we talk about sex and

Ana:

discover it? And those games that I would consider they

Ana:

technically fit the purview of like an adult game, but they're

Ana:

not really about like, arousal, or stimulation or titillation.

Ana:

They're more about like, what can we learn about sexuality and

Ana:

our cultural relationship of sexuality through this work of

Ana:

art, and I respect and I like that work. But for me, I really

Ana:

like it when it's not afraid to also be like, by the way, this

Ana:

is gonna be hot, we're gonna arouse you. [laughing] I think

Ana:

like there's something that's very much like, I think not

Ana:

always but sometimes those works of art, whether they're games or

Ana:

otherwise, that tries to talk about sex purely in sort of,

Ana:

like an intellectual way can sort of like do a certain level

Ana:

of distancing itself from pleasure and from the ideas of

Ana:

like sexual pleasure and sex as something that - not for

Ana:

everyone, but for a lot of people - is a pleasurable act,

Ana:

right. So or something they seek out to receive and experience

Ana:

pleasure. So what's really interesting to me about adult

Ana:

games is there's actually a wide assortment of ways to unpack and

Ana:

explore pleasure. And you'll have games that are really more

Ana:

specifically about like the game as a vehicle for arousal or you

Ana:

know, more often than not like masturbation, right? This is

Ana:

your kind of like traditional porn games, some of your like

Ana:

classic like 2000s like flash games, you know what I mean? The

Ana:

ones it's like a dress up doll game. Here's like Samus Aran.

Ana:

You get to put clothes on her [laughing]. But also, there's a

Ana:

lot of adult games that sort of sit at this intersection where

Ana:

it's both supposed to be arousing or titillating. But it

Ana:

also has commentary, it has things to say it has things to

Ana:

talk about. A really good example of that is like Ghosthug

Ana:

Games' Hardcoded, which is a very, very popular trans adult

Ana:

game that actually didn't start - it's very interesting,

Ana:

actually. It didn't start as necessarily an adult game by and

Ana:

for trans people. It was just by, you know, a trans person and

Ana:

sort of marketing itself to popular sort of niche audience

Ana:

for adult content. But over time, that really became a game

Ana:

that resonated and was built for the trans community. And it has

Ana:

a lot to say about, you know, what does it mean to have a

Ana:

body? What does it mean to have a gender? What does it mean to

Ana:

sexually express yourself through those things? And sort

Ana:

of, you know, I think validating can be a really squishy word,

Ana:

and there's sort of problems with it, but it does in a lot of

Ana:

ways...sure you know, like, fuck it. It validates a lot of

Ana:

desires and a lot of experiences that trans people have,

Ana:

specifically trans feminine people, specifically trans

Ana:

women. And trans feminine, non-binary people, assigned male

Ana:

at birth - it really explores and validates a lot of their

Ana:

experiences through sex and sexuality. So adult games can

Ana:

accomplish a lot of things and to successfully do it, it really

Ana:

comes down to you know, like any kind of game design, right, a

Ana:

creator sitting down and thinking, you know, who is my

Ana:

target audience? What am I setting out to do through this

Ana:

game? How can my mechanics, story, etc, you know, accomplish

Ana:

these goals. And so you get a really a wide assortment of

Ana:

works as a result. Some good and some not so much.

Spencer:

I really - there's just what you said got me thinking

Spencer:

like about how games can sort of explore, like what it means to

Spencer:

have a body and, you know, kind of create these spaces to

Spencer:

explore, in most cases, like, I would say, a safe way, like

Spencer:

desires, or things with your identity that you're still

Spencer:

trying to figure out, like, it kind of creates a space for

Spencer:

that. And I was, I mean, not to get like crazy personal right

Spencer:

now, but I, I'm a, I guess, a trans man. I'm non-binary.

Spencer:

[laughing] But I, you know, I've been on T for several years,

Spencer:

like four years now. I am not a woman, I know that. But I found

Spencer:

that lately - I have a past sexual trauma. And I think a lot

Spencer:

of like gendered sexual trauma, like this feeling of knowing or

Spencer:

not knowing how my partner is seeing me like in bed, like, if

Spencer:

I'm really being seen the way that I want to be seen, or if

Spencer:

they are, you know, in their head thinking of me as a woman

Spencer:

in order to be aroused, or because that's how they're used

Spencer:

to having sex and expect like that, that's how they behave and

Spencer:

while having sex, etc. And I've just found lately that, like, I

Spencer:

think before the pandemic, like kink was a way for me to like, I

Spencer:

found it very healing to sort of, like, not always have to be

Spencer:

engaging in sex that is necessarily like, penetration is

Spencer:

involved, or, like, there's no role, like the roles in kink are

Spencer:

less about gender and more about like, power and, and negotiation

Spencer:

and stuff. And so I could sort of let myself and my body like

Spencer:

exist free of gender and expectations or roles that are

Spencer:

being placed on me. And I guess post-pandemic or during, in this

Spencer:

pandemic right now that we're still in kind of [laughing]. I

Spencer:

just haven't really had access to spaces where I could engage

Spencer:

with kink, or I haven't been to, like, a party or anything in

Spencer:

like over a year and a half.

Ana:

Oh, that that hits home for me. [laughing]

Spencer:

Yeah, like, I'm like, Who am I? Am I still a top if

Spencer:

I'm not topping anyone? [all laughing] I just, this idea of,

Spencer:

I've never, I've never really played an adult game. I think

Spencer:

this conversation, I think after this conversation, I might ask

Spencer:

you for some recommendations or I might start playing your games

Spencer:

or something, but like this idea of, like, I think what I'm

Spencer:

saying is, lately, like, right now, my confidence has been a

Spencer:

bit down, like I, I haven't - it's not easy as it used to be

Spencer:

to just like, get into the mood to have sex. And when I'm having

Spencer:

sex, like, I don't even know what I want from it anymore. And

Spencer:

so this idea of being able to go into a space, especially like a

Spencer:

virtual reality space, where I can just try different things.

Spencer:

And not necessarily like, I think part of what makes sex

Spencer:

hard for me as a survivor, is that you might not know until

Spencer:

you're in the middle of it, that it's not what you want, or that

Spencer:

it's not feeling good. And I think for me, like a lot of my,

Spencer:

like, you know, PTSD reactions or stuff, it's like, shut down,

Spencer:

like, I go nonverbal. And I might not even be in a space

Spencer:

where I can say, like, no. Like I might even tell myself like,

Spencer:

oh, like, your partner is enjoying it. So just, you know,

Spencer:

just get through it. Like, it's, you know, it's not even about

Spencer:

you anymore. And so we don't need to therapize me. But I just

Spencer:

I think it's really I, I love. I think games are vehicles that

Spencer:

can help you. You know, they're amazing for empathy. They're

Spencer:

amazing for discovering parts of yourself. They're amazing for

Spencer:

just completely putting yourself in someone else's shoes and

Spencer:

expanding your worldviews. And there's all sorts of ways that

Spencer:

games I think can be beneficial. But I never thought about it in

Spencer:

a sexual context, but I think it could be incredibly healing in

Spencer:

that way.

Ana:

I definitely think so too. I definitely have similar

Ana:

experiences as well, you know, my own relationship of sex, with

Ana:

sexuality with also the weirdness of like, you know,

Ana:

being someone who has sexual desires and experiences,

Ana:

especially ones that are highly, you know, both as a trans woman

Ana:

but also as someone who's kinky who's a leather dyke, right,

Ana:

someone who, you know, centers their sexual experiences in

Ana:

their life through power exchange, consensual power

Ana:

exchange, and the values that come from that, um, you know,

Ana:

this very, this very marginalized sexual experience

Ana:

in the queer community, let alone, you know, the wider sort

Ana:

of, you know, heteronormative, American, you know, white cishet

Ana:

world. It can be really, really difficult to piece together like

Ana:

what are our desires? Where do I start and stop? Where does

Ana:

culture come in? What is you know, what is my body telling me

Ana:

that I even want and can I trust my body? Can I trust my

Ana:

intuition? And like unraveling those things is really

Ana:

difficult. And I think I do really think that games can be a

Ana:

space to sort of start untangling that, that stuff and

Ana:

sort of figure it out. You know, one game that I actually really

Ana:

want to chat about today was Christine Love's, you know,

Ana:

Ladykiller in a Bind, which is like, the big like, BDSM video

Ana:

game, but like, was written a ton about. Everyone, you know,

Ana:

it's like, to the point where it's like, everyone has talked

Ana:

about it. Now it's my turn. [laughing] But for a lot of

Ana:

people that game opened their eyes to a lot about kink, and

Ana:

also sexuality and gender identity, and, and exploring

Ana:

sexual desires that are like non-normative in a way that was,

Ana:

I think, really healing for a lot of people and really made

Ana:

them feel like, Oh, this is what this is like. And this is what

Ana:

it can be like, for me. It's specifically in the context of

Ana:

that game of like, in a gender nonconforming, you know, sort of

Ana:

sapphic scenario specifically in that game. And I think there's a

Ana:

lot of ways in which, um, games can provide that space, or can

Ana:

give us sort of playgrounds to explore and experiment with

Ana:

desire, like Hardcoded, which I talk about all the time. My work

Ana:

has a lot of different kinks and fetishes that are like not

Ana:

really traditional BDSM leather kinks, you know, not your

Ana:

traditional, like, bondage and like, impact play getting

Ana:

spanked stuff like that, but it does have, you know, like

Ana:

tentacles and like, there's, like, really kinky-

Spencer:

Yeah!

Ana:

I know, right? I love tentacles. [all laughing] That's

Ana:

like, a great, like, just take that out of context, like, "I

Ana:

love tentacles."

Spencer:

Soundbite, yeah.

Ana:

Good soundbite, yep. And it has stuff too like, I think one

Ana:

of the more like, bonkers things that they have in that game is

Ana:

like, you're playing as a robot like trans, you know, femme,

Ana:

right? So, like you can get disassembled by like, this trans

Ana:

girl that's like, working on your parts and stuff like that,

Ana:

which is like super kinky. [laughing] I love it. And for

Ana:

some people, they're gonna play that and be like, Oh, shit,

Ana:

that's hot. I didn't realize that. I didn't realize this was

Ana:

the desire I could have. But also, I didn't realize that I

Ana:

could explore and experience desire through this way, in a

Ana:

way that feels good for me and doesn't feel like it has the

Ana:

complexities of like, say, expectations being placed on me

Ana:

from a culture or a society of sex that I don't know if I want

Ana:

to have. So yeah, I really think games, you know, games as play,

Ana:

and play usually is a really good way for us to sort of piece

Ana:

things out and understand ourselves better. And that's

Ana:

definitely true of sex games and adult games.

Spencer:

I love that. I also feel like, like the experience

Spencer:

of being trans, I feel like opened so many doors in terms of

Spencer:

what I found attractive or sexy. Like, I think, you know, being

Spencer:

socialized, growing up being told that I was cis, like you

Spencer:

just are told a very narrow, specific idea of like, what is

Spencer:

sexy, what sex looks like, what you should find attractive and

Spencer:

what you should not find attractive. Especially with like

Spencer:

the heteronormative aspect applied on top of that, I just

Spencer:

feel like going through the experience of just totally

Spencer:

opening myself up to transformation and, and the

Spencer:

unknown, and then sort of this constant process of becoming and

Spencer:

sort of redefining my relationship with myself and

Spencer:

never being done. Like, it's when I look outside of myself,

Spencer:

and especially with sex like I'm like, furries are hot. Tentacles

Spencer:

are hot.

Jamie:

That's absolutely true, by the way. [laughing]

Spencer:

Like, vore, I see why that's hot. Like, like, I like I

Spencer:

just, I'm like when I sort of step back from what this

Spencer:

puritanical idea of what we've been talking about how morality

Spencer:

can be applied to stuff like what you're into, like, of

Spencer:

course, within reason, like of course, we can all agree that

Spencer:

like, pedophilia is wrong. Like, I'm not saying like, oh,

Spencer:

everything, it's all a free for all but like, I just, there's so

Spencer:

much more. And I don't know, just what you're saying. Because

Spencer:

it just reminded me of like, I feel like especially now that I

Spencer:

am in this place where I I have a really hard time in meetspace

Spencer:

and IRL, like engaging with sex and in a way that feels good to

Spencer:

me. It's like all that I can get off on is like insane hentai

Spencer:

[both laughing]. Just take me out. Take me out of my body.

Ana:

Totally. I feel like that's, I feel like that's

Ana:

really relatable. I think it's a really, um, you know, across

Ana:

transgender experiences. I think that's really the case for a lot

Ana:

of different reasons. Right? And I always caution a little bit of

Ana:

pathologizing kink because I think I think actually a lot of

Ana:

cases kink is not it doesn't have anything to do with

Ana:

psychological, you know, experiences or trauma I think

Ana:

actually people just find out that they're hot for things and

Ana:

then they sort of work backwards and try to understand why.

Ana:

Whereas we don't really do that for like cishet desires, right?

Spencer:

Right.

Ana:

Exactly. Right. Like we don't talk about the idea of

Ana:

like, you know, like vaginal sex. Like, you know, when you

Ana:

were a kid, like something traumatic happen now, like

Ana:

you're into, like vaginal sex. Like, that's just not really how

Ana:

we talk about it, you know, like cishet stuff. And I think that's

Ana:

definitely the case for a lot of like non-normative sexuality

Ana:

that's been sort of pressed in the underground for years and

Ana:

years and years. I'm not even talking about BDSM. Right, I'm

Ana:

talking about, you know, exactly the things that you mentioned,

Ana:

like, like, like vore and stuff like that, that's a lot more

Ana:

sort of the world of like fantasy fetishism, quote,

Ana:

unquote, um, like, a lot of that stuff is just it is because it

Ana:

is, and I don't think it needs a reason to exist. But I do also

Ana:

think at the same time, too, that there's a lot of truth to

Ana:

the fact that fetishism and kink gives, it's considered like on

Ana:

the outlier of, you know, the normative sexual experiences, to

Ana:

the point where a lot of it is like, not in the Overton window.

Ana:

It's not really considered like, this is the kind of sex that you

Ana:

should be having. So I think to then, you know, queer people

Ana:

love to, you know, they relish being in the in that edge, and

Ana:

that being in that level of like, this is not what I'm

Ana:

supposed to do, so I'm going to totally revel here, and I'm

Ana:

going to totally like, party here and have fun. And I think

Ana:

in the same way, I think a lot of kink and fetishism

Ana:

accomplishes that. And I think that's why so many queer

Ana:

creators tend to create adult stuff that is like very, very

Ana:

kinky, and very, very, you know, fetish-y. It's like, of course,

Ana:

like we're gonna create stories about like, you know,

Ana:

anthropomorphic, like hot women that like step on you, right?

Ana:

Cuz like, that's what we do.

Spencer:

Yeah. [music break]

Spencer:

If it's okay with you, I kind of wanted to take a second to talk

Spencer:

about something that's been on a lot of our minds like we're

Spencer:

recording this during Pride Month, and there's been some

Spencer:

particularly bad takes flying around this year around like,

Spencer:

there should be no kink at pride.

Ana:

I knew you were gonna say that [laughing]. The classic

Ana:

June discourse.

Spencer:

The classic June discourse. And I just wanted to

Spencer:

call out this awesome piece that you wrote on your medium blog,

Spencer:

"Not Safe For Who" -

Ana:

Oh Substack, by the way.

Spencer:

Oh Substack, sorry! Substack blog. Called "Not Safe

Spencer:

For Who" and the blog is called - I mean, the article is called

Spencer:

"Reframing Kink at Pride Discourse." And you write "I

Spencer:

don't see how you can advocate for queer liberation without

Spencer:

concluding that yes, duh, queer kink is integral to a queer

Spencer:

pride event. Leashes and O ring collars are too leather dykes

Spencer:

what marriage rings are too straight couples"--which I love

Spencer:

that--"Skinny white women with no bras and exposed pelvises are

Spencer:

paraded across Calvin Klein ads but a gay man walking to

Spencer:

Stonewall in a tight pair of leather jeans is labeled a child

Spencer:

seducer. The 70s are calling, they want their homophobia

Spencer:

back." So first off, as like a leather dyke and a sexuality

Spencer:

writer, I was wondering just for our listeners who maybe have no

Spencer:

frame of reference for the kink community or what that means. I

Spencer:

was wondering if you could kind of speak to what the leather

Spencer:

community means to you and its impact on your journey and

Spencer:

figuring out your sexuality.

Ana:

Yeah, so definitely. Leather, which I think sometimes

Ana:

can be really hard to pin down because in some ways, it can be

Ana:

an umbrella of things. But you know, leather is a community

Ana:

that emphasizes the importance of you know, what we consider

Ana:

quote unquote, alternative sexualities. But more

Ana:

specifically, the realm in which we look at power exchange and

Ana:

pain as pleasure and vice versa in consensual sexual

Ana:

experiences. It's about looking at sex and sexuality as

Ana:

something that goes beyond the realm of the most normative

Ana:

understandings of it. And centering the idea that our

Ana:

sexual experiences are our desires, which may also be you

Ana:

know, non sexual, like, I like to use the term erotic to

Ana:

describe non sexual, like BDSM desires, because there's so many

Ana:

Ace kinksters that don't have sexual experiences with kink.

Ana:

And what the community especially in my relationship to

Ana:

it emphasizes is the importance of not just doing that sort of

Ana:

engagement with your desires of sadomasochism, of power exchange

Ana:

of, you know, alternative sexual desires and needs, or erotic

Ana:

desires and needs. But also at the same time, centering the

Ana:

fact that those things are fundamental to one's life and

Ana:

fundamental to one's ability to exist, right? Like it's not like

Ana:

I'm a weekend warrior that does a lot of BDSM and then goes home

Ana:

and has a normal life. It's you know, I carry that around with

Ana:

me, that's integral to my existence. I am someone who my

Ana:

experiences with domination submission, my experiences of

Ana:

sadomasochism is part of who I am as a person. And the values

Ana:

that I learned from that play in that experience, whether it's,

Ana:

you know, consensual power dynamics, whether it's, you

Ana:

know, working through difficult and uncomfortable experiences as

Ana:

a place of growth, whether it's looking at relationships beyond

Ana:

the cishet, normative lens and looking at the ways in which we

Ana:

can have for instance, you know, domination and submission as the

Ana:

sort of consensual long term framework, you know, people who

Ana:

live with their doms or see their domination submission

Ana:

relationship as something that's like a service based

Ana:

relationship, right? For me, and for the way I would approach

Ana:

leather is that it's culminating how those experiences are innate

Ana:

to one's personhood. And so part of what's really important about

Ana:

leather is the undercurrent of leather in queer experiences.

Ana:

Um, you know, there's a history of leather that goes far beyond

Ana:

Stonewall. There's actually a really, really good book, I just

Ana:

read, Leather Sex by Joseph Bean, which is from the 1990s

Ana:

it's an older book, and it's aged well, in some ways, and not

Ana:

so much in others, you know, it's leather is something that

Ana:

needs to be updated every couple of years. [laughing] But Leather

Ana:

Sex really has this interesting part at the end of the book,

Ana:

where it details the relationship between and this is

Ana:

sort of the stereotypical sort of understanding of leather of

Ana:

men coming home from World War II and developing these, you

Ana:

know, what were called, at your own risk gay bars, where they

Ana:

were like leather bars. There would be these World War II

Ana:

vets, they were sort of like acting out the power dynamics

Ana:

they experienced in the military in a consensual way. And, you

Ana:

know, our initial early leather didn't have all the safeguards

Ana:

that we do now. But it absolutely was this way of

Ana:

understanding sexuality that broke from this idea that sex is

Ana:

something that is like, particularly a vanilla cishet

Ana:

model. And that's, there's an undercurrent there, for sure,

Ana:

that's always been there since Stonewall, and since after that,

Ana:

and looking at Stonewall as a mythologized sort of story and

Ana:

looking at sexuality, and especially working class queer

Ana:

sexuality, beyond the image of just, it didn't exist, and then

Ana:

Stonewall happened, and then it existed, which is a huge myth.

Ana:

You know, um, but leather was so integral to a lot of the

Ana:

political organizing that happened, especially during the

Ana:

the 80s, the 90s, especially during the AIDS, the AIDS

Ana:

epidemic, and especially when the AIDS crisis was really

Ana:

really ravaging the queer community. Leather was really

Ana:

connected to a lot of the work that say, you know, folks like

Ana:

Act Up were doing in New York. And so I think it's important

Ana:

for people to remember that leather is both, you know,

Ana:

something that many people come to on a personal level, and they

Ana:

decide this is my values. And this is what's important to me,

Ana:

but also that there's a fundamental political

Ana:

undercurrent where leather has always been important to

Ana:

queerness. And so it's essentially rewriting that

Ana:

history when you're saying that leather doesn't belong at pride.

Ana:

It's like, no, it's vice versa, like your understanding of pride

Ana:

came second. Leather was there first. So.

Spencer:

Yes, and to your point, like, I feel like, you know,

Spencer:

something that I learned about recently was that leather dykes,

Spencer:

specific like, were specifically some of the only people who were

Spencer:

willing to take care of gay men who were, you know, coming down

Spencer:

with AIDS, when society was casting them out. Like they were

Spencer:

someone, they were caretakers within the queer community. And,

Spencer:

and too, like, leather isn't always - or kink - isn't always

Spencer:

overtly sexual. Like it's not even always about sex. And I

Spencer:

think when we talk about this, this discourse around, kink at

Spencer:

pride, like what so often comes up is this topic of consent.

Spencer:

Like I did not consent to see kink when I went to this parade.

Spencer:

Pride should be family friendly. Pride should be I saw the quote,

Spencer:

"Pride should be queer friendly". [laughing] Like, you

Spencer:

fully bought into this assimilationist idea that pride

Spencer:

is about showing cis and cishet people that we are normal and

Spencer:

should be accepted and aren't a threat to them. When

Spencer:

historically, queer people have been, like, literally forced out

Spencer:

of every space to the point where we had no choice but to

Spencer:

cruise in public because that was like, the only place that we

Spencer:

could engage in sex. We couldn't do it at home. You can't do it

Spencer:

at bars. You can't you know, you can't do it in all the places

Spencer:

where cishet people very comfortably take for granted

Spencer:

that they can like, you know, cruise for sex and go hook up in

Spencer:

a bar bathroom, but for some reason when queer people are

Spencer:

doing it, it's like a crime.

Ana:

Exactly.

Spencer:

Further proof that we're a depraved monsters.

Ana:

Do you mind if I build on that a little bit?

Spencer:

Please, please.

Ana:

So there is actually I remember a couple years ago, I

Ana:

was waiting for some medications at my clinic and I bumped into

Ana:

like this old queen who is like, you know, definitely lived thr

Ana:

ugh like the 70s and 80s was ike a New Yorker born and rais

Ana:

d and who used to like hang n the Highline and used to ha

Ana:

g out with like sex workers an like trans women and stuff.

Ana:

nd he was talking about how mu h the village had changed.

Ana:

nd he talks about how like he u ed to be able to go out in lik

Ana:

the East Village and he would just see like, you know, lik

Ana:

men fucking in the middle of the street, right? And there

Ana:

s a certain level to which that you can get mythologized, and pe

Ana:

ple will be like the East Vil age was all public sex, all

Ana:

he time. And it's like, wait, w it a second. But um, I think a l

Ana:

t of people, especially pe ple that are disconnected from t

Ana:

e history of what public queer spaces were, don't realize the

Ana:

ay in which, like I've seen a ot of people say, like, kink

Ana:

is different from sex at pride. nd don't get me wrong, that i

Ana:

true. Like, there are a lot of asexual kink experiences. And

Ana:

I think it's important to like, lso, keep in mind the fact tha

Ana:

kink is not innately sexual for everyone. So there is a l

Ana:

vel there is absolutely a level of truth to that. But I also th

Spencer:

Absolutely.

Spencer:

nk people tend to over emphasize that to do a sort of respectabi

Spencer:

ity move of like, sort of wed ing the issue and being lik

Spencer:

, well, we're not having se in public, we're doing kink

Spencer:

but for a lot of people, as we l, kink in public is leathe

Ana:

It's not your problem and like, you should just put the

Ana:

sex, right? You know, it's sexual kink experience. An

Ana:

not just that, but the traditio al history of a lot of queer

Ana:

ublic spaces is one that's conne ted with public sex, right? And

Ana:

o, whether it's like that q asi public sex, where you're

Ana:

like, you know, finding like a b throom stall or getting like

Ana:

secluded, like park bush and ike having sex, or yes, that e

Ana:

perience in the 70s of like, eing in a very, very public area

Ana:

and having sex, I think a lot of people are disconnected from th

Ana:

t history and don't necessar ly understand. They've sort

Ana:

f bought this, this sort of like bundle of goods, it's like

Ana:

a bill of goods, that the expos re to that level of publi

Ana:

sex is innately harmful to ever one. But there's really a d

Ana:

fference between walking do n the street and seeing like m

Ana:

ybe two gay men, you know, rea ly hooking up in an alleyway o

Ana:

even hooking up in the middle t e street, versus like two gay m

Ana:

n forcing you to engage i whatever sexual experiences tha

Ana:

they're having. And I think tha gets obfuscated on purpose. B

Ana:

cause, you know, it's especially always about you know, eithe

Ana:

gay men or like trans women t at are being too sexual in

Ana:

ublic. And it's always ab ut this idea of conflating. Th

Ana:

s idea that like to be exposed n a sexual acts, you know, a two

Ana:

people consenting to a sexual e perience together in a place in

Ana:

public means that you're inna ely being invited into that

Ana:

exual experience. Meanwhile, i you go to like a music festiva

Ana:

, right, like you see, like t o straight people fucking whi

Ana:

h you absolutely will, at lik any of them.

Ana:

blinders on and not pay attention, it's not harming

Ana:

anyone and like, if you're really concerned, why did you

Ana:

bring your kids to Coachella? Like you knew this was gonna

Ana:

happen? There's a double standard, it's, it's, it's, it's

Ana:

the most traditionalist form of homophobia, which is that fear

Ana:

of gay men, basically, you know, destroying your family and

Ana:

destroying, you know, the the cishet order. And it's just not

Ana:

being connected with that history and not having, you

Ana:

know, elders, people that I would consider anyone who was

Ana:

alive during the AIDS crisis, not knowing those people means

Ana:

that we get these really, really terrible takes that are just

Ana:

disconnected from history.

Spencer:

Yeah, like it. It really feels like this culture

Spencer:

war. I know, it's, it's not new this year, but it just feels

Spencer:

like it's becoming super visible right now within the queer

Spencer:

community. Despite, like, in some ways, it feels like the

Spencer:

normalization and like commodification of sexuality

Spencer:

that we're seeing with like the rise of OnlyFans and the way

Spencer:

that social media apps like like Lex, Grindr, Twitter, Facebook,

Spencer:

they kind of fully facilitate, like this casual hookup culture,

Spencer:

like it's pretty common to go on a Facebook group, that's just

Spencer:

for cruising or to, you know, post whole pics on Grindr, and

Spencer:

like no one like and have an OnlyFans, like everyone has an

Spencer:

OnlyFans, and that's great. But it feels like there's this

Spencer:

commodification, normalization, but that queer people are still

Spencer:

being held to this different standard. There's this, it feels

Spencer:

like there's this push to assimilate that I think's

Spencer:

largely been driven, you know, from like, you know, we achieved

Spencer:

marriage equality. And now we need to keep making queer

Spencer:

identities like relatable and approachable to families and

Spencer:

then shrink down to be acceptable. I, you had this

Spencer:

quote from an article. No, it was a Daily Dot column that you

Spencer:

wrote in 2019. For about how being part of the leather

Spencer:

community like helps you see that kink did belong at pride.

Spencer:

And you quoted Chingy Nea, who is a sex columnist and chaotic

Spencer:

bottom, that we all know and love. And they wrote for Them,

Spencer:

the publication Them. [laughing] That "excluding queer leather

Spencer:

culture at pride would ignore the contributions of communities

Spencer:

that were integral to uplifting some of the most marginalized

Spencer:

subsets of the LGBTQ community. Demanding spaces to conform to

Spencer:

your specific preferences because you're uncomfortable

Spencer:

with something is not the same as making spaces change because

Spencer:

you are unsafe. There is a dangerous conflation. Sometimes

Spencer:

we get triggered by things and it sucks. But it's our

Spencer:

responsibility to work through our trauma and not demand that

Spencer:

other people change how they live, when they actually aren't

Spencer:

harming anyone by being sexual or erotic with each other." I

Spencer:

think that just tied in a lot to what you were just saying. I

Spencer:

feel like this moral panic about sexuality like isn't just

Spencer:

related to pride. You've done a lot of really important and eye

Spencer:

opening reporting around the ways in which you know,

Spencer:

expressing sexuality has been increasingly censored in the

Spencer:

past few years. You know, we all remember in 2018 when Tumblr

Spencer:

which was like the place where I figured out I was gay and trans

Spencer:

started banning not safe for work content. To Patreon

Spencer:

starting to crack down on artistic content from some

Spencer:

creators. To even like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook starting

Spencer:

to shadow ban sex workers and not safe for work artists. You

Spencer:

wrote a really great article for The Daily Dot called "Discord is

Spencer:

the Latest Battleground for Moral Panic About Porn" which

Spencer:

was about Discord starting to limit access to not safe foor

Spencer:

work spaces for iOS users. And in this article, you wrote,

Spencer:

"While political anti porn stances are nothing new, adult

Spencer:

content's increased scrutiny from above should be alarming.

Spencer:

Institutional gatekeeping over sexual material would devastate

Spencer:

free sexual expression online, robbing sex workers of their

Spencer:

income and removing queer access to LGBTQ adult artwork and

Spencer:

sexual health resources. 'If private companies are compelled

Spencer:

by governments or advertisers to be arbiters of what parts of our

Spencer:

bodies is acceptable content, the social progress of the past

Spencer:

decades will slow,' says Gillian York who is a director for the

Spencer:

Electronic Frontier Foundation. She writes for Salon, 'New

Spencer:

technologies like virtual reality are coming of age. If

Spencer:

such new platforms are held to puritanical censorious

Spencer:

standards, then yet another mode for self expression will have

Spencer:

been diminished before it even fully gets off the ground.'" So

Spencer:

it's like, Why are Americans so anxious about porn? And like,

Spencer:

why is feeding into this anxiety so dangerous?

Ana:

Yeah, you know, I think it's, it's so complicated. It's

Ana:

really tied up exactly in you know, things Chingy writes

Ana:

about, the things that other leather dykes write about, and

Ana:

also the general panic about, you know, kink at pride, right?

Ana:

The American mindset of sexuality combined with this

Ana:

sort of Christian mindset, you know, this very specifically

Ana:

white Christian institutional mindset around sexuality, you

Ana:

know, conservative politics around sexuality, and the

Ana:

institutional nature in which that's sort of put into place. I

Ana:

talked to a sex therapist a few years ago, when I was really

Ana:

starting to write more about the relationship between transness

Ana:

and kink because there's a lot of, you know, when I was first

Ana:

transitioning, and coming out, you know, most trans writing

Ana:

about sexuality was either sort of people would slip in, like

Ana:

trans sex scenes, in their, like, larger trans novels that

Ana:

weren't about sex. Or there was a lot of shame around being a

Ana:

trans person that wanted to have sex. There's sort of like I

Ana:

remember, like, really, like, the preeminent, like, trans

Ana:

discourse on Twitter was like, why did I have to be trans? This

Ana:

fucking sucks, like, why? And I hated that. I thought it was

Ana:

terrible. Especially because I really did, I like, I do like

Ana:

being a trans woman, right? So like, why would I go around and

Ana:

like, make my-

Ana:

I know, right? [laughing] Like this whole shtick of like,

Spencer:

I love being trans.

Spencer:

I fuckin hate being a trans person. Like, that's not me.

Spencer:

Like, I think that's a terrible way to like, sort of write about

Spencer:

your own identity. Why would you carry that much shame around

Spencer:

very publicly? And why would you, you know, not even

Spencer:

specifically doing it publicly, like, just why would you let

Spencer:

that sort of be the whole entire center of your life? And so, I

Spencer:

remember really pushing back against that at the time. When I

Spencer:

was doing like, this transsexuality like sex ed

Spencer:

column for a couple years, I was writing about, you know, I was

Spencer:

trying to de-pathologize or at least destigmatize the

Spencer:

relationship that trans men had with forced feminization porn

Spencer:

and other forms of like, kink that had to do with like, gender

Spencer:

play, right? Which is traditionally on to trans women,

Spencer:

because cis men decided that, you know, we're all fetishists,

Spencer:

which, I mean, we kind of are, but just not in the way that

Spencer:

they're describing it. And so, you know, basically what ended

Spencer:

up happening was they had this really good sex therapist here

Spencer:

in New York, who argued this idea, you know, that kink is

Spencer:

really, when you think about it, any sort of sexual preference

Spencer:

that a person has, you know, I would granted expand that

Spencer:

definition to any sort of like erotic or sexual preference a

Spencer:

person has not just sexuality, but in the framing of like

Spencer:

sexual desires, any you know, in that case, any sexual

Spencer:

preferences a person has, so when you think about it, kink is

Spencer:

really something that can be a kink for vaginal sex, right? A

Spencer:

kink for getting married and having sex right. Very kinky,

Spencer:

you know, vanilla is the kink of all kinks. [all laughing] Put a

Spencer:

ring on it. It's like oof, [more laughing] anyone else getting

Spencer:

hot in here? [laughing] But she, she made this really good point.

Spencer:

And one of the reasons why she started with that, when we were

Spencer:

just we're having a chat was she wanted to stress the fact that

Spencer:

so much about our contemporary understanding of sexual desires

Spencer:

is built around the idea that there are normal desires, and

Spencer:

there are abnormal desires. There are desires that are the

Spencer:

ones that you're sort of innately born with, that are

Spencer:

mostly reproductive in nature. And then everything else is what

Spencer:

your what is sort of like you're adding it on to what's supposed

Spencer:

to be the reproductive essential of sex. And the point that she

Spencer:

was making was when you have a cultural institution that

Spencer:

insists on that, that insists that this is the way we're going

Spencer:

to think about sex, and there's no other way to think about sex,

Spencer:

and this kind of sex that we're having is good, and the kind of

Spencer:

sex that you're having is bad, then you're creating a way where

Spencer:

sexuality becomes the, it's sort of like the tipping point of the

Spencer:

spear, where you can then control other ways that people

Spencer:

think and talk and, and, and really assert a sort of

Spencer:

authoritative authoritarian control over other people. And

Spencer:

that really stuck with me when she spoke to me about that,

Spencer:

because I absolutely think that's true. I think the idea

Spencer:

that our sexual desires are innately reproductive, and then

Spencer:

our have all this other crap added onto them - I think that's

Spencer:

bogus and not true. And I think when you start to think of

Spencer:

sexuality, and desire as something that is way more

Spencer:

malleable than that, then you start to realize how certain

Spencer:

people's kinks are all over the place in the world, and other

Spencer:

kinks are highly marginalized. Right? So the Calvin Klein thing

Spencer:

is a great example or like marriage stuff is a great

Spencer:

example. Like, you can really think of that marriage as

Spencer:

literally, I mean, in the most literal way possible, not just a

Spencer:

metaphor, it is a kink, right? Marriage is a kink. [laughing]

Spencer:

It is. And so is like the Calvin Klein ads of like, you know, the

Spencer:

very like white, cishet beauty standards of a very skinny

Spencer:

person, you know, only wearing like the Calvin Klein boy

Spencer:

shorts, panties and like barely anything else. And that's okay

Spencer:

to have in Broadway. But if you have like a leather ad somewhere

Spencer:

or a leather person walks around, that's bad. Well, that's

Spencer:

because certain kinks are okay in that context, and the rest

Spencer:

aren't. And I think getting people to think about sex and

Spencer:

sexuality that way, and why there's such a moral panic over

Spencer:

preventing that thought process is really, really important. I

Spencer:

do. And this is sort of was at the core of that one Substack

Spencer:

article that I wrote, I do think it's also possible for people to

Spencer:

overstate the case, or, or sort of create a counteractive moral

Spencer:

panic that causes a lot of the problems with say, like

Spencer:

horizontal violence or accountability abuse that I also

Spencer:

write about a lot in my work. So I do caution people to really

Spencer:

pinpoint the specifics of the problem, and to really focus on

Spencer:

understanding and studying how this happens, because it's very

Spencer:

easy to get people panicked and afraid for things that maybe

Spencer:

will be detrimental to them as marginalized people, like, you

Spencer:

know, scaring sex workers about a platform change that might not

Spencer:

actually be happening is a really classic example. Sort of

Spencer:

like also like that sort of clickbait tech world where

Spencer:

civilian writers will, like, make people scared or

Spencer:

uncomfortable about changes that might not be coming up. It's

Spencer:

possible to also overstate the case. But it is a serious

Spencer:

problem. And you know, the potential for panic that's

Spencer:

unwarranted aside, there is, I think, definitely enough reason

Spencer:

to be concerned and anxious and afraid about like what

Spencer:

direction, that sort of mindset of like, we need to get sex off

Spencer:

the internet. Like that is a huge problem no matter what, and

Spencer:

it's justified to be scared of that. [music break]

Spencer:

On this podcast, we typically like to hear from

Spencer:

people about a specific game that's had an impact on your on

Spencer:

their life. You brought up Ladykiller in a Bind, which I'd

Spencer:

love to come back to for these last few minutes we have

Spencer:

together. So also known as "My Twin Brother Made Me Crossdress

Spencer:

as Him and Now I Have to Deal with a Geeky Stalker and a Domme

Spencer:

Beauty Who Want Me in a Bind!!", or Ladykiller in a Bind is a

Spencer:

2016 erotic visual novel by Christine Love. It iis described

Spencer:

as an erotic romantic comedy about social manipulation, cross

Spencer:

dressing, and girls tying up other girls - classic visual

Spencer:

novel content. And so I was reading about the game and I

Spencer:

think it's really unique that this is a game about queer women

Spencer:

by a queer woman that's really making space to explore

Spencer:

fantasies that we're often made to feel like we can't or

Spencer:

shouldn't talk about. And I think especially that it's

Spencer:

created from a queer woman's perspective, because so often I

Spencer:

feel like a lot of these games are like, made for men and like

Spencer:

marketed to men. And Ladykiller in a Bind's also known for it's

Spencer:

like, really progressive and inclusive writing in a visual

Spencer:

novel. There's this quote that stood out to me from the main

Spencer:

character where she says, "Listen, sex isn't about good.

Spencer:

It's not a sport that you win or lose. It's about communicating

Spencer:

feelings. There's no wrong way to communicate about how you

Spencer:

feel, as long as you're honest." And so I guess just opening it

Spencer:

up to you, like, tell us more about this game, and why it's

Spencer:

been so important to you.

Ana:

Sure, oh, I could talk literally endlessly about

Ana:

Ladykiller in a Bind. It is so so good. Um, you know, one of

Ana:

the things I really liked about the game from the start was, I

Ana:

was thinking about this a little bit as I was getting ready for

Ana:

this podcast, I was thinking about how it's sort of, there's

Ana:

like this oscillation that it has between being a little pulpy

Ana:

and like being a little tongue in cheek and celebrating that.

Ana:

But also at the same time, it tends to have a lot of these

Ana:

very realistic depictions of sexuality, and these realistic

Ana:

depictions of kink and BDSM. And that really is like represented

Ana:

in one of the routes that you can choose as a player, because

Ana:

you can sort of choose like, what sexual encounters to have

Ana:

and like, who to hook up with or who to help like them explore

Ana:

their, their sexual desires, or lack thereof, which is another

Ana:

key part of the game. And one of the characters that you can, you

Ana:

can visit is the Beauty who's like the dom. She's like, the

Ana:

classic like femme dom lesbian that like is really, really good

Ana:

at tying you up and bringing you pain, but is also very

Ana:

considerate about everything and will communicate with you about

Ana:

boundaries and things like that. And one of the things that

Ana:

always stuck with me from the very, very start of playing that

Ana:

game, was the fact that it emphasizes so much about the

Ana:

ways in which BDSM is not just something that you jump into and

Ana:

do. It's something that you communicate around, you talk

Ana:

things through, you have a prior understanding of how you engage

Ana:

in sadomasochism, or bondage or domination submission, it's

Ana:

something that involves the ability for one to understand

Ana:

and know their desires, and work through another person in

Ana:

reaching those desires. And that was always key to that game. And

Ana:

that at the time, you know, as someone who, you know, had never

Ana:

actually done any in person BDSM before. I had done like role

Ana:

plays over the internet and stuff like that. And, you know,

Ana:

I was always aware of the fact that like, we talked about what

Ana:

we're gonna do, and like, we're gonna figure out what our

Ana:

desires are and work through it. But I never really had an

Ana:

understanding of like, when you do in person kink, which I

Ana:

hadn't done at the time, this is how BDSM plays out. This is how

Ana:

you communicate with partners, this is how you have sex, and or

Ana:

whatever sort of play they're gonna have. And along with

Ana:

another work that the time I was reading called Sunstone, which

Ana:

is like a classic lesbian comic that similarly does that

Ana:

interplay of like, we're going to do realistic discussions of

Ana:

BDSM along with this story that is going to talk about all sorts

Ana:

of things like you know, power dynamics, and relationships

Ana:

between people and shame and trauma and recovery. Um, those

Ana:

two works together, but especially in the game's world,

Ana:

Ladykiller, really opened my eyes to a new way to think about

Ana:

BDSM in a way that I just had never understood before. And for

Ana:

me, it was really, really influential. And I, I would like

Ana:

to say I hope others feel this way. But in my games, I think

Ana:

it's influence can be really felt because so much of my games

Ana:

are about not just using BDSM as a vehicle for some sort of say

Ana:

exploration of desire or making people feel hot when they play

Ana:

my games. But the point of the game is, you know, the

Ana:

domination submission, the sadomasochism whatever kink, or

Ana:

fetishy thing is happening. In both of the like, erotica games

Ana:

I've put out, which is Blood Pact and She Hungered. The

Ana:

former of those two is like really like the BDSM game that

Ana:

people are really familiar with. Kotaku wrote it up and

Ana:

everything whereas She Hungered is like the more fetishist-y?

Ana:

Fantasy, fetishism one. But they both are really about, like what

Ana:

happens when we explore and understand our desires, what

Ana:

happens when we communicate them, what happens when the

Ana:

things that we're afraid of coming true do come true, that

Ana:

we actually really, really, really want and, you know,

Ana:

really cool, hot stuff happens when they do apparently, so.

Spencer:

Awesome. And I do want to when we talk about this game,

Spencer:

like as I was reading about it, I came across like, so there's a

Spencer:

scene late in the game, where your character is sort of put in

Spencer:

this highly erotic but I would say maybe dubious consent

Spencer:

situation where, you know, she's a lesbian, but she's in this

Spencer:

like power exchange dynamic with a man. And there were a lot of

Spencer:

players of the game who were triggered by the scene and they

Spencer:

didn't want - they didn't think that it belongs in the game,

Spencer:

which was a game that's very much about consent and you know,

Spencer:

exploring BDSM in like a positive sex positive way, but

Spencer:

this scene kind of stuck out. To the point where the creator of

Spencer:

the game made an update where that scene was skippable and all

Spencer:

sex scenes were skippable to kind of give players more

Spencer:

control over how they were engaging with it. But there was

Spencer:

this really great article on Polygon by merritt k and Simone

Spencer:

de Rochefort, called "Ladykiller in a Bind Shows That We're Not

Spencer:

Ready to Handle Messy Queer Stories". And they write, "There

Spencer:

is no way to please everyone when writing about sex,

Spencer:

especially with an issue as controversial and subjective as

Spencer:

kink. But we keep demanding an impossible level of precision

Spencer:

when dealing with messy topics, especially from queer

Spencer:

developers. The backlash to the sex scene shows that the

Spencer:

pressure is still on queer creators to write perfect queer

Spencer:

experiences. This is not the way that we should be teaching queer

Spencer:

creators to approach their work. There's already a dearth of

Spencer:

queer stories out there. And it's understandable that the

Spencer:

hunger for this kind of content could set audiences up for

Spencer:

disappointment when they when what they get isn't exactly what

Spencer:

they're looking for. But if the only stories were allowed to

Spencer:

write are so antiseptic, affirmational, and toothless,

Spencer:

that they can't explore actual fantasies that queer women have,

Spencer:

even if they are problematic, then we are failing." And I just

Spencer:

thought that this really resonated with me. And I think

Spencer:

too ties back to even the conversation we're having about,

Spencer:

you know, kink pride is just that there's so few queer

Spencer:

content out there, that the stuff we get, it's like, if it's

Spencer:

not exactly what we needed, then then we say like, it shouldn't

Spencer:

exist, or this, this triggered me so it shouldn't exist. And

Spencer:

it's like, Hey, I'm the first to admit I have some pretty fucked

Spencer:

up sexual fantasies when I'm alone. And to say that it

Spencer:

shouldn't exist just because it makes you uncomfortable is kind

Spencer:

of against the point of like queer art in the first place.

Ana:

Exactly. It's all about being uncomfortable. Yeah, I

Ana:

always. I always liked that article. And I always really

Ana:

agreed with a lot of it. You know, I've had some friends that

Ana:

also write in the sex games world that has have disagreed

Ana:

with it. And I've argued, well, I think the option to have the

Ana:

cutscene be skippable is a good idea. I remember myself reaching

Ana:

that play scene and or that scene in the game and feeling a

Ana:

little uncomfortable, even though I traditionally liked sub

Ana:

con work more so because it was unexpected. But I was actually

Ana:

thinking about this a lot before I came on here because I it's

Ana:

very interesting. I mentioned like how Ladykiller in a Bind is

Ana:

a game that oscillates between pulp and realistic depictions of

Ana:

sexuality. And I, I read somewhere a really good analysis

Ana:

of that scene and another one where you're not the submissive

Ana:

partner, but you're the dominant partner in the scene. And those

Ana:

two character routes were really - the analysis that one player

Ana:

had - was they're supposed to be foils to your experience as a

Ana:

dominant or submissive in the main character routes, where

Ana:

everyone was sort of engaging in dom and sub play in a way that

Ana:

was very, like, you know, communicated, and people were

Ana:

coming to the space for the right reasons. They were not

Ana:

doing it just to break people. They were doing it to explore

Ana:

and explore desires. And the point of those scenes, the way

Ana:

that player analyzed them was that these were supposed to

Ana:

represent what happens when things go wrong in a play scene.

Ana:

This is what happens when that desire is not coming from a

Ana:

place where the other person's safety or consent is put in

Ana:

place, or people are coming in with a fictitious and

Ana:

fantastical and a non safe way of thinking about kink and

Ana:

thinking about what DS is. And I really agree with that a lot. I

Ana:

think building off of that original article that you know,

Ana:

it was Simone and merritt, right?

Spencer:

Yes.

Ana:

Yeah. The building off that original article that merritt

Ana:

and Simone wrote, I think those scenes, Christine Love likes to

Ana:

add in a lot of her work scenes that rattle up the player makes

Ana:

them a little uncomfortable or sort of shocks them a little

Ana:

bit. And from a narrative perspective, too make them think

Ana:

a little bit harder about the messages that she's sending in

Ana:

the work about the relationship between sex and identity, or sex

Ana:

and desire. Or, you know, when something that feels like it

Ana:

crosses a line can at the same time still feel good, and how

Ana:

uncomfortable that is, but it still is and working through

Ana:

that. I think in the same way, I think that's what those scenes

Ana:

were supposed to accomplish. It was supposed to say this is a

Ana:

great thing. BDSM is great if you do it in a way that's

Ana:

responsible. And this is what happens when it's done

Ana:

irresponsibly. And I do think it really defeats the purpose to

Ana:

make people - I think a lot of people missed that message even

Ana:

though it is a really important one. And so, yeah, it does. I

Ana:

don't entirely mind that they were added as a skippable scene

Ana:

because I think personally for me, even though that analysis, I

Ana:

think rings true. I think that scene at the end of the game

Ana:

missed the mark for me, and I just felt like it didn't quite

Ana:

accomplish what lLove was setting out to do if that's what

Ana:

she was doing. But I also think the idea that it's innately bad

Ana:

in the game or it's something that people should be,

Ana:

particularly - that queer creators should not put in their

Ana:

work. I mean, the reality is, you know, Ladykiller is more

Ana:

than just a game that sort of, is super, you know, it's just

Ana:

sending you like five sex scenes to play through and then you're

Ana:

done. It is a game about lot more than just BDSM play and

Ana:

like your own arousal and exploration. So I think the fact

Ana:

that people weren't ready for that is sort of a testament to

Ana:

the lack of maturity about queer adult content and queer content

Ana:

in general in the games world in the first place. And some issues

Ana:

with the fact that we don't always allow queer creators to

Ana:

take those experimental steps in their work, we, we force them to

Ana:

Disney-ify their work. They have to be like good stories with

Ana:

happy endings where no one gets hurt and you as the reader don't

Ana:

get uncomfortable.

Spencer:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you so much, Ana, for

Spencer:

sharing space with us and taking the time. Where can people

Spencer:

follow your work or keep up with your games? Like where can they

Spencer:

find you online?

Ana:

Sure. So these days, I'm a little bit off social media. I

Ana:

am on Twitter @acvalens. If you want to shoot me a follow

Ana:

request, I'm happy to add ya. I'm also an Instagram a little

Ana:

bit more publicly also @acvalens. Both are spelled

Ana:

a-c-v-a-l-e-n-s. If you want to stay in touch with the work that

Ana:

I'm putting out Daily Dot is the best place-best space-to go

Ana:

to so check out the podcast description, you can check out

Ana:

my latest articles. You could check out my latest articles

Ana:

there. And if you want to check out my video games work, also

Ana:

acvalens.itch.io. Lastly, one more thing I do have to plug. I

Ana:

actually wrote a book about the relationship between Tumblr porn

Ana:

and sex work and accountability abuse and queer pornography's

Ana:

creation. That's called Tumblr Porn. And that I'll also shoot

Ana:

over you can check it out in the podcast description if you want

Ana:

to read. It's like a semi semi memoir, semi nonfiction overview

Ana:

of like the relationship between Tumblr and sexuality and what it

Ana:

means for our online future.

Spencer:

Oh my god. Okay, clicking buy right now. Thank

Spencer:

you so much for joining us on Pixel Therapy.

Ana:

Seriously, a pleasure. Thank you. I am really grateful

Ana:

to always talk about this stuff. [music break]

Jamie:

Time is up for today's session of Pixel Therapy. Thank

Jamie:

you for tuning in. And we hope that listening to our thoughts

Jamie:

and feelings gave you some thoughts and feelings of your

Jamie:

own. If you want more Pixel Therapy, come check us out at

Jamie:

patreon.com/pixeltherapypod where you can snag that monthly

Jamie:

bonus episode for just $2 a month, plus opportunities to get

Jamie:

involved with the community and influence the show directly. If

Jamie:

you're not up for contributing monetarily, but you enjoyed this

Jamie:

episode, you can show your support for free by rating and

Jamie:

reviewing us on Apple podcasts and following us on Instagram

Jamie:

@pixeltherapypod. That stuff is just as important and we

Jamie:

appreciate it just as much. Remember that Pixel Therapy is a

Jamie:

happy member of the But Why Tho Podcast Network so you can

Jamie:

support us by supporting them and heading over to

Jamie:

butwhythopodcast.com - that's though with a t-h-o. Take a peek

Jamie:

at the inclusive geek community they're building around pop

Jamie:

culture news, reviews, and kick ass podcasts like yours truly.

Jamie:

And you can keep up with all this stuff and more by visiting

Jamie:

our website at pixeltherapypod.com

Spencer:

Finally, since we like to put our money and our energy

Spencer:

where our mouth is we end every episode with a recommended

Spencer:

sidequest. Thank you, Ana, for this week's side quest which is

Spencer:

Red Canary Song originally founded in 2017 to provide legal

Spencer:

and healthcare support to the family of massage worker Yang

Spencer:

Song who was killed during a police raid. Red Canary Song is

Spencer:

today a grassroots massage worker coalition in the US.

Spencer:

There are over 9000 workplaces across the country with no

Spencer:

political representation or access to labor rights or

Spencer:

collective organizing. Anti-trafficking nonprofits that

Spencer:

claim to speak for migrants in sex work promote increased

Spencer:

policing and immigration control, which harm rather than

Spencer:

helps migrant sex workers. Red Canary Song also organizes

Spencer:

transnationally with Asian sex workers across the diaspora in

Spencer:

Toronto, Paris and Hong Kong. To learn more and support their

Spencer:

work please check out redcanarysong.net

Jamie:

Thank you for that side quest, Spencer. That is our show

Jamie:

for today. So go forth, run a story mission, level up some

Jamie:

stats, and don't forget to hug an NPC every now and then. We'll

Jamie:

be back soon with some more-

Spencer & Jamie Together:

Pixel Therapy