Queer Dystopias, Queer Mechanics, and Queers in Love at the End of the World

Curator's Note

Anna Anthropy’s game Queers in Love at the End of the World (2016) plays with the evanescence and ambivalence of queerness, time, erotics, and choice.  One the surface, this Twine game is a quick series of hyperlinks narrating the last moments, parting words, and the final kisses and embraces of two lovers at the titular end of the world where and when “everything is wiped away.”  However, what makes Queers in Love a queergame par excellence is its integration of a ten-second timer—a mechanic and temporality made queer—which transform both game and dystopian narrative into a critical queer dystopia.  

As I have written elsewhere, queergaming is “heterogeneity of play, imagining different, even radical game narratives, interfaces, avatars, mechanics, soundscapes, programming, platforms, playerships, and communities.”  A queergame directly addresses the need for games and design to enact queerness that is, as Todd Harper argues, “procedurally relevant” and “integrated with the narrative and ludic dimensions of the game.”  The ten-second timer in Queers in Love then disrupts three ludonormative expectations of games, the "pedagogies of race and gender" and other "deviances" to quote Kishonna L. Gray: it re-genres a poignant moment of interactive fiction into a search-and-click race, a race that cannot be “won,” and upends gamic fantasies of mastery over time, narrative, fun, and choice.

Queers in Love’s temporal constraint produces what J. Halberstam calls “queer time,” which develops “in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction” and which are “an outcome of strange temporalities [and] imaginative life schedules.”  The queer time of the game challenges conventional and naturalized understandings and practices of self, identity, even language and actions.  Moreover, although Queers in Love ends in apocalypse, its dystopian mode is hopeful—as Raffaella Baccollini argues, it “opens a space of contestation and opposition…for whom subject status has not yet been attained.”  This hope is in its iterability or what Bonnie Ruberg calls “permalife,” a challenge to the hardcore game norm of “permadeath,” since Queers in Love “loops back on itself, creating the opportunity for infinite play.”  In a sense, everything is wiped away—hetero-, temporal-, and gamic-normativity—but what remains, persisting in a kind of suspended algorithmic citationality, are queer bodies, desires, and hopes.

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.