This game thinks it has something to teach me about adult-themed spaces and cosplay. That’s nice. I, in turn, feel like this game has some fundamental shit it needs to learn about “consent.”
And that’s an enormous problem.
Page 26, Game 21: Whipped And Steamy • Cosplay Café by Whales And Games
You’re Caffie, a young woman (or, at least, femme-presenting human — I don’t recall the game specifying a gender) just starting work at a coffee shop, the titular Whipped and Steamy.
In proper video game fashion, you shall be given extraordinary latitude in running things at your new job — you have to select coffee, snacks, and decor for the day, based on what flavor of egregious horndoggery you anticipate catering to. That’s your niche: you sell coffee and treats to horny nerds with terrible boundaries. I’m sure all the other local businesses appreciate you keeping these dipshits out of their stores.
Each day has three parts. Part one: choose coffee, treats, and decor. Your potential customers are neatly divided into three camps: “Vanilla” (horny assholes dressing up as stuff to get laid), “Fantasy” (insufferable hentai fanatics), and “Exotic” (kinksters who have almost certainly gotten kicked the fuck out of all their local BDSM meetup groups), with the occasional “Non-Cosplayers” wandering by. Each menu item or piece of decoration will appeal to one or more of these groups; do you try to lean into whatever crowd you’re expecting, or try and swim against the stream a bit for the sake of diversifying your clientele? Simply running the same things day after day gets stale, so you want to mix things up — but be careful, new stuff costs money, and you have a target goal you need to hit after two weeks.
Then comes part two: sales! This is non-interactive, and you simply learn how well you did for the day.
Then finally part three: workplace harassment. You get to relive the most “interesting” customer interaction you had that day, wherein an underclothed horny superfan of something spews fannish enthusiasm at you while saying various sexually charged things. This portion is also completely non-interactive. Interested in what they have to say? Disinterested? Comfortable? Uncomfortable? You have no choices, none of that “agency” shit matters. Just stand there and take it, bitch. Gotta get those tips somehow.
Each day will get one of six pre-programmed cosplayers, and all of them are awful. There’s the submissive attention-whoring luchador with no sense of boundaries who demands you shout his name and requests you spank him right in the middle of your fucking coffee shop. There’s the condescending rabbit-hentai fangirl who is every insufferable fan who WILL NOT SHUT UP about whatever piece of media they enjoy and are as subtle at recruiting you to their fandom as a Mormon with a quota and a shotgun. There’s the conceited pirate guy who was probably the most fuckable of the lot just because he was the least horrible — not that, as we have established, my preference matters in any conceivable way. And there’s the Wannabe Dom Girl.
Sweet leather-clad Jesus, the Wannabe Dom Girl.
I am not a kinkster, but I’ve dabbled, and I have enough friends in that community to consider myself well-versed in the basics. Every time this braying jackass opens her mouth, she is violating the standards of any reasonable kink community.
As an ex of mine once said to a clueless guy who came on to her too strong at an event, “Sweetie, you may be a dom, but you’re not MY dom. Now run along.”
But, no. Every word out of Wannabe Dom Girl’s mouth is berating and belittling you, and demanding you RESPECT HER AUTHORITY and grovel at her feet. Even though you’re just the girl working the counter in a coffee shop.
Did you consent to this treatment? Nope! You don’t consent to goddamn anything in this game. And that’s a MASSIVE problem. Any dom who pulls this shit on someone who doesn’t consent to it isn’t showing strength — they’re showing clueless idiocy. They’re showing a frightening lack of boundaries, and a terrifying disregard for other people. This is the sort of behavior that gets you kicked out of communities. This is the sort of behavior that makes people ask hard, uncomfortable questions of your friends who stand by and enable it. This is the sort of behavior that gets people warning their friends about you.
The secret sauce that makes a good dom a good dom is empathy. Dick-swinging testosterone is cheap and easy, and if that’s all you have going for you, any sub who knows what they’re doing will stay the fuck away from you. This game’s author is mistaking the theatrics of BDSM for reality, and is demonstrating an understanding of the kink scene on par with 50 Shades of Gray.
And Wannabe Dom Girl is pulling this shit on a BARISTA. She is pulling this on WAITSTAFF. She is harassing and verbally abusing someone who is FORCED to be there, whose job makes it difficult for them to push back in the way this behavior demands.
The fact that your on-screen avatar is a slender femme-presenting woman adds yet another layer to the ongoing squick.
Once the interaction is mercifully over, you get a punchcard indicating your relationship with this customer has somehow advanced, whether you want it to or not. Because that’s apparently how sexually charged relationships work or something.
It’s fucking awful. If you’re a woman who’s worked as a barista and ever had to deal with horny idiot customers who would not take “Go away” for an answer, I would expect this game to be actively triggering.
This game clearly wants me to be enticed and titillated by all these sexy people talking about sexy things. Instead, all I see are a bunch of self-absorbed assholes intent on inflicting their fandoms and kinks on whatever poor shmucks are forced to stand there and endure it.
At the end of the two weeks, my boss informed me I had failed at the resource management aspect of the game. He had mentioned early on that I had a target monetary goal I had to hit. I have no idea what it was; the game never mentions it again, save to tell me that I’d missed it. With regret, my boss fired me — but invited me to try playing the game again and seeing if maybe I could do better.
No. Never interacting with any of these fuckwits ever again is worth more than this job could possibly pay.
Everything about this game is pure yikes, and I cannot recommend it for anybody.
Will this next game help purge the foul taste of ignored consent from my soul?
Page 19, Game 23: Wretched Wasteland by Stuart W.
“A solo journaling RPG set in a barren post-apocalyptic wasteland”
Comparatively speaking, sounds like Disneyland. At least radioactive mutants will take getting shot in the face as “No.”