I don’t care who you are, Christine Love’s games will most likely make you uncomfortable. They’re implicitly designed to encourage the player to explore the grey areas in life as well as the differences we have with people of other cultures and sociological segments.
Also, they involve a lot of reading. Not that you will mind. Essentially, all of Love’s games ask the player to snoop through a bunch of documents and files that were meant for someone else, making reading feel more like an act of exploration. Playing her games implies interest in the people the games are about, laying the groundwork for Love to make a case for the humanity and value of people we might at first desire to write off completely.
We had the opportunity to talk with Love about her beliefs and how they impact her work.
What core beliefs would you say most motivate you?
The most important thing to me is empathy and understanding other people. It’s trying to figure out how other people work, respect them, and trying to make things better by understanding how people think and trying to empathize. That is at the absolute core of everything that I try to do, and everything I believe in.
Is that something that just flows out of your own previous experience, or is that something that comes out of a larger framework or system?
In terms of religion, I’m in an interesting place right now. I was raised Christian and that was always what seemed to be the most important thing. I feel like “love your neighbor” has always been the absolute most important thing. I’m sort of in a place where I’m re-evaluating some of my other beliefs, but that’s always going to be at the core, I feel like.
Can you talk a little bit about where you are in relation to Christianity now, or what the progression was like over time?
I had a really great, welcoming, queer-friendly church growing up when I was a kid. That was always part of my life, then I moved and found it was very difficult to replace that, living in a small town that was very conservative. Their take on Christianity felt very alienating to me. So I sort of lost that community.
I’m back in my hometown again, in Toronto, a very large city. But I’m still trying to find out if there’s a community like that that’s welcoming, if there’s a way for religion to be in my life, if it should, and how that works.
Because I do feel like it’s really all about the community, the people, and sharing those beliefs with other people, and having support for that. Keeping religion to yourself isn’t really… I feel like if that’s what happens then you sort of think about it a lot less. That’s where I’ve been out of certain necessity.
So you would identify as a Christian?
If you’d asked me two years ago, I would have identified very strongly. I’m a little hesitant about that now. I’m not sure. But I don’t think my core tenants have changed in the last two years. I think the me that identified as a Christian then would still think that my attitudes are very Christian.
Are those beliefs something that influence your game development philosophy?
Absolutely. Fundamentally my games are about empathy and understanding other people. I try to look at things from different perspectives, to see the way other people think.
I try not to approach morality in a way that assumes that people are just evil. It’s all about trying to understand. I really do think that’s the absolute core. If you are to love your neighbor, you must understand them first.
I’m thinking back to what I’ve played of your games, and it’s funny how they feel like they start at a place of presumption, or assumption about people. Then slowly over time you uncover the reality of how people are actually more reasonable than they at first appear.
I definitely think that’s the case, especially if you look at Analogue. Analogue is a game that’s fundamentally about belief-systems – and I mean, belief-systems that I don’t really agree with or respect. But you still have to understand it. You have to get to the core of it. You need to realize that these people didn’t act this way because they’re terrible people. They act this way because these are their beliefs. This is what they were socialized to think was right.