Gaming as a trans person can kinda suck. Some might say games are bad. But what if, dear readers, games are good? If we look beyond the Catherine’s or Cyberpunk’s to the queer indie scene, we come across a counterculture not only challenging the conservatism of gaming behemoths, but also their methods of monetization and immersion. While making do with tools like twine and the work of (at most) a few artists, queer indies are pushing not only how, but what, games make us feel. Case in point: trans sexuality.
Blood Pact was written by games and sex writer Ana Valens (She/Her) and illustrated by Callie G (She/Her). When Blood Pact first released in June, it made me feel hot, bothered, aroused, wet, thirsty, hard, squirmy – all things Alexa, a Chicana uni student and trans girl, feels during the titular ritual with the trans succubus Felanya. “Trans writing and representation makes us feel seen,” I originally wrote, “but it doesn’t often get to make us feel those very things it’s describing.” The affordances of porn games and trans porn harmonize in a delightful virtual novel experience that makes Blood Pact a strong recommendation to any other horny trans girls.
Yet despite everything it does so well, Blood Pact probably isn’t the game you’ve heard about girldick from this year (maybe you haven’t heard about a gay game this year at all). That’s almost certainly Cyberpunk 2077. The infamous image, approximated here by trans sex worker Lane Arbor, affirmed much of what trans people expected from CD Projekt Red. We’ve been here before after all. As Ana explained in a Twitter thread, “Hyperfixating on a trans girl’s penis is very cis gazey; it has a long history of both ridicule and obsessive desire.” CDPR implements girldick as a shock where there is no joke or punchline or commentary, it’s just a giant, anatomically incorrect dick. Compare this to how trans girls – and their dicks – are talked about by trans people. On Blood Pact, Astrid Johnson writes that the game shines “in its descriptiveness. Valens is a master when it comes to using just the right words to evoke arousal.” Through adept writing with evocative illustrations and an accurate, healthy depiction of BDSM, you get a pretty hot scene that doesn’t require exhaustive mental gymnastics to enjoy. But there’s more life to trans people and trans sex than accurate and non-problematic depictions of us, and this, I think, is what makes Blood Pact so affective.
[pullquote] Partners hurt each other, fight, get back together and have kinky sex, even if hurt feelings still linger in the room. [/pullquote]
In an interview with Patrick Guillford, Ana says she approached the games’ trans girls not as bodies with penises, but as characters. “I saw Alexa and Felanya as three-dimensional individuals with their own motivations and desires, and I treated Blood Pact‘s erotic elements as things that would naturally emerge thanks to their chemistry.” This is most evident in the game’s ending, when Alexa beings to question Felanya’s intentions and brings consent to the fore, something her and I had the chance to talk about. Ana describes it as a narrative point that furthers the themes of the game: “It may seem like a grey area, but we see these problems play out all the time in real life too: partners hurt each other, fight, get back together and have kinky sex, even if hurt feelings still linger in the room.” Just as sex doesn’t end with an orgasm, but with aftercare, the game doesn’t end with fucking, but with Alexa returning to her Friday night, confused and a feeling a little betrayed. This reinforces what Callie told me about drawing trans bodies as a cis person: “Treat every trans character you depict as they were a real, nuanced person with agency, not jut as a list of traits or, like, a character that’s purely a sexual object.” It is evident how the synergistic duo, who had previously worked together on Bell, are operating on the same wavelength. Callie further claims “nothing in Blood Pact was done for shock value or to be edgy.” It’s remarkable given that, of the two games, this is the one with hentai!
“I don’t think one should look solely to mainstream works of media if one wants to see art that is cognizant of nuances in minority representation,” Callie says. I agree. Don’t look there, where games are bad and girl dick is gazed upon. Look here, where games are good and girls with dicks fuck.