Queers in Love at the End of the World
Reviewed by: Matt P., Miriam Moster, and Rachel Dixon
Review started: April 12, 2021
Review finished: April 29, 2021
Data and Sources
- Psychology, if that. This is not driven by data, but rather by human emotional response. The logic behind it is that with only 10 seconds to play the game before the “end of the world,” gameplay becomes much more gripping in a manner that is normally difficult to attain.
- Game data are sourced from the itch.io game platform and was developed with Twine, a text-game development platform that renders projects into HTML files.
- The project itself consists of multiple-choice, text-based interactions, where the experience and story are personalized by player inputs. The story moves forward based on player choice and is constrained by time.
- The game developer takes human experiences, and a human relationship, and has the player transform this common experience in a tense, fast-paced game, to mimic the experience of living in a collapsing world.
- The project has a simple presentation, minimalist design.
- You are faced with a bright blue “Begin” button on a black screen. When you click on “begin,” a circular countdown timer appears against the black background along with a vignette with choices. The timer immediately begins counting down from 10 seconds.
- The vignette updates with each choice you make to present you with new choices. The vignette is in grey, and the clickable choices are in bright blue.
- Players are able to replay the 10 second story and restart the clock with different choices; however, the mechanics remain in place.
Digital Tools Used to Build It
- Twine (see Power of Twine on Polygon)
- Stefano Russo’s Twine Countdown timer, modified (source: Rhizome)
Queers in Love at the End of the World, developed by Anna Anthropy, is a great model for the innovative ways game developers can use the Twine platform. Twine is a great tool for pedagogy-based game development. Despite the fact that this particular game does not rely on “data sources,” we consider it relevant to the larger review project. It is an addicting game—only 10 seconds long, but you will find yourself playing it multiple times in a row to “get to the end” so to speak.
The narrative of the game speaks for itself. The game takes place 10 seconds before the end of the world, the player character has those 10 seconds to spend with their partner, and the player must choose what the player character does in those 10 seconds by way of selecting options. The game’s scale and subject matter allow it to make minute details, such as the specifications of the player character’s final kiss, an incredibly compelling experience.
Notably, the allotted time is so minimal that some players may find themselves unable to make informed in-game decisions fast enough to “get to the end.” As a result, to reach “the end,” one may opt to select answers as quickly as possible in order to maximize the amount of time one can read the text at the end. In using this constraint as the core game mechanic, it actually adds a very compelling, heartwarming, and emotional element to the game—the player in this situation is acting out of desperation, without thinking. In-game, this could be thought of as manifesting as the player character, low on time, acting purely on instinct to make the last 10 seconds of their life and their partner’s life meaningful.
Anthropy has mentioned that the game speaks to the power of queer love, and dedicates the game to “every queer I’ve loved, no matter how briefly, or for how long,” (Rhizome) which speaks not only to the powerful narrative but also to its potential to communicate a unique experience of queer love regardless of who may be playing the game.