How Women Could Easily Lose All Their Rights, As Told By A Game

Imagine waking up to a world where people think less of you for reading or writing. Or one where it's not likely that you'd learn how to read or write at all, and if you did, you'd have to get rid of the evidence -- erase the data, destroy the letters. Imagine not having much control over the affairs of your life, from what you are allowed to say, to where you are able to go, or how you are able to live, to who you'd be allowed to marry. Imagine trying to rebel against this reality... and having your tongue cut out for it.

Now imagine all of this happening during a time when we've perfected space travel and cryogenic stasis.

Is that possible? Can we waltz into the future without carrying ‘progress' there with us? Won't technology pave the way for a better tomorrow; isn't this the promise found at the nucleus of science?

Christine Love, developer behind Analogue: A Hate Story and current Indiecade finalist, isn't so sure. Analogue, which takes the previous surreal-sounding premise and was released earlier this year to much praise, is a game that takes the idea of an advanced civilisation gone awry. This allows it to create a harrowing tale of a woman pushed too far. A woman who cannot deal with being treated as less than human and goes insane, killing everybody aboard her spaceship.

The story is fictional, but it's based on an actual time period; the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. This was a point in Korea's life when its society became strangely backwards thanks to internal strife and crisis -- much like 9/11 set up conditions that allowed the war on terror to become a perpetual state of being in the United States.

Now that Christine Love is working on the follow-up, DLC for Analogue titled ‘Hate Plus,' she hopes to tackle one of the failings of Analogue. Some players might've not realised that the point is that we are always just a step away from the type of society depicted in Analogue. "It's sort of easy to dismiss as just 'oh, that's just how it was in the past, it's all cool now!' Christine told me via instant messenger. Neo-Confucianism -- the central ideology behind the Joseon Dynasty -- making a comeback? Not likely.

Of course, it would be naive to think such a thing is completely impossible, especially with the burgeoning science of cliodynamics -- or, the study of historical dynamics which has uncovered that "history repeats itself" is more than a tired cliche. It's a thing whose existence is more and more proven real by mathematics. And with the constant media reminders of politicians who seem keen on mandating the ways a woman can be in charge of her own body, fearing a future where similar basic human rights are stripped from women is not wholly outlandish.

"I think it's a cop-out to dismiss philosophies as unimaginable and unempathisable, just because they're also reprehensible. For one thing, you can't fight what you don't understand."

"It WAS a huge regression… in a way that North America right now kinda scarily reminds me of! You know, troubled times leading to nostalgia for the good old days (that didn't really exist), presenting modern inventions as being tradition," Christine mused.

"A lot of the tenets of neo-Confucianism were not actually things that were ever tradition; it makes me think of, say, the notion that being anti-abortion is a fundamental part of being Christian in the United States right now when really it's just something that dates to like the '70s. Only instead of selectively quoting Confucius, it's selectively quoting the bible."

Plus, it's curious to note that modern times have no shortage of what Naomi Klein calls "shock doctrines," or man-made crises engineered specifically to create the opportunity to push problematic reforms -- like the destruction of women's rights. Hypothetically, of course. But shock doctrine is why we have an utter erosion of rights in the in the United States right now -- the Patriot Act is an example -- all in the name of democracy.

Anna Anthropy puts it best when she states "a woman's apocalypse is not the terror of technological regression, but of social regression: not a strange and unknown future but the imposition of an all-too-familiar past....doesn't describe a far future nightmare, but a near one: the protagonist is a woman like me or you, living in her own house, dressing how she wants, fucking partners of her own choosing, whose world is changed overnight into one in which she is property, a walking, breathing womb, existing only so that she may carry a man's child."

It's no accident that the central character of Analogue is a teenager much like any other that might exist today.

For Christine, creating the story is no easy thing. During development she would often remark on the necessity of being drunk -- which is not uncommon for a writer, to be sure. But you don't often hear about authors who have difficulty writing because the subject is just that reprehensible and disgusting...but it takes playing Analogue to have a good idea of what this means, exactly. Suffice it to say that as I personally played, it wasn't uncommon for me to feel uneasy if not nauseated by the tale.

"Oh god, it's going to be terrible and scary to live in [the villains'] head for months...they're an evolutionary psychologist!" Christine exclaimed.

Still, it's an important exercise for her to undergo. "I'm kinda interested in how those ideas take root, both in people, and also in society. Nobody ever just wakes up one day and says "yeah, I hate women, I wish we'd stop letting them read."

The curiosity, to me -- as a personal friend of Christine -- seems to extend beyond needing to get into the appropriate headspace to write. As someone who struggles with mild Autism, Christine can sometimes have difficulty with social interactions, if not understanding feelings and emotions . It also seems like no mistake that most of her games feature AIs -- her early game, Digital: A Love Story, can be said to be a story where you teach an AI how to love. In this way, writing to me can sometimes seem as something Christine does to come to terms with her issues, if not overcome them.

But there's a more tangible benefit of figuring out how to write from the point of view of a misogynistic society, too. It can help us consider how to better deal with the reality it proposes. "I think it's a cop-out to dismiss philosophies as unimaginable and unempathisable, just because they're also reprehensible. For one thing, you can't fight what you don't understand," Christine explained. "And secondly… when presented with things that are unimaginably bad like that, people often like to think 'oh, I wouldn't be like that, I'd be different' and I think it's pretty important that people realise that no, they wouldn't. At least, not if they didn't understand the causes of it."

Hate Plus takes place right after A Hate Story, with your character returning to Earth after having discovered the tragedy that occurred on the spaceship. The plan is to shed some light on what, exactly, were the circumstances that led to the society breaking down and reverting to a less progressive philosophy.

Prior to Love Plus, these circumstances were a piquant mystery: the player had no idea what happened to make things the way they were. This makes the prospect of Hate Plus an exciting one, as it will finally answer big questions that Analogue left unanswered. It's particularly enticing when you consider that it, too, will take many inspirations from actual history. Christine wants to "draft a plausible political program for women's rights being completely eroded." She expects to undergo heavy research in hefty tomes of Korean history, much like her first game.

She teases that if players thought Analogue was sad, they're in for something else on Hate Plus. "I'm sure you can imagine that, if nothing else, what happened to *Mute [a central character in Analogue] in the transition from being in modern society to neo-Joseon was not heartwarming."

Hate Plus is hoping to go for the jugular on January of the coming year.

Top image: Ryan Jorgensen/Shutterstock


    I'd imagine if this happen for real that it would split the human race into a violent never ending conflict. I know that I'd never allow this to happen to any person, female or male.

      Well, I am assuming you're Australian, but here's how things are going in the US:

        'I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s. He leads a large Christian organisation. He was the result of a forcible rape.'

        Dear god... is there such a thing as a triple negative???????

          There's no way that I don't think that wasn't a triple negative.


    I don't see why why we don't just have laws reformed to say person instead of a specific gender. We can nip something like this in the butt just like that. Equal rights for everyone.

      Because its not really laws/legislation that are the problem. Its things like ensuring equal pay for both genders, which is hard to legislate. Its things like defining rape as linked to above. Its things like Tony Abbott saying that "a woman's right to absolutely withhold sex needs to be moderated." o.O How do we legislate that kind of thing?

        The left love using that Tony Abbott quote. Completely out of context. It's amazing, a guy who has been happily married for so many years, and has three nice beautiful daughters apparently hates women?


          Firstly, what does being married and having kids have anything to do with his views on women.

          Since this is the first time I've heard the quote, and since you suggested it is out of context I went and read the whole transcript from Q&A

          "TONY ABBOTT: Look, this is an extraordinarily difficult area and, you know, I just I'm just trying to write an obituary of Ron Conway the psychologist and social critic who's just died, and Ron said, in his autobiography, that, you know, after thousands and thousands of counselling sessions with people, the two subjects which seemed to most concern people, and I suppose most trouble their psyches are basically sex and god - religion, and intimate relationships, and they carry so much weight, and I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman's right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man's right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak."

          He attacks both men and women, but the idea behind the oft-repeated quote sounds pretty accurate to me.

          Hating women doesn't mean you don't want to have anything to do with them. It can mean, for example, wanting to control them. By, let's say, supporting the view that "in some cases" a women isn't allowed to say no to sex. That there is "some extenuating circumstance" where it is not within her rights to not allow a man to put his penis inside her. That her right to keep things out of her body should be "Moderated."

          I'm sorry but should YOUR right to not have penises put inside YOUR body be moderated, Tom, or is that only for women?

          Like most conservatives he doesn't hate women. As long as they stay in the goddamn kitchen.

      I dont know of any law in Australia which refers specifically to a gender. Except Unlawful Sodomy in Queensland (which refers exclusively to men i.e. can have sex with a woman at age 16 legally, but if your gay you better wait till your 18!). Also I am pretty sure its an established principle that you interpret any word like "Man" or "person" to mean both genders (unless it results in a patently absurd interpretation, cant think of when this would happen, but I imagine it could).

      The issue is a social issue not a legal one.

    Should be interesting. I played Analogue mostly entirely due to the cheap price and intriguing title, and was then made genuinely uncomfortable by the narrative - though oddly more so by the security's AI's normalisation and acceptance of the changed standards than by Mute's harrowing's tale. (I'm assuming we're operating under the assumption of 'spoilers don't matter since all the biggest spoilers were dropped in the first paragraph'.) I find stories showcasing that kind of social regression very interesting, in a morbid 1984 kind of way.

    In the spirit of speculation of what sort of angle Hate Plus might take, about the only thing I can think of that might facilitate this kind of reverse trend is perhaps a population or fertility crisis. I can see it becoming a sort of 'patriotic duty' to procreate, which starts out as incentives but then society slowly over time looks down on women who do anything but and once the abalance shifts enough in one direction, it could be difficult to reverse. Easy enough to imagine in a closed environment like a spaceship.

    I thought this game was interesting when I saw it on Steam. All you really know about it from Steam is:

    "Uncover the mystery of what happened to the final generation aboard the generation ship Mugunghwa by reading through its dead crew's logs, with the help of a spunky AI sidekick!"

    But then this fanboy writing an article spoils the whole mystery. Good job, now I won't bother buying it.

      Oops, "fangirl."
      Doesn't Kotaku have editors to reject articles like this?

        The synopsis was revealed. Just like the back of any book or any movie trailer. No spoilers.

        Calm down son!

          Ah the whole 'silenced' thing is very much a spoiler. It's supposed to be the horrifying climax but no there it is in the first paragraph before the name of the game being spoiled is even mentioned.

          No need to badmouth the author but some warning would be nice.

        The purpose of this article is to explore some of the meaning behind the game and how it relates to the real world, not to entice you to buy it. That's the difference between criticism and a review. You've had ample time to buy and play this game, and if you haven't, its not the author's fault for speaking to the audience who have.

          If that was the case then a decent writer would have made it clear at the start, as so many other articles on Kotaku do.
          I wish there was a way to killfile writers on sites like this.

            If you couldn't read the headline and first few paragraphs of this and realise that this article was not a review, I feel bad for you.

        Well, the 'spoiler' happens/is told to you within the demo far as I'm concerned, not a spoiler! But I know this sort of thing is murky.

    women used to have rights, then they took an arrow in the knee

    “Oh god, it’s going to be terrible and scary to live in [the villains'] head for months…they’re an evolutionary psychologist!”

    How is Evolutionary Psychology a characteristic of villainy?

      The quote probably got truncated from "they're an evolutionary psychologists nightmare!"

        Surely not? That would completely change the meaning of the quote and I can't see a reason why the writer would do/want that.

      Evolutionary Psychology is sometimes used by misogynists to justify their attitudes about women, eg "women evolved to be caretakers, not hunters, therefore they should look after babies and stay in the kitchen," to give a very oversimplified example.

      There's a wiki page about it -, check out the political and ethical issues section -

      Sample quote! "Many critics have alleged that evolutionary psychology and sociobiology are nothing more than political justifications for the "status quo." Evolutionary psychologists have been accused of conflating "is" and "ought", and evolutionary psychology has been used to argue against social change (because the way things are now has been evolved and adapted), and to argue against social justice (e.g. the argument that the rich are only rich because they've inherited greater abilities, so programs to raise the standards of the poor are doomed to fail)."

      I'm not necessarily arguing that evolutionary biology is an inherently bad field of study, or anything, but sometimes people with backwards attitudes to use it to make unfortunate arguments.

    "Imagine waking up to a world where people think less of you for reading or writing."

    Isn't that Australia right now? Your "average Aussie battler" will label you a nerd for even watching the news, let alone doing something as lame and nerdy as reading a book...

      *pushes Independent Thought Alarm button*

    First thing I'd like to say is Aldus Huxley "brave new world."

    Now I'll expand.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this article but I can't help but feel it missed a chance to highlight a broader meaning behind the story. It sounds as this game does an excellent job of bringing to the users attention the dangers of allowing fear and hate to push us backwards as a society. I imagine the writer of the game chose to use womens writes as a medium partly because it is obviously something that directly involves her but it's also a good example as even the most enlightened areas in modern society still struggle with issues of equality between genders.

    But I feel the need to point out that this is something that poses a direct threat to men as well as women.

    The fallout from September 11 is a great example as to how hate and fear can cause a society to move backwards to the point where it isn't people crashing into planes that terrifies the every day person but the government. Human rights have to be fought for and defended. There are continually people trying to use hate and fear to erode the work of generations trying to take control away from people because having control implies some sort of responsibility and that is scary. Yet without control over our own lives how can we call ourselves human when we are just a cog in a machine?

      Note: I'm not trying ot say men shouldn't be worried about women losing their rights just because it doesn't directly affect them directly. - All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

    I recently bought/played Analogue: A Hate Story on Steam and I thought it was pretty well-put-together and fairly clever... but I did not for one second feel that our own society is 'dangerously close to slipping into the one depicted in-game' or anything remotely like that.

    That being said? There are currently many cultures around the world right *now* that are worse even than the one depicted in this game... I feel like that situation is worth more attention than the hypothetical potential for it in places where it doesn't currently exist.

    But then I'm also hungry/grumpy at the moment.

    Thanks for the recommendation and review. I'm getting it :)

    Sounds like a game to avoid. I don't want to play a game based on society regressing or the chick going on a killing spree :S

      Much better for men to go on killing sprees amirite?

    You don't need to imagine. Smuggle a video camera into Saudi Arabia and see it live and first hand.

    This is of course why we have guns. Ever heard the saying, "God made man, Samuel Colt made them equal"? This is how women know they'll never lose their rights, because as long as they stay armed they're as deadly as any man. Beyond that? Vote Libertarian.

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