An Exploration of Emotional Abuse & Gaslighting in ‘Loved’

[Trigger warning for discussions of abuse and misgendering.]

The first thing Loved asks is whether you are a man or a woman. Already I have a sense of unease; I am neither, but as I am a woman some days, I chose ‘woman.’ The game is quick to not only misgender me, but to infantilize me by calling me a boy.

In 2010, when I first played Loved and was a cis girl, I was annoyed by the game and instead refreshed before choosing ‘man,’ forcing the game to acknowledge my gender. Six years later, I accept that I am wrong and the game is right. It has to be. Because emotional abuse is not a topic often brought up in video games and — even if it is brought up — none of them hold the same weight as the game Loved by Alexander Ocias.

When I first played it, I followed the game until it told me to do things that seemed illogical. Of course I was going to jump over the barbs and touch the checkpoint statue. Why wouldn’t I? Taking the lower path filled with barbs only to jump into barbs wasn’t right, so I disobeyed. I was rewarded with the game insulting me. 

I rebelled throughout Loved and felt a smug satisfaction as the game became more colorful. I closed the page and didn’t come back to it. I saw no need.

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Unity Wheelchair Controller - Alex Ocias Blog
Exploring a space in a different body can drastically change the way we perceive the world. This is a free pre-configured Wheelchair Controller for Unity3D.

“Exploring a space in a different body can drastically change the way we perceive the world. This is a free pre-configured Wheelchair Controller for Unity3D… To use the controller just drop the WheelchairController prefab into your scene.Being able-bodied myself, this isn’t designed to be an accurate simulation, but might be useful as a starting point in that respect.“

Unity Developers! Add wheelchair-using player characters with this handy tool. You can test how it feels here, and Alex would certainly like to hear from wheelchair users who can add feedback as to how successful it is. 

I see Loved as more interactive art than game, but be careful if you decide to play it. It’s deep but it’s not beautiful, it’s terrifying and uncomfortable. It abuses, manipulates and punishes you depending on whether you obey or disobey.

Have you ever had friends that are like family to you? Not just in the sense that you know everything there is to know about them, that their parents consider you their own, that you know exactly where they hide their food stash, but because they’re always there. You can return from a five year long hiking stint in the Himalayas looking like a caveman and you’d still have a hell of a great time with them. Do you perhaps look up at the stars, thinking of them, wondering if they are staring at the same ink sky, the same twinkling stars? If they are thinking the same thoughts? You experienced life with these people - you got in trouble with your teachers with them, you got sent to the principal with them, you had your first crush on one of them and one of them most certainly broke your heart. You had your first drink with them in a tiny living room, vodka and sprite in a red cup. You sat on a roof with them and sang your favorite songs, reminisced about your favorite memories. You lied to them and with them, fought with them and by their side. But in the end, the fact remains that time flies, arrogantly when life is good and lazily when you can’t handle it anymore. Change is inevitable. But you know what? Time gave you these people. It can’t take them away.

Oh Boy LET’S NOT FORGET ABOUT MY FIRST RUNE FACTORY OC: CHIME, THE SASSIEST TAILOR YOU’VE EVER HAVE THE PLEASURE OF MEETING!! I might make her a blog too?? But I’m not sure, since I did have her in EclairExpress but never really did anything! She’s a very hard character to roleplay :’’’’’/

( Might make her Crepe’s roomie or something! An NPC probably– sorry folks you can’t marry the finest lady in town :’/ )

Though Running is fresh London talent Abi Ocia’s solo debut, you might recognize her supple soulful voice from when she was a guest on Draper’s Home early this year. With Running, which happens to be produced by Draper as well, the promising R&B soul singer songwriter marks herself a spellbinding emerging talent. This bubbling electro soul and alt R&B brook is gently sensual and gracefully bewitching. Warmly embracing yet coolly spacious Running is a study in texture, a tactile captivating beauty that flows more than it “runs”.