-Firstly, could you please introduce yourself ?
I'm Christine Love, and I write narrative-driven games about technology and cute girls. I'm primarily a writer and a programmer, and I'm probably best known for Analogue: A Hate Story, a mystery visual novel based on Korean history.
-Your games are Visual Novels and this genre is very niche. How did you think this genre can bring something to video games ?
Honestly, I came about it from the opposite angle entirely; I started off as a writer of prose fiction—short stories and novels—before starting to play around with interactive elements. The next thing I know, everyone's telling me that my visual novels are actually games, and I figure, what the hell, I'll run with it.
I'm not necessarily married to visual novels, I just find them to be a very accessible way to tell stories using games. I'm definitely not interested in doing things that would be better relegated to novels, or movies... I've found that visual novels have a lot of really interesting techniques you can use that you wouldn't be able to find in less interactive media. Really, I just want to tell the best possible stories I can, and think videogames have a lot of potential to be a truly great storytelling medium.
-Digital, don't take it personally babe, Analogue and Hate Plus are not classical Visual Novel. Could you tell us more about it ?
Digital and Analogue/Hate Plus both take the form of sort of the visual novel equivalent of the epistolary novel; there's a main story, but the bulk of what you learn about the world comes from pieces of personal writing by a variety of people, full of their own stories that all tie in together.
I've made more traditional visual novels in the past, but for those particular stories, an important thing was that they weren't just necessarily telling straightforward linear stories, but rather, they were about exploring a world through its characters.
-Analogue : A Hate Story & Hate Plus are inspired by Korean history. How did you come to use that setting ?
Honestly, it was just a particular period that was really fascinating to me. I read about it, about how brutally oppressive it was to be a woman living in this era, and I just couldn't imagine what it must have been like to be living in a society like that.
But if you're studying history, "I can't imagine" means you have a pretty shitty understanding of the subject. Analogue, and later Hate Plus, were ways for me to explore that, to try to figure out how different women from a wide variety of perspectives and social positions must have been able to survive.
-What are your other inspirations for Analogue/HatePlus ?
Well, they're based off Digital, which was directly inspired by games like Uplink and indirectly by the 1986 Portal. Past that, there's also various visual novel influences in the way Analogue and Hate Plus are structured, a dialogue wheel mechanic pilfered directly from Mass Effect, and a heavy influence from classical Chinese literature like Dream of the Red Chamber for good measure.
-Your games feature a lot of AI characters. You seem to be fascinated by them, why is that?
To be straightforward, robots are a really good way to talk about humans. Even though it's not really true, people are expected to have their feelings under control, to be socially active, to understand their relationship with the world. With AI protagonists, one can explore these sorts of things that in reality are very complex while abandoning the preconceptions of how people work "normally."
-One of your most recurrent theme is love relationship, especially lesbian and gay relationships. Could you tell us more?
Honestly, I don't know if there's much to say! I mean, sure, obviously romantic relationships are extremely important and it's hard to do any sort of exploration of social systems without looking at the influence of those, but... well, let's be real here. Everyone likes a good love story, and as a lesbian, I'm interested in seeing ones that I can actually relate to for once. I'm just telling the stories I'd like to see myself, really.
-In Hate Plus, there's a very original achievement about baking a cake (for a character in the game), then taking a picture of it and sending it to you. How did you come to have this clever idea?
So there's a Japanese otaku meme wherein you make a traditional romantic Christmas cake/dinner for your 2D waifu that's a thing, very much tongue in cheek. So that's the joke there: basically, the game guilts you into doing the same thing, and then send in a picture to prove that you did it. To be honest, I didn't really think it would work out; but to date, over a thousand people have sent in pictures of their cakes!
-Hate Plus is now released, what's your plan for the future ? Do you have other projects ?
-What are your thoughts about the current video game industry?
I try to stay away from it as much as possible.
-What's your favorite game of all time ?
God, just one? I don't even know. Let's go with Hotel Dusk on the DS.
-Most of my readers never played Analogue or Hate Plus, do you have something to say to convince them ?
I hope you find them interesting!