Believe it or not, but as an Asexual, monogamous, married couple, we do not have a lot of experience with One Night Stands. Well, thanks to independent game developer, Kinmoku, we can play a video game simulation of the awkward "morning after". Kinmoku herself is a Grey Ace, and we think she made a beautiful Visual Novel!
Courtney: Hey everyone, and welcome to the first episode of The Ace Couple Podcast wherein Courtney and Royce discuss a video game that they played. The video game in question that we’re talking about today is called One Night Stand. So even if you are not a video game player yourself, I really hope you’ll stick with us because we have a lot of great points that we want to touch on, even if you yourself are not a gamer. We’re also going to be talking about just the general concept of a one-night stand from an Ace perspective. And in fact, the developer of this game is actually a part of the Asexual community as well. So we love supporting creators from within the Ace community. So, as far as video games, I mean Royce, you and I play quite a few video games together and we have throughout the entire span of our relationship. You actually have credentials, you are educated in the video games. Whereas I am, but an amateur hobbyist.
Royce: Yeah. My Collegiate background is in video games. My bachelor’s in Computer Science was focused in video game development. I never ended up doing any work for the games industry itself. I ended up landing in general software and after spending a couple of years there, decided that’s where I wanted to be, but I have had a history of working on video game related things that usually didn’t pan out because I got hyper focused on something very technical and then stopped caring after that.
Courtney: Kinda fizzled out?
Royce: Fizzled out. It’s– it’s hard to make a complete game as an individual.
Courtney: Oh, it absolutely is! I mean the same is for video games, or any large scale creative project. There’s so much that goes into a video game. There’s the programming. There’s the writing, there’s the artwork. So, like right off the bat massive, massive kudos to the developer of this game. I’m going to shout her out right off the bat because I want you guys to pop over to her website, follow her on Twitter. On Twitter she’s over there @GamesByKinmoku. Kinmoku being the online alias of this game developer.
Royce: We have played a lot of different genres of video games over the years. Recently we actually went back and played the original Dark Souls and Dark Souls Remastered. But this style of game is something that we’ve been playing very frequently and it is a Visual Novel.
Courtney: Visual Novels are great! If you have never considered yourself to be a gamer, I want to highly encourage you to not discount visual novels. It’s really like a Choose Your Own Adventure story of sorts, you’re placed in a scenario with characters. And in this game, like– like many visual novels, you have a selection of choices, things to say, things to do, and you pick your way. And we love games like this, because there are multiple endings, and so you can replay through it multiple times and get a different experience. And we’ve actually– We, as silly as it might sound, we’ve gotten really into playing dating simulators. [laughs] This is not a dating simulator.
Royce: This is a dating aftermath simulator…?
Courtney: This a– Yes. It is very much like the title suggests. It is the aftermath of a one-night stand. You play a man who wakes up in the bed of a woman whom, you know, nothing about. And you got absolutely hammered the night before, so you don’t remember getting here, you don’t remember her name… I’m sure some people can relate to that, but I personally cannot say that I have ever done that. Which as an asexual couple, some people might think it’s a little silly that we sit down together to play video games of dating other people, but it’s actually– a lot of them are just silly. Not– not everything is super realistic anyway, but this game does seem very much rooted in realism.
Royce: That’s the thing about a lot of dating sims. A lot of the dating sims that we play, it isn’t to romance fictional characters, it’s for the writing which is often comedic. Depend– depending on what kind of game you’re playing.
Courtney: The thing is the writing is often very, very good and then people don’t always expect that from something like a visual novel or a dating sim, but…
Royce: Well, the game is just writing. Like you said, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure. So it’s all of the time and energy aside from the artwork that was spent on the game was the writing, as opposed to a controller heavy game where they’re focusing on the mechanics,
Courtney: Right! Like you mentioned that we’re playing through Dark Souls again. That’s one where people who know of that game think about how difficult the combat is, how you can do so many different things with your character and different fighting styles, and it’s very mechanical. But I love visual novels, just because I appreciate a really good story. And this game accomplishes that. Throughout playing, it actually had me feeling multiple things. Most of which were probably bordering on disgust, not disgust at the game, but disgust of who we were in the game. Because in order to get all the endings, you’re gonna have to make some questionable decisions at some point and you’re gonna have to be the bad guy.
Royce: In this style of game, there is always usually at least one canonical, sort of, good ending and at least one canonical, sort of, bad ending. And then a whole variety of different things in between.
Courtney: Yeah, and– and this game in particular, each playthrough is fairly short. We actually did all of the endings in the span of two different nights, both relatively short nights. So, it’s one you could easily plow through an entire night, if you wanted to. You could play just, you know, one different route a night for just 15 minutes here and there.
Royce: And the experiences contained in range from having a good person to person conversation, learning about each other and walking away as friends to bolting out the door, completely naked and getting arrested.
Courtney: [laughs] It’s so good because some of them are just so silly and off the wall, which you kind of almost want a little bit of comedic relief when you’re playing a game like this through, several different times. Because you run into some heavy things. So, if every single route you were just doing one after another was just really emotional or dark, or difficult, then it could be a little rough. But you– You get these little nuggets of humor that are just brilliant. And, you know, as someone who is asexual, for me personally, I leaned far more toward the sex repulsed side of the spectrum. There are plenty of asexual folks out there who do engage in a variety of sexual activities and really enjoy it. That has never really been me. So when I say, a game like this is kind of my only method of vicariously experiencing the awkwardness of the morning after a one-night stand… I absolutely mean it, for myself. But it goes a step further than that, too. Because in this game, you’re playing a man who woke up in a woman’s bed. So you’re out of your own environment. And so, even though our character, playing the man, you know, this is someone you met last night, picked up in a bar, even though that’s not ever been something I’ve done, I can still relate to the very common anxiety that women have of, you know, “Am I bringing home a creep?” And so, even though our character is the man, I’m totally empathizing with the woman right off the bat personally.
Royce: So when you are having particularly strong feelings about us trying to get 100% completion on the game and like, rifling through this woman’s things to try to figure out who she is. That’s where that came from.
Courtney: It’s– Yes, absolutely. Almost on a visceral level… Because you know, the way we play these visual novels is we try to go in blind with not looking up reviews, not looking through things other people have to say. Just sort of letting ourselves play out the situation and see what our sort of, what our True Ending is if we make all the decisions that we want to or the decisions that we think feel like the right one. And normally that serves us pretty well. Because I think usually when we play through games that have different endings, normally we’re most content with the very first ending we get. But as we’re going through this first ending and we’re like, okay, we’re– we’re in this woman’s bed. We don’t know her name, you know, what the hell happened last night? And we’re trying to piece this all together. And we’re waking up because our buddy, who we apparently ditched, is texting us being like, “What the hell man.” You start getting these prompts where, even though for our first true ending we’re not going to pick them, I know how we play games and I know we’re gonna get through them all.
Courtney: So there will be things like, “Do you take a picture of her while she’s still asleep to send to your buddy?” And of course Courtney’s like “No! No, absolutely not.” But I know that in order to get the full scope of outcomes… we’re gonna have to make that really shady decision, before the night is out. Or even things like “Oh you found her panties on the floor. What do you do?” Like, what do you mean what do you do? If we’re being a respectful person we’re going to do absolutely nothing! So clearly like we’re going through this and I know that we’re gonna have to be the bad guy. We want to see all the outcomes! And as a woman who even though it hasn’t gotten to the point of being a sexual relationship, even though it’s been far from a one night stand, like, I remember all those dating anxieties I had any time I’d meet a new person. Like is this person a creep? Are they going to end up being violent? Abusive? And to now play the bad guy in the video game even as I’m, like, groaning and making these poor decisions, I’m very much feeling for the woman.
Courtney: And to be perfectly honest, when we first found this game and said “Oh, that sounds interesting. Let’s, you know, let’s pick it up and play it sometime.” I had absolutely zero knowledge of the developer being a part of the Ace community. That actually ended up being just a total coincidence. She’s actually a Disabled Ace and I was only able to find this because I funded Disabled Ace Day during Ace Week, and we set up a hashtag #DisabledAceDay. I ran the Ace Week Twitter account on that day, so I could do a lot of engaging with the Disabled Ace Community and education on that front. And so the developer here, Lucy @GamesByKinmoku as I mentioned, actually used the hashtag #DisabledAceDay and sort of introduced herself and her place on the A-spectrum, her disabilities, and a little bit about her experience. Which was one of the coolest parts of that day, was getting to learn about all of these other Aces and all these other experiences, many of whom I had not been acquainted with yet.
Courtney: So pure happenstance, I started following all of the Disabled Aces who are using this hashtag and I got onto her Twitter profile and saw that she’s an independent game developer who made One Night Stand. And I kid you not, we had had a conversation about this game just a week before this point, saying “Oh, yeah, we still have that game. We should play that soon!” And you know, Ace Week was exceptionally busy for us. So we thought, you know, maybe once Ace Week winds down, we’ll go in and play that. So, I was just really, really excited because now not only are we going to play a game that has been on our list for a while, but I know that it was created by a fellow Disabled Ace. And Royce, do you remember how we originally came across this game? Were we just looking for more visual novels? Things along the lines of dating sims, or… I can’t quite recall.
Royce: No, there was a huge charity bundle on itch.io, and it was included in that. It was one of the games when we were looking through these hundreds of titles that were a part of that charity event. This was one of those that stood out to us.
Courtney: That’s right! We had acquired tons of games and that’s one that we bookmarked as being like “That actually sounds excellent!” So I’m going to mention just a few things here that I learned from Lucy as a result of her tweeting about Disabled Ace Day. I’m not going to read all of this verbatim because I really encourage you to just go and follow her yourself. But she mentions being invisibly Disabled and a Gray-Ace. And Greyasexuality is itself its own spectrum. We haven’t talked a lot about it, we touched on it a little bit here, there, in some of our first couple of episodes, so if anyone out there is not familiar, just a quick refresher. One of the most common sort of micro labels under the spectrum of Gray-Ace is Demisexual, where people will often describe that as being “I can only experience sexual attraction with someone I’ve formed an emotional bond with first.” Grayasexuality is a huge part of the reason why AVEN, not too long ago, sort of tweaked their agreed-upon definition of what Asexuality is. Previously, people’d most commonly say it’s someone who doesn’t experience any sexual attraction. It has since been rectified to someone who experiences little to no sexual attraction and that’s to accommodate for the GrayAces of the spectrum. This might be people who just have very low sexual attraction. A lot of people you speak to might just have conditional sexual attraction. But the important thing is it is no less valid than any other part of the Ace spectrum.
Courtney: She mentions a variety of diagnoses and disabilities, which… Girl, same, I have an entire resume… But ends with “the most disabling being neurological issues affecting my ability to stand and walk.” And boy, can I really empathize with those neurological issues as well. There are a lot of different neurological issues that someone might have, I have a few of them myself, but one thing she specifically said in this thread that really, really resonated with me is that she hopes to be able to return to events again by standing all day, showing off her game, and chatting to people, but she says, “it’s still something I’m unable to do fully without a wheelchair, which 99% of my time I don’t need.
Courtney: Doing an event in a wheelchair is scary because I don’t use one regularly.” And that’s a fear that a lot of disabled people have if you have sporadic or conditional uses of Mobility AIDS, because most able-bodied folks don’t know that Disability is also itself a spectrum, and that wheelchairs for example aren’t just for people whose legs are fully paralyzed. That’s still, unfortunately, what most people assume all wheelchair users experience and especially with an Invisible Disability, or occasional uses of Mobility AIDS, a lot of Disabled folks just fear people doubting them, getting harassment, being told you’re not disabled enough, or – God forbid – that you’re faking it. But she also added on that “I would need someone to push me around, but I must solo Dev. So, it’s easier for me to not attend.” Which yeah, conventions, full day events where you’re vendoring, those can really take a lot out of you. I have done a lot of conventions, expos, artists marketplaces for my own business. And at least when they have been local, I have been really lucky to have you there with me. Because it gets incredibly taxing, very physically demanding, between you know occasionally needing to set up a full big table or displays. Even just standing all day and talking to people non-stop.
Royce: Yeah there is that one time when you got a cold right in the middle of an event.
Courtney: That one time? I’m pretty sure that’s happened at least twice. Where I was so sick that I had just, like, completely lost my voice. And I was also trying to keep away from people so I didn’t make anyone else sick. Those were times I was so happy to have you there with me to ring people up if we’re making sales, to talk to people. Because at events like these, people have a lot of questions for you. And I mean, my line of work is a lot different than game development, but the energy it takes to talk to people for that long alone, is immense. But at the end of the day, I mean, as Aces, this was a game we were already interested in. And I was even more interested to see it once I knew that it was created by a Gray Ace because there’s just something about that, that gave me the impression that even though this was recreating an experience with which I have no experience, I felt like the writing and the intention behind it very likely came from someone who I have a lot of common ground with.
Courtney: And what I really like too is even though the woman that we’re talking to after this one night stand, even though she’s not a playable character, she’s not us in this scenario, she has a personality and interests and she has agency. I mean, if you, overtly fuck up in a way that she is privy to, like, you can best believe you’re getting kicked out! And what was the line? There was a moment where I just said a line to you in jest, but then the game said it a second after… Oh, was it? Oh! the– the woman had come back after doing something, getting the door or bringing us coffee… There are a number of reasons why she might leave the room and come back throughout the span of this game. But at one point, she just said “So about last night…” Or something like that. And– and I turned over to Royce and I just said, “I don’t usually do this.” [laughs] And that was exactly what she said! And I just thought that was really hilarious, because I can only speculate… Is that a trope that is being made fun of? Or is that a trope that is a trove because there’s so much truth in it that literally everyone says that all the time when they have one night stands… I don’t know.
Royce: My guess is that it’s a trope because it’s very common? And while I’ve never experienced the sort of situation that we were playing out in this game, where the playable character lost time.
Royce: … and woke up in an unfamiliar area with a huge gap in his memory, I have gone on dates with people and oftentimes, like, been in an apartment and one of our apartment’s, either on the first date or on a very early date and something physical started to happen and I’ve definitely heard “I don’t normally do this” or “I said I wasn’t going to do this anymore”.
Courtney: Oh, no. [bursts out laughing] Oh, no, I don’t know which is worse!? Okay, there’s a lot to unpack with that. Is this just a purity culture thing? I-i’m asking in earnest because there are definitely like TV shows and movies that kind of like glamorize the sexually liberated woman, the one-night stand thing. But, like in practice, I know very few of those people, at least not straight ones.
Royce: That’s my guess. My guess is that the average view of societal expectations is that there’s a time for actually having sex and that, that time is after a certain number of dates or time period of knowing people.
Courtney: Hmm. Interesting.
Royce: I’ve never really had a good grasp on that so… I can’t speak to how other people tend to interpret it.
Courtney: Wow, and like, my first serious boyfriend, we didn’t even kiss until like three months of dating. And not making out either just just like a little peck.
Royce: Well, I didn’t date until I was 18, and most of the times I would meet people, it would be a lot of conversation upfront, usually online or through a combination of text or whatever. And then we would agree to hang out, or go on like a date for dinner or something like that. After having already gotten to know each other pretty well.
Courtney: mh-mm. And so in these situations [laughs] where there are more women saying either, “I don’t usually do this” or “I told myself I’m not going to” were they the ones actually doing the initiating? And then having to add that caveat? Because…
Courtney: …you’re Asexual and also quite passive. So are you just along for the ride on this and they’re still trying to justify themselves to you?
Royce: Yeah, pretty much. Like it was unprompted. I didn’t say anything. I think it was… I don’t know, if I’m to speculate, I would say it’s either a concern of how they’re being perceived, or possibly something internal that they’re trying to reason with. If they did have the purity culture sort of mindset that you were thinking of where, you know, if they heard of someone else doing this, they might be a little judgy sort of thing.
Courtney: Yeah, I mean or both, I mean you can grow up in purity culture and then internalize it even if you don’t agree with it logically. Wow, that’s so fascinating. So, does that mean that you have had a one-night stand?
Royce: I guess it depends on the definition. I again, I haven’t lost time and woken up somewhere– I haven’t just– talked about situations where you felt really Ace. I remember one time being with a couple of other guys in a bar and they were like, “All right. Let’s have one more drink. And then everyone else just split up to go try to find someone.” And I was– I was so confused.
Courtney: Oh no [laughs] Guys, do that?
Royce: First of all, from an anxiety standpoint, how do you just walk up to someone you don’t know and start talking to them?
Royce: But also the concept of what we need to do right now is go find someone to hook up with and not just like, head home and hang out at like 2:00 in the morning after drinking.
Courtney: That seems so weird and forced. And like, I don’t understand that at all. So yeah…
Royce: That didn’t happen very often and the end of that night was the three of us meeting up outside and walking home and hang out anyway.
Courtney: Oh, no! Because they failed!
Courtney: And you what, stood awkwardly in the corner with a drink in hand?
Royce: I moved around a little bit. Just trying to see… like the bar was thinning out. And then, yeah, I finished my drink and just, like, walked outside.
Courtney: Oh, no. [laughs] Well, I think and, I don’t know, maybe we need to google the definition of one night stand – that’s maybe the most Ace thing I’ve ever said on this podcast – but I think it implies that it’s someone you don’t know ahead of time.
Royce: I see. Like,
Courtney: …I think.
Royce: That could be. In that case, no. I have met someone went on one date, had sex and not interacted with them after the fact. But going on a date was intentional, and the ‘not talking afterwards’ was unintentional, it just sort of happened.
Courtney: Mmm. So according to Google: a one night stand is a sexual relationship lasting only one night.
Royce: Well, then according to Google, yes.
Courtney: So when you were– when you were in these situations where you’re doing none of the initiating, you’re very passive, was it just like “Meh, all right, if you want” or where there any situations where you’re actually, like, “I don’t really want to be doing this, but I have anxiety and don’t know how to say no.”
Royce: I was never in a situation where I had to, like, give a firm no. Like if things were leading in that direction, there was– both of us were feeling comfortable, sort of thing. And particularly in my late teens and early 20s I still didn’t really understand my orientation, I was still trying to figure it out. And so there is a mix of curiosity of one, just being with a new person and learning more about them and everything. And, you know, I have had a vague interest in sexual activity particularly when it comes to like fetishes and that sort of thing, but– Future podcast at some point, I want to talk about imprinted societal expectations and what that has on orientation, because a lot of times I feel like there is just me being curious and wanting to see, like, being in a new situation and if someone else is going to be assertive, just wanting to follow along and see what happens. But there was also a bit of expectation, where I felt like, to continue along with this potential relationship I need to continue, I need to allow things to progress so that I can see more and make a decision based on whether or not we’re going to work out together. And so a lot of times I was just sort of going along with it.
Courtney: Yeah. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. But yeah, and I mean I haven’t had those experiences in that way, but I’ve definitely had to call dates and being like, “No, I’m uncomfortable.” When I had sensed things going that way because I wasn’t as neutral about it as you were. And like the number of people I met, whose impression of hanging out actually means making out…? Astonishing. So many of them. And that, like, do allos really have fun making out? Is that a pleasurable activity? Or is that just like the step before sex. I d– I yeah, I don’t actually know.
Royce: I think that it has to be, but I don’t really get it either. One of the best lines from The Good Place was Michael going “And you guys just mesh your food holes together?”
Courtney: It’s so good. The good place is not overtly asexual, but there are so many just.. Bomb Ace lines in there. There really are.
Royce: Shame that it takes a nigh immortal demon or a sentient technology to deliver most of the Ace lines.
Courtney: Yep, but The Good Place is cute enough that I’ll allow it this time. So, yeah, and I mean the one really, really good positive thing I can say about all of the endings overall, if you played through every single one of them, I like that the game knows who this woman is and what her boundaries are.
Royce: And that the ending, you– I mean that the endings are consistent with the story. Like, you see different sides of the same story, but the people in it are the same.
Courtney: Yes, like you see different sides of her. You see how she reacts in different situations. But there was never once an ending where I was like “That came out of nowhere. That doesn’t seem like something she’d do.” So, the characterization is phenomenal, because like, the one concern that I always kind of have going into dating sims, visual novels that have any sort of romantic or sexual connotation to it, is that it’s really especially if you’re playing the man and especially if this is a cishet allo situation… I’m always concerned that they’re really going to like, gamify “getting the girl” because people actually do that in real life already. And so, I don’t recall at least, not any time in recent memory running into a game where I felt really icky about that, but it’s always kind of in the back of my head as like, I don’t want this to be the end all be all, positive ending. Is like, like you get the girl and you do like stop at nothing to get her because... Mmm, no, thank you.
Royce: I think the reason that you haven’t experienced that is because we play a particular slice of the dating sim genre.
Courtney: Yeah, I’m sure there– I’m sure the ones I’m concerned about are out there. Because, yeah, you know, as an Ace woman like, just going about life… Like, I cannot tell you the way I loathed dating. I– there were times in my life where I dated, I never once had fun with it. I always had fun when I was either single or content in a relationship and like, that’s it. No in-between have I enjoyed, and I know the prospect of dating is a fun thing for a lot of people, Ace or otherwise, but with my own orientation and proclivities I’ve just run into way too many straight men whom like, when I tell them “No” they’re like “Okay, game on. I will get you yet.” And so, that’s– that’s kind of where those anxieties come from. And that’s why when we’re playing the man who wakes up in the woman’s bed… It’s like, okay, I can understand that new person anxiety before they show all their true colors. And I think this game, especially really, really, really respects the characters’ autonomy that you’re not playing as. But yeah, and overall I think it was also just a beautifully executed game. I think the artwork was gorgeous. It was rotoscoped, which you don’t see from a lot of games but it’s a very interesting animation. Visual style.
Royce: Yeah, and if you’re unfamiliar rotoscoping is an animation technique where you take video and then you sort of trace over the frames. So you get an– like a hand illustrated feel to it, but it very much looks like the actual footage, like the actual physical people. It’s proportional to a still image or a video of a person because that was the basis for the linework.
Courtney: Yeah, and I think it’s very, very beautifully done. Even the soundtrack, like the background music, I think was very beautiful, very fitting. And it has 12 different endings. So I think even for– you know each playthrough is relatively short, but it does have a lot to offer with all those different endings.
Royce: And one of the reasons why we play these games in the way that we do is that you often don’t get a full picture of this setting, without playing through the game multiple times and getting different endings. It actually wasn’t until the last ending that we got, where we revealed a bit of information– about a bit of information about the night before.
Courtney: Yes, that’s true. Because in the times where you’re left alone in her bedroom, you get the choice. Like, “Am I gonna just be respectful and find my clothes and mind my own business?” Or it’s like, “Do you want to look through her wallet to see if you can learn her– her name since you can’t remember?” It’s like… hmm. That’s a… not great. But yeah, I guess I’ll do that next playthrough when I decide to do a bad guy around. [laughs] But yeah, in order to learn the most about this woman, to learn her name, what her interests are, learn just more about her life in general and also learn about what did happen last night, since you can’t remember anything…
Courtney: I have never been drunk like that in my life. To forget things, and wake up with a horrible hangover. So, that’s also another component of this that I can’t relate to, but it makes a really compelling video game. Because even though you’re sometimes making decisions that you would never do in real life, like I’m not gonna go rooting through this person’s personal things, and I hope you wouldn’t either... you still want to do it in the context of the game because you want to learn more! Because yeah, at the end of the day for us, it’s all about the world, it’s about the writing and the story. And this method of storytelling I think is especially effective because you’re in the driver’s seat. You’re the one making the choices. If you majorly screw up and she ends up hating you, that was because of a decision you made. So you sort of get the impact and all the guilt that comes with making these choices.
Courtney: And I think that’s probably about as much as we dare say without, you know, totally giving people way too many spoilers. Because I really do encourage you to play this, if you like games or visual novels, or even if the concept just seems intriguing to you. Because like I said, visual novels are a great entry into gaming and can really be quite relaxing to play at times. But do please support Lucy. Follow her @GamesByKinmoku. That is also her website URL gamesbykinmoku.com. If you want to learn more about the game itself, the developer herself, see some cool artwork, read a great blog. Please do all of that fun stuff, because we love supporting Ace creators and Disabled creatives– creators and Disabled GrayAce creators, especially ones who make great visual novels. We love it. And hey, maybe next time we talk about video games we will tell you about all the pigeons we’ve ever dated and loved. And as always, thank you guys so much for being here. Subscribe to us on whatever you’re listening to us on. Give us likes, comments, ratings, all those fun things, and we will talk at you guys next time.