created by Jimmy Andrews and Loren Schmidt
My first kiss was really weird. I was 14 and it was right at the end of marching band camp. I’ll spare all the details but overall it was really toothy and confusing. No tongue thankfully. Having said all that, my first queer moment of intimacy was also if not more weird. With no reference, no advice, and no real perspective into how anything worked, we proceeded to figure out how to be queer together. Realistic kissing simulator represents queer romance and intimacy through its ambiguous graphics, unconventional mechanics, and embrace of uncoordinated awkwardness.
The game begins on the landing page with two hands labeled with keys. The game does not begin until both hands have touched at the center. Once the game is loaded, the left player is prompted to invite the other for a kiss. The right player is given the choice to either say “yes” or “no”. If the player chooses no, the game immediately ends. If the player consents to kiss, the fun begins. The kissing is not idealized or romanticized in any manner. If anything it’s the complete opposite. The physics in this game is absolutely ridiculous. Tongues flapping around, things hitting eyes, lips in the way, mass chaos. All of this is happening as the players try to figure out, through the controls, how the tongue works, how it moves, what goes where, who can do what, and so on. The game ends when any of the players retract their tongue to indicate that they would like to stop “kissing”.
I played with one of my closest friends, and it was fun to scream and yell as we tried to desperately shove our tongues into each other’s mouths - in this game that is. I ended the game feeling slightly grossed out, awkward, and at the same time very nostalgic of my cringe-worthy moments of physical intimacy. I began to realize how accurately this represented my experiences in queer intimacy and relationships.
The foundation of the game is consent as should all instances of intimacy, and this is established without a doubt.
Gender representation is non-existent if not ambiguous, and this prevents the game from enforcing any heteronormative gender expectations onto players. Not only does this ambiguity allow for representation in gender expression, but also in types of queer relationships. Without the pressure of conforming to any set norms, the only thing players must choose is which neutral color character they prefer. Players are free to apply their own identities and ideals to the game because nothing is assigned.
Queer love is confusing. The mechanics are awkward, confusing, funny, weird, and hard to master. This is exactly how I would describe my experiences with queer love. Heterosexual love, relationships, and experience is blasted all over media. As a queer person, I learned about queer love, relationships, and experience through the internet and through some really awkward in-person encounters. You don’t know where things go, you don’t know what to do with what, and all on top of this you don’t know how to do anything. One could argue this is the same for heterosexual relationships. I would counter that the starting point for heterosexual cisgendered individuals is different from a queer-identifying individuals. Queer love is and has always been queer and seen as second to heteronormative relationships and experiences. This game rebels and rejects that by putting power, representation, agency, and significance back into the hands of queer individuals.