Do you ever wish that love could be as easy to wield as Cupid’s arrow? What if love could be yours to command and instantly win over its target? Love Self is a video game for Mac and Windows that takes this concept one step further: in order to love others, you also have to love yourself.
Love Self by Missy Senteio
Missy Senteio designed the game after reading feminist author, professor, and activist bell hooks’ book All About Love: New Visions. Taking inspiration from hooks’ illuminations of how American culture lacks positive outlooks on love, Missy programmed an environment where you can wander around and placate others using your heart. As your avatar wanders around a typical American suburb filled with lush greenery and single-family homes, there is no discernible objective and no option to commit violence. In this way, Love Self subverts what we expect from the first person shooter game.
Love Self by Missy Senteio
This Valentine’s Day, let’s practice love and ask ourselves, why limit love to romance? Why only direct love outwards? In Love Self, you can beam loving energy to anyone. If others successfully receive your love, they will reciprocate by following your journey. Their proximity to others will also improve the mood of others around them, increasing their vulnerability to receive love. Eventually, you can gain a mass following that roams together as one community. As Missy explains, “I wanted to make the act of extending love something that accrues value over time.” Love is an action that grows exponentially. Just be careful to not let your own heart meter run out; the game restarts if you love others but forget to love yourself and replenish your own energy.
In celebration of February as Black History Month, we honor Black creatives like Missy and remember the critical role that love plays in Black radical tradition. From Audre Lorde to Martin Luther King Jr., prominent Black figures understood that loving oneself in a world that did not love you was the foundation on which to enact change. Love Self honors that tradition by starting the game with a dialogue between the player and Aset, the Egyptian goddess of love and fertility. bell hooks said it best: “The ability to acknowledge blind spots can emerge only as we expand our concern about politics of domination and our capacity to care about the oppression and exploitation of others. A love ethic makes this expansion possible.”
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About the creator:
Missy Senteio is a storyteller. But oftentimes, she doesn’t use written words. Anything digital is her pen. And, if they're willing, others' eyes, ears, or hands become her paper. Missy is compelled to subvert “normal” things because she questions what's normal. And she thinks our realities are only as concrete as our egos. She has a lot of fun working with two friends on a local multiplayer game called Tuned Out. It's a chaotic competition framed by a TV, frenzied by channel surfing, and made boring with commercials.
For Show and Tell, Special Special invites a selection of artists to produce or share work that can be viewed in the browser, downloaded, or streamed. The work is presented as a series of digital exhibitions periodically delivered to email inboxes.