Seducing an awkward Dragon? Returning lost plantlings to their family? Making breakfast for your partner? Cleaning a messy bedroom? Developing relationships? These are all elements in amazing short games developed by Nadia Nova. Games that heavily represent trans issues, romance and downright adorableness.
Creating experiences that are heavily based on context and emotion Nadia is a developer that excels in producing games that say a lot with little. Designs aren’t excessively developed; with often simple graphics, little by way of flash, but with more heart than you will find in most big budget games. Usually clocking in at about 20 minutes to a game – depending on how long you spend exploring – each is a short story that tells the player a little bit about the world from the perspective of the creator.
Focusing on one primary theme or goal at a time Nadia’s games aren’t complex in themselves, however as with all great storytelling it’s the little details that paint a much larger picture.
Why is this dragon so fucking cute tells the story of a monster hunter tasked to end the beast eating a town’s livestock. A simple task for one so experienced until she comes face-to-face with a dragon in the woods.
Plantstead is a simple collect-and-return game with plenty of cute dialogue and unspoken stories.
One small favor sees the player interacting with members of a town to collect the things she needs to make breakfast for her girlfriend.
Just throw me in the trash is a weirdly zen experience of cleaning up the bedroom of a trans woman. What you find in it subtly telling that woman’s story.
Can you say my name again is about finding shelter after being kicked out of home for being trans. For finding solace with a friend. About anxiety and sex and intimacy.
Nadia Nova has a gift for storytelling that makes you desperate to pick up the next game and play it through over and over. Just to get that feeling again. Characters are cute and full of personality. There’s always more going on between the lines but that is up to the player to put together.
(CW: Games contain many references to transitioning, erotic content, heavy gender and sexuality themes.)
Nadia Nova was kind enough to chat with us about her games:
Kaiju: What are your ambitions when you set down to make a game? Is it a certain story you want to tell, or an emotion you want to convey, or just an idea you had at the time?
Nadia: I usually just have some vague idea of what I want to happen, like in ‘Can you say my name again‘, I wanted to show what its like to instantly fall for someone and at the same time just get really clingy and how anxiety affects the process, but also I wanted to show how cute it gets and tell a story that has sex in it. for ‘Slumber party‘ I just really wanted to make a fun short story about internet friends meeting up and for ‘Why is this dragon so fucking cute‘ I just really wanted to tell a story about a girl ending up with a dragon 😀 I usually just have a simple concept and then try to work from there adding more and more until its enough for a game, but honestly the basic premise always is pretty simple. Like the project I’m working on now.
Kaiju: What have been the biggest struggles you’ve faced in making your games?
Nadia: My biggest struggle is definitely my anxiety and trying to balance my motivation and still trying to like remember to eat and take care of myself lol. I’m pretty 0 or 100 person so I can work on my project for days after days and do nothing else but also just do nothing and I feel like I have very little influence on how much energy & motivation I have at any given time and just have to take the opportunity whenever I feel like I’m able to work on my projects :p
I actually think one other problem (which I personally haven’t ran into yet with my own stuff) is people just having really high standards for queer media so just one small thing can be enough to people to get upset and start complaining about the game on social media, I feel like people should just understand it’s regular people making these games so the games or the people making them will never be perfect and that should be fine.
Kaiju: Do you think there are things that need to be represented more or in a better way that would help to support the queer community?
Nadia: I just think queer people should try and make personal stories about themselves. Like trying to make a game that’s inclusive to every possible gender/sexuality combination is just a garbage fire. And that being said I feel like people should be encouraged to write stories with messy queer issues and how everything isn’t always black and white.
Kaiju: What is your next project you’re really enthusiastic about?
Nadia: ‘Drifting in circles‘ is about a transgal who comes back to her hometown after transitioning and the story explores her interactions with some old and some new faces. It’s going to be my first big project. currently I’ve planned the game to last 8 days and have two love interests with an possibility for a poly end. I’m going to like basically use all I learned from all my past projects and combine elements from my previous games, like writing about anxiety, sex and falling for someone with nice visual novel techniques to make the game feel really interactive on top of having bunch of cute art done by my artist (https://darkchibishadow.itch.io/ ) who I’m really excited to work with The game is going to be pretty big and its going to take me a long time to finish it but I like the idea of working on my own pace and that’s fine. So far I’ve written day 1 and day 2!