It’s a rare game or movie that focuses on love for older women; while the silver fox cis man gets endless coverage little to nothing is said for women of the same age. Their roles dry up, the chances they have to be heard dwindle, and as a result we see them less and less in a position of importance and as something other than scene dressing.
So when I heard about Love on the Peacock Express I knew I had to check it out. A game not only prominently featuring older women but where romance was not only possible but considered the best ending? This was something rare and that needed my attention.
In short it’s good. It’s really good. So good I knew I needed to talk to one of the creators.
And without further delay….
Kaiju: Welcome to Digital Diversity on the rails. Today we are taking a look at Love on the Peacock Express (@trainmilfsgame); a mystery solving, visual novel dating game and talking to the lead writer for the game, Ivory.
Thanks for joining me today, Ivory. Please tell us a little about yourself and your work on Love on the Peacock Express.
Ivory: Hi! I’m Ivory, and I write LGBTQ romance for a living, primarily through routes in @LovestruckGame! I also have an upcoming title through @choiceofgames and work on other independent games whenever I have the chance. One of those games was Love on the Peacock Express, our team’s letter of deep, abiding affection (and desire) for older queer women.
I was one of four leads, with the other being J (Production), Hana (Design), and Queenie (Art). Their Twitters and that of our entire team are available on our itch.io page (https://trainmilfsgame.itch.io/love-on-the-peacock-express). We grouped together for this project because it didn’t seem like many other games were interested in older women to begin with, much less as romantic interests and characters with depth.
My work as Lead Writer meant wearing many hats at once. I wrote the prologue, outlined the majority of the plots, designed character profiles, and edited scripts as they were turned in by our writing team. While I’d been writing professionally a few years beforehand, this was the first time I’d ever lead a group of writers, so I was glad to already have several friends on the team to keep it from being too intimidating. I think the fact that it was both a jam game (with a limited timespan) and a charity game (meaning we all knew we were working for a good cause) also helped on that front too.
Kaiju: Sounds like you were hugely instrumental in making LotPE what it is.
So to start things off I’ve got two quick questions:
Firstly, what is Love on the Peacock Express, in your own words?
Second and more importantly, the Silver Fox, the Knockout Femme, or the Salt-and-Pepper Butch? Who do you romance?
Ivory: 1. Love on the Peacock Express is a romantic mystery game where you solve crimes, and (if you’re good at your job) kiss older ladies.
2. I romanced all of them (as well as the secret 4th love interest)! It’s too hard to pick a favorite when I got to be a part of each character from the ground up, honestly.
Kaiju: I still haven’t romanced the secret love interest, she is waiting there for me, going to do it at the end of the interview.
As the lead writer was there anything that you definitely knew you wanted to include in the game going in? Elements that you felt important that needed to be included?
Ivory: I absolutely wanted a range of diversity among the love interests, which had to be reconciled with the fact that it was a jam game and we had both limited time and resources. Having a butch woman (Vic) and a trans woman of color (Iris) was very important to me, and to the rest of the team as well.
Kaiju: That neatly flows into my next question. If you had limitless resources, time and the right people what is your dream project? What would be “Ivory’s Big Thing” if nothing stood in your way?
Ivory: I’d love to write a sprawling fantasy RPG that’s entirely centered on LGBTQ+ characters. I prefer social mechanics in games, so it would be centered on dialogue choices and different skillsets that the player chose rather than violence or combat.
Kaiju: I’d play the heck out of that.
Let’s go for something a bit more serious. The AAA game industry is well known for missing the mark when it comes to LGBTQIA+ content; what would you want to see them do right for once? Is there one particular kind of representation that you feel really needs to be done properly to pave the way for further improvements?
Ivory: Trans and nonbinary characters, bar none. They need their own stories (written by trans and nonbinary creators, which AAA also needs to hire for) with as much depth and variance as your average generic protagonist gets. They should not be able to be murdered, misgendered, etc. and have companies who paid cis folks to write this storylines win acclaim because we’re technically present, no matter how poor the representation. Right now, that’s about all we get.
Kaiju: Echoing my own feelings there. There seems to be this belief that the only reason to have trans/non-binary characters in games is to either have them as the victim, the monster, or the joke and I’m over it.
Back aboard LotPE, what parts of the game are you most proud of? Are there any scenes or dialogues that really make you feel like you did a great job?
Ivory: In terms of my own work, I’m proud of the prologue. It’s the first thing that every player sees–which is intimidating, but important–and it was fun to give nicknames to all the love interests before they were actually introduced to the PI. But what I’m most proud of are our programmers figuring out how to make the actual point-and-click mystery mechanics work, because we really wanted that extra interactive layer to push it beyond a standard VN.
Kaiju: Big points on both counts. I love the point-and-click mechanics and it’s something I’ve not seen in a visual novel before, and the prequel is a great way of introducing everyone.
Last couple of questions, so before we finish up I’d love to hear about your favourite queer representation in other games. Have there been any games lately that you fell for right away and thought they represented the community in a really positive way?
Ivory: This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m going to say Destiny 2 (and specifically, the Forsaken DLC). While I don’t see it remarked on much, Destiny 2 casually has nonbinary characters in its lore, and almost all of the romantic content contained in its background stories is between women or between men. While I’d like more of the characters to get related voice lines (like Devrim Kay), the quiet story of Mara Sov and her lover Sjur in Forsaken has such beautiful and poetic language, and Mara as a whole is a fascinating, complicated character with a depth that queer women don’t get in many games, much less a massive AAA space opera. It’s odd, because in a way, I want the characters to be more obvious, but my experience with AAA companies ‘pointing out’ their LGBTQ characters tends to be pretty terrible, so Bungie simply letting them exist is almost a relief.
Kaiju: I’ve only played a little Destiny 2 but that seems like they have done things pretty well in contrast to other AAAs.
Related question that you might be able to answer; Do you have any idea why are there only binary genders in Destiny? Even the Exos are male/female. You’ve got humans, the Awoken who are pretty much demi-gods and war machines and they all align to the binary? I felt really left out in the character creator. Ended up choosing to play an Exo which seems to be the non-binary choice from most people I know.
Ivory: I don’t know, either! It honestly conflicts with their own lore, as the original manifest for the Awoken explicitly states there are Awoken that aren’t men or women, so for them (at the least, although it should apply to every species) there should be another option. I would chalk it up to Bungie not wanting to add a 3rd set of voice lines with them/their in reference to Guardians, but they do sometimes just refer to the Guardian as ‘they’ anyway. Unfortunately, I think the true answer is that it just wasn’t a priority when the game was being built.
Kaiju: A sad truth that seems to apply for most of the AAAs. Like getting disability representation right or having trans characters that aren’t just paper dolls.
Let’s finish this up with a fun hypothetical; you’re on the Peacock Express on a one week luxury vacation and you can spend it with any fictional character you choose. Who do you spend the journey with?
Ivory: Oh, that’s a hard one. Probably Aria T’Loak from Mass Effect. That was a formative crush.
Kaiju: The Pirate Queen of Omega? Now that’s a travel companion I’d love to see the world with. She’d have so many stories to tell.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Ivory!
Love on the Peacock Express is an amazing game in no small part because of you and I hope your future projects do amazingly, make sure you keep me up to date on them 🙂
Anything you’d like to say or shout-outs before we finish up?
Ivory: Thank you so much for the interview! And I’d like to shout out the entire Love on the Peacock Express team. Everyone worked so hard on the game, and I’m grateful for their efforts to this day.