Queer games with supernatural themes are something we are passionate about here on Digital Diversity. We love the freedom it gives both players and developers to experiment & discover different aspects of themselves. So of course when we have the chance to talk to someone on who loves to make games all about demonic antics & being utterly gay you know we’re going to bring them on to chat…
(Content warning: this interview contains mentions of real world transphobia)
Kaiju: On this episode of Digital Diversity we’re talking to TangledVirus; creator of some wonderfully gay visual novels that more often than not have something monstrous about them.
Welcome to the Digital Diversity project, TangledVirus. It’s great to finally have you on for an interview. We’ve streamed a couple of your games on the channel and I’m glad to finally have you in to talk about all kinds of gay visual novel goodness.
Your most recent couple of games have been more than a little demonic; so let’s talk about them. Please introduce yourself, tell us a bit about your gamedev journey, and what Fran and the Demon Hunter is all about.
TangledVirus: It is I, TangledVirus!
I only started making games last year, 2019. And Fran and the Demon Hunter was my third, technically fourth visual novel. It was also the first time I participated on the Yuri Game Jam, which I did that and another game in a colab, The Start of Something Amazing. Besides that I also made a couple of twines and I worked with comics.
Fran and the Demon Hunter is the first part of a two part series, about a trans girl named Francoise and her friend Nomade and the weird week where both learn some rather interesting things about each other and the fact that both a huge gay disasters in a rather boring neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro.
It’s really gay.
K: Can confirm, extremely gay.
That’s actually a good link to my first question: Why are your games so gosh darned gay? It almost seems to be an ongoing theme in your work.
T: You know what, I think you might be onto something. They are all really gay! And that’s cause I’m REALLY gay and really trans, and I want more games like that.
And to be more specific I want more games about queer Brazilian people. And all of the different types of queer people that live here. Cause in media here, they are either sex workers who are also awful stereotypes or rich people that are also stereotypes, so I want to do something different and also add a ton of weird stuff.
K: Since you bring it up, I’m curious. What is queer culture like in Brazil? As you said when it gets brought into the media it’s usually as harmful stereotypes; so I’d love to hear more about it. Is it something you’d like to see more positively represented in games & other media?
T: Queer culture in Brazil is rather interesting, imo. Cause like a lot of stuff here in Brazil you can notice a clear class divide on how the rich folks (and the middle class that thinks that they are rich) act and how the rest of normal society acts in the community. I won’t say it’s bad, part of it is, but it’s rather interesting how for how one group treats, let’s say, trans people and how the other acts.
Usually the more rich layers of the community are very white cis gay and white cis lesbian centered. And you also see that the rest of the queer community isn’t that well accepted. Pansexual, A-spec people in general, anyone that isn’t cis aren’t well treated. Even Bi people have a hard time, not as much, but they do.
You also see some transphobia in the more normal layers of the community, but not as much. Brazil is very transphobic. We are the country that kills more trans people in the world(and one of the ones that kill more queer people in general.) So, there’s that.
Also, damn, the trans community in Brazil, like in the rest of the world, has been in the front of the fight for equal rights. Even if in the end we don’t really get this rights.
And, I would like to see more of it, and the queer community being well represented, rather than just being “The sex worker” or the “Rich white gay.” Cause… Come on.
That’s not to say that a story about a queer sex worker (90 per cent of trans people in Brazil does or has been a sex worker) would be bad, but the way it’s done? It sucks honestly. They are treated as less than people.
I just want a story where queer people are just people really.
But honestly, Brazilian media is making good strides with that. Last year we had a soap opera(a rather good and popular one) that did had a trans character, that was played by a trans actress that was really good. She was executive. Really great character. So there’s that. But in a country that most media corporations are run by religious zealots, it’s hard. But we are getting there.
So, yes it’s something I want to see better represented in media.
K: It does sound like things are improving, which is hecking nice to see in the world right now. And I hope that with each successful representation it makes it easier for the folx living there.
Let’s talk about your journey with visual novels; for someone that’s only been making games a year you’ve been impressively prolific with your output. How did you end up making VNs? And how has your experience been working with Ren’Py influenced the creation of stories you want to tell?
First I made a story using Twine, Burial Bureau. Which was about a trans woman, veteran of the war on mars, and her work where she would hide bodies left from the government’s atrocities. It was quite fun!
Then it was right on time for NaNoReNo, a jam where you have to make Ren’py game in one month. So I decided that a jam where I have a limited time to figure out something new was the best time to do a visual novel for the first time!
The result was Enc and the Flying Machine, which was about a mushroom girl being gay and helping another mushroom girl in making a flying machine. That was a blast to make.
And so far, I think the limitations that I have in learning Ren’py, which is mostly me not getting how to code, is not really affecting me much. I just allways find a way to make things work, even if it’s not 100% how I wanted.
And it hasn’t really influenced the stories I tell much. What influences me the most is what I can do with my art and my limitations with it really.
K: That’s a heckin impressive origin story alright. And you’re up to what, 7 games now with Nomade and the Demon Hunter? You’re becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Where do you want to go from here? Are there specific stories you’re really keen to tell or do you prefer to make things as ideas pop up?
T: Cool, I’ll be a force!
From here, I want to keep making visual novels, I do want to make more twines and start making comics again. All very gay of course.
Specific stories? There’s a TON, I tend to joke that I have a infinite pile of projects that I’ll make eventually, and most of them just pop off and I start making them out of no where. Like with my current NaNoReNo 2020 project.
One of them is another story set in the same universe as Fran and the Demon Hunter.
K: And from your infinite pile of projects what are you working on now? That third story from the Demon Hunter universe perhaps?
T: Kinda. Nomade will be there, but neither she nor Francoise will be the focus of it. It’ll be a new set of characters and not in the city of Rio de Janeiro (but in the state of Rio de Janeiro still.)
And there’s yet another project that I am working on, set in the same universe, with Francoise and Nomade and a yet another new set of characters. Fran and Nomade won’t be the focus of it, but they’ll be important to it.
K: Whatever it is I’m sure it’ll be lots of fun and hella gay.
Let’s shift to my favourite topic around here, positive representation.
You spoke earlier of games by NomNomNami’s and npckc, but I’m curious if there are any other notable games you love that have been examples of real positive rep for queer folx? Especially any that you might have learned more about yourself through or you saw yourself in.
T: There’s some. I only admitted to myself that I’m trans after I played We Know the Devil by pillowfight. That to me is a very dear game to my heart, and I just think that it’s a excellent example of what a visual novel can do.
It has a “spiritual sequel” to it called Heaven Will Be Mine. And playing that just made me more comfortable with how I present my gender. It’s a wonderful game, it has lesbians that pilot games, humanity is amazing.
Nadia Nova is a reason that I like to work on twine, her twines are REALLY good. They are just really trans and positive about that, and about sexuality(and having sex.) And that’s something that I want to do more with my games.
K: There’s some darn good games in that list. I’d only heard of We Know the Devil as of last month, so I need to give that one a play. I also really love Nadia’s work, she was one of the first people I featured on the project and I can’t wait to play more of her stuff.
Here’s a fun question I haven’t asked for a while but I’m feeling inspired by your gayness. If you could ask any queer character in games out on a date, who would it be?
T: My gayness is inspiring! Coool!
That’s a easy one! Tara from Heart of the Woods. We would look for criptids, together!
K: Romantic criptid watching would make quite a fun game, maybe one for the idea pile?
We’re coming to the end of the interview, so let’s have a few rapid-fire questions to see who goes home with the grand prize! (the prize is a lie)
First! Why should folx play your games?
Second! What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the last year of making these experiences?
Third! How gay are you?
T: Another one for the pile then!
Cause my games are gay and full of weirdoes.
That it’s always good to try new things!
UNHINGEDLY GAY. UNCONTROLABLY GAY. The King of Gays 2002: Unlimited Match.
K: Haha, you have the best energy, I love it.
Thank you so so much for joining me on the Digital Diversity project, TangledVirus. I utterly love your games and it means a lot to have you here. I can’t wait to see what comes next in your ever-expanding library of games.
T: Some really gay stuff, that’s what!
Thanks for having me!