‘You Must be 18 or Older to Enter’ recreates the feeling of being a prepubescent kid looking at porn for the first time. Through interactive fiction elements combined with ASCII styled art, ‘You Must be 18 or Older to Enter’ blurs several genres together to create an anxious experience. It is akin to horror yet the fear is of being caught by parentals and being embarrassed of looking at the human body. The ASCII art makes the images hard to read close up, making the player embody a child-like role. Audiences at farther distances will be able to see the pictures more clearly, casting them in the role of adults.
As adults in the 21st century USA, there is still a queasiness surrounding the naked body. Why do affection games upset us more than games about killing people? Through You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter, the player reenacts a coming of age experience and is invited to think about these situations. Kids hiding away from view to discover a facet of the adult world. Conversations surrounding this game bring up our own memories of self-discovery, how we learned to navigate adult content without guidance, ultimately landing on the idea that we shouldn’t be embarrassed.
You Must Be 18 or Older pushes the boundaries of our accepted decency as well. The images within this game are made purely out of typed symbols: ASCII art. But can these images still be considered lewd? This art serves two purposes: the first is that it helps with the narrative of the game. As the player takes the role of a prepubescent scouring porn for the first time, it sufficiently confounds the pictures. While playing, you have to blur your vision to see the images. Even then, some of them are hard to read. This emulates how a kid wouldn’t understand what they’re looking at; it leads the player into the role of the game.
The second purpose is that it blurs the boundaries between sexual images and else to emphasis that stigma around sexuality. This game emulates a porn website, but it isn’t porn. Even though it isn’t porn, it still causes unease. We’re fine if a friend walks in on us playing gruesome war games, but we’re not fine with a friend walking in on us playing You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter. On the whole, violent war games are more accepted than love games.
James Earl Cox III - Designer, Developer
Julie Buchanan - Sound Designer
Joe Cox - Artist