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Explicit Power Dynamics – BDSM in games

How is BDSM portrayed in games, and what can that teach us about love, life and games? In BDSM negotiation, communication and consent are essential, and the power dynamics explicit – something that relationships not in this domain might benefit from as well. But in what ways is BDSM interesting from a games perspective? Bobbi A Sand discusses how playing with power dynamics let us see and affect them, and learn more about their workings. Examples are taken from their game Knife Sisters (in development) as well as from other games where BDSM is used as a theme or a game mechanic. Games have a way of putting the player in the front position, being able to explore, learn and make experiences first hand. But putting (negotiated) power exchange and sometimes violence upfront also poses questions about fiction versus reality, and the players’ own limits. The talk contains examples from games such as Ladykiller in a bind (Christine Love), Hurt me plenty (Robert Yang), Hot Guys Making Out (Ben Lehman) as well as from Bobbi’s own game Knife Sisters, a teen drama about manipulation, love, power and sex.

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