I can nonetheless recall a movie I noticed on Newgrounds of animated hamsters, simply because it was the 1st time I at any time listened to of bukkake. (NSFW Content Warning!)
The odd human-mouthed rodents on the Flash movie site had been already unnerving and bizarre to ten-12 months-outdated me. But then, when I seemed up what bukkake was, I felt like I’d learned a thing. I wasn’t certain what, but I unquestionably felt a thing that would not go away.
That’s the feeling that activity designer and rapper Lena NW chases in her video games. She posits that these encounters cross wires, alienating us from ourselves. In a sense, it is liberating — you’re free of charge to discover new fetishes, for case in point. In her new browser-based activity Viral, Lena tries to shock us in a way we haven’t been considering that we had been children discovering items we probably shouldn’t have on the Internet.
Content warning for dialogue of sexual assault and suicide, and for extremely graphic, maybe disturbing imagery.
As the activity loads up, you’re provided a half-really serious, half tongue-in-cheek cause warning. It doesn’t arrive off as abrasive or dismissive, so a lot as your 1st indication that items are about to get really damned odd. The loading screen sports activities a pulsating anus. Soon you will see tons of mangled, distorted genitalia.
Lena NW stands at the not comfortable intersection of feminism and 4chan, and Viral, like a lot of Lena’s work, is usually coarse and pointed. She fervently critiques rape tradition, and broaches usually taboo subjects like pegging and oral. Each Viral and her debut activity Fuck Every little thing channel the abstract imagery and photoshopped body horror of the AlbinoBlackSheep and Newgrounds period. With just about every, you’re offered with a sequence of surreal vignettes that tries to capture a extra tangible feeling or thought. They use shock—mangled pictures of genitalia, for example—to express a feeling of alienation with one’s body and with sexuality broadly.
These times, as older people, we’re probably generally acquainted with fundamental human anatomy. We realize what goes the place, when, and how. It is complicated, then, to shock an grownup with the basics of the human form, the way we would have been shocked when we had been younger. So, channeling some of these sites, Lena molds and morphs bits of us to craft her message.
Embodying its creator’s digital fluency, Viral is packed with allusions to early world wide web films and internet tradition. Alongside one another, they discover the otherworldly knowledge of studying about, and increasing up with the net as a portal to, sexuality. Every little thing from the commodification of bodies to the way it makes it possible for us to cultivate an impression that extra closely matches and fulfills our excellent. Viral doesn’t have anything at all concrete to say about these encounters, but it does highlight them and, in so doing, endeavor to normalize them.
Viral presents itself as a visible novel with numerous branching, dialogue-significant paths. Your objective is to go viral by developing up your social media existence in numerous means. You can publish venom-laden manifestos, write-up adorable selfies, or just vlog about your everyday struggles.
As you perform, you will change as a result of a handful of unique fake sites with noticeable true-entire world analogues. As an alternative of YouTube and Instagram, you will be uploading snippets of your daily life to MeTube and Instacam. Your objective is to leverage just about every to create your model. It is not obvious if you’re doing this purely for particular or commercial good reasons, but in possibly case the use of just about every site feels like a grind, like a thing you’re obligated to do. Occasionally, you will develop a thing inspirational or make a important connection, but you will have to sift as a result of a large amount of shit to get there.
Rape, body horror, slut-shaming and the like are all recurrent themes, but listed here they’re distilled to their most intense. You’re a female on a date with a dude, but he’s a fedora-tipping caricature, so in excess of-the-top rated as to be preposterous. But everything in Viral is so: the scenes are not comfortable, disturbing and intense. There is a large amount of gore, struggles with feeling important and healthy, body impression troubles, and even rape.
Playing Viral is usually nauseating, but evocative. Lena doesn’t condone the procedures she explores in her activity, but she does use it as a sort of psychic sandbox.
At one particular stage, she reported in an e-mail, “the major character shoots up a fraternity residence notorious for sexual assault… She throws ping pong balls into their assholes (she’s actively playing ‘beer pong’ other than their stretched open up assholes choose the place of the solo cups) just before capturing all of them and then killing herself.”
Lena says that a large amount of her work comes from seeking to make sense of her individual sexuality, her individual inner thoughts. Tons of media involves graphic depictions of women of all ages remaining subjugated and tormented, so she required to flip the tables. At the exact same time, a very good chunk of this, she says, aligns with her individual flavor in media. She transpires to like a large amount of brutally violent and sexual media, noting the gore-centric “guro” style of manga as a major inspiration.
As a result, Lena’s work wrestles with the inhumanity of digitized and mediated sexuality. Every single phase provides up of a slice of a much larger thought. Putting up a selfie, for case in point, is gratifying simply because it (each the activity, and the literal act of taking a selfie) presents you company in excess of your presentation. At the exact same time, it can feel hollow and vacant as if you’re cutting up components of you to sell, fundamentally, in the marketplace of time. Viral doesn’t assert that possibly is much better, but it does want you to realize how each feel in opposition to the backdrop of body horror-inspired sexuality.