When Donald Trump became the President-Elect of the United States a few weeks ago, a palpable wave of despair shuddered through the Internet. Convulsed by this unexpected result, many have felt that 2016 is the worst year ever—and this is even more so in light of a succession of incidents that shook the globe (terrorist attacks, police shootings, violent conflicts, and losses of musical and screen legends).
Heck, even the timekeepers at the International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service had announced that 2016 is going to last one second longer than previous years. Seriously, haven’t we had enough already?!
Faced with these seemingly apocalyptic situations, some people reacted in outrage at the injustice of it all. Others have chosen to avoid being online as much as they can, seeking a temporary reprieve from its divisive climate. Meanwhile, I sought refuge in comforting virtual spaces. And by that, I mean videogames.
One game I’ve often thought about, especially in the aftermath of these terrible events, is a short narrative title called Queers In Love At The End Of The World. A Twine game by Anna Anthropy, players only have ten precious seconds to decide how they want to spend their final moments with their significant other. It’s a merciless experience; you can’t beg for a few more seconds to hold your girlfriend’s hand a while longer, or tell her how much you love her. No matter what you choose, the screen eventually fades to black. Everything is wiped away. No exceptions.
Eventually, Queers In Love became an exercise in frantic mouse-clicking. My first few tries were deliberate decisions, but subsequent plays soon descended into a repetitive behavior of clicking past the choices hastily, just to see how far I can go in ten seconds. The more I clicked, the more choices I realize I would be privy to, if only I had enough time.
Despite the game’s fleeting pace, the ephemeral love in Queers In Love holds plenty of weight. That’s why it is such a poignant experience; in ten seconds, it has captured the transcendent power of love with greater success than most big budget titles.
At the beginning, these are the only words displayed next to a rapidly ticking timer:
“In the end, like you always said, it’s just the two of you together. You have ten seconds, but there’s so much you want to do: kiss her, hold her, take her hand, tell her.”
How can you choose when all these choices feel like they are of paramount importance? Luckily for us, we have more than ten seconds today. Let’s take a break from our collective misery for a while. Go hug a loved one. Maybe we can make the rest of the year more tolerable, together.