As happy as I am about more games with options for LGBT+ relationships, not so happy about the brothel setting that seems to be used as if it were as simple as a wrestling or regency setting.
FIrstly if this is historical, then sex workers were unlikely to have free-choice. If it’s set in current times…sex work is a complex issue, regarding the need for improved safety and rights of workers, but also to tackle the human trafficking and sexual exploitation happening in the first place.
Either this game is going to ignore how most people are forced to go into sex work due to poverty, or deceived, coerced, groomed and exploited into sex work (neither are the same as free choice), or it acknowledges it within characters’ back stories but then you’re literally placing the player in a role that is part of the system supporting sexual exploitation.
Also if have relationship with one of “ladies of the night” could ignore the impact of said issues. It’s less likely an independent sex worker would be in a brothel, so someone whose been sexually exploited would be in a vulnerable position and the sword woman would be taking advantage of them. I don’t think a brothel is a good setting to show positive healthy representations of relationships.
I know that some people do chose to do sex work freely, I’m not saying that that is wrong in itself, but I think it’s really insensitive of Choice of Games to make a game based in this setting so casually.
I am assuming you are basing your post on the marketing blurb included in the pitch to get beta testers.
If this assumption is not correct, I ask you to submit your thoughts through the approved beta process (by email that goes to the project’s editor).
On the other hand, if my assumption is correct, then I believe you do a disservice to the game by relying on your interpretation of that marketing blurb.
We are not sure if the setting is historical fiction, fantasy, or something else … before we can go forward, I think this is something that either the author or the HC staff should clarify.
As far as I can suss, based on the HC mission statement and the history of other titles, this is really focused on the romance side of fiction.
It has a focus other than to act as a historical record, or to educate its audience on the realities of the setting in question.
This seems to be the core point of your post, and it may or may not be on point.
Until I see the game and its story, I will have to withhold reaching any conclusions of this nature, myself.
I agree – the marketing blurb leaves much to desire.
I’m sure that other people are going to have more thoughtful replies to this, but without having played it I don’t think we can really speculate how it handles these things, or force it into a simply either/or dilemma. Given my general confidence that CoG won’t publish a game that attacks marginalized people I am inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt, but, again, without playing it I can’t say for certain.
That said, I don’t think that there is inherently any topic which cannot be broached in fiction. Other CoG’s have delved into pretty intense subject matter. Off the top of my head I can think of religious persecution and slavery in Choice of Rebels, and racism and depiction of white supremacists in Relics of the Lost Age, and I am absolutely positive other people could think of more. The mere depiction of these things is not a problem, so long as appropriate content warnings are supplies, IMO. Rather it is the execution that matters, and, as @Eiwynn said, having not beta’d it (yet) I can’t comment on that.
I never said the game should be blocked, but the way it was described for beta-testing when it’s a really sensitive topic was…“iffy” from the point of view of safeguarding, social work and psychology with a UK bias.
I was worried about the player romancing “ladies of the night”, as either you pretend the sex industry doesn’t have issues, or you acknowledge the issues but then the player still romances someone whose potentially been through trauma and may still be recovering. Even if the one of “ladies of the night” does bounce back to a better place, with independence and a new future. The player character is still psychologically tied into memories of from when they were controlled. Real life is imperfect and people don’t magically recover from things.
The blurb in the beta thread is a) not at all final at this point and b) a very brief description of the game, just intended to give people a sense of what it’s about for beta testing. The portrayal of sex work is a topic too complex to really fit into a quick paragraph like that, but I can promise that it’s something that the author and the editors have put a lot of thought into when it comes to this game. (I’m not the editor of this particular game, just coordinating the beta admin, so I can’t speak to specifics aside from that.) If you have particular concerns, I’d encourage you to sign up to beta test and offer your comments on how things are portrayed in the game itself - that’s exactly the kind of feedback we’d be looking for when beta testing a game like this.