Cara Ellison’s twine ‘dating’ game Sacrilege is a game that I’m glad exists but I’m also sure isn’t for me. A brief foray into a night at a club as seen through the eyes of your unnamed protagonist, Sacrilege is about getting down, hooking up, and moving on. It’s sexual forthrightness is refreshing in the genre, especially since it makes no qualms about equating sexual conquest with gameyness (every time you approach a guy the interaction is called ‘Initiate Fuckplan’). 

The game itself is a twisting labyrinth of false starts and bad choices that lead to you not getting what you set out to do, driving you more and more into making the quickest choices to get what you want. The game is well written and you’re instantly invested in getting your character what she wants. It’s an important thing to make a game about, a necessary statement in a medium where sex is almost always a man wooing his choice of women, and not the other way around.

The game is in many ways a manifesto on the realities of female sexuality, both explicitly and not, in ways that are often paved over or shamed in our culture. It is the kind of game that could open eyes to the right audience, and its sex-positivity is refreshing even when some of the encounters go horribly wrong. Flashes of shame aren’t inherent in the text, but inflicted upon the main character by those around her and sometimes even herself, and their poisonous fallout is apparent. 

I know Cara Ellison mostly as a writer about games and not an author of them, but I hope that in the future there are many many more games from her as well considered and well written. Sacrilege is uncomfortably smart, and absolutely should be played through (probably more than once, even).

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