‘The Tearoom’ is a groundbreaking new simulation that’s making an important statement about queer sexuality and censorship.
By
Michaela Morgan

14 Jul 2017 - 12:09 PM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2017 - 12:09 PM

A new video game called The Tearoom lets users cruise for gay sex in a public bathroom—but it’s also an important history lesson with a politically charged message.

The game is set in Mansfield, Ohio in 1962 and is based on a real-life event where police targeted gay men in a sting that saw 30 people arrested and imprisoned for a year or more. 

“I am interested in the politics of sex ― who is allowed to have it, where, when, how, why,” the game’s creator—Robert Yang—told the Huffington Post.  

"The Tearoom is my attempt to connect historical persecution of gay and queer men to modern day methods of surveillance and policing, to show that all our grievances are connected, and those ‘old’ tools of persecution are still here, and perhaps even more powerful today," he said. 

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The Brooklyn-based game designer added that he wanted to portray police in a different, more realistic way than other video games do.

“Almost all video games containing police also depict the police as a fun player. Like in Grand Theft Auto, the police are a playful partner that will let you escape most of the time, or ‘reasonably’ pursue you ‘fairly’ with sufficient cause.

“In real life, many police do not operate this way; they bend rules, mislead you, accuse you without cause, and detain you for whatever reason they like. Gay men, especially gay minorities, know this well, because we remember it in our community histories.”

In The Tearoom, users can approach men at a urinal but the character’s penises are actually guns—a decision that was driven by censorship but nonetheless another statement on the restrictions placed on the sexuality of gay people.

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“I chose to use guns instead of dicks to highlight how Twitch.tv bans my games for featuring dicks ― so I’ve given them what they wanted, and made a video game about guns,” Yang said.

“To this day, most of my gay sex games have been banned by Twitch. I get emails from people who want dicks instead of guns ... well, if Twitch unbans my games, then I’ll finally feel free enough to do that. In the meantime, I have to work around their censorship rules.”

You can check out The Tearoom here, where you can name your price to download the game.