Robert Yang, master of inventive gay sex games (Driving/handjob sim Stick Shift is a personal favorite) has just released his most elaborate iteration on the theme yet: The Tearoom simulates anonymous encounters between men in public bathrooms, as described in Laud Humphrey's seminal (heh) 1970 study of anonymous encounters between men in public bathrooms.
In a bathroom that replicates the gratuitously detailed toilets of AAA videogames, you exchange eye contact with another man to signal mutual interest and consent. And then, he approaches you with his gun out, a Cronenbergian flesh totem that turns into tumescent gunmetal as you lick it—In traditional Yang fashion, with vigorous flicking of the mouse. After some attention, he'll discharge his magazine, complete with a spray of milky white gun oil. Watching the fleshy, soft-bodied guns bob around in virtual space carries the peculiar delight of seeing subtext dragged, kicking and screaming, into text. I wonder if Yang will update the game to add more guns, like perhaps the thick, bulky, stubby Groza.
The guns are an open challenge to Twitch, which has banned Yang's previous games from being streamed, in spite of other games with graphic and sexual content being allowed. As Yang puts it, "guns are clearly not penises," and therefore "there is no basis for Twitch to ban my game."
All this ties neatly into the game's other theme of homophobic repression and surveillance conducted by police—The Tearoom directly references a stomach-churning 1962 incident where Ohio police used a two-way mirror to film men having sex in bathrooms without their consent, and then arrested them for sodomy. Undercover cops and police cruisers are an ever-present feature in the game. The Tearoom is a perfect meshing of games culture, guns, gay sex, and gay history; it weaves all those disparate milieus together into a single thing, showing their shared faultlines of repression, surveillance, public space, and performance.
The Tearoom is available on Robert Yang's Itch.io page.