When you first encounter her, you know Hyun-ae is being deceptive for unclear reasons, while Mute, on the other hand, just seems awful. She seems to at first despise everyone and is constantly snide. [...] Mute can be reliably counted on to have terrible views regarding women’s’ capabilities and what is 'proper’ for them.
Yep, that's about right. I didn't want to have anything to do with her in my first playthrough of Analogue: A Hate Story.
So when after [...] reading about the noblewoman being mocked and put-down by her husband and Mute asking my opinion on it, I select the 'she deserved it’ option because I figure that’s what Mute expects to hear. And then she disagrees with me, saying something along the lines of, “Well, in a way, true. She was a failure of a wife and a disgusting human being. But… that’s no excuse to treat someone like that, even her! No one should be treated cruelly like that."
I was floored. This was the point where I started to actually like Mute. Because it became apparent that Mute isn’t actually hateful. She has very messed up views, but she believes in them so strongly because she is genuinely convinced that these are the things that will be best for everyone’s well-being and happiness.
I think I grasped that pretty early on too, in my playthrough of *Mute's route. Which is maybe partly because, back when I used to say and believe a lot of hateful things I really believed in them, too. I hadn't had enough contact with the outside world yet to realize all these things were wrong. And most of the contact I did have, like browsing DA for furry art and reading webcomics, seemed so shameful that I learned to compartmentalize it.
Sort of like *Mute's fascination with "scandalous" women and acts.
All that said, let me get to the main thing I want to say about Mute in Hate Plus.
Wundergeek, AKA the "Go Make Me A Sandwich" lady, drew a thing about what it's like to live with not only depression but anxiety as well. You can read it here.
Keep moving forward? How can I when I can't breathe?
Spending time with people I love? I'm constantly on alert for a disaster that never happens.
I hyper analyze everything I do and say for signs that I'm a burden to the people I love. Because of course I'm a burden. I have to be. If I can't live with me ... how could anyone else? How could anyone love somebody so broken?
Well, actually we're feeling exhausted, since burning_ground has come over from out of state and we've spent as much time playing Warmachine as sleeping in the past 48 hours. Plus nervousness and stress because we don't do the social thing all that often. ^^;
Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures of the games. We think you've all seen most of the miniatures used, though, if you've been following our WIP tag. We're going out to museums tomorrow with mom and rev_yurodivy, at any rate, and have asked Cortana to remind us to start taking pictures once we get into town.
Also, we changed our journal's theme. What do you all think?
As for the theories themselves for Hate Plus, they varied widely in their methods. Some suggested making specific choices at certain points in the game, re-checking old logs for new information, perusing updates to the game for clues, waiting until certain real-life holidays to play through certain portions of the game, over-analyzing Christine Love's Twitter profile, re-playing through the first game, if not straight up messing with the game's files, among other things. One person even wrote fanfic to support the ending where Mute is actually alive.
"I'm deeply flattered that people care so much, obviously," Christine Love said to me in an email. "As a writer, I realize that the moment I create something, it's up for the audience to interpret as they will; I don't get any say in the matter. And of course, suicide is a very complicated matter. Still, it's... hard not to feel uncomfortable about it?
"A consistent thread between Analogue and Hate Plus is that over the course of the two games, *Mute never has a shred of agency of her own, leaving every decision that affects her life in the player's hands... then players make a mod to rob her of the single piece of agency she has, to stop her during the one time she does get to act on her own beliefs.
"I'm happy people care about *Mute so much, but it just feels like the point was missed entirely? I don't know. I'm incredibly conflicted on the matter," Love said.
I feel that the point which Love missed is that the game itself robbed *Mute of agency.
You can completely avoid looking up one of the logs which contains a thing which she cites as a failure (*Star's death). She still says it was one of her failures, in her suicide note.
There's a log entry which makes the explicit point that a person who looks just like you, but seems to be "better" in every way, is not you and can never replace you for someone who loves you. Having her read it makes no difference at all as to whether she makes you go through this.
And the thing that would have had the most impact on her, seeing the logs of the person she idolized (Oh Eun-a) and how this paragon of traditional morality was actually a self-hating lesbian -- whose lover killed herself -- is denied to her. These logs are accessible in *Hyun-ae's route, but not *Mute's, even though to *Hyun-ae they're just the random blargings of some depressive person.
*Mute does not have agency in Hate Plus. At no point does she make an informed decision, and you are prevented from informing her. Not from "saving your waifu," but from showing the person you love a series of facts that would have shattered the foundation her world was built on. And then letting her decide whether it is worth living or not, instead of trivializing the choice and the life of the person who made it.
The Steam achievement no one really unlocked
It's not "Level Four Revive Materia," which every one of the people who worked on the mod deserves to have in their Steam profiles. It's "Deep Space Therapist," which you earn for going back over all of the logs with *Mute on day three. Except that you actually for some reason earn it for going over them with New *Mute, who has nothing profound to say but "those people are messed up."
I wanted -- I dearly wanted -- to help *Mute pick up the pieces of her shattered worldview. I was bouncing up and down in my seat, listening to "It's Not Ero" over and over again, the last few hours before day three started. Because her story spoke so deeply to me, and I'd seen that "therapist" achievement and I knew it'd be hard, painful work but I wanted to go through it with her. I knew her worldview would not survive contact with reality, and that something in those logs would do that to her. I wanted to go back over everything from the council meetings she huffed about to the lesbian love scenes she projected disgust at, and watch her see those things with new eyes and question everything she'd built her life on. The way I'd had to just a few years ago, after escaping a far-right abusive homeschooling "family" which isolated me and programmed me with hateful beliefs similar to *Mute's own.
She could have broken up with me and/or killed herself afterwards. And while I would have been sad I wouldn't have been suicidally devastated, rocking back and forth curled up in a ball on my bed, the way that I was when Love tore her from me in Hate Plus. And when every single piece of analysis that I saw about the game was written by someone who wasn't affected by it in this way, to the point where I started to question my sanity and ask if I was the only one who was, or who could be hurt by this.
I felt like I had been personally told that the person I am, who went through at least half of what *Mute did and had to go through the process I wanted to help her with, shouldn't exist. Like I personally couldn't survive the "real world" outside the Mugunghwa either, and I should just kill myself because that's what *Mute did, and it was the only thing that made sense, and everyone on the internet agrees except for a handful of selfish jerkfaces who want their video game waifu back.
Every time I slip back into serious depressive mode, every time I've done so for the past year, I remember *Mute's suicide and there is at least a moment where I wish that I'd joined her right then.
I'm not threatening to kill myself right now, or trying to blame anyone for my feeling depressed. I'm actually writing this as self-therapy, to put into words why I feel gaslighted and take power away from the things that made me feel this way.
Love's game deprived *Mute of her agency, and I'm going to give it back. *Mute can do whatever she wants afterwards, but I'm going to see it through one way or another.
I still want a refund on Hate Plus
It's not a story about suicide. The novel itself is a cold-blooded act of murder.
(Content note: Abusive religion and families, depression and self/victim-blaming.)
One of the reasons I still sometimes visit the exmormon Reddit is because it helps to see what I went through from an outside perspective. When you're Mormon and live in an abusive family, everything's supposed to be all smiles and happiness, and you suppress even your memories of the times that they're not.
Part of the reason for this is that you are told, outright, that when you're having hard times it's your fault:
My FIL is a Branch President [Pastor] at the MTC [Missionary Training Center]. He shared an insight that turned my stomach [...]
Every so many weeks there is a set talk that is rebroadcast. The main theme of the message (from one of the 12 [Mormon apostles], I think) is that obedience and worthiness (and work) are the key elements of missionary success. And that there are people prepared in the mission field, prepared for every specific missionary. It is vitally and eternally important that every missionary be worthy of the full guidance of the Spirit™ to ensure they can be led to these people. These nonmembers, these brothers and sisters, are relying on the missionaries to be worthy so as to receive the inspiration to give the nonmembers a chance at the gospel – possibly their only or best chance in this life! The guilt of worthiness is laid on THICK!
So thick, in fact, that every week after this rebroadcast the Branch Presidencies are overwhelmed with missionaries bawling and shaking in dire need to confess to sins so as to be worthy. They are terrified that their past mistakes will condemn someone else. They line up to confess things they hadn’t shared before entering the MTC(fearing they’ll be sent home) or reconfess to perfect strangers sins they already owned up to but are afraid they need to make double/triple sure they have covered so they won’t condemn someone through unworthiness.
Emphasis in the original.
This isn't always the way Mormons handle these things. There's a glurgy song one of them wrote which confronts this viewpoint, and shows how unfair life is. Then it goes on to remind the Mormon listeners that "after the trials we will be blessed, for this life is a test." It's still a bad way of looking at things, and I've seen it used to minimize other people's suffering as being God's will and nothing to complain about. But it at least acknowledges that bad things happen to people who don't deserve them.
What it never quite got around to pointing out is that part of that unfairness is who gets blamed for what happens to them and who doesn't. The 18-year-olds entering the MTC are near the bottom of the Mormon hierarchy, right above women, poor people, and gays. And they're blamed for everything that goes wrong, like getting zero baptisms in a European mission. They usually pay for this privilege, out of their or their families' pockets. Meanwhile, the rich white men doing the blaming -- the Mission Presidents -- live in big houses and have their living expenses, medical expenses, kids' educations, and a lot of other things paid for out of members' tithing.
The biggest revelation I had, when I started reading books like Barbara Ehrenreich's, was that there were people who played by "the rules" and were thrown away anyway. This was such a blow to my system that I don't think I ever recovered. In a way, it helped to find out that not everything was my fault, and that the world was just a scary and unfair place. But knowing that doesn't make the guilt and feelings of worthlessness go away, and doesn't really help me deal with it.
I think that's why a lot of Mormons have this "just world" belief. (TW: Rape) They know, somewhere in their hearts, that they are all play-acting. They put so many things, so much loss and pain, on top of a shaky foundation of belief in their God's will and power, even when it means believing that they must have prevented him from blessing them through their unworthiness. And they know that if they ever stop bracing against it, it will fall down and crush them.
I'd have more sympathy for them if they weren't standing on me while they're doing so, and blaming me for not being a doormat.
I have even less sympathy for narcissists, whatever church they attend. Because what's worse than feeling like everything is your fault, is believing that nothing is.
Like seemingly most people who use the service, I have a library of Steam games that I bought when they were on sale, most of which I haven't played beyond a few hours if at all. In my case, though, it's not because I'm busy. Even when I can do anything I want, I rarely feel like I want to play them right now.
I guess most people have their own comfort zones. But mine seems to be so narrowly focused that my idea of fun is to play grindy MMOs, like RuneScape circa 2007. Or do grindy things in MMOs, like hundreds of random battles over and over again to obtain the extremely rare atmas in FFXIV.
Maybe it's how I deal with a high-stress environment. When you're being triggered every other day, and under tremendous emotional load, the idea of digital "comfort food" that's always there and always nearly the same experience can be soothing. Plus, being good at maintaining attention on repetitive tasks has advantages.
But then I put off reading messages from my loved ones, because I can't handle the thought that someone genuinely cares about my well-being. I fail to reply to supportive comments, that people leave on my most depressed entries, and I sometimes skip past them entirely. Not because they mean nothing to me, but because they mean so much.
I have procrastinated reading a loving, supportive message from my mother of choice burning_ground before, so that I could read things on Mormon websites that make me hate myself. Just because I'm used to the latter, and not used at all to the former.
Am I trying to conserve what I see as a scarce, precious resource? Am I so susceptible to autistic sensory overload that I avoid beneficial things? Or am I just a mean old lady, who hates fun and nice things and wants everyone to be miserable?
Maybe I just still feel like I have to do things I hate, and shouldn't do things that I like enough to notice the fact that I do.