You may have seen a game being played on streams this past year called It Takes Two. And if you think about my blog extensively — why — you may have thought ‘ah, I bet that’s going to be one of Talen’s Smooch Month games. It is, after all, a game about a relationship, its maintenance and it’s not just about the start of a relationship, plus it looks interesting and you know, yeah, that’s probably going to show up, right?
I mean that’s what I thought, and I have a reason to pay attention to my blog.
It was on my radar, and I wasn’t going to watch Lets Plays or anything like that, and just play it with Fox. You know, that’d be great, a convenient way to play the game with someone who I have a relationship and we could talk about stuff and it’d be great. Nice, easy article to make.
She, however, did watch lets plays.
And then she talked to me about it.
Central to the narrative of It Takes Two is a couple who are considering a divorce, learning that they don’t need a divorce, because they were just jumping to conclusions about a divorce, and their child who is some variety of a witch will give them a host of videogame levels to learn that about themselves. Turns out that he hasn’t been doing chores and she hasn’t been respecting the way he is fun. They understand each other and then grapple with the fact their kid is a wizard or something. I don’t know, I don’t know how the game ends, but it seems that the divorce gets taken off the table.
Look, this is not an inherent ill. It definitely sounds like something that, from the child’s perspective, fixes the problem: You don’t want your parents to break up, so you want to imagine that they can resolve that by talking. And that’s a real thing – I mean I have been close to a relationship that almost collapsed and then didn’t collapse because they talked through it. That’s not the kind of relationship that’s being explored here, though.
Look, I am pro-divorce. I think that if a couple are unhappy enough that divorce seems like a good idea, they are not required to bear out that unhappiness because of some paperwork. And yes, in It Takes Two there is the added complication of a child’s life and the way that works, but children are raised by separated people all the time, and I am of the opinion that unhappy people trying to make it work for a kid are going to do a worse job raising a kid than two separated people being honest with that kid about their emotional needs. It’s largely academic for me, as I am neither a child of divorce nor am I a parent, but I do think that in general media represents divorce as fundamentally unhealthy, and the child’s perspective on it is always presented as if a divorce is a tragic backstory element.
Much like how in Matilda, where I see media that presents liberation from a bad family and adoption into a good one as an inherent good, when I see media that presents divorce as a good thing, and healthy post-divorce relationships, it is a mark in favour of the media in question.
I know me. I know myself.
And after that opening pitch for It Takes Two, where it presents a divorce as a dreadful failure state, where the whole problem of a potential divorce as treated as a roughly on the par with ‘well I guess I could extend some empathy to my partner,’ then it doesn’t feel like it’s about an actual relationship where actual people would consider divorce. Divorce isn’t something people throw around in a conversation like an idle thought for fixing the situation, and if they are it’s because they probably should get a divorce. It would sour my entire perspective on this, where the game would be always cast in light of being about an idiot’s idea of a divorce, based entirely on my personal feelings about how media should treat and respect divorce as a life choice. I’d be sitting there, making fun of the game just because of that one central premise being malformed and it would colour the whole perception of the whole story.
And I am enough of a jerk to hang around when I am grumpy at a game but imagine me dragging another player through all of that.
In the nature of all good fairness, if It Takes Two sounds interesting to you, here’s a link, and I hope you like it! It’s a really cool idea and I’ve seen enough people have fun playing it!