I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
Hot Guys Making Out is a storygames-style yaoi roleplaying game about gay romance. It’s a bit older than most of the games I’m going through within the “52 New RPGs” reading project but I decided to read it because it’s been the subject of recent discussions online.
The game has been designed by P. H. Lee, an indie designer also known for Polaris and Bliss Stage. I read and played Polaris many years ago when it first came out and didn’t understand it at all. Hopefully my grasp of indie designs has gotten better with age!
Hot Guys Making Out is about the romance between two men, Gonsalvo and Honoré, during the Spanish civil war. Honoré is an older former nobleman and Gonsalvo is his young ward. This Batman and Robin -style setup is typical of yaoi stories which play on the power imbalance and the interplay of active and passive roles.
As a design, the game is quick and simple. It’s based on scenes the players come up with and lasts for an hour. The assumption is that the players will do the core story between Honoré and Gonsalvo but the game also includes options for customization and making up your own characters within its framework.
One of the great things about roleplaying games is that they allow us to engage with social dynamics, fantasies and stories that are not real. This is especially relevant in the realm of sexual and romantic fantasies where the roleplaying game allows participants to play scenarios that might in real life be questionable.
In the case of Hot Guys Making Out, a romance between an older man and a young man who’s his ward would probably be frowned upon because of the power imbalance and age difference. However, for adult players it can be fun to engage with such relationships in a roleplaying game precisely because it is not real.
I’ve ran and played a lot of romantic scenarios in my roleplaying career and often I’ve found that the situations players gravitate towards are ones they never want to experience in real life. I’ve never ran yaoi but the principle here is the same.
In style, Hot Guys Making Out is airy, conceptual and chaste. The most risque thing about it is its name.