A budding romance is explored in a simple, affecting story of youth, creative ambition and gender dynamics
Florence Yeoh is a 25-year-old Chinese-Australian with a bob haircut, an overbearing mother, and a buried dream to become a professional watercolourist. The eponymous iPhone game, which can be played with one thumb while swaying on the bus, tells the story of Florence’s budding relationship with Krish Hemrajani, an Indian-Australian with a needlebed of stubble, snug jeans and a buried dream to become a professional cellist. You tap, swipe and rub through six acts that record the quiet blooming of the relationship, from the initial clumsy flirting, the early experiments with vulnerability, the settling rhythms of domesticity, all the way through to the smoking aftermath and beyond.
Love is a theme rarely explored in video games, and for practical reasons. Video games are, in essence, Excel spreadsheets rendered with art and music, and therefore most comfortable when dealing with mathematical systems. This is why games excel at ballistics, ball sports and, in the case of SimCity, town planning. Love, however, is not easily systematised. Witness the medium’s past, clumsy attempts to turn relationships into game mechanics. In The Sims, for example, you make someone fall in love with you by tickling them repeatedly. In Harvest Moon, it’s done by presenting them with a freshly laid egg each day. In Fire Emblem, relationships are formed through mere proximity to others on the battlefield.