Hey Hey Heroes, Travelers, and Wandering NPCs, I’m back with another Behind the Games post!
For those of you just joining the party, Behind the Games is a segment where I interview the folks ‘behind the games’ I review. The series is meant to act as a complement to the reviews, giving you guys a chance to get to know the developers that spend so much time carefully crafting the games you enjoy. For each interview I send the Devs five questions (and one random bonus question), to kind of flesh out who they are, while also getting a bit of insight into their inspirations for their games. It’s completely voluntary and meant to be a fun way to get you guys acquainted with content creators.
Last time around I spoke with Esh and Sprocket, the creators of the supernatural romance visual novel Changeling, so if you missed that, I definitely recommend checking that post out too! This time around, I had the chance to chat with Ertal, the from the BL game developer Ertal Games!
Ertal Games is a one person indie developer that specializes in bringing unique Boys Love games to an English speaking audience. I covered their first game, A Hand in the Darkness a little while ago and I was enamored with detailed storytelling and inventive characters. They have since followed it up with the steampunk fantasy, Chasing the Stars which was released earlier this year. Ertal Games has a whole host of great stories to tell and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this amazing BL developer!
But, enough from me, let’s turn things over to Ertal…
Q. Could you tell me a bit about yourself? What do you do when you aren’t making games? (Interests, hobbies, etc)
Odd as it seems in the indie devs world, I don’t have a technical background: I work as a Spanish language and literature teacher! So in my free time I mostly read everything I can get my hands on, and also watch anime and play visual novels.
Q. What sparked your interest in developing visual novels? Is this something you’d like to do for a living or is it mostly a hobby?
I found out about visual novels thanks to Dramatical Murder… which became my obsession for months! Then I played some Japanese VNs for Android, both BL and otome and well… since I had been writing in English for some years by then, I thought “Why not? I could write something like that.”
It started as a hobby, of course, but now that I know more of this medium I keep planning ahead more and more projects… So perhaps one day it will become a full-time work, who knows?
Q. A Hand in the Dark and Chasing the Stars are both BL visual novels. In the wake of more releases of BL visual novels, how do you feel your games stand out from the rest?
The more the merrier! As an avid player of BL visual novels, I can tell you there aren’t enough of them! Especially stories made out of Japan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Japanese VNs, but the yaoi tropes in them are less and less interesting. Besides, most Western BL stories are coming of age ones in a University or high school setting… which is nice, but is quickly becoming overused.
History is one of my passions, so I like to explore different settings based on historic eras: my newest finished project, Blood and Lust, for example, is a gladiators murder mystery set in Ancient Rome; my current project has an Arabian Nights setting (My Burning Heart), and the next one will revolve around the Jack the Ripper crimes in the Victorian era. There are a lot of stories that need to be told!
Q. Do you feel that your games help contribute to positive LGBT representation in the media, specifically in BL media?
I think what the media needs is normalization. Positive representation? Sure, but not only that. We need to see in video games, comics and movies all kind of couples, with LGBT couples having the same kind of issues that a straight couple has. I try to draw realistic relationships, not perfect, idealistic ones, but not weighed down by yaoi tropes only. The tropes might appear when they are relatable situations, but those “I’m not gay, I only like you” or similar ones? We are better off without them!
Q. How do you feel your games help in normalizing same sex relationships in BL media?
“Help”, strictly speaking? That’s a good question! As I said before, variety counts, so the more gay, lesbian and bi stories we have out there, the more people will see them as something normal. Fortunately, most countries don’t even bat an eye about same sex couples anymore, but we all know there’s still a long way to go in other countries. So take my games as a small contribution for a perfect future where homophobia is extinct.
Q. The zombie apocalypse is near, and the closest object to you is what you’ll use to defend yourself! What is the object and will it help you survive the incoming horde?
OMG, my cat! Well… she can be rather fiery sometimes, so perhaps she will help!
I absolutely loved A Hand in the Darkness and Chasing the Stars is proving to be just as great and I’ve been hearing really good things about Blood and Lust too! Ertal Games is a phenomenal BL game developer, with their inventive stories fans of BL media are definitely in for a treat with their games.
I want to thank Ertal for taking the time to answer my questions and for letting me pick their brain a bit about game development! Below are some links to Ertal Games’s social media pages and game related sites. I highly recommend subscribing to their pages for the most up to date news on their current and future projects.