The Dark Side of Devotion:
Will Love Tear Us Apart?
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Will Love Tear Us Apart? is a free-to-play browser-game about relationships on the brink of breaking up. It is inspired by Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart and follows the song in delivering a dark and frustrating perspective on love. Each verse in the song is represented by a level in the game.
WLTUA encourages players to reflect on the darker side of love: mis-communication, emotional impasse and the sadness of separation. Solace may be found in the brief moment of lightness that comes over us when we come to terms with the reality of an irreconcilable relationship.
How does one go about adapting a song or poem into a game? This was the initial seed of the project that would become Will Love Tear Us Apart? Its creator, Gordon Calleja, started mulling over this issue in the Summer of 2011. Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart quickly presented itself as the perfect candidate for his project. He saw each verse of the song as a different game environment, rendered in his mind’s eye as Dürer woodcuts.
The initial design was developed with Mighty Box Games, an independent indie game studio based in Malta. The project received funding through the Malta Arts Fund. Lightning struck early in the project, with a wrist injury forcing the original artist, Steffi, to leave the project. But the all-Maltese team of Gordon, Marvin, Fabrizio, Thom, Mark, and Costantino (an Italian infiltrator), regrouped around visual artists Anthony and Nel to move forward with the project.
The design of the game levels was based on the thematic concerns of the verse they represent. Gordon’s emphasis on expressing theme through both game mechanics and aesthetics created interesting tensions in the design process, resulting in scenarios which deliver the desired thematic experience whilst going against what is conventionally considered good game design. Although an effort was made to streamline game-play, the bias on theme marks the emotive experience. What guides this game is an ambition to frustrate, upset and sting the player into remembering the dark days preceding the death of a relationship.
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