Samuel Poirier-Poulin is a PhD candidate in film studies at the Université de Montréal, Canada. His doctoral research investigates trauma in horror video games and draws on affect theory and phenomenology of media. His other research interests include sexuality studies, queer desires, and autoethnography. His work has appeared in the journals Loading… and Synoptique, and in the anthology Video Games and Comedy. Samuel is also the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Press Start.
Trust, Confidence, and Hope in A Summer’s End—Hong Kong 1986
FROG 2022 – Talk
Building on Eve Sedgwick’s (1997) reparative reading, this paper offers an analysis of the theme of trust and its variations (reluctance, confidence, intimacy) in the visual novel A Summer’s End—Hong Kong 1986 (ASE hereafter; Oracle & Bone, 2020). More specifically, this paper examines how trust takes place (1) between the game characters, (2) between the player and the characters, and (3) between the queer player and the video game medium. ASE tells the unlikely love story between Michelle Fong Ha Cheung, a disciplined office lady who lives with her mother, and Sam Ka Yan Wong, an independent and free-spirited woman who owns a video store. The story is set in Hong Kong, in the summer of 1986, two years after the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed. ASE offers a reflection on the difficulties of being a queer woman in uncertain times. It explores themes of desires, freedom, and hope in a time and space “where Asian traditional values and Western idealism clash and converge” (Oracle & Bone, 2019, para. 2).
My analysis starts from the premise that video games, like literature or cinema, provide an ideal opportunity to study trust—its formation and its fragility—and to broaden our knowledge on the subject (Leboyer & Vincent, 2019). As noted by philosopher Michaela Marzano (2010), trust is closely tied to human existence. It creates strong relationships where dependence and vulnerability meet; it changes our relationship to the world and to ourselves, and makes us realize that we are never completely independent (Marzano, 2010). Trust is in opposition with fear, and more precisely with the fear of the future, “reintroducing into the world the possibility of hope, [and] pushing everyone to bet again on oneself, on others and, more generally, on the future” (Marzano, 2010, p. 61, my translation). ASE ultimately provides an interesting case for studying trust from a humanities perspective, a theme underexplored in game studies and in English-language scholarship in general.