If there’s a bathroom in a video game, you can count on one of two things: a helpful item (such as health), or the ability to flush an otherwise useless toilet. For game creator Robert Yang—who is one of the most banned developers on Twitch—that’s not enough.
Yang has spent weeks crafting a urinal for his next game. Unlike most urinals in games, he calls these “the Cadillacs of mid-century floor urinals.” On Twitter, he’s shared various pictures of his journey to create the perfect urinal, a couple of which you can see below:
The urinals will be featured in Yang’s new game, tentatively titled The Tearoom, which will let cruising players check out guys in nearby stalls. The Tearoom is a period piece set in a public bathroom in Midtown Manhattan in the 1960s.
The game is meant to be something of a companion piece to another title Yang is developing, which takes place entirely in a gay bar. Through the process of making that other game, Yang felt that it was also important to “acknowledge the history of gay bars,” in some way, especially given how often gay bars close now.
That’s why so much attention was put toward the urinals: they’re a recreation of the rare Hinsdale urinal, which has a bit of a reputation. People throw parties to celebrate these urinals, which were constructed over 100 years ago. In 2010, the Wall Street Journal praised the porcelain stalls for their design, going so far as to call them ‘masterpieces.’
These big boys are so spacious and tall, and with shoulders that extend almost behind you and certainly far enough that no one can look over and make unfair judgments, that one might go so far as to describe the experience of relieving yourself as enveloping, even nurturing. And perhaps most important of all—certainly for the quality of life of subsequent bar patrons—the margin of error is huge. You basically can’t miss.
Appropriately, Yang is hoping to explore the “social logic and timeless dramatic anxiety of a men’s bathroom” with The Tearoom.
“This is something that games routinely build out, but never socially simulate or really think about,” Yang mused in an email. “In Fallout 4, a bathroom means a medkit box and toilet dioramas. In Deus Ex, it means a ventilation duct and maybe a password pickup because someone left their phone in a stall (as if that ever happens). What if the gameplay of bathrooms riffed off how we actually feel about bathrooms in real life?
“Bathrooms are extremely political spaces, right? Racial segregation, HB2 in North Carolina, Larry Craig’s ‘wide stance’ in an airport bathroom...I want to try to acknowledge that, as well as the public bathroom’s history as a subliminal space for gay men to cruise for sex.”
According to Yang, players will be able to peep at other character’s dicks, send and receive signals, “and maybe having a nice old fashioned circle jerk right then and there, before anybody else notices.” Given that one of Yang’s previous games, Cobra Club, centered on elaborate dick pics, The Tearoom seems totally in-character for the risque developer. While Cobra Club let players customize everything from the girth, length, and shape of their members, Yang hasn’t quite decided how dicks will be handled in The Tearoom yet. What he does know is, Twitch—which has strict and somewhat arbitrary rules about what NSFW content can be livestreamed through their service—will influence his dick game design.
“If it’s straight-up uncensored dick, well, Twitch has banned me for much less, so maybe not that,” Yang said. “I want to do something that’s kind of absurd, partly so a Twitch ban would make them look hypocritical in a new way. It’s kind of fucked-up that I have to design games with the assumption that Twitch will just ban it, no matter what I do.”
The Tearoom aims to do more than give the middle finger to Twitch, it also wants to take a piss on the philosophy behind some triple-A games.
“I want to highlight the absurdity of AAA toilets, which rarely ever matter in AAA games, yet they invest all these resources in it as an incidental detail to show-off their production resources,” Yang said. “I’m basically making a game that somewhat matches the contemporary AAA prestige production standard for interactive toilets, but I’m also taking them up on their implicit ‘ridiculous’ dare, to actually make a game where the toilet matters.”
To accomplish that vision, Yang is making use of every everything from urine (which will be a limited resource), to flushing (which he says will be ‘meaningful.’) While The Tearoom isn’t aiming to be a water sports game, Yang is still putting lots of care into making sure the game captures the “vulnerability, embarrassment, disgust, and ubiquity” of urine all the same.