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This RPG forces you to confront capitalism in the hardest way possible
I Hate You, Please Suffer twists standard turn-based RPG mechanics to tell a punk-rock, anticapitalist tale.
August 31, 2023
7 Min Read
Everyone dreads the day they lose their jobs. It happens often, and especially in the current economic climate with mass lay-offs across industries, it’s a sad reality for many. I recently have gone through a lay-off and am looking for a job in a time when the job market is horrible—like many tech workers and developers in 2023. I’m, like a lot of people, wishing for an easy alternative, something that’ll just let me pay the rent and get by. I Hate You, Please Suffer explores that painful experience through a unique lens: the role of a video game adventurer.
Ramona Vasquez, the game’s protagonist, loses her job and is left with one choice to pay her rent—to become an adventurer. Naturally, the game has much to say about capitalism, and what brought her to this point in life.
“In a way, the game's just my way of venting about things because I dunno, I'd rather make a game complaining about how I feel instead of going to therapy. Besides the obvious institutions like big business and landlords, the final game also complains about conspiracy theorist grifters and rise and grind nuts that'd do whatever it takes to be on top,” says developer Scitydreamer (who prefers to go by their pseudonym).
Found in the game is a writing style that quips about the annoyances of life in a capitalist world and how we can get by with them, something that people like myself look for after struggling for so long. I talked with the developer about moments like these and what inspired them to mold I Hate You into what we see today.
I Hate You, Please Suffer captures the pain of spending what few dollars you have left
This venting-turned-game highlights many of its creator’s frustrations with the real world. Unlike most RPGs, for instance, money isn’t just something you can expendably throw at consumables—you have to actually budget, plan, and save your cash so that you can pay your bills on top of all the costs that come with being an adventurer.
Traveling comes with its own share of costs as well, as it’s a one-dollar bus fare to go to each location across the game. While this may seem inconsequential at first, in the early stages of I Hate You, it can matter a great deal, as you start off with fairly little money. When you combine this with a world that’s out to kill you—literally—and expensive health items, it can be a real challenge!
“When I first started I Hate You, Please Suffer, I wanted to make an RPG inspired by Takeshi's Challenge, which is why the early game's significantly ruder than the rest of the game.” Takeshi’s Challenge, a game released for the Nintendo Famicom in 1986, is notorious for its difficulty and is widely considered one of the hardest games of all time.
While I Hate You, Please Suffer starts off as just a humorous, over-the-top quest to pay Ramona’s rent, it evolves into a way for Scitydreamer to share elements of their own life, both in the everyday sense and in the more dramatic.
“As it started settling into how it is now, I've put things inspired by my own life in to reflect it being a life RPG. For instance, scorpions are a frequent enemy type because scorpions come out during the summer over here and these fuckers terrify me.”
Elements of the game, such as when Ramona and her party go out for dinner together after not being able to afford it in ages, or when the characters stay up late to play video games and watch anime together, are things that can especially meld with those disenfranchised by society. These are things that people who have struggled under capitalism, such as the developer of the game or even myself, can especially relate to compared to those who haven’t.
When you’re screwed over by the world around you and left with little solace, these experiences can be all that keeps you afloat. Sometimes outside elements can dampen your ability to truly embrace them, though, which is where Ramona’s struggle with not only finding her place in the world but also with a transphobic family—the kind that, in the real world, have driven many transgender youth to become unhoused—come in to make matters worse.
That’s where the beauty of the game comes in, as Scitydreamer took these elements from their own life. You can only truly get it in this way if you’ve been through poverty. I myself have been through being houseless, which is especially why this game has struck a deep chord with me.
The game also uses these experiences to emphasize that the main characters, while heroic, are not the heroes of their world. The world still moves on around you as you participate in the game—NPCs move around at their own whims, have their own unique relationships outside of the main characters, and even take on quests when you don’t get to them in time.
“This is something that's already semi-enforced in the Basic version of the game. Reaching certain points will have some sidequests ticked off if you haven't done them yet because some other adventurer beat them to the punch… There's that alternative route where Ramona explicitly tries to be a hero…[where] she sure does become more selfish.”
A lot of games covering the ruins of capitalism will cover the way it reaches across our lives in the broad sense, but few cover the mundane aspects of surviving it that, while they may appear insignificant, are what makes life actually worth living and keeping on for.
I Hate You, Please Suffer argues that life should be more than survival
Living a fulfilling life is one of the greatest challenges under capitalism. It’s easy to fall into the “rise and grind” mentality where we work until we’re in the grave. I Hate You gives a glimpse into how we can counteract this, how we can actually search for meaning. Ramona’s own search for some sort of greater purpose is a lot like what the rest of us go through, and when she begins to find that purpose in her friends, in her simple pleasures, and in her adventuring, we get a model to live by. Life is so much more than just working and surviving, and I Hate You shows us how that meaning can look in both the broad and mundane.
My conversation with Scitydreamer further illuminated this. While we primarily talked about the game and their inspirations for development, what shone throughout our discussion was the struggle of getting by under capitalism and how that relates to a search for something more, something to make it all worth living.
Throughout my life, I’ve been in and out of homelessness with barely a penny to my name. Much like Ramona, I’ve searched hard for some extra cash to just pay my bills, often failing to make ends meet.
I spent years looking for something to keep me going throughout this time, and what I eventually found mirrors I Hate You—the people I met, the passions I found, and the life that I began to build. The talk I had with Scitydreamer only further made this theme stand out to me, in both how we related as people and how I related to the game. Life is about so much more than just survival—this game shows us that we can all find a way to thrive.
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