There is a dramatic scene in it Kidney: vending machines in which a desperate, downtrodden android orders his AI companion to cease all logical functions. The AI, sensible that it is, warns him that there is almost no chance of this going well. Our hero knows this, of course; he does it anyway. This leads to one of the most memorable lines in the entire critically acclaimed action game. “Why do I long for these kinds of people?” the android exclaims, taking a dangerous plunge into the deep end, in which someone is injured.
If you’ve ever been on Tinder, you might know exactly what this is like, even if you’ve never played Kidney: vending machines. A woman named Jen certainly does, based on her experience with dating apps. Jen, who works as a paralegal, went viral on Twitter earlier this year for, as she put it, swiping on Tinder and “getting guys to buy Kidney: vending machines‘ only to ‘then ghost them’.
By her count, she has roped 22 men into her devious but astonishing plan. Since it’s been a few years, she claims, she couldn’t show up Kotaku evidence that she convinced dozens of men to buy the unusually philosophical game. However, she had a handful of screenshots of conversations full of flirts where people would say they couldn’t believe they were about to buy a video game to impress a girl. [Editor’s note: This bar is low.] And at least some of the people depicted appear to have actually played the game, as the screenshots show a discussion of various endings and plot points between her and the future lovers.
Known for its intense post-apocalyptic and introspective stories, Kidney: vending machines is full of twists, including shifting perspectives, varied genres, and multiple endings. There is very little like Kidney, and even less like Yoko Taro, its enigmatic and unusual creator. Let me sum up his whole deal by saying that he is best known for wearing a giant moon-shaped mask over his head, based on the character Emil from the original. Kidney.
It takes a certain kind of appetite to even be open to this kind of offbeat madness – Snoop Dogg hawking Duty or John Cena invading in Fortnite this is not. Kidney fans recently proved to everyone that they are on a completely different level from most people as a group of modders convinced the world that their creations may have been a long-lost in-game secret, or perhaps an ARG.
No, the cryptic messages that took the gaming world by storm were: “just” a bunch of hardcore Kidney fans who love their game. As it sounds, that’s the kind of distinctive soul that Jen, who claims her Tinder biography said so Kidney was her favorite game, wanted to find: someone she could really, really talk to about her fandom.
Part of what makes the story believable is the sheer size of Jen’s fandom, which she calls an “obsession.” She shared a photo of a shrine she said she keeps in her room, and folks, the thing is huge. Emil is totally into it, in all kinds of different forms. The table – which even holds a special candle – would stand out in any room. Indeed, Jen said that before people enter her room for the first time, Jen should warn them about it first.
The shrine makes sense when you consider Jen’s connection to the game, which she said came into her life during a time when she was “severely depressed and suicidal due to being bullied and an abusive family.” At the time, she watched a Let’s Play of the game and became obsessed with everything from the music to the aesthetics. She still fondly remembers lines like, “You don’t get a future. It’s something you have to take for yourself.”
That’s an idea she took to heart on Tinder, really. Having no one to talk to about the game, she hoped to change her luck with a dating app. Most such interactions were superficial, she admits.
“A lot [Tinder matches] wouldn’t appreciate it [as I did]or when I wanted to talk about every detail and they just said ‘[it] was a good game [but] there’s not much to talk about,” Jen said, using it as her signal to ghost them and move on. Yet many went for it.
“It was actually insane how many men would buy it,” she said, noting that while she sometimes outright told them to buy the game, she never promised anything sexual in return. But following the law that comes with buying a woman a drink at the bar, many of these men didn’t see buying the game as a neutral act.
“Actually, a lot of full-on expected something from me in exchange for recommending a game,” she said. “Often I had to read how they wanted me to wear 2B’s uniform for them.”
Really, as Jen describes about talking Kidney almost sounds like she was using it as a shield against the constant sexualization she encountered over and over on Tinder. The more men tried to get bold, the more she talked about lore and the like. But in the end, that bluntness was exactly what prompted her to stop trying to find a match and instead just try and outright sell Yoko Taro’s masterpiece. Might as well make something out of it, right? As she said in her original viral tweet, “High sales mean more Taro games.”
“I think [the crassness] made me a little more apathetic over time… [of course] I know that really sucked on my part, but I do think Yoko Taro’s games deserve more recognition.”
It was amusing for a while, but eventually the reality of the whole thing started to hit her, like the grimness of seeing yourself wiping listlessly over dozens of people in the toilet after midnight.
“I stopped because I kind of realized how casual I was getting about something so screwed up?” she said. “Like some of them were really rude, but others maybe just hated the game or didn’t like analyzing and theories and things like that and [I] probably hurt their feelings [by] just ‘disappear’.”
Today, Jen not only continues to add things to the sanctuary, she has also found her people on Discord. Better yet, her Discord friends “really like the game and don’t want to fuck me alone.” A friend even lives close to her. Besides, who needs stinky guys when the guy himself is watching your shit posts?
“Yoko Taro followed me a few years ago when I made nude fan art of the two main girls of vending machinesshe said. “I think that made my obsession even stronger lmao.”