Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
“If you want to stain me, come to 2689 Santa Fresca Blvd.” So reads the sext I have just received from BeautifullyStained, a staircase with a wooden railing that was, indeed, beautifully stained.
Yes, I am flirting with a set of weathered steps. “She/her” — that’s what the staircase identifies as — is just one of a number of architectural features and buildings whose attentions I am vying for in Tectr, a game billed by its maker, Silverstring Media, as one “about thirsty architecture, buildings that want you inside them.” Modeled on dating apps such as Tinder, the game has players swipe to “match” with real estates (or parts of them) and choose between pre-written messages to try and “hook up” with horny architectural entities that have names like “Flip Me” (a fixer upper) and “DatingPool” (a swimming pool, duh). No well-known buildings are featured, just a number of nondescript structures; made for Global Game Jam 2016, Tectr is an architect geek’s dating dream come true, filled with dirty building-related jokes that will make you chuckle but also probably cringe a little from their unabashed crudeness.
Its developers note that it is meant for adults only and is NSFW — and, indeed, I feel a little uncomfortable playing it in the office, even though the imagery is entirely SFW. After creating a profile, which involves choosing between pronounces “she/her,” he/him,” and “they/them,” you “select yr junk” — that is, pick your sexual organ of choice, each described in highly flattering terms. You then choose a username (my favorites are BrutalistScum and BldingInspector) before the swiping (or more accurately, click-throughs) begins.
Some of these buildings, which each have short profiles, are pretty forthcoming and usually have very explicit demands. BeautifullyStained immediately demanded that I enter her foyer; “Towering” (a tower) just sent me unsolicited basement pics. You don’t have many options to pick from when it’s your turn to respond, but a number of messages will lead to matches sending their “addresses” and Tectr cheekily telling you, “Have fun.” Sometimes you simply won’t receive a reply: I tried telling Erector, for instance, “I want you to ‘build up’ all inside me,” but he kept ignoring me. After playing a few times, I realized Erector was programmed to be one of those too-cool-for-school daters who never responds to prospective hookups.
“I was surprised how readily the settings and structures of our contemporary life eroticize themselves, or accept an erotic interpretation,” Tectr’s designer and writer Claris Cyarron, a trained architect who often makes video games, told Hyperallergic. “Buildings and infrastructure are in many ways about power, and so is sex. Much of the eroticism in Tectr comes from dealing with power play, casting the player in a dominant or more often subservient (for I feel that this is more often our relationship to architecture) role.
“I don’t necessarily believe that many people are horny for architecture,” she continued, “but I do think that thinking about architecture in sexual terms — messy, desires and power-structures exposed, utilizing the environment for erotic gratification — is satisfying and compelling to a lot of people.”
h/t Kill Screen