“Welcome to Thermophiles in Love, the five-gender dating game for microorganisms! Learn your true thermophile gender and find your “special three someones” in a microscopic world where everyone longs to be come part of to the perfect quadrouple.”
Thermophiles in Love, the Larp
Thermophiles in Love (2016) is a transmedia piece centering a 5-gender dating game that incorporates biological data about microorganisms in a playful critique of gender bio-essentialism. Its creators are Samara Hayley Steele, Mark Marino, Rob Wittig, and Cathy Podeszwa. TiL includes a larp, a netprov, and an interactive gallery display. The larpscript was written by Samara Hayley Steele. The netprov was produced by Meanwhile Netprov Studios, and ran from October 21st – November 6th, 2016.
A beta-version of the larp was run at the Berkeley Center for New Media at UC Berkeley on October 14th, 2016. The first two official runs occurred as part of the gallery at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA) in Atlanta, GA, November 3rd-6th, 2016. The larp has also been run in a number of other settings, including the 2018 Living Games Conference in Boston.
Download the Larpscript
Below you will find the latest version of the Thermophiles in Love larpscript and player handout. TiL is a work in progress, evolving with each run of the game.
If you run the larp, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear your feedback!
The larp has been featured at:
– The Berkeley Center for New Media, UC Berkeley, October 14th, 2016 (larp)
– The 30th Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA) in Atlanta, GA, Conference Gallery, November 4th & 5th, 2016 (larp & netprov)
– Berkeley Mardi Gras King Cake Party, Creamsicle Haus, Berkeley CA, Feb 10th, 2018 (larp)
– The Living Games Conference, Boston, MA, May 19th, 2018. (larp)
– FogCon 9, a Bay Area Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, Walnut Creek, CA, March 9th, 2019 (larp)
Designed by Mark Marino, The Genderator assigns thermophile genders to players through a simple mechanism. The genders are Acido, Hype, Fac, Meso, and Obli.
The Genderator, screenshots
Samara Hayley Steele parsed the initial gender schema for Thermophiles in Love based on research into 5-gendered and non-binary societies worldwide, while also incorporating her theory of gender playability in game design. The meso gender is based upon a type of gender role that tends to exist in societies with five genders. Collaborators Rob Wittig, Mark Marino, and Cathy Podeswa worked to distill and populate the other gender descriptions, adding their own voices and touches of humor.
The gender descriptions draw inspiration from Barnum Statements: general enough to apply to almost anyone, but specific enough to evoke a sense of personal identification with one’s game gender.
Are you ready to learn your TRUE thermophile gender? Click the link to visit the Official Thermophiles in Love Genderator:
[Congratulations on your new thermophile gender!]
Scholarship Featuring Thermophiles in Love
“Game Design Methodologies for Gender Playability: A Case Study of Thermophiles in Love,” presented by Samara Hayley Steele as part of the Social Studies of Live Action Role-Playing Games at the European University at St. Petersburg, December 8th-9th, 2016.
A beta-version of the Thermophiles in Love larp was run as part of the presentation Lessons in Netprov: Collaborative Writing in the Digital Age by Rob Wittig, Mark Marino, and Samara Hayley Steele at the Berkeley Center for New Media at UC Berkeley on October 14th, 2016.
About the Netprov
The netprov took the form of a 5-gender dating website, as well as discussion boards for thermophiles to work through relationship issues.
A discussion board featured in the Thermophiles in Love netprov
Hundreds of players participated in the netprov, including college classrooms.
Participating faculty included:
Patrick Jagoda (U Chicago)
Lee Skallerup Bessette (U of Mary Washington)
Kris Shaffer (U of Mary Washington)
Anastasia Salter (U of Central Florida)
Jason Farman (U of Maryland)
Mia Zamora (Kean University)
Anne Cong-Huyen (Whittier College)
Kiki Benzon (USC)
Mark Marino (USC)