I wasn’t sure what to expect from Super Seducer when I first sat down to play the upcoming full-motion video (FMV) dating game from the self-proclaimed seduction guru Richard La Ruina. Would it be so bad that it’s funny? Would I actually learn a thing or two that would enhance my own dating life? I’ll have a preview up soon of the game’s opening episodes, but I largely wound up being pleasantly surprised by the game. My fears of it being an overly toxic title largely disappeared, and each situation was handled with more tact than I would’ve expected from such a title.
In order to learn more about the game’s production, and to just delve into why such a title was made in the first place, I talked to Richard La Ruina himself. He was nice enough to answer a variety of questions about Super Seducer, toxic male behavior, and gaming in general.
Tyler Treese: I just spent a couple hours playing Super Seducer, so I’ve got quite a few questions for you about the game, but before I really get into that, I wanted to get a little bit of your background because you call yourself a seduction guru in the intro. That’s not really a field that I ever thought people could get into when I was growing up. It’s not something really like advertised. You don’t go to college for it or see it a job listing. How did you wind up getting into that field?
Richard La Ruina: I think it’s a new area. I don’t think it existed really before the nineties and it didn’t really take off until 2006 when the Neil Strauss book The Game came out. So, I think that book sold in the millions, and popularized the field. At that time there were a lot of men who started to produce actual psychological techniques and you know, go out and do real research. Like, I’m going to try the 10 different lines and see which one women respond best to, and that was a lot of material produced at that time and talks about in forums online. So that’s, that’s kind of the background to the industry. For me it started from my own personal journey and then I got good. I transformed from like the shy, lonely virgin depressed guy, to the guy that was a good with women. Then I decided I wanted to have a go at teaching other guys. And in terms of the guru status, I think it’s just something that comes with success and building a following.
You mentioned people think about lines and one thing I found really interesting about you is you kind of go against that preconceived notion, you’re much more about natural conversation. When I played through the first couple episodes of the game, I didn’t feel like anything was toxic. It all felt very positive and it goes against a lot of the stereotypes I feel people think of when they hear the term “pickup artist.” Do you feel like your philosophy goes against that?
These are tough times for pickup artists. We’re getting painted with the same brush [because] now in the pickup artists universe there are guys that hate women, there are guys that are manipulative, but there are [also] lots of good guys. [Ones that are] similar to my background from just being shy guys that wanted to learn how to do this instead of dying lonely. So the approach took I took, it was different from the guys that preach the, uh, there was a thing called a routine’s stack where you’d learn like the opening line, then a story about yourself. Then ask some questions where you can offer some challenges and then even when it got to things like going for the kiss, there’d be a move so that you can get closer to her and touch her, you know, excuses to do everything. And it made it appeal to guys that wanted a kind of blueprint. But it never appealed to me because I wanted someone to be attracted to me for who I was. And if that wasn’t good enough, I should change who I should change my core skills, like the conversation skills, or the dancing skills, or whatever it would be. And these guys that focused on the purely on the scripted thing. It never really appealed to me.
Yeah. What really impressed me about what I saw from the game is that it kind of goes beyond just picking up women and the advice you’re giving is just good in general for being a better conversationalist. Do you feel like it applies to other parts of your life, as in the general skills you’re giving out?
Yeah, definitely. We found that when we hold seminars and talk to guys who read my book and write reviews that they get benefits in terms of their social life. Almost any introvert, the guy that sits in the corner at a party and people say, “Are you OK?” And you know, they don’t like going into social gatherings because they’re a little bit uncomfortable and awkward. So all of those people, which is the majority of our customers, they find benefits in the other areas of life and I think that the skills transfer really well. A lot of it is, is great, you know, for women as well, you know, women’s dating and a lot of it is great just in any environment, like you get a new job and you want everyone to like you. Also if you’re at school, college, or university. If you moved to a new city. All of those things where you’re forced to meet people and you want them to like you. A lot of these same skills apply.
You mentioned your book, and you’ve been very successful in those more traditional realms. Now you’re moving into video games to reach a different audience and this is a very progressive move. What made you want to get into video games and tackle a different realm?
You’ve got the book, video products and stuff. I liked games myself, so I’ve got my PlayStation [that] I probably play a couple of hours a day, and I also like interactive learning experiences, so I saw that guys that have been watching our products, like an online video course, or come to a seminar and then if you ask them at the end, you know, give him a little quiz, sometimes they just haven’t got what happened. But I think if you’re playing this and you’re thinking about a choice then choosing it and getting the reaction, you’re going to get that better engrained. But for personal reasons it was just a fun challenge. No one has done it and I thought that it would be cool to try. Honestly [Super Seducer] was such hard work that I’m not sure I would’ve done it if I knew how hard it was going to be, but it was just something new and I’m taking on a challenge.
You talked about how challenging development was. What did surprise you about doing this project?
Yeah, well we were doing two things really. One was making the scenes which was like filming anything and then the other part was the coding and turning it into a game. So with the filming it was very hard because we couldn’t just film everything in sequence, we have to do one option, then it forks, and then go back and do [other options]. There are some bits that we messed up. So it’s like I’m talking to her and I’m saying, “OK, so I’ve got your number, I’ll call you,” and then we’re like, no, we didn’t present the film where I get the number to go with that. But, you know, it was hard to keep track of everything. That was the big challenge to get the script [right] with the whole filming process.
And then when that was done, we had a massive editing process. I stupidly decided to do I think six languages. [So,] we have a massive translation and subtitling job. The game also went through quite a few iterations. Originally we had a countdown timer. We had power ups because I wanted it to look like a traditional game and then we did a lot of play testing and we thought it was just annoying because it’s like I don’t have time to read it because the countdowns. They came down and just pile up, it doesn’t make any sense, and then we have the tutorial but it still didn’t make sense either. There was a lot of learning in the process and I think that if the game does well enough, I’d be in a good position to do a sequel to it that is bigger and better in every way from what I’ve learned from this.
You mentioned that you are a gamer yourself. What type of games do you like to play?
I like to play single player stuff. I play most of the first-person shooter games. I like challenging, tough games and I just finished Wolfenstein II. [I also played] the new Star Wars Battlefront 2. It was kind of okay, but not great. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is probably one of my favorites of all time. I used to play the old 2D fighting games a lot.
Awesome. So, when people think about like the stereotypical gamer, they don’t view them as much of a Casanova. Do you feel like your product will help a lot of gamers? I mean, everybody sort of plays games now, but do you feel like there’s a good potential audience to be reached?
Yeah, I really think so. I think that games are fun and we like it. We like playing games, but sometimes we feel a bit guilty when we play the game a long time that our social life is suffering. We’re not really moving forward. So I wanted to make something that was fun but would also help people in the real world. So yes. And the demographics, I’m sure there are a lot of single guys that play games like you said. So yeah, it did seem like a really good fit.
And I think one other thing that really makes the product appealing is that it’s a different way of learning. Like you mentioned, it’s interactive. It’s not just watching a video where you can miss out on some of the tips that you’re trying to give and they don’t really sink in. So you kind of have that other type of learning experience. Do you feel like you kind of have all bases covered now? There’s auditory learning, books, seminars, so do you feel like you’re reaching out to another audience that way as well?
Yeah, I really do. And I’m pretty confident that the customers would like it because of that and that when a guy’s played through it all, it means that he’s been in all of these situations. You know, first dates, coffee shops and whatever it might be. And although he might not plan it, some things from the game might just happen or pop into his head because those situations repeat. I tried to incorporate all of the common stuff. So, you know, the friends to girlfriend is a really common one that I get asked by guys all the time. Most of the stuff that guys have asked me over the years I’ve tried to incorporate and the things that usually come up in an interaction with a woman and I’ve tried to incorporate it. So it means that guys should see these situations happen in real life also. So then that muscle memory kicks in, and it will mean that they’re doing the right thing.
So obviously a lot of the people that will be playing the game will be single, but I’m sure some people will be in a relationship. Do you feel like this game will just also kind of help them even if they’re already in a relationship? Do you feel like there’s lessons there, and who knows, maybe they’ll be single down the line, but do you feel like there’s general advice just to be more engaging and that’ll kind of help anybody?
There should be stuff like that. Yeah. I mean anything that makes you more sexy and cool, or a better conversationalist, or maybe surprising her with some new ways of doing things, is going to be good for relationships as well. When we’ve had some play tests, both men and women, they’ve kind of enjoyed choosing the options and you’ll see where the disagreements are when they come by to see the results. It could be quite the nice game to be played together as well.
During the game you are choosing your actions to the different scenarios. Some of the lines that you can choose are pretty ridiculous and vulgar. Is that more for entertainment sake since it is a video game and they can be really, really funny. Or do some people actually say something like when they stop a girl on the street that they only do it when they “look like they’re dying to be fucked?”
I think that there are a lot of awful things to go on. If you talk to any women, they have probably received dick pics and there’s a lot of unwanted physical touching and grabbing that goes in. A lot of guys after they get rejected, they want to insult her and make her feel bad. There’s a lot of guys that get really drunk and just say outlandish things. So the reason why they are in the game is that without them it would just be the right option and the kind of boring option that is too bland and so she gets bored with you, so there is definitely some in there for entertainment value. But also there’s the good number of them that guys do surprisingly sometimes pull off in real life. Most of my friends are women, and they get hit on a lot and sometimes they’ll even like the guy and then just come to me and be like, “Oh God, you wouldn’t believe what [he] did.” He disappointed me by “Blah,” and you’re like, “Really, he did something like that?” He blew it by doing something that is crude and vulgar and being sexual too early or trying to grab her, treating her with a lack of respect or whatever it might be.
You mentioned it earlier that there are people in the scene that kind of have a hateful, a kind of resentful attitude towards women, but you’re definitely very positive in the game. You can definitely teach those things because when players do choose something that’s like forceful or something like that, you do detail why you wouldn’t want to do that. Do you feel like you have a chance to really kill some of that negativity that has kind of invaded the dating scene in some ways.
I’d like it to, but I almost feel that it’s beyond saving because the whole idea of men, you know, getting better with women. The pick-up artist thing was actually quite cool in 2006 and 2007. Ladies would be like “Oh, wow. You’re a pickup artist? That’s so cool, I’ve got some questions,” or “My brother should go to your classes.” Now it’s as bad as anything could be. I think it’s very hard to use any kind of language that makes men learning seduction skills sound acceptable to the general audience. Unfortunately. We’ll see, though, as there’ll be plenty of people streaming it and stuff. So we’ll see what the, what the general crowd thinks in terms of bringing the pickup artist name out of the mud, but I don’t think it’s likely. And if I started today, I definitely wouldn’t adopt any of that branding just because it’s become way too toxic.
You mentioned earlier that the game originally had power ups, how did this work in the game?
It was a bit dumb. It was a bit like Who Wants to be A Millionaire, so you could freeze the time, you had a 50-50. and then you had a magic foresight [power], where you could choose one [option] kind of risk free. You could see what happens, and then decide whether you actually going to choose it. You had three lives, but it meant that if guys chose the wrong answers just to, kind of have fun with it, the level would end. So we realized that it was pretty stupid.
I guess my final question for you is to tell our readers why they shouldn’t dismiss Super Seducer as something without value because I have seen some dismissive attitudes toward the game. I wouldn’t say I was totally dismissive towards it, but like I kind of took it as sort of a joke when I like first saw the game, but after actually playing it I kind of came away going, “Oh, there’s a lot of actual value here.” So, why shouldn’t people dismiss it?
This is not a dumb FMV game. It’s something that has a lot of thought going into it. Psychologically, it’s designed with any guy in mind who is single, who wants to do better with women or have better social skills. We were careful to make sure that the women are all strong in it. [We made sure that] I get severely dealt with when I’m behaving incorrectly. I think that it’s a lot deeper. It’s easy to dismiss when you see pickup artist and then FMV, but it’s a lot deeper and smarter than you might get. That’s why guys should check it out.
I’d like to thank Richard La Ruina for taking the time to talk to me about Super Seducer. The game releases March 6, 2018 for PlayStation 4 and PC.