Someone wasn't horsing around when they wrote to an advice column regarding a very specific issue relating to horse simulation games.
On Oct. 8, an edited transcript from a "Dear Prudence" live chat session ponied up a problem from an anonymous chat participant called "Concerned anti-horse man." The chatter shared that a friend of his had recently become obsessed with a horse breeding simulation game. The problem wasn't that she was spending all her time on it, but that "she named all her horses after me and my friends and is 'breeding' us."
"I'm afraid to tell her this makes me uncomfortable because it's all a big joke to her," the writer said in the chat.
Chat host Daniel Mallory Ortberg admitted he'd never encountered such an issue.
"I feel a little quaint and naïve—it never even occurred to me that there were online horse-breeding games," he answered.
The columnist then went on to address the situation, noting that it can be hard to explain that something so "goofy and harmless" can still bother a person. Ortberg advised Concerned to simply ask his friend to stop using his name in the game. He further suggested reasoning with the friend that it would "go a long way toward making [Concerned] feel comfortable" and he'd "really appreciate that."
Another person then wrote into the chat, claiming to work on such a horse simulation game. That chat contributor recommended Concerned tell his friend he'll try the game when she takes his name out of it. The contributor noted people who play games like this typically prefer recruiting friends to the game over keeping a single horse's name, adding that Concerned should talk to his friend in person.
"She knows on some level that treating her friends like dolls in a dollhouse is creepy—I see our customers talking about this topic on a regular basis—but the only way to break through her defensiveness will be with actual eye contact," the writer said.
"I’m weirdly glad it’s apparently such a common problem, because that means a lot of other people have already had to come up with solutions," Ortberg replied. "How to get out of what sounds like a horse-breeding pyramid scheme, though, that’s another question entirely."
Ortberg then went on to close the column with another horse joke.
"[M]ay all of your fictional horse-breeding stock be free from fescue toxicity," he said.
"Dear Prudence" is an advice column that appears in the online magazine Slate. The syndicated column frequently covers a variety of issues concerning interpersonal relationships, etiquette and general life challenges.
Given the column's popularity, it was only a matter of time before the gaming community chimed in on the story.
Cat Manning, an indie game narrative designer and writer, shared their thoughts on the interaction.
absolutely incredible Dear Prudence column today pic.twitter.com/D1Es2dzgDI— Cat Manning is the doctor, not the monster (@catacalypto) October 8, 2019
Fans then responded with suggestions as to horse breeding simulation games to try.
It's easy to appreciate horse simulation game fans' unbridled enthusiasm for the genre. In any case, one can hope Concerned anti-horse man's friend respects his wishes to say "neigh" to using his name.