MSCHF, an art collective that previously launched “Satan Shoes” Nike trainers that reportedly contained Lil Nas X’s blood, has announced Tax Heaven 3000 — a visual novel dating game that will do U.S. players’ taxes for them.
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Set to launch on March 31, Tax Heaven 3000 (TH3K) tasks players with dating Iris, a “cheerful and easygoing girl who is oddly interested in your personal finances”.
Beyond managing a relationship with Iris, TH3K players in the United States will also find that the visual novel prepares their 2022 federal income tax return for them.
With TH3K, MSCHF has taken aim at the US taxing system, which the collective claims is muddied by “predatory, parasitic” corporations that “deliberately complicate the tax filing process” in order to sell their solution to users.
Speaking to NME, MSCHF co-founder Dan Greenberg claimed that TurboTax is a “perfect example” of Dark UI.
“TurboTax, per its own internal documents, is built on the ‘Fear Uncertainty and Doubt’ that ordinary people have about their taxes,” he stated. “Against this we pit free software instead built on parasocial desire for intimacy and benign horniness! If TurboTax is Dark UI, TH3K is Pink UI, the nightcore of tax software.”
Greenberg added that taxing software such as TurboTax advertises itself as free, but builds in “necessary and unnecessary paid additions into their product whenever the user is most vulnerable to it”.
“The loading animations in their software are canned looping gifs, placed in order to make the process seem intimidating to the user,” he continued. “Then on the other hand you have visual novels. Romantic visual novels are some of the softest UI around – that’s a major selling point of the genre, in fact – which makes it a great counterpoint.”
On whether he classified TH3K as a form of protest, Greenberg said: “Is creating an alternative ‘protest?’ If you’re single, working a W2 job, and young, there’s a good chance you can fully do your federal return with TH3K and go file it.”
“But yes, in a larger sense TH3K is a symbolic gesture, given that it’s not a universal solution,” he continued. “The game explicitly endorses breaking down the private enterprise stranglehold on a public function that TurboTax has.”
Greenberg added that like most scenes, gaming “probably” has more room for social activism.
“This is the third videogame MSCHF has ever made; we are an artist group, not a game development studio. Even simple games are massive undertakings. For any activist effort the strategy ought to determine the medium – will the form, game or otherwise, be the most effective one you could use in service of your message?”
When asked if Josh Wardle – the creator of Wordle, who now works as a software engineer at MSCHF – was involved in the creation of TH3K, Greenberg declined to comment.
In other gaming news, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will reportedly launch in September.