Logjam Explores Gay Lumberjack Fantasies and Queer Cottagecore Dreams

Robert Yang’s latest game explores masculinity, queer identity, rural American ideology, and the cottagecore aspirations many millennial city-dwellers wrestle with.

I wouldn’t say that I find most creators (in or out of games) personally and genuinely inspirational, but that is absolutely the case for me with Robert Yang’s work. He’s a game designer who has spent the last few years making work that explores play, queer sexuality, and various subcultures, from his queer shower sim Rinse and Repeat to the historic The Tearoom. These are short but weighty (and often very, very funny and playful) explorations, and I often find his artist statements as fascinating and worthwhile as the games themselves. That’s also the case with Logjam, his latest work, which is a combination of a wood-chopping sim, some beefcake-stripping, and a meditation on loneliness and the complications of rural America and masculinity.

I’m a queer woman, not a queer dude, but I find a lot of resonance here — especially in his thoughts on the cottagecore fantasy that’s perhaps never been far away but nonetheless seems to permeate queer city life, particularly during the pandemic. I just got back after a weekend in the woods with friends (rock climbing, not chopping wood, to be clear), and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an appeal to the whole “rugged individualism thriving in gorgeous outdoor spaces” theme. I may be going for wilderness EMT training sometime soon to learn some practical points there.

logjam sandwich

But, as Yang is clearly wrestling with in the work, that fantasy is very much a fantasy for a clueless millennial like myself: 

“All the points you get from chopping gradually accumulate in a wood pile (day 1) and a log cabin (day 2) in the background. The log cabin has obvious historical significance but I think it also symbolizes the new millennial American Dream of 2020: to leave a cramped apartment and move upstate into a cute eco-friendly off-grid tiny house where you work from home. Of course the exact shape of the cabin varies with your politics. Maybe you’re dreaming of a queer vegan plant mom co-op, or maybe it’s a concrete bunker where you hoard a 5 year supply of rations and ammunition, but either way there’s a renewed collective fantasy of living and surviving in our imagined sense of nature.

There’s at least one problem with this wild utopia: most of us don’t know how to do any of it. Dumb city millennials like me have never even held an axe before, though really that’s just the beginning. We have to learn how to chop wood, but we also have to learn how to live. 

Fortunately these days you can learn anything by watching videos on your phone. And it turns out you learn even more if the teacher is hot.”

Honestly, truer words have never been spoken.

The game goes places in its daily eight-ish minute segments (you can also read the full artist statement for Yang’s intentions, ideas about its progression, and all the symbolic elements he included here), and you can play it for free or a suggested donation of $5