Pick-up Artist Behind ‘Super Seducer 2’ Isn’t Trying to Spark Controversy

Richard La Ruina is a self-proclaimed dating guru who thought it would be a good idea to make a full-fledged video game. The result was Super Seducer, a confusing amalgam of live-action segments meant to help men navigate the dating scene, which sparked an immense controversy online. YouTubers mocked the game’s lack of self-awareness, since you play as La Ruina trying to chat up women actors and find the “right” thing to say. Controversy breeds success, and Super Seducer sold more than 85,000 copies since its release in March. Now, a sequel is on the way in September: Super Seducer 2: Advanced Seduction Tactics.

Newsweek spoke to La Ruina via phone, much to this reporter’s chagrin. Chomping on a bag of crinkly food throughout the entire interview, La Ruina seemed like a cross between The Room creator Tommy Wiseau and Mystery from VH1’s The Pickup Artist.  

Can you tell me a little bit about Super Seducer 2?

Richard La Ruina: It's the follow-up to the famous Super Seducer. It's a dating sim, and it's equal parts entertaining, fun and a learning tool. It's full-motion video, choose-your-own-adventure, there are 600 choices, 12 hours of videos. We think it's the biggest FMV game ever. There's a lot to say about it.

Were you surprised at the reaction to the first Super Seducer?

Yeah, I was a little bit. I really thought that in gaming, people were so used to seeing female characters that were there just for their sex appeal. The character designs in AAA titles, it's games that get 10/10, that have sexy women. We really thought that with Super Seducer we wouldn't have any problem because it was just a dating sim with a 16 rating. We understood some of the comments in retrospect, but at the time we made it, we were naive for thinking it would be fine.

super seducer ewww Women congregate in the newest Super Seducer RLR Training

Did you have any experience with the world of gaming before attempting to make a game?

(Crinkly noises) No, only as a player. I had the Sega Master System.

What were some of the most shocking responses to the first Super Seducer, in your view ?

I understood the articles that wanted to paint it as all negative, with the clickbaity title. The one that jumps to mind is a blamanche of ineptitude that said 'the acting, the music, the way it was shot were bad.' That objectively isn't accurate, you could at least have found something in the game that was well done. What I didn't like, along with my wife and everyone involved, was the stuff that was inaccurate. There was a Guardian article that said that it was a harassment simulator, training the next generation of Harvey Weinsteins. Just factually inaccurate.    

Why is that factually inaccurate?

Because the game doesn't reward any behavior that would be considered harassment or illegal. (Bag crinkles) The Guardian had to withdraw the article. There are things within the game that you shouldn't do, and those are the red options. I don't see how anyone would play the game and see that you were supposed to do or take the lesson that that would work.

When making Super Seducer 2, what steps did you guys take so you could avoid some of the problems of the first?

Ignoring the stupid complaints, like the game encourages harassment, there were real problems. Why are there sexy girls on the bed? Yeah, we probably didn't need to do that. Why don't we get a female perspective and dating tips that will be more valuable to guys, instead of just hearing me? The first game focused on locations rather than specific problems, and the second game has the female perspective levels. What does a woman do when she's looking for a man, what's the psychology? What's the wrong way and the right way? What's the challenge of an Asian guy trying to seduce a Western woman? An older man trying to find a younger woman? We haven't tried to make the people happy that will never be happy with anything that I do.

Now you seem to be adding race and age-related content to the game. Are you trying to make something controversial?

No, I'm not at all. If we wanted to do that, I would have done the first game very differently. It's hard to see how I could have conceived it as controversial because we decided to add feedback. Grand Theft Auto doesn't give you feedback when you kill someone. In Assassin's Creed, there's no system telling you that stabbing is bad. The fact that we included that step was to give further reinforcement not to do that stuff in the real world.

You weren't trying to be controversial with the first either, YouTubers often described the game as "cringey."

There's a type of humor, like Ricky Gervais and Inbetweeners, that's cringe awkward humor.

(Audible groan)

The game has to have something, or else it wouldn't have 20 million YouTube views. (Crinkle of chip bag)

My opinion about why the game picked up was how ridiculous it was. How clueless it made the main character seem and how these options that you picked were the correct ones to get the girl. I used to watch those pick-up dating shows on VH1 when I was in middle school. You tried to make the dating world seem so simplistic, which it really isn't.

I don't know, I've got a lot of credentials in the area of dating advice. I don't need to say 'I'm a dating guru and should be listened to,' you can just look at my personal and media page. I've been a guru on hundreds of different things, given dating advice, training people and being put into situations where I prove that this works. Whatever people think of the game or me is fine, but objectively people like my advice.

super seducer 2 Scene from the new Super Seducer 2 RLR Training

Would you say you have an ego?

As much as anyone else… I've got an ego on things I’m talented in.

Can you tell me a bit about how you tried to add a female perspective when creating Super Seducer 2?

Male and female approach to dating is very different. A man is genuinely the one who would make the first move, make the invitations and requests. A woman, who's meeting a lot of men, is thinking if they are good or not. It gives a totally new dimension to the game because it is different. I started a dating advice company for women that's now worth millions and millions. We could have made 10 levels for women but we weren't sure how the players would think, so in this sequel we put in two.      

Do you think these games have helped anyone's dating life?

Yeah definitely. I've got emails and seen plenty of comments that have taken this seriously and done well. This isn't new for me, it's been my job and sole income since 2006… If you're going to ask if I help people, you can read the reviews of my book on Audible and Amazon and see what people think. They have no reason to lie and there's a lot of reviews.

They have no reason to lie on the internet. That's an interesting take.

It's a book on Amazon and there's a lot of reviews. It's on Audible and I think you can only read a review of the book if you listen to it and buy it. It's like if I said I'm a lawyer, you wouldn't be asking me if I was a good lawyer.

Being a lawyer and a dating guru aren't the same thing. You have to go to school to be a lawyer and have accreditation. You have things on your website.

But, 12 years. (More crinkling)

What do you hope is the legacy of Super Seducer?

I'd like it to be well-received, commercially successful and have a positive impact on people.