If you were to encounter Chloe Desmoineaux in a game of Counter-Strike, it’s unlikely that you’d notice anything peculiar. Terrorist or counter-terrorist, she’s navigating and hugging the corners of the game’s famous battlefields, like millions have before her. If you are watching Desmoineaux through her Twitch channel or one of her recorded sessions can you see that, up in right-hand box that "Let’s Players" typically live in, she is in a constant state of applying cosmetics to her face, playing the iconic military shooter with a tube of lipstick.
“Counter-Strike is one of those games that's mainly attributed to a male audience,” said Desmoineaux over email. “Lipstick for girls, war games for boys. Fuck that! I can mix it up... If it visually works and the resulting effect is comical, maybe it’s because we all use shortcuts and stereotypes embedded in our heads. It's in this spirit that I got the idea for Lipstrike.”
Desmoineaux ordered a Makey Makey kit, which allows you to alligator-clip nearly anything into a button input, after seeing people online using produce to play Super Mario Bros. Her first experiment was played with a chunk of ginseng, where the perennial’s roots would continue to sprout into the computer monitor upon contact.
In Lipstrike, the lipstick acts similarly to a touchscreen, assuming you keep a habit of kissing your smartphone. Desmoineaux changed Counter-Strike’s defaults so that more could be done with one hand one the mouse, left-click to move forward, right to aim and the scroll-wheel to switch weapons. The most prestigious function, spraying bullets at your opponents, is done by pressing the tube of lipstick to your face. The tech knows when it’s being pressed against skin and completing the circuit, so achieving an especially successful killing sprees might leave you looking like Diane Ladd in Wild at Heart.
Desmoineaux seems to have a particular interest in DIY control interfaces and body contact. When we spoke, she was preparing to take an Arduino-based ninja dueling game to a festival. As for Lipstrike, she feels it works best as a performance, encouraging people to tune into her ongoing battles in the war on terror with the same stone concentrated expression and gestures one would make before hitting the town. She will broadcast her sessions once a week on Twitch until June.