Open-source indie game allows players to simulate coming out as gay
An independent game developer has released a public domain, open-source game allowing players to recreate the experience of ‘coming out’ for the first time.
Indie game designer Nicky Case said that the free-to-play online game, entitled ‘Coming Out Simulator 2014’, is semi-autobiographical and based on his own experiences. It bears the tagline: “A half-true game about half-truths.”
“This game includes dialogue that I, my parents, and my ex-boyfriend actually said. As well as all the things we could have, should have, and never would have said,” explains Nicky in the in-game introduction.
The player character, urged on by his boyfriend, negotiates the process of coming out to his parents over the course of an evening, through dialogue options. Each dialogue gives the player three possible choices, of varying levels of openness and denial about the character’s sexuality.
Characters remember every conversation choice made throughout the game, constantly referring back to seemingly insignificant things mentioned earlier, and there are three possible endings, none of which is clean or easy. Just as there is no one coming-out story, there is no one play-through of this game.
In a blog post describing the game, Nicky writes: “What really, really mattered to me, was all the touching responses I got sent to me via Twitter and email. I had no idea I’d be so moved. People in the closet, people already out, parents who want to support their kids, ex-boyfriends of closeted peeps… all reached out to me.
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“I was worried, at first, about putting out such a depressing story about coming out. It might have the negative consequence of scaring teens into not coming out.
“But it turned out, by really diving into the deep end, my game could reach out to people in a dark place. I don’t think it could have reached them if the game was all sunshine and rainbows.
“My game could say to them, hey. This sucks, and it won’t be easy, I’m sorry. Just know you’re not alone.”
The blog post continues: “I realize now, Coming Out Simulator 2014 isn’t about being queer… it’s bigger than that. People are in the closet about their religious beliefs, their politics, or odd little hobbies they have. I realize now, my game is about half-truths.
“It’s that tension between needing to be who you are, and hiding that so you can get by day-to-day. It’s about living that double-life, that double-consciousness, always aware what others think of you. It’s a mix of truth and lies.”
The game was created as part of the “Nar8 game jam”, which gives developers little more than three weeks to create a free-to-play game “focused on telling a story”. Users vote for whichever game they feel best achieves this goal.