A Closed World
In A Closed World, a turn-based RPG adventure from Team Fabulous, you play a young person who has gone into a vast and dangerous forest alone despite the warnings of your family, and now find yourself a target for the demons lurking within. Everyone has warned you its a place of no return, but your beloved chose to enter it some time ago rather than suffer at home, and now it's your turn to follow. Use the [arrow] keys to walk around, the [spacebar] to interact, and press [ESC] to see the instructions at any time. Demons here aren't found with sword or magic, but instead with Passion, Logics, and Ethics, which are played against one another in combat in a sort of rock-paper-scissors fashion; Passion defies Logic, Logic challenges Ethics, and Ethics sway Passion. Figure out what your opponent is using against you in order to defeat them, and take a breath when you need to so you don't lose your Composure or you'll be defeated. Be warned; there's no save feature, so you have to complete the whole thing in one sitting.
A Closed World was created as one of Gambit's Summer 2011 prototypes, with the intent of creating a game with LGBTQ-friendly content in a manner that felt genuine rather than "tacked on". The main issues a lot of games with messages trip themselves up with is either being too heavy handed or too vague, but for the most part A Closed World manages to walk the line between these two problems. It earns high marks for approaching its chosen themes both confidently and in a compelling fashion, allowing you to both take from and project onto it what's most personal and important to you. Even if you don't feel that any of the LGBTQ "labels" apply to you, it's hard not to feel sympathy for the protagonist and get caught up in the narrative, revealed through short cutscenes between each demon you battle.
On the other hand, the repetitive nature of combat means that the relatively short length, around fifteen minutes or so, probably works in the game's favour. If it were any longer, it's unlikely that the wash-rinse-repeat gameplay would have sustained it without some new elements; combat is extremely easy since you can just spam "breathe" until your Composure is full while enemies themselves can't heal, and it's sort of like being stuck in an extremely symbolic Pokemon battle without the flashy attacks. It does say something, however, that despite these problems its easy to find yourself compelled to finish, and the ending is a message a lot of people will find touching and relevant regardless of their orientation or identity. It's a lovely little game that's more than a little poignant, and is definitely a welcome addition to an often neglected piece of narrative.
Thanks to Elijah for sending this one in!
I'm not entirely sure I ever got an explanation as to what LGBTQ is...
(As I understand it, it started out as LGB long ago, but has grown over the years as those three categories were found to be insufficient)
I should REALLY read the descriptions more...
I was half-way through when I realised my "sweet heart" was a guy...
Its bangkok all over again! ahh!
Its not bad but its more about the message and isnt that good combat wise if the message doesnt apply to you, visually and story wise it was solid, I just wished they astablished who my sweet heart was, or at least made him more manly... no not like that! so I could tell if he was a man!
Also didnt like how the statue at the end looks like the devils pet lizard, shouldnt it be an angel or something seeing as its the beacon of um... gayness? no that sounds stupid... the beacon of self understanding!?
As far as a game, it's alright, with an interesting twist with the game mechanics. But as far as theme went, it was incredibly clumsy. It is one thing to make a game LGBTQ-friendly. it's another thing to make it so that only one message can get through. This game has absolutely no thematic value of you are not LGBTQ, and even then, if you are, this merely reaffirms the statements you have already made.
At the bottom, they said they wanted a game that didn't feel like the LGBTQ content was tacked on at the end. what they made was the tacked-on LGBTQ content and forgot the rest of the game.
It was a good try, though ultimately, it failed.
JIGuest, I think the statue at the end is more supposed to represent the demons you conquer along the way and are leaving behind.
Nester64, I'm surprised to hear you say the theme has no impact if you aren't gay/whatever. I'm straight and I thought the theme (basically, the writing on the stump and the statue) was extremely beautiful and absolutely relevant regardless of identity or orientation. How is the concept that you can emerge from hardship and pain and not forget it while still not letting it rule you while you go on to become a better person restricted to one group of people?
Forgot to suggest a fix:
This game could be fixed, simply, and without any loss of theme, if they had put a option to suggest the gender of your character's 'sweetheart.'
Even then, they didn't leave any room for the conflict if your characters were of opposite gender. Perhaps if they stressed arranged marriages in the village's culture, The game would still be about going against the established norm.
I'm not sure if this was a bug or intentional, but...
When playing as a girl:
My sweetheart was a boy. He ended up marrying a boy. And my "dad" was dressed in drag while putting up the laundry. So perhaps this is some sort of alternate universe where heterosexuals are in the minority and oppressed and misunderstood by the majority homosexual population?
As a result, I was a bit befuddled how to interpret the story with a female protagonist.
However: When playing as a boy, I think the story did a decent job of portraying the confusion, alienation, and loss associated with being an outcast, tying it gently back to the LGB experience without being too heavy-handed.
The rock-paper-scissors mechanic, while quite simplistic, forced some mild analysis of the utterances in order to optimize the attack strategy. Subtle teaching moment - nice.
Solid example of an "art" game, in my opinion.
The impact of any game relies on the player being able to inhabit the character. It is critical to suspend disbelief for a few minutes and step out of your life into the life portrayed by the storyteller. Unwillingness to do that will make the emotional content of any game unapproachable.
Played this on the Gambit site about a few days ago.
If the goal of "A Closed World" was to make a game that educated straight players about homophobia, then they may or may not have succeeded at that goal. (Full disclosure: I am not straight, and I darn well know what homophobia is.) The game presented a character facing intolerance for who they are and how they love, but there wasn't much else to the game besides that. Somebody who hasn't been through this might feel bad for the protagonist, but might not feel anything. This character reads to me as a placeholder, not a person, and while taking on this character's role in the game might foster some empathy, it's hard to put yourself in the shoes of somebody who feels as flat as cardboard.
Not to mention, it's unlikely that the straight people who need to hear the message that homophobia is bad will play a game that's fairly obviously about homophobia. LGBTQ people, and straight people who already get the message that discrimination is bad, might play... but anyone who does not already know this (either homophobes, or straight people who feel this is none of their business) is not likely to be drawn in by the premise.
The game's twist at the end, that
the protagonist is heterosexual, and lives in a world where heterosexuality is seen as wrong
may affect some of these players who have never thought about homophobia. Unfortunately, it also may be easy to dismiss. However, these issues aren't new to me, and I can't accurately gauge the reaction of somebody who's new to the topic. Perhaps the game is a better education tool than I suspect.
But is it inclusive of LGBTQ players?
I've talked to a lot of not-straight people who love games, some that make games, too. The overwhelming thing that they want in games is... more queer characters. Queer supporting characters that you interact as. Queer main characters that you play as. Queer characters who get to have romance plots, and who get to have plots that have nothing to do with romance, and who get to have plots that have nothing to do with being queer. Basically, having people like us be part of things.
This game did not manage that.
The player gets to pick their gender, but their character is always heterosexual. The story follows the standard "gay plot", but with heterosexuals as the oppressed party. As a gay person, this pulled me out of the story completely. I realize there were other reasons behind this choice, but it felt like this was a story about the "gay experience", but with all the gay people taken out, and that feels... kind of wrong.
The experiences of the oppressed were also completely reduced to their oppression. None of the not-straight people I know are all about being discriminated against. They have interests, and strengths and flaws. Some make art. Some are wonderful conversationalists. It's the human things about a human that make it a tragedy that others can treat them badly for no good reason. Just as it makes this character hard to relate to for people who don't face discrimination, it makes this character hard to relate to for people who do.
Of course, other not-straights might feel differently, and think that this game captured their experience better. This is only my opinion. But I think that if the folks at Gambit wanted to make an LGBTQ-inclusive game, they could have just made a game with some LGBTQ people in it.
@Dora I agree with you about the writing on the tree and the statue, but they provide little to the story. The themes I'm talking about were the ones presented in the flashbacks as reason for entering into the forest in the first place.
The demons are also pretty neutral, in the respect they only represent the resistance that one encounters from those who hold up the established ethics of the community.
All these, however, are colored by the themes presented in the framework of the plot, which stresses that your character is gay/lez/whatever. the flaw is in the plot, the message of which determines the overall thematic context, despite whatever the secondary themes are.
In this case the secondary themes of overcoming adversity from circumstances and people as well as your path is you own are affected by the conflict's themes of sexual orientation conflicting against the norm, with the enforced detail that your character is gay/lez/whatever the gestalt theme being this: "You should stick to your LGBTQ sexual orientation despite the community's resistance."
This overall theme has no value if you are not LGBTQ. One does not sell a game based on a part, one must pitch the whole to the audience, and, in the end, if the game impacts only a portion of the target audience, it is ultimately a failure.
@ A where do you get reverse plot twist at the end? was it after the credits?
The twist isn't after the end, it's towards the end. Specifically,
after you fight the demon representing your sweetheart. There's a scene where you remember asking him (I'm a girl and played as a girl) to leave with you, and finding out that your sweetheart has caved into his family's pressure to get married. The invitation mentioned he was marrying a man. I assume that if you play as a boy, your sweetheart is pressured into getting a wife.
Also, what's wrong with targeting a game toward a specific group of people? I was not a fan of this game, but if somebody made a game with a gay audience in mind, why would that be a bad thing?
This game is like a story that was in an old issue of Playboy,
the moral of which was that if it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a predominantly homosexual society, it's equally wrong to persecute homosexuals in a predominantly heterosexual society.
This game missed its mark for me. I agree with A's analysis.
Actually, it plays completely differently if you choose to play as Male. I'm guessing it was simply not tested well and the "twist" when playing as Female was entirely unintentional.
I never liked games that look at specific topics, but not because of the content itself. Rather, I like games that present an idea that is universal in everything, like how time goes forward just as everything must continue (until the end, at least). The problem I have with specific-topic works is that only the artists can fully know what it is that they made. Only the artists know what they were thinking, while the viewers of said art can only interpret the works through their own definitions. I do like thought-provoking works, and there is nothing wrong with said works, but I am a viewer who is afraid to make the wrong interpretation.
Absolutely! That's why all games are designed to appeal equally to everyone.
Actually, if it made you feel left out, maybe it's cleverer than we're giving it credit for....
Strangely, I played as a girl and my sweetheart was a girl who
as the twist ending, caved in the end to her parents and married a man.
So this game, although I am straight and LGBTQ-sympathetic, completely hit the mark for me. I'm wondering if it just wasn't playtested well or, for some reason, randomly chooses the non-player-chosen genders.
I'm thinking it's random.
I chose male, the sweetheart was female, and was set to be married to a "bride-to-be." Of course, the term "bride-to-be" doesn't necessarily mean that her betrothed was female, does it? In a universe where the father of the protagonist wears clothing and does housework we would normally associate with the mother of the household, terminology may also lose its specific meaning.
It's been mentioned a couple of times, so sorry if I'm repeating, but!
If you choose the girl option at the beginning the result is not a "lez" version of the story. It seems to be a hetero couple in a world where homosexuality is the norm (Dad-character dressing in drag and judging the player's hair, the male sweetheart marrying a man, etc). So! It's not really just "stick to your LGBTQ sexual orientation", but really "don't be afraid to stay true to yourself. Period."
Which is why the writing on the stump and statue ARE so important to the story... I actually really like that the writing is parallel in both of these worlds with such opposite social structures.
At least that's the impression I got!
Interesting views!! I agree with where you're coming from in having LGBTQ characters being plain old HUMANS in games and not focusing on their sexual orientation(s). However, that doesn't happen very much at the moment (right? to be completely honest it hasn't been on my radar...).
So! Maybe a blatant confrontation of different-ness is a good launching point for these more fundamental changes? And if your non-straight friends make games then they should put what they want in their games! Right?
The impression that I got from the story (while the main focus embraces sexual orientation rather than the idea of being human) was not a romantic one...
...the overall concept is not one of "getting the sweetheart", but one of SELF-acceptance. The game is the journey of this character so that s/he CAN function in whichever society s/he belongs to and make great art and wonderful conversations and generally be human despite his/her being different.
While not explicitly stated in the story, I assume that would be the next step for this character...
Overall, gameplay could have been a bit more dynamic and the story could have done a bit more to draw the player in (super-short!)... But I liked the emotional battles as opposed to physical ones and the artwork was pretty cool!
Ohhhhh! Randomly generated world/character orientations!! That would explain a lot. And is super-cool!
Can someone explain how the catagory "queer" does not encompass one of the other labels in the LBGTQ category. Confusing to say the least.
I would also say that the LBGTQ group must not, or has not been very involved in gaming. Having played games on PC and console for 20+ years, their community is represented proportionate to their representation in society. Not every game needs, or should have, a homosexual in it. It would misrepresent society as a whole. If you are looking for representation and haven't found it, look harder. Here's a start: Dragon Age. There is a homosexual plot line in there if you choose it. A very mainstream, very popular game.
I guess I should comment on the game, too :)
I thought the cut-scenes were very beautiful. The game animation was average, but good. The combat model left more than a little to be desired.
As someone else said, though, it is distracting to have a diatribe about what your game is about before the person even gets a chance to play it. I feel like I was constantly looking for the message instead of playing the game. The note on the game page would have been better as an epilogue to the game, I feel.
As the original submitter, I appreciated hearing all the feedback. I submitted the game because after playing the game on queerity's glowing recommendation, I came away confused and wishing i liked the game better than I had.
Like many of the earlier posters, I thought the message was a bit heavy handed. for me the game's glaring error was the art style.
I played the game as male in what I now realize was a homonormative world, so seeing the dad character in drag getting the laundry just confused the tar out of me. The game ended before I was able to sort things out. Having more photorealistic graphics may have motivated me to replay the game.
Dora, I'm pleasantly suprised JIG rated the game "G." In movies homosexual content usually bumps games up a notch or two. Thanks for reaffirming my faith in a classy world.
I played this a while back when it was reported on one of the GLBT news sites I read.
The heteronormative and homonormative storylines are random. I played through it twice, both times as a male, and received each once, and was quite surprised the second time when I got the homonormative scenario. Looking at the comments from the project owner at his blog, he confirms the existence of these two scenarios.
Thoughts on the ending:
I actually felt that the game's ending gave too much credit to the crucible that most LGBTQ people go (went?) through. It sounded like a weak "Don't kill yourself over your bad experiences! Live beyond them!", but a stronger "Those bad experiences are good things, therefore we shouldn't fix them!"
I thought the art was kinda nice. But whereas the review says the game walks the line between being heavy-handed and vague, I'd say the game destroys the line and manages to be *both* heavy-handed and vague. Still, three shrooms for art and obvious effort, even if there's not much game there.
@DK I bet we found it on the same site. Your comment makes me think of the kerfluffle over the "it gets better" project not going far enough to project a message of support for today's queer teens. I wonder if the videogame format will resonate with today's teens better than a video? My guess is if they get a pop star to voice the characters in the remake, it might stand a shot.
Yeah, it appears that all the gender identifiers are randomized, which the rule that who you're betrothed to (it's you who got married, not your sweetheart - they're the one you're chasing) must be of the opposite gender of your sweetheart. Which explains the ambiguous character sprites.
In any case, I'm happy to see that someone FINALLY found a valid use for that annoyingly androgynous anime art style! :p
I think this game might be most valuable for the younger players, who haven't had enough experience with the world to have encountered these questions. Perhaps they would gain some insight or empathy from it.
I actually personally felt (feel) that because of the slight vagueness in the dialogue relating to WHY everyone considers you so "weird" and "not normal", combined with the setting, the game wasn't that heavy-handed. (Though I can understand how others might feel differently) While admittedly the core message about the things LGBTQ people often go through is pretty prevalent, I still think it offers enough relevancy to anyone who was considered "weird" as a teenager or younger to make it worth a play and thought of anyone regardless of their personal issues. Perspective and all that. Besides, while games like this are important right now, I still look forward to the day where the whole "us and the other guys" line isn't so stark in the sand, and someone's sexual or gender identity (or race or religion or favourite pizza topping) isn't a qualifier.
... and... and everyone owns a pony. That is also important. Someone get on that.
I agree with poptart. I think, if you have had a certain amount of life experience, that this game doesn't do anything new. It probably also doesn't much matter if you are LGBTQ or not (I am, in case that interests you); the main message
about being true to yourself despite the risk
is not surprising and I expect most people will come to that realisation on their own; the game simply confirms the emotional importance of that.
The writing is generally good, but not quite enough to impress me.
I found the ambiguous art annoying. I think, in a game where gender and sexual orientation is the theme, that these things should be quite clearly defined so that we don't have to wonder who looks like what and so on. There's no need for it. If my character is male, he should look obviously male; an ambiguous-looking character breaks the immersion for me because it makes me wonder what the designer's agenda is here.
I got the following plot:
Male PC, male sweetheart, sweetheart ran into forest because PC's parents arranged wedding to a 'bride'.
I was left feeling largely unmoved, I think because these ideas are not new for me, though they may be for others who play this game.
Dora, we express the same thing :) . I am a misfit and this game does make me think on a positive way of my misfit-ness. It's a good coincident too that at the moment before I play this game, I feel so depressed and alone. While a lot of things on this game feels so confusing, I can relate the text on the first stump to myself, I can relate the character's symbolic struggles to myself (to beat those you love, to venture to land you don't know, to even beat yourself), and I can relate the ending text to myself.
It doesn't reveal anything I don't know, neither give a real solution, but it resonates with what I already know, like an affirmation.
For this, the developers are successful on touching my emotions. I feel a bit better of myself and I wish I could email a thank you to the makers :) .
@errant_barnacle: Who says they haven't? Somebody I know did make a queer-friendly game that ended up here, and as far as I remember it was quite well-received.
I realize the story here was supposed to be about self-acceptance, not romance, but I still think it would have been better if we knew even a few things about the protagonist that weren't "society doesn't like my sexual orientation". Again, telling us what this character was actually like, would have done a world of difference in making them easier to care about.
@neo1973: As I understand it, "queer" is an umbrella term. If you want to talk about people who don't fit the heteronormative model in general, "queer" works like LGBT. Plus, some people are not straight, but don't feel like any of the labels fit exactly (for example, a woman who mostly likes women but sometimes likes men might not feel "bisexual", because it's far from an even split, but might not feel like a "lesbian" either, since she isn't completely uninterested in men that way) often identify as "quuer", because it shows they're not straight without having to use any of the words to describe exactly in what way they're not straight. So queer both works in describing non-straight people as a group, and specific people who fall between the label markers.
Also, yes. Not every game needs queer people in it. If your game is about a girl saving the boy she likes and there's no room for secondary characters, then yes. It's fine as it is. But if a game maker wants to instead tell a story about a boy saving the boy he loves, or a girl saving the girl she loves, that's fine as it is, too.
And if a game involves a player avatar character who has romantic subplots, why force the player to be straight? Queer people play games too, and if we're talking about the example of Dragon Age, the fact that it allows queer players to have queer characters has been newsworthy, and made the game wildly popular among queer gamer audiences. Who have money, just like everyone else. And it did this without taking any options away from a straight player. And Dragon Age was just one game. One game, doing something out of the ordinary compared to the other games out there.
That there's this one game with equal options for queer people doesn't at all mean that yeah, we're done, queer players have all they need.
@zbeeblebrox: Good to know it's randomized, that seems a little less... skeevy. Doesn't feel like a very good design choice, though, because not many people are likely to give the game a second playthrough, and there's no real way of matching up players to the version that would be most effective for them.
Er, "queer", not "quuer". Stupid keyboard.
On the subject of LGBTQ characters/themes in games, I actually would agree with neo1973. Taking a conservative estimate of the LGBT population being about 5% (estimates range from 1-10%), one would expect to find these characters/themes in 5% or 1 in 20 games played, and possibly what I observe does fit that. It is a case of looking harder.
But I would suggest that this is indeed unfair. Such characters are often invisible or supporting characters or their presence is otherwise unremarkable. Why aren't there any games where boy saves boy or girl saves girl, as 'A' says? I can't think of a single game where the protagonist is gay (with the exception of RPGs where you can make that choice in-game).
Before Dragon Age there was Jade Empire, an RPG which allowed you to pursue a same-sex romance subplot, but ONLY if you explicitly rejected the 'default' romances with the opposite sex. Naturally, most players didn't know this beforehand and wouldn't guess it from the way the game presents it, so the subplot was then rendered invisible. It sounds like indirect discrimination to me though kudos to BioWare for having anything at all.
The only other (mainstream) games I have played that have an LGBT angle are:
* 'don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story' by Christine Love, which was reviewed on JiG
* Deus Ex 2 where an NPC is implied to be gay
* Fable where there are same-sex NPCs attracted to your player character
* People simulators - The Sims
In other words, it's a lonely game world out there!
... Meh. It's all right, but...
It doesn't go nearly enough in-depth about anything, and it's... not really a game that's had that much thought put into the game itself. If it were presented as interactive art, honestly, that would make more sense.
Anyway, the point is, while to an extent I see how the game does reflect some peoples' reactions in real life, it also kind of paints a too-broad picture that lumps multiple problems together and ends up making each seem insignificant. While I'll admit it's possible for this many situations to come together in real life, it's hardly likely that every single person around you would suddenly hate you AND your partner and that your partner would also decide to 'go straight' because of it.
Of course, that might just be because Florida is quite a bit more accepting of homosexual relationships and because probably 50-60% of my friends are bi or homosexual.
Anyway this game just kind of seems to portray homosexuals in a weak light imo : /
I really feel like the repetitious combat hurts the impact of the game. The difficult thing about affirming your own identity to your loved ones is that they constantly switch arguments on you.
The dialogue needed to evolve as combat continued, more like a puzzle, and the dialogue needed to be more realistic. Real parents don't just "try to make you believe in lies" or whatever other vague thing. They make it much harder on you than that.
Because the combat dialogue, which you spend most of your time engaged in, is so unfocused, the game is only mildly poignant, where it could have really stung. A game that's trying to convey an important message needs much better writing.
The best way I've heard human sexual orientation described is not as slots but as a spectrum or range of preferences. If you think about it that way, there is probably a much larger portion of the population that would describe themselves as "queer" as A so beautifully explained...or perhaps just not completely straight. I think it can be a range of "I have always been attracted to X" or "I only ever looked at X and am now allowing myself to look at or contemplate Y" to "I just know who I love." Just as race is not always an easy category to contemplate, I think that defining who you are attracted to is equally complicated. For the purposes of simplicity, the game shows you one scenario (and a different one if you play again) about not fitting in with the world you know. I liked the (admittedly not new) idea of "if this world doesn't fit you, make a bigger world". However I felt like the protagonist was running away from the pain dealt by the sweetheart's betrayal, not really running to something.
I would have liked the arguments to carry more weight, and the choices between logic, passion, and ethics to be more fleshed out. It was neat that sometimes the protagonist was stunned and couldn't use one method of defense/offense.
. . . Wait, so it's supposed to be LGBTQ friendly and the first thing you're prompted to do is pick whether you're male or female? FAIL. Not all of us identify as one or the other . . .
@ Tom: The latest I've heard is that 10% is a pretty accurate figure for people who actually are queer, but it's a little lower for people who actually see themselves that way (either queer, LBGT, etc.) Since it's not a neutral thing in society, some people will, for example, admit in a private survey that they're attracted to the same gender, but won't be out of the closet.
The way I see it, it's not about percentages, but about making all players feel like they're represented in games. Yes, there are probably going to be more stories about straight people, but there should be enough about queer people so that they've got a selection to choose from, same as everyone else. Straight people, especially straight men, can find roleplaying games, fighting games, shooters, casual games, adventure games, IF, visual novels, platformers, strategy games... pretty much any kind of game, and they can find it in a way that reflects some pretty basic facts of their lives. And there's more than one game about straight people for each of these genres, a lot more than one. That's what I want for us, and that's what a lot of other queer people I know want. It's not going to hurt straight people, because there's still going to be more games about straight people coming out (heh), and if a game they're interested in happens to be about queer people? Then they can do what queer people have been doing since forever, and learn to relate to people different from them once in a while.
And when the protagonist of the game can be customized, or is just a placeholder for the player? (Dragon Age and similar games are good examples of this.) There's really no excuse for only allowing people to play as a straight character. Straight people will still have their options, and since most of these games allow a player to make a main character of either gender, it's not like it's that much harder on the developer either.
But that is just my thoughts, and I know that this would be a change people would have to work for.
@anon, I said the same thing earlier, but my post never appeared. I wondered if it got censored. That'd be ironic.
Anyway, that question in a LGBTQ friendly game is bad enough, but then they go and make it even worse by presenting it as the Most Important Question Of All, complete with a spoken intro explaining how Important it is. And give you only the male or female options. It's a punch to the face, and there's nothing in the game that wouldn't work with a PC of unspecified gender.
I noticed that, at least when I played,
logic didn't work very often.
It's interesting because, when discussing LGBTQ issues in real life, that's true, too.
The spoken intro was a bit rubbish and completely unnecessary for the message of the game.
The gameplay was great.
I loved that you basically couldn't lose in the battles against your demons, if you just stood back and took lots of deep breaths and considered your strategy. If only that always worked in real life! But still heartening, even if just in a game.
It was really nice. Basically a series of practice runs for inevitable real life future confrontations, but in a safe way.
As for whether the sweethearts are random:
I played as a girl and my sweetheart was a man who married another man.
I thought the sweetheart was a girl. *she*
And then the sweetheart's note reveals that you are a guy. *daughter* *son-in-law*
A very nicely done game. The forest confronts you with the *demons* in your life, the obstacles you face. To have made it that far is quite a feat.
Oh, the sweethearts are different?
In my game, I was a girl.
My sweetheart was a girl.
I was in an arranged marriage to a man.
I did not get the random-switching genderness of the game when I played it; I think I would have liked that aspect more if there had been some motive to replay it and see a different combo work out.
I liked the concept of the combat more than the actuality -- fun to have to figure out what skill to use based on clues in the dialogue, but boring when the dialogue didn't change or evolve very much.
The plot made me think of "The Well of Loneliness" or "The Boys in the Band" -- works that were radical for their times, but now seem dated because they make it seem tragic to be gay. I actually think Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars is a better game from that perspective, because it just takes Queerness as a given and makes it seem, you know... kind of fun.
I understand wanting to be represented more and empathetic to that cause, however, consider this:
In any given year, there might be 20 games that are worth mentioning. MIGHT. But for arguement sake, lets say twenty. And, giving you the benefit of the doubt, not Tom, lets say 2 games include or even feature LBG characters/ plot lines (btw, I just remembered that Mass Effect series has LBG romance lines as well, which makes pretty much the three biggest RPG hitters over the past 4 years inclusive). Anyway, back to my point, 2 have plot lines. My gut tells me that there would still be an outcry from the LBG community for not having MORE inclusion in games, which to me would be out of sync with LBG representation in society. I guess another question is this:
Do you believe that every game that has, say, more than 5 characters, should include a LGB character?
I guess my thoughts are that in some of the most important games out today, and the ones where orientation would be relevant to the gameplay (sorry, making your draftpick in Madden be 4.4 40, 19 reps, and oh yeah, I'm queer... not relevant to the gameplay, IMHO) include LGB subplots in equal standing to the hetero subplots, not hidden as the one Tom referenced.
A great discussion to read, much more interesting than the game.
Just wanted to point out to Neo and all that the "Q" in LGBTQ stands for for both "queer" and "questioning;" in other words, someone who identifies as queer but is questioning their sexual identity.
I'm glad I read these comments xD I had no idea what was going on the entire time I was playing and couldn't figure out how the game had anything to do with LGBTQ.
I guess I wasn't observant enough to figure out that the story (for my playthrough) took place in a world where homosexuality was the norm. The message was totally lost on me.
The gameplay was cool and I liked it, but there could've been more messages for each kind of attack. It was sort of lame seeing the same dialogue over and over.
@neo1973: Well, putting a hard rule on it is silly. Depending on the content of the game, sometimes nobody's sexual orientation is known at all (such as, the game has no romantic content, the characters have no discernable gender, the characters are too young to be expressing interest in anybody, etc). Nobody's saying those games should make it clear that HEY SOME OF THESE CHARACTERS ARE GAY, when it would just feel added on.
Again, in games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, where the player makes their own character, defines their personality, and chooses what romance plot, if any, to pursue, same-gender romance options should be standard fare. There's no good reason to leave them out. Even in stories where there's a set protagonist but a choice between several love interests, I think there should be at least one same gender romance option, though I understand in some cases it wouldn't fit. (Some cases meaning: when the fact that one is a boy and one is a girl is very, very important to the plot. This is not the majority of stories.)
But if the characters are set and your character either has no romance, or one set romance, then there is no hard rule. The problem is that society views queer people as incredibly different than "normal" people, and queerness as the biggest part of someone's personality. There's no easy solution, though hiring queer writers too (and allowing them to write queer characters), and encouraging straight writers to be mindful of this, would probably help. So no, I wouldn't encourage a "1 queer for every 5 people" rule or anything, it's just... people should broaden their horizons with who they're willing to make games about.
You're doing the same thing, sort of. You're assuming that any game with a queer character in it, or a game where a player can choose to have their character be queer, is Entirely A Gay Game. Reality check: most of these games are still full of straight people, and you've still got the option to be straight. Outside of indie and a few visual novels, I've never seen a game where the player does not have the option to be straight at all. I've maybe seen 2 games ever (both indie, and both by the same person) that had no straight people in them at all. The presence of queers doesn't make something only for queers or only about queers.
Also, Mass Effect is actually not that queer friendly. Male characters only have female prospective romances, and female characters can date an alien from a one-gender species, who looks like a human woman but comes from a completely different cultural context with gender. While it's cool that they've got a character who isn't either male or female, it feels like they put it in because lesbians but not REALLY lesbians.
This will be my last post, as this isn't a discussion board and the crew @ JIG has been pretty gracious to let it go this far.
Agree to disagree on some points, but good discussion none the less. FWIW, I don't assume that any game with LGB subplot is "a LGB game."
Wow - good game or no, it really gets the discussion going. Only finding out what LGBTQ stands for after playing for 5 minutes and quitting due to the utter lack of excitement fuelling the combat sequences, I must say the theme went straight over my head (no pun intended).
Whatever gender you are and whatever gender you tend to have feelings for is fine by me. It's good to see that homosexuality can also feature as a(n essential part of the) storyline for a game - books, movies and tv already having been conquered.
Riddle me this though: by very deliberately pointing out the LGBTQ reference, which I assume Dora more or less copied from the text on the game site itself, doesn't it just put too much emphasis on differences that are actually pretty much non-existent? Love is still love, regardless.
Oh and please tell me this abbreviation's a joke... If not, I'm just about RTFSPCIA...
Terrible gameplay. Horribly mangled attempted message. Complete failure to achieve mission statement. Dragon Age's "tacked on" lesbian/gay romance options did a better job than this, and they were completely lame.
Nice game. Nice presentation! Excellent discussion!!
I got the "surprise revelation" ending which made the whole story a lot more interesting till the end, and I also liked how the demons highlighted real person's flaws
e.g. dad's demon, who constantly "watches what would other say/think" has many beady eyes and faces all over itself, etc.
Also, I totally feel what Dora mentioned in comments, the story was good not because it depicted just lgbtq struggles, but it conveyed struggles of anyone considered different in their society - in my somewhat backwater country I always say I can well relate to homosexuals, at least male ones, cause more than half of "flaws" they exhibit, nerds have also..
...Right so this self proclaimed queer game starts out by asking you if you are male or female...
I don't see why all the fuss over asking if you're a male or female. Afterall, most GLBTQ people are either male or female and do not struggle with their gender identity.
Personally, I don't think that one's actions should decide who you are, but that it's the other way around: Who you are decides your actions.
That said, this was a brilliant game. I took from it what I could and enjoyed it greatly.
Something that hugely detracted from the message for me:
All I could think of after the twist was "How the hell do they reproduce?" Presumably a society where heterosexuality was frowned upon could get by with cloning or in vitro fertilization or something, but the world depicted in the game did not seem high-tech enough for that. I spent the remainer of the game trying to explain that rather than pondering what it means to be a minority.
Maybe it was just me, since I don't see any other comments about it. Still, would it have killed them to throw in some kind of explanation? Or at least imply a modern/futuristic level of technology?
I dunno. I got a heterosexual couple, and a heterosexual marriage arranged for the sweetheart.
Yeah, me too, Wolfgang.
I picked "male" at the start, expecting that my character would also be male (why else would the game ask, right?). But my character certainly looked like a girl right off the bat, so I just forgot about my choice and figured the character was a girl.
Then in the first cutscene, my brother starts talking about how it's weird how I act with "him" (the boyfriend), and I was thinking, "Huh? Where's the LGBTQ theme? I guess it's gonna turn out to be a homonormative world? I'm curious as to how they have children, but OK, whatever."
Then, at the and, the boyfriend's parents give me a card proudly announcing his marriage to a young lady. Um, colour me confused?
Overall, I felt like the designers wanted to beat me over the head with the LGBTQ theme, but they also didn't want to be SEEN beating me over the head with the LGBTQ theme. The end result was a feeling of being beaten over the head with a very vague whisper. Not pleasant.
If there are randomised plot elements on each playthrough, I was certainly left with no desire to go back and try again.
I was a girl together with a girl, and she was about to marry a guy.
Aside from dad apparently being a transvestite, I didn't see anything suggesting a homonormative society since everyone were still against us being together.
I really enjoyed playing it, but reading the other comments on how the story elements are randomized makes the game lose some meaning.
As usual, the "TQ" are just a decoration here :/ this is, at best, an LG(B?)-centric game.
I wish they would remember that the T and the Q are there for a reason, once or twice :/
". . . Wait, so it's supposed to be LGBTQ friendly and the first thing you're prompted to do is pick whether you're male or female? FAIL. Not all of us identify as one or the other . ."
"I don't see why all the fuss over asking if you're a male or female. Afterall, most GLBTQ people are either male or female and do not struggle with their gender identity."
Clearly you do not know that T stands for "Trans" as in Transgender or Transsexual, and Q can stand for Queer, as in genderQueer.
For any of these people, gender identity IS a big issue.
@Tommy: I actually do know what T stands for, thank you very much, and I maintain that most transgendered people identify with the gender they have become; transexuals, perhaps, with the opposite gender. Regardless, gender role-play is what these people are likely veritable experts at.
To discount the LGBTQ-friendliness of the game simply because it asks you to role-play as one gender or the other is terribly short-sighted and narrow minded, representative of A Closed Mind.
Role-playing is central to most games, and I would argue that the TQ segment of the LGBTQ community is quite comfortable with role-playing gender.
for something claiming to be "LGBTQ friendly" isn't it odd that the only options are male and female?
personally i am neither, and felt left out of the message this game was trying to convey.