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A Normal Lost Phone


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Rating: 3.8/5 (130 votes)
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A Normal Lost Phone

Dora[Note: Please be aware that this game deals with subject matter some may find upsetting.]

A Normal Lost Phone might possibly be the most immediately suspicious thing to call a phone, but here it's the title of this intriguing interactive narrative, created by the team calling themselves Accidental Queens for Global Game Jam 2016 in France, where you must try to figure out what happened to the phone's owner, a young man named Sam. You interact with the phone as you would any smart device, by clicking on icons and dragging the screen to scroll, and you'll need to search through old messages, calendar events, and more to find out the truth, as well as how to unlock certain functions. A Normal Lost Phone is largely a simple, personal narrative that will connect more with some than others, but one told in a creative way.

With its simple presentation and app-based mechanics, A Normal Lost Phone feels very authentic, like working your way through a real device, albeit one with a lovely watercolour design scheme. The downside is A Normal Lost Phone might be a bit too much like An Actual Normal Phone. It's cluttered with meaningless conversations and a long list of contacts, many of them nothing to impart, so that initially clicking your way through all of it can feel like a chore. Paring it down and streamlining it a bit may have lost a bit of that authentic feel, but it also may have resulted in a more user-friendly, gripping experience from a gameplay perspective. While this, combined with a somewhat awkward English translation, may mean the game won't hook everyone it could, players who like ferreting out pieces of the story on their own will enjoy digging their way through Sam's life to find out what happened to him. It's not as complex as you might hope, both as a puzzle game and a story, but clues and changing relationships are strung throughout text logs, photos, and calendar events in a way that keeps you hooked. The big reveal might be a little predictable for some, in a way both big and simple, and others may find it hits close to home, while still others might find certain messages and events a little too negative in a way that is often represented as a frustrating trend in pop culture... though that depends on how you interpret the ending. Which, speaking of, is mostly a matter of unlocking something last to read, so don't expect any significant resolution. While some aspects could have been implemented or handled differently, A Normal Lost Phone is a simple story with a few puzzle elements woven throughout to make it a unique experience.

Play A Normal Lost Phone

30 Comments

MmeTurbulence April 17, 2016 3:28 PM

For people struggling to find the codes

For the lovebirds app

First, have you read text messages from your best friend?

Your best friend's name is Alice, from boardgame club. You have a draft of a message you typed to her. Have you tried sending it?

This is a big hint. The passwords for lovebirds are important dates to you.

Yeah yeah, your birthday is important, but something else is even more important. A big life-changing event you went to recently.

It was so important you lied to your parents about it.

Use 0131 (Sam's birthday) for Sam's boy account. Use 1219 (the day of the transpride event) for Sam's girl account

For the other thing that needs a passcode (late game)

This one is not a date.

It's more a signpost to something you hope for for the future.

Where do you want to escape to?

There are several cities you have stored in the weather app.

The code is 85922, the zip code for Covonia

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sunnylauren April 17, 2016 6:20 PM

Unpopular opinion alert...don't read if you think you'll be offended.

Okay, so I'm conservative by today's standards. If LGBTQIA pansexual bestiality whatever else there is out there is allowed to admit that without being judged, I'm allowed to be conservative and straight without being judged also.

That said, I thought this game was both fascinating and appalling. I am not a homophobe, and I don't even think all homosexuality is wrong, but what I am against is the idea of lying and throwing away a family who loves you. That is wrong. Do people even care about what it does to the people left behind when a teen does something like this? And for adults in the LGBT community to actually provide housing for teens who want to divorce the people who loved them enough to raise them? How is refusal to accept the parents better than the parents' refusal to accept the LGBT teen? If this happens in real life...I have no words for my utter disappointment in humanity's devolvement.

The idea that an eighteen-year-old is an "adult" is laughable. Maybe the law gives them rights (a huge mistake in my opinion) but their brains do not reach maturity until about age 25. In the actions of this age group as a whole, this shows in today's society. Badly.

I understand that this is just a game, but while the characters are fictional I do not believe the message was intended to be. I am not judging people for their struggles. All people deserve love, whether they are

LGBTQIA, suicidal, trying to sleep with their boyfriend to keep him longer, or conservative parents who want the best for their children.

It's a double-standard to claim to want acceptance, but then to hurt others for the sake of getting what you want. I think that's what

the runaway teen housing, the lying to parents and Melissa, and the running away and scaring his parents half to death

are comprised of at the core.

I'm so sorry for the state of humanity. :'(

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sunnylauren April 17, 2016 9:40 PM replied to Dora

Dora, we agree on many counts!

Suicide is never the fault of the people surrounding it. If it were, it would be murder/manslaughter, not suicide at all. I also agree with your take on why Sam broke up with Melissa, and that she was not a great girlfriend besides. I still don't think ending a three-year relationship over text—even a toxic one fraught with lies and manipulation from both sides—was kind. That's the part that was selfish, not the breakup itself.

Sometimes in real life, though, that friendship with another girl turns out not to be platonic, and the dishonesty looks identical. Melissa only seems unreasonably jealous of Alice because we as the players know Sam isn't cheating with her. Keep in mind all she's seeing is her boyfriend being friends with some girl she's not even allowed to meet, plus the undeniable feeling that something is off. Perhaps our perceptions would differ if the game had been written about a cheating boyfriend so Melissa's jealousy had been founded.

I also must point out that Sam inferred (possibly rightfully so but we can't know) that her family wouldn't accept her based on their comments regarding strangers. Though it would've likely been a struggle, I think she should have given them a chance and some time to get used to the idea. She was their Sam, after all—not some stranger in a pride parade. Gutting them with her absence rather than gathering courage to face potential rejection was cowardly, selfish, and unkind.

Most importantly, it seems we agree completely that the whole situation with every single one of these characters is tragic. I hope the story ends that way as well, for Sam as well as for real-life people struggling with these circumstances.

The reason for my extensive comments on this game is because

I notice a strong and ugly trend in society where the people on the other side of a rocky coming-out—usually families lied to and bitterly abandoned—are dismissed and even persecuted for their views. How is this better or different from the people who reject their LGBTQIA rather than showing them love? I want people to consider that misunderstood LGBTQIAs and company are not the only ones with hearts that can break.

No one wants this to be a growing problem in our society, but it is, and it's being grossly mishandled all around. There has got to be a better way.

Love should win. My message to both sides: love matters more than being "right."

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I just wish there was a way to do something other than snoop around on the phone, like inform someone that you found a phone or whatever.

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RamblinRob April 18, 2016 5:04 AM

I agree kgy121. I saw the lgbtq tag and knew immediately what this was going to be. I leave disappointed.

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Dooreatoe April 19, 2016 3:13 AM

When I see someone on here writing long screeds about how people need to consider it equally horrible that so many LGBT people "abandon" their families, that's when I know I have to give up on trusting the comments section. 13 years was a pretty good run.

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waxedmush April 19, 2016 3:42 AM replied to Dora

I'm very disappointed to see the negative comments on this game. It was too familiar. A trans friend of mine was murdered and she used to explain how difficult it was to express her identity to the people closest to her. I once thought about how she'd still be alive if she just went along with social norms, but she would never be able to live with the lie. Trans people risk everything because they can't be what society expects them to be. Unless they find refuge in the warriors that are going through the same struggles and fight back. I admire games like this that challenge the gamer to inhabit that struggle. It's not easy or pretty, but necessary.

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interesting game! realistic story and i like how they provided lgbtq resources at the end. also, screw any of the transphobic comments. i'm glad dora is supportive of the non-cis folks out here

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romanticize April 19, 2016 9:28 PM

Hey, so. This comment is a response to a comment that said some pretty bigoted things about LGBTQ people. If you do not want to look at or engage with those things (or with discussion of animal harm and family/partner abuse), please don't expand these spoilers. Stay safe.

And yes, I'm calling it bigoted. Sunnylauren, it is bigoted to

compare LGBTQ identities to bestiality. Having a preference for the same gender is not in any way comparable to raping animals through force or ignorance. Not having a gender preference at all is not in any way comparable to raping animals through force or ignorance. Identifying as a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth is not in any way comparable to raping animals through force or ignorance. I don't care if you like people doing these things, but they are not the same as raping animals. If people are treating you like you're a homophobe, it's not because you're straight, and it's not because you're conservative. It's because you have so little empathy for LGBTQ people that you think it's a funny little joke to compare having a LGBTQ identity to animal rape.

Do you enjoy it when people act like just because you're straight, you must be the sort of person that goes around in packs, looking for gay people and beating them to death? If you don't want your orientation to be compared to a violent crime, then understand that neither do we. In a civilized society, we treat other people's orientations with the respect with which we want them to treat our own, and if we refuse to even pretend that they're just as worthy of respect as we are, then that is what being a bigot is.

As for the rest of your message: I am a queer person who had to leave their family, for reasons including but not limited to homophobia. Mental illness runs in my family, and there were generations of abuse on at least one side that I'm sure about, probably both. Of course I didn't want to be estranged. Of course I made an effort to speak up and be listened to. But being in this environment was literally destroying my sanity. It was not a happy, loving family that just had a tiny little problem with accepting their gay kid. Even now, I cannot interact with them without becoming so terrified I lose the ability to speak. It is sad that my parents do not have a child anymore, but a parent's right to continue having a child doesn't supercede the child's right to get out of a situation that is killing them. Maybe love matters more than being right, but your health and your life matter more than maintaining a relationship.

I want you to understand that. Some people can't be around certain other people and still be okay, even if they're supposed to love each other - even if they do love each other. Love doesn't always mean that people are safe for each other to be around.

When you assume that people like you - whether that's conservative people, parents, whatever - are in the right and not causing harm because they're people like you, then you help the harmful people who are demographically similar to you get away with it.

Did you know that there's a surprisingly high number of men who are beaten by their wives? Did you know that this happens because we as a society decide to believe that wives are harmless?

It's like that.

When a home is generally good, people work through homophobia in the family. Sometimes they need to take a break from each other, sometimes they don't. When people are terrified they'll be beaten or screamed at until they give in or restricted from leaving or forced into ex-gay therapy or kicked out on the street, that is when they lie long-term about their orientations. That is when they run away. That is who is using these youth shelter resources. Many of these families were "lied to" and "abandoned" the same way an abusive spouse is "lied to" and "abandoned" when their battered partner finally works up the courage to leave. Not everyone handles coming out perfectly, but politics are not an excuse for treating your children like that. Nothing is an excuse for treating your children like that. No, young adults aren't always great at making decisions, but if someone is being treated abusively or afraid that their loved ones would treat them abusively, then it is not a good idea to be living under the same roof anymore.

I don't think the writing around Sam was that great, and I think it's a lot more likely that someone in her position would move to another town without just disappearing, get some distance while technically staying in contact, and then come out to her family once she was free enough that she could choose whether or not she wanted to listen to an angry phone call hurling slurs at her, or whether or not she wanted to allow an angry, ranting relative into her home. People are much more likely to run away after violence or other abuse has already happened, or if they have specific reasons to be afraid that it will, and I think the game dropped the ball on that. I think it didn't want to depict child abuse in detail, and so it ended up not even conveying the feeling of danger to people who didn't already know it was dangerous.

But it was. It was dangerous for this fictional kid, and it was and is dangerous for so, so many real kids. And if you think that's okay, or that the real tragedy is that people who made their children afraid of violence and other abuse no longer get to have kids, then I hope you someday understand how I felt, however that empathy happens to come about.

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sunnylauren April 19, 2016 10:25 PM replied to romanticize

Romanticize, I'll admit that

maybe I'm ignorant about others' gender/sexual identities. FYI I have no issues with homosexuals, but I'll apologize for the bestiality remark. I was simply making a statement to include the umbrella of nonconventional sexual/gender identities. Not to offend anyone, but I honestly have no idea what's considered normal these days.

You have a personal story. I have one too, unrelated to any of the issues you mentioned, although I'm choosing not to tell it on a gaming site. The important part is that because of my own experience I will always advocate for people left behind. Always.

Before you go off on the glories of abandoning one's family and lying to them, consider your own ignorance. It's not just victims of abuse who do it. Their brains aren't yet developed, so they can't possibly be circumspect. And in my opinion, in almost all cases intervention/counseling are better options than breaking relationships.

I choose to disagree with the way a certain segment of society mostly comprised of teenagers treats and judges other people. Call me bigoted, call me old-fashioned, call me whatever you want. But it's my right to disagree.

I'll be saying no more on this topic here.

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Maybe I'm wrong, but I took Sunny's comment to be about those who are left behind when a LGBT+ individual commits suicide or just leaves.
Now, I understand that some people are not accepting; I understand that many LGBT+ people commit suicide because their families are abusive. And I know that coming out can be hard, and that it becomes next to impossible when you know that certain people would throw you out.

I was going to say something else, but then I read the diary, which explains a lot as to why Sam didn't tell her parents before leaving. I just wish that stuff had come up more in the text messages. The worst texts were the father being pushy about Melissa and the whole "real man" deal (although none of her family knew).
I can only hope, after looking at her first LovBirds's account, that she did leave a note explaining things to her parents. She's in a no win situation. Continuing to lie to them (by not saying anything) hurts them, but telling them the truth would hurt them as well.

But the thing I really took away from Sunny's comment, something that probably wasn't intended, was what about the people who commit suicide because they're trans and so they think that they are freaks. How many trans people have killed themselves for something they never told anybody about? How many trans people killed themselves not primarily because family didn't understand, but mainly because society kept telling them that they are terrible? And what happens to the family and friends of those people?
It's so much easier to yell at the individuals in someone's life than it is to yell at our bigoted society. Especially since society is made up of individuals, so by changing the minds of individuals, we can change society.
Except, what good would it do to yell at Sam's parents that the reason their kid ran away was because they're transphobic?
It's much better, in my opinion, to have stories like this, even if most of the people who play it don't need the message that being LGBT+ is okay and your bigoted comment can hurt people you care for. So long as one person plays it and becomes a more understanding, more accepting person as a result, then it has done it's job.

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romanticize April 20, 2016 12:23 AM

@sunnylauren:

You don't have any issues with homosexuals? Great! For starters, gay and lesbian people don't like being called "homosexuals", because it's generally only used by sorts who do have issues with them. If you're also talking about bi, trans, and otherwise queer people, LGBTQ covers everybody. I'm sure you can think of at least one way to talk about straight people that shows you don't like them very much. It's the same thing.

Bestiality is obviously bad because it's raping animals, and you know this. Do you honestly think anyone is stupid enough to think comparing LGBTQ identities to animal rape by accident is a thing that anyone can do? You wanted to get your little dig in, and now you want to play dumb.

"The important part is that because of my own experience I will always advocate for people left behind. Always."

Great, but some of those people were left behind because they weren't safe people to be around. It's alright if you're still sympathetic to their experiences, but by "advocating" for them, do you mean "losing a relationship is always hard, and these people are human beings and deserve help and happiness", or do you mean "they were wronged when their loved one left and they deserve that person back"?

Because it sounds like the latter, and you are acting like the right to have a relationship with a specific person you want to have a relationship with is more important than the right to get away from people who are harming you, and that is terrifying. And I'm saying that as someone who's experienced abandonment, too! And it sucks! But people aren't things you're entitled to keep just because you really, really want to. They can leave if they choose to, and sometimes that is necessary for their wellbeing. People who break their children's bones can be really sad when those children decide not to associate with them anymore. People who deliberately destroy their spouses' self worth can miss those spouses and make all sorts of pitiable faces after the divorce.

You say you don't have experience with abuse. Be a goddamn adult and listen to people who do.

"Before you go off on the glories of abandoning one's family and lying to them, consider your own ignorance."

If I didn't abandon my family and lie to them, I'm not sure I'd be alive right now. That IS pretty glorious, isn't it? :)))))

"It's not just victims of abuse who do it."

Maybe some aren't, but some are. You are talking about a group of people that includes victims of abuse. You are talking about leaving as if it is always wrong.

"Their brains aren't yet developed, so they can't possibly be circumspect."

Teenagers, on average, are dumber than adults, but it seems like you think leaving a harmful relationship is never a good decision. Even stupid people have the right to leave if they're being harmed, and it's not as if they can't decide to reconnect later on if they feel like leaving was a mistake. My brain, according to your statistics, is fully-developed, and I still believe that the choice I made to leave, which I made when I was younger and stupider, was 100% the right call.

"And in my opinion, in almost all cases intervention/counseling are better options than breaking relationships."

Mediation, if that's what you're referring to, only works when both parties are willing to consider that they may be doing some things wrong. I doubt my situation is entirely representative, but... mediation would not have worked for me or my family. They would not have even agreed to go.

"I choose to disagree with the way a certain segment of society mostly comprised of teenagers treats and judges other people."

I'm not sure what you mean here, but I'll die laughing if you're talking about LGBTQ people. Plenty of us are older than you, sweetie. Not everything's the damn kids on your lawn.

"I'll be saying no more on this topic here."

Good! Try not saying more on this topic ever. Hell, don't even limit yourself to "this topic"! Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :))))))))

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(lol @ Romanticize)

Wow, I'm shocked by some of the reactions here. I liked this game a lot - at first I had no idea that the protagonist

identified as female

. I enjoyed finding each clue that helped piece things together.

Once I accessed the

calculator/diary/note

everything became clear ... only I wasn't sure I had finished the game. I guess I did, and I contented myself that the protagonist

did leave for a more accepting city and a potential love interest, leaving the cell phone behind.

It's sad to think that anyone has "issues" with LGBTQ people in the 21st century. This game sheds light on their pain. It can be difficult for families to understand and accept their loved ones' changing identities, but in truth, what difference does it make?

I'm so happy to live in a time when the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage. I hope to live long enough that the matter of gender identity becomes a non-issue across the board. We have bigger problems to solve!

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That was a bit rough. It was frustrating that you couldn't

contact anybody, apart from sending draft messages.

I think if I was Sam,

I would have kept the phone, and at least contacted somebody at some point after leaving for Covonia and safe housing.

Even if my family were hateful bigoted people that would probably disown me and maybe even kill me for wanting to my myself.
I'd hope that I'd be strong enough to just call and say "hey, I'm alive and safe", maybe even have the courage to come out to them.

But then again I might do something completely different if I was really in Sam's position, because in real life I am a mature 20something year old whose family would love me no matter what I was/did.

I think that's what was trying to be expressed in the conversation/argument happening above that I skimmed over.

There have been a few stories about the devastation that is left behind when somebody finally comes out and wants to live as their true self.

E.g. Some men who are married with children before they come out as gay. What happens to that family now? Not everyone is mature/strong enough to figure out how to make both themselves and their loved ones happy.

And again, what about your family being torn apart because you vanish just in case they don't accept you?

That's the side people might relate to more, because there would be more on 'that' side for every person going it alone.

That's not to say you have to stay miserable forever just to keep a handful of people happy. But hopefully there's a tactful way to do it.

Like the hypothetical described above.

Maybe Sam would have stuck around and been braver if the LGBT centre hadn't been burnt down by some asshole, and if she hadn't had that encounter with Lola in what must have been the only situation where she'd allowed herself to dress like herself, then maybe she would have tried to tell her parents in person.

I must confess that I probably seemed a little dickish to a long-time friend when he decided to come out as... whatever the term is where you dress up as a drag queen and start identifying with the third gender.

I wasn't being a dick about that - heck, the first dress he wore out in public was one of mine - but he was always a bit self-centred, and became even more so with this new identity.

I was used to the fact he wouldn't listen to anything I said unless it was directly related to him and his interests (I had pretty low standards in friends back in the day), but now he would ONLY talk about drag and queer/trans rights.

It didn't even seem like it was his true identity, just something else he was trying on to see if he fitted in with the crowd. Like the time he started shaving his beard to look Jewish and cooking American/Jewish food just because he had a Jewish boyfriend. Or kissing straight girl friends (he's gay) at clubs so they'd think he was fun.

He's happily living his life, and I'm happy to no longer be a part of it.

I need to stop rambling on in this comment box.

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romanticize April 21, 2016 7:19 PM

Dora, this was a personal attack from the moment someone made that sort of comparison around LGBTQ identities. At least one person has said they can't read the comments here anymore. Every LGBTQ person who reads the comments to this game - this game that shows up on the LGBTQ tag, which LGBTQ people are fairly likely to be browsing - and who opens up sunnylauren's comment is going to see LGBTQ identities being compared to a violent crime.

A hostile environment doesn't always look like two people yelling at each other, especially online. It can look like one person saying horrible things, and others deciding that this space is not for them anymore.

I'm sure being a loud, angry dick, but it was already a hostile environment.

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What a sad, sad world we live in when people can't, nor are allowed to, have a dialogue around things that they disagree about.

Honestly, had I known what the content of this game was I would have skipped right over it, simply because every game posted on JiG that deals with said topic turns into a verbal tug of war.

What boggles the mind even more is why a games site like JiG would attract such intolerance; it seems a very odd venue, indeed, to have a discussion or to try to state an opinion. I'm certain that tensions are raised due to HB42 is contributing, but that hasn't been the case in the past.

As a game, I found it counter-intuitive at times, and somewhat long winded. I didn't enjoy scrolling through 20 some contacts and filtering through a teenagers "drama" to try to get to the root of the story. (before anyone gets their little feelings hurt... I use the term drama because as I was reading it that is what it seemed to me, an over dramatic teen acting like a teen (which is still is in some respect), so that is not to minimalize coming out, which I didn't know was the theme of the story, nor do I have a frame of reference on).

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First of all, this game is great, I gave it 5/5, one of the best deductive games I have played recently. I found the puzzles great to solve and I am happy that I did not notice the lgbtq tag before playing, hence my surprise was even bigger when solving it. That being said,

being gay or transgender is no excuse for being so immature and showing poor human qualities. How Sam treated Melissa at the break-up (bullshitting in a message instead of telling the truth in person) is very spiteful. Also, it is obvious from the SMS messages that Sam's mother and father are loving, caring parents (they may be conservative but not abusive by any means) who did not deserve this kind of treatment from their child. While the game is an accurate depiction of someone who is terribly insecure and whose communication, self-esteem and interpersonal relations are immature (after all, Sam is just 18), I would expect much more from the game that would like to raise awareness on a sensitive topic and provide some educational value. If I were the game's designer, I would have made Sam's new friend a self-aware and mature guy, who could have advised her on the proper ways to handle the situation.

He should have told something like this: "Sam, you are not responsible for other people's feelings, however you are fully responsible for your own actions. Therefore, you must do what is right, and tell about your feelings about yourself to your parents and Melissa. This is likely to be very difficult for them to process and a huge test for their unconditional love towards you, but as told, you are not responsible for other people's feelings. I understand that you are insecure and afraid of rejection by the people whom you love the most, but if you don't tell them, you give them no chance to accept you in the end and to love you as you are. You are a valuable person and embrace the idea that the source of your strength and self-esteem is your moral compass inside you, not external validation. If you understand that, you will be able to handle any possible rejection much better. So if you don't tell them and just disappear, as you are planning to do, you are hurting yourself, too and probably you are carrying such a traumatic damage onto your upcoming life that it will poison your romantic relationships for many years. Please love yourself better than that. Also, as you have already set your mind upon running away, note that you have absolutely nothing to lose if you do what I say."

For those who think Sam's actions are justifiable because she belongs to a marginalized, oppressed group of society, I propose you do the following thought-experiment. Imagine Sam is a straight cis-gender male, with conservative Christian parents, who just fell in love with an Arabic illegal immigrant muslim girl. He ('he' in this case) dumps current girlfriend in an SMS, saying that 'our lives have been going towards different ways lately, sorry'. And then, without saying goodbye, he runs away from home with the motorbike he just got for his 18th birthday to start a new life somewhere else with his muslim love, abruptly cut off from everyone in his previous life. Would you consider Sam a good person, 'brave' and an example to follow? Give me a break.

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Dreamwave April 24, 2016 12:40 AM

I signed up for an account just to comment in here.

It's sad to see the comments deleted. We all lead different lives, some may be more difficult than others, some may even be struggling at the opposite ends of the same issue. Hence, it's very often difficult to know what one say would hurt the others' feelings. I believe the previous comments would be a good example for us to know what's appropriate and what's not. At the very least, this isn't too bad for an LGBTQ discussion nowadays. Worse things happen and they don't even end at a spiteful bitterness, but the loss of one's life, destruction of familial relationships or someone haunted by their traumatic past throughout their life. Names calling aren't even uncommon. In here I believe both sides have tried to be polite to the best of their knowledge. That being said, I respect and understand Dora's decision.

To people who couldn't understand the protagonist's viewpoint. As mentioned, terrible things can happen to such people, people who are 'different', and it's unlikely that the protagonist couldn't have anticipated that. It's true that we live in a strange world and regardless of your personal experiences, 'love wins' doesn't work for everybody. Even parental love isn't unconditional. For some, they will wonder did the happy past really happened once they come out, or reveal whatever they truly are.

White hair doesn't engender wisdom. To say Sam is immature is to say Sam's parents can handle the issue better than Sam. Sometimes it is (lucky them!), oftentimes it isn't. To come out, one needs at least some degree of support. Someone else who (they know in real life and not some dating app!) could support them emotionally and more importantly provide some form of refuge when things go bad would be necessary for coming out. So to speak, what if Sam's parents lock him and his things up after Sam's been honest? Sam is already on the verge of a breakdown, and with that almost lacking social support, Sam wouldn't be able to handle a negative reaction.

I believe some games could be perceived as some form of literature, and this is one of them. Good literature doesn't discriminate who's good and who's bad, as no one is completely saint or completely evil. They only show what the characters are, what's their struggle, and how they would face their struggle as people in real life do. Novelists who have a habit of not giving an ending do that partly because life doesn't favour a good ending over a bad one, or vice versa, so it would be unethical to give false hope or to destroy them. It would also because the author doesn't want to preach, as they might not feel the right to praise the other's certain behaviours and condemn the others, which is what an ending does. A good piece of literature encourages readers to take the viewpoint of others, especially those who we commonly dismiss in real life. When we try our best to empathize with others, rather than judging what should be done and what should not, this world might become a little bit better. Everyone makes bad decisions sometimes, and often in life-changing moments. To present bad decisions without punishing them is not encouraging them, but to remind us bad things could happen if we aren't sensitive to others' struggles.

In respond specifically to valis' comments:

The analogy isn't appropriate, It's Sam who is marginalized, not that Sam falls in love with somebody who could already have their own social support. The stress of having your own identity rejected by someone you love, rather than a relationship, is unbearable to most people, they might leave as Sam do, or kill themselves, or take drugs and alcohol to numb themselves.

Personally, I believe the protagonist has already done what's best given the circumstances. We all hope their's some form of life coach at worst times, but again, this is often not the case.

Sorry for the rambling, but this is a piece of writing which I deeply identify with at this moment of life, and I hope the others could take it more seriously. Any form of discussion, albeit mildly hostile, as long as it's genuine, would be deeply appreciated.

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Dreamwave, no need to call your comment 'rambling', this has been quite an insightful and intelligent one, and I even cannot dispute many things you write (especially on the lack of emotional support by anyone for the protagonist), I leave those for myself to process for later. And despite being a faithful consumer of jayisgames.com content for many years, I also signed up only after playing this game. I agree that 'love wins' is not working all the time (I could tell you stories from my life...), however, my intended message was instead that 'love yourself' always wins, as this is the proper basis of self-esteem, instead of external validation (or the lack of rejection). You write:

'The stress of having your own identity rejected by someone you love (...), is unbearable to most people.' I agree but this is exactly what I am trying to educate my personal environment about: it seems much more unbearable than actually it is. There is strength in standing up for yourself and there is elongated suffering in procrastinating doing so. The sooner you start, the better.

I accept that if taken as a form of literature, the scenario depicted in the game works, as I also wrote that

it is an accurate depiction of an emotionally and morally immature person facing a difficult challenge.

However, I doubt that mere nonjudgmental depiction was the purpose of the game's designer, but I may be wrong. And I am empathizing with the protagonist, but at the same time, I disagree with the protagonist. I don't think the protagonist has done what's best given the circumstances,

Sam simply walked away from a problem before any attempt to solve it. Part of an accurate depiction of this scenario could possibly have been to show that Sam is not 'living a life happily ever after', but her journey on the emotional rollercoaster has just begun. If she did not manage to stand up herself at this time, life will take its toll, and she will have to learn the hard way to do that. That is why I referred to her future romantic relationship difficulties. They will come, inevitably.

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Dora, I would also have removed the previous thread, but for a completely different reason: jayisgames.com comment section is not the right place to solve questions like 'is gender a social construct?' or 'what is the relationship between personality disorders and queerness?' Almost everyone has an opinion on these, but let's leave their solution to researchers of the relevant fields and psychotherapists.

It is OK to remove derogatory and trolling comments, but please don't walk (and make us walk) on eggshells. That popular approach is as toxic to our society as trolling and bigotry.

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AquaDraco April 24, 2016 3:53 AM

I personally liked the game for the detective style that reminded me a lot of Her Story.

It was a bit short and I was disappointed at first that I didn't get to scroll the screen with my mouse like a real touchscreen cellphone (had to use a scroll bar instead), but these are minor details. After all, not only was this game made during a game jam, this game actually seemed very complete, decently-written, and also included some art and sounds.

These type of games are a fun short of interactive narrative fiction that seem rather enjoyable. The fact that the plot was narrowed down to

two months

made the dates manageable enough to memorize (or at least familiarize).

Some puzzles seemed a little silly and could pretty much be solved through a little brute forcing some possible values. The puzzles themselves weren't too hard to solve; after all, the clues were well placed enough to be impossible to miss and yet not obnoxiously obvious.

The ending was

a little anticlimatic

. I also almost thought I was done with the game until I realized I forgot to check an unlocked feature later in the game. I honestly thought I checked everything at the time and almost closed the game. Luckily, I didn't.

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i feel like a lot of the comments here are forgetting the fact that trans people are placed in a lot of danger in their daily lives, especially trans women. calling sam 'emotionally and morally immature' is really disrespectful to her and all the women she's based off ... it's not immature to protect yourself from danger. she hid her identity from melissa & her parents because all of those people had proven to be horridly prejudiced. remember that she mentioned that a nearby lgbt space had been burned down recently -- this is not a safe place for her to come out. breaking up with melissa and leaving home (as i interpreted the ending -- i don't think she got hurt, personally, but that she ditched her old life and started a new one in the city) was mature, brave, & ultimately the wisest decision for her

i also wanna say thank you to dora for clearing the previous comments, because i got a glimpse of them and was frankly horrified ... thank you for helping make jig a safer space

anyway regarding the game! i enjoyed it. usually when i look at a character and go 'theyre trans' i'm just thinking wishfully so it was nice to be actually right for once :B i feel like it was a way better balance of realism regarding what it's like being trans out in the wild and not always killin off your lgbt characters, since as i said i interpreted the ending as a happy one, though i do wish it had been more solidly written as such. but it was a fun little game with an interesting approach to puzzles

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thegreatescaper April 26, 2016 6:12 AM

I liked the game. The 'puzzles' were a bit obtuse and bashy but I enjoyed the story and the phone style gameplay which was very unique.

As a homosexual, while I may not fully understand the nuances of the position of being trans, I can relate to the issues regarding coming out and accepting your own identity.
I think it's a bit rash to call people in this situation immature or similar. We go through this phase in our teenage years which is turbulent enough as it is, and especially given that we may not even feel comfortable with who we are, a lot of irrational thoughts go through our minds. Acceptance of one's own identity is a very emotionally taxing period and I don't think people should ever talk this down.
The rabbit is a violent creature when it feels like it is in danger. Are we right to say that the rabbits are defined by violence?
LGBTQ+ people make important decisions in their life in their teenage years, where we feel like the identity we and society has constructed for us is in danger. Many of us make irrational decisions, impulse choices, and abandon situations that perhaps could have been sorted out better.
That's not who we are.

I myself did several things that I now regret. I made a female profile on a dating website and had a relatively invested online relationship with another male, and when I told him eventually that I had lied even about my gender I couldn't bring myself to say it was because I was gay.
I couldn't say it, even to someone who I would never meet. I said that I had made the account for laughs. No doubt this would have been extremely harmful to him, and to this day I wish I could have gone back and said the truth, that he was a great person and that he deserved someone better than me that he could love too. Just said anything better, instead of offering the halfhearted explanation and deleting my account.
But that's not who I am.
I'm just someone. I identify as human. I love humans. Some, I can love in a different way, and some, in another. And I've made some mistakes, just like every human has.
Whenever someone hurts me, I never hold it against them. Because the sides of a story can be as different as day and night, and in this story of a game, we saw one side. Who are we to judge Sam for the two months in her life we see?

This comment was longer than it intended to be, sorry. But hopefully I articulated what I was trying to say.

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valis,

Thank you for your contributions and I hope you continue to contribute to jig for the foreseeable future. Your comments were very respectful and well thought out and pretty much everything I would have said had I been brave enough to go down that road.

Unfortunately it has been my experience that no one can say anything critical about lbgt issues, even if its completely fair and unbiased, without being accused of being a hater and a bigot, and this board has once again proven me right. Perhaps the commenters are just too close to the issue to see that stating that Sam is emotionally immature is 100% spot on, whether she is straight, gay, trans or other. Being emotionally immature isn't a slam or insult, and there are very few 18 year old people who actually ARE emotionally mature. If anyone on this board looks back at when they were 18 and how they handled relationships, platonic and romantic, they would probably have to admit they were immature as well.

Finally, I think its fair to say, and valis touched on this, that the lbgt community doesn't have a monopoly on emotional strife. Most of us have had some trauma of some sort (sexual molestation for me) and have had to manage our emotions and relationships around said trauma. Just because we may be cis or straight doesn't mean we can't empathize with the protagonist's feelings and actions.

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Hey sorry but i can't find the code for the last thing!! please could you help me?! :) so i could return to my homework..^^this thing is making me crazy

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