While surfing around the blogosphere, I came across an interesting little indie game titled Coming Out Simulator. I was hesitant at first. What would the game be like? Would it be an actual representation of what the “coming out” experience is like? Luckily, the game did everything that I had hoped and had ever wanted from a gay portrait in a video game. You see, I’m gay – a big ol’ homo – and the current selection of gay characters in video games tends to be reduced down to a representation strictly of their sexual preference and are often cast as villains (See Game Theory). The whole notation of what it means to be gay and what that experience is like is completely washed away in the medium.
Think about it, have you ever once played a game where the concept of someone “coming out” was even addressed? People who aren’t gay (straights) make a good effort when they say that they want more gay characters in their games, but the fallacy is that they don’t actually know what that entails. What does it mean to be gay and how does that affect the world of a gay person? These are questions that Coming Out Simulator answers, and it answers them damn well.
It should be noted that Coming Out Simulator is an indie developed game by one person, so don’t expect a ton of interesting game mechanics or amazing graphics, as that’s not what the game is about. It’s more akin to a text based adventure game, with a stylized flar that helps to make it all the more interesting. The dialog is written in a conversational format which helps lighten the pretty dreadful mood.
But, enough with the summaries, what is it that this game does so well? It’s based on a real experience, and it portrays it perfectly.
I guess, in order to understand what I’m about to talk about, you should just go play the game and then come back. So, here’s a link.
Go play it.
Hopefully you enjoyed it, or at the very least thought of it as a great learning experience.
Did you notice the narrator’s trepidation when he was talking to his boyfriend about coming out to his parents? That sense of being scared all the time, having to lie about what one is doing, and not to mention he was getting pressed on three fronts: his boyfriend, his parents, and himself about coming out. “Nicky, hiding like this is eating away at your soul,” this quote from the boyfriend to the narrator when talking about coming out to his parents is exactly what coming out feels like. It’s not fun. For example, my mother used to tell me that it was fine if I was gay. I was still super nervous months before I ever actually worked up the courage to come out to her. When I finally did tell my mother, not everything went as smoothly as one would think. There was crying, and denial, and more crying and copious amounts of phone calls to relatives. It was exhausting and soul-breaking all at the same time. This simulator, for lack of a better term, simulated that feeling perfectly. When the narrator was sitting at the table with his mother, I could feel the tension with each word; it was like I was back in 2009 when I was doing the exact same thing with my mother.
The game made one of the most defining moments of any gay person’s life into a tangible and relatable experience. It’s not easy, but we need games to explore what it means to be gay more often, rather than showcasing a homoerotic sex scene every now and again. This argument could be used for women, or other minority groups even. What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be black? Simply shoehorning some gays or black guys into a game and claiming that it showcases diversity isn’t enough. We need to go one step further and tell the stories of these people. That is why I’m so enamored with Coming Out Simulator and I hope larger game developers take note of this facet of storytelling through the eyes of a minority.
“It added an interesting dimension to his back story, considering he comes from a place where “perfection” is the face that every mage puts on and anything that smacks of deviancy is shameful and meant to be hidden. Dorian’s refusal to play along with that façade is seen as stubborn and pointless by his family, which has contributed to his status as a pariah.”
I have hope that this quote is a direct reference to seeing Dorian’s coming out story in the future iteration of the Dragon Age franchise and I’m eager to find out.
Mike Morrissette is one of MONG’s Editors. He also has an unhealthy obsession with The Green Lantern and anything involving Nutella. You can follow him on Twitter, or friend him on PSN at HaughtyPride