Thursday, July 17, 2014

Free Game Spotlight: Coming Out Simulator 2014

Nicky Case, a games designer who first captured attention with the :the game: trilogy (:the game:, REPLAYING :the game:, and Re-imagine :the game:), and went on to contribute to the Public Game Jam, release The Uncopyrighted Art Bundle and surveillance-critical anti-stealth game Nothing To Hide. This week, Nicky just released a new free browser game: Coming Out Simulator 2014.

Described as a "semi-autobiographical game", the game starts with the narrator in the present day, and after an opening conversation switches to 2010. It's the night after Nicky and his boyfriend have have come back from watching Inception, and Nicky is encouraged to come out of the closet to his parents. The dialog in the game is shown in text message format, and every action and dialog choice is remember and has an outcome on parts of the game.

It's engaging, emotionally affecting, and as short as it is, rewards replay at least once, even if there isn't really a way to "win". In fact, Case describes it as a "game about half truths":
"I realize now, my game is about half-truths. It's that tension between needing to be who you are, and hiding that so you can get by day-to-day. It's about living that double-life, that double-consciousness, always aware what others think of you. It's a mix of truth and lies... 
My game is emotionally authentic, and factually inaccurate. I wouldn't have been able to make something so personal if I didn't also make it somewhat impersonal. Actively acknowledging that all the characters, including past me, are semi-fictional. To get up and close, I needed that distance."
As Nicky Case has done with previous games, the entire source for the game has been released on GitHub.

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