A Video Game That Simulates Coming Out: How It Will Help Everyone
Imagine having to tell your loved ones something they never wanted to hear.
Imagine sitting across the table and dreading to say a simple phrase to someone you trust and love.
The ramifications of you saying this very thing could mean never talking to your loved ones again.
For people in the LGBTQ community, this notion is not far from the experience of coming out. But, a Nicky Case video game titled, "Coming Out Simulator 2014," has the ability to put anyone, LGBTQ or not, in the position of coming out to parents and loved ones.
Players take control of a semi-fictional version of Case, and the actions of the game follow the night he came out to his conservative parents. Players have the option to be either direct, subtle or somewhere in-between while interacting with the fictional parents in this game.
Much like Telltale Games' famous decision-based game, "The Walking Dead," the way the player handles the conversation will shape the conversation, but the outcome will always be the same.
In the end, the player faces what it's like to come out to someone whom you are supposed to trust, but are ultimately just let down.
This experience is more common than people think in the queer community, especially among those people who identify as trans or gender non-conforming.
This is a reality many people outside of the LGBTQ community don't experience regularly and games like "Coming Out Simulator 2014" can be an excellent tool for people to put themselves in another person's position.
A video game like this one can help create a greater sense of empathy toward people who have to face these kinds of situations daily.
Coming out is an awkward, clunky experience. Words become hard to find and emotions tend to take control of the situations.
It can be hard to say what you want to say as you try to navigate the sudden turmoil of heightened emotions that explode in the room. It can be hard to find the right words to say, and very rarely does the conversation go as planned.
Everyone's coming out experience is different, but I have never heard of anyone not being taken by surprise in some capacity during this moment.
It was the one moment in time I had ever been in my most fragile and vulnerable position.
Items like "Coming Out Simulator 2014" do a good job of capturing this and bringing it to an audience that doesn't normally experience coming out.
Television shows like "Glee," "Will & Grace" and "Queer as Folk," have been detailing what it can be like to come out to other people, and have been doing good work of normalizing the queer community in society.
The medium of television, however, has always been relatively one-sided. In no situation or TV show does the audience member get to sit by the side of the character and experience the same thing in real time.
That's where video games, like this one, can come on to the scene and be effective.
More people need to play this game. More developers need to come out with games like this.
If more people began to understand the pressures and implications that queer teens and adults faced when coming out (or staying in the closet), maybe there would be less social pressure on these groups.
The more empathy we have for the teens who face such difficult points in their lives, the less likely we are to see another sad headline informing us someone committed suicide because of bullying.
A video game won't fix everything about the public perception of the queer community, but if it can put someone who is straight in the shoes of a queer kid who is coming out, it's not a bad place to start.