What I love about my daily, intensive exploration of the internet is that I always come across something, whether it’s cool, surprising, upsetting, or adorable. The internet is a lot of things, but it’s never boring. If it is, you are probably not doing it right.
Today’s discovery had a deeper impact on me than I thought it would have. Way deeper. I’m talking honest to god pillow-clutching, Adele-listening, snotty-nose balling here. No, I’m not talking about a movie that my bizarre evil twin might have streamed in some obscure corner of the virtual world. It’s not a book, nor is it a YouTube video or a web-based comic.
It’s a game.
As far as gaming goes, I tend to stay on the indie side of things, not because I’m a smug mofo (although I kind of am), but because of my astounding lack of attention span. Indie games are just shorter in length. As a result, aside from the biggest Nintendo franchises and a few other legends of mainstream gaming, I’ve probably mostly played little-known titles. The game I want to talk about today is one of those, a very short indie game called Coming Out Simulator 2014 that you can find here.
The title doesn’t sound glamorous, I’ll give you that. Plus, this game won’t necessarily make you feel better about yourself or the world around you. Hell, it won’t even give you an escape from the world. Coming Out Simulator 2014 is exactly what its title announces. The game has you going through a scene from its developer’s past, from the time when he -possibly- decided to come out. You play the developer’s role during the scene, choosing between different approaches to the same matter – telling your outright homophobic parents that you’re not straight.
Here’s the thing though: whatever answer you may choose won’t change anything. Literally and figuratively. Whether you choose to go at it bluntly or to snake around the truth until you’re completely cornered is not going to change the outcome of the story. There’s no right answer, as the developer (or at least – his present day game double) tells you. It already happened. You can’t change the past. In that, Coming Out Simulator may seem incredibly frustrating, in a walk-a-mile-in-my-actual-shoes-and-see-what-you-get-out-of-it kind of way.
What’s the point of playing it if you can’t win? Well, exactly that. It’s all about immersing yourself in something that you may or may not have experienced and giving yourself an occasion to maybe reflect on some things. What are you going to make out of this very short experience trying to come out to an entity that doesn’t care about what you say? Knowing that you won’t win, will you still have the courage to tell the truth? And considering all this, does the truth really matter?
Coming Out Simulator 2014 may just be a super short experience, but it plays like an exercise in empathy and even introspection, to a degree. This is how things went for this particular person, but we know for a fact that thousands of people like the one we incarnate live through a similar ordeal. It ends surprisingly well for some, but wether we’re part of the community or not, we probably shouldn’t expect the act of coming out to always be about rainbows and gay unicorns. Figuring stuff out -who you are, who you want to be, what you want to do, is difficult. Everybody lies to protect themselves.
After playing the game (I linked to it earlier in the article, it’s free to play and in the public domain), you might start thinking about all the lies, half-truths, and truths you tell to the people around you. Maybe you’ll come to the conclusion that everybody is full of shit, flip off the game and search for a more satisfying gaming experience. Fair enough. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll notice that lies and truths are a little more complicated than they seem. What you’ll do with that though, is up to you.