Tag Archives: design

A game has been chosen!

That’s right! After a little while of waiting, I have decided upon what game I plan to make from my previous blog post.

And the winner is: Sea of Monsters!

With an amazing 100% of the votes (with a total of 2) this one hands down in the poll. Ok, so I didn’t get as much feedback as I expected, but the fact is I liked this idea, and have some grounding to base it off of. A friend of mine has done research into Classical cultures views of Trans People, so has a lot of knowledge and references I can pull on. Some things will need to b drummed up though, like a fully fledged story, and a new name (Curse you Percy Jackson!), but it all shows promise.

Unfortunately I will be moving out soon, so I may be away for a while, but when I return hopefully I will have a grounding to base a game from.

See you all soon!

Halloween Special! (In November)

So maybe this is because it was it was Halloween on Friday, or perhaps because I have thought about this before, but I have come to the conclusion a Trans Horror game would be distressing as all hell. And really, you want a Horror game to leave a lasting impression on the player.

Now first off, no I do not mean a game were the villain, monster or ghost is Trans. Too often when Trans people are represented in horrors or thrillers they are killers. Just look at Silence of the Lambs or Psycho. In both cases the killer assumes a female identity, supposedly due to mental anguish or some such. Often defended as simply “Men who wish to be woman,” which is a commen trope about Trans Woman, they only help to drive the stigmaof Trans people as “mentally ill.” In games, I think the closest I have seen is Yutaji the Flesh Mage from Draken: The Ancients Gates. He is supposed to be completely mad although he does not don a female identity, merely wears woman’s skin.

Yutaji

This guy was terrifying. The game wasn’t even supposed to be scary!

No, what I am talking about is a horror game which bases the world, challenges of that world and its major themes on issues facing Trans people. With that goal in mind I have thought of some issues and how they could be explored in a horror game context. Warning, things are about to get personal and maybe a little emotional.

Control

Probably one issue common to all Trans people is control. Society tries to force us to behave like the gender we were assigned at birth, or when they do accept us force us to act in a stereotypical manner for our Gender Identity. Even Trans people try to control other Trans people, by telling them they are not truly Trans or their identity unless they have SRS. So how do we explore this in a game? Games have the unique opportunity to be Active Experiences, giving the player control over what they see, so we must break this! Some games already toy with this a little. In Wolfenstein: The New Order, a brilliant moment early in the game has you at the Mercy of a Nazi official. You have no idea what she will do, you can only pick pictures. And honestly, it is one of the scariest segments of the game. But obviously a game where the player has no control is just one long cutscene, so how do we give the illusion of control, while taking it away? Some ideas I have include giving the player a map which depicts a large open world, yet they are confined to a narrow path. Doors are locked, walls crumble to prevent passage, and horrors stop you from exploring that cool looking tower. A eerie idea I like is the idea of a stair way. When you step on it and travel up, it goes on as long as you move up, but when you turn around, you are still standing at the bottom.

Rejection

Another one common to all Trans people, as our families and friends abandon our new found selves. A little more difficult to convey in a game, but it could still be done. Characters, people just out of reach, behind locked doors, walking away constantly. A simple method, and I certainly think I need to think more on this one.

Violence

Sad to say, but Trans people, especially those of darker skin (gah I hate using that phrase, can anyone think of a better one?) are at an extremely high risk of violence. I am thankful I have gone a year nearly full time and only been called “Ugly.” (by a man whose face was falling off, ooh burn) But how do you show violence in a game? Oh wait, that’s what games have been doing for some time. The difference here is of course the player will not be the one dishing it out, but receiving it, and being helpless to stop save to run away (when Trans people defend themselves, they are often arrested, because sometimes the only to stop someone killing you is to kill them). This would result likely in some kind of muscular monster, that stalks you, and you only choice if you bump into him (yes him, as its usually men who attack us, although woman do too, especially TERFs) is to run. Other possible options include the very world trying to attack the player, so they must be on a constant look out. Even then, they may not see it until its too late.

Sexual Harrassment and Rape

Now we get to really shit stuff. Just like violence, Trans people suffer rape to a high degree too. Sometimes it is “corrective” to show them they are wrong. Really, as I have only had to deal with sexual harassment, not sure I would feel comfortable tacking rape without doing lots more research and speaking to those who have suffered it so as to do it properly. Still I think the comic by Erin Lindsey, Venus Envy has had a very interesting way of depicting the horror of it.

Venus Envy

The first time we see any hint of sexual assault, and its terrifying. It comes out of no where. Read the whole comic, its very good.

Misunderstanding

So most people don’t understand Trans people, as is easily evidenced by looking at media portrayals of us. Ironically, bringing in the stupid stereotyped idea of a Trans person could help here. A mirror held up to the player, telling them this is what they look like, when we can see they do not. It helps to perhaps show anyone who is Cis the horribleness of being told you are something you are not. How to make it scary and gamy though? Potentially a room full of these mirrors, which the player must destroy, potentially while avoiding the ire of that muscle bound monster.

So there we go, this was just a wee look at some issues facing Trans people, and how to gamify them in a horror context. This is in no way a complete list, and I am not really a horror enthusiast, more a casual admirer (I am scared of butterflies, how well do you think I do in horror games?). Also, being Trans isn’t all oppression and violence. There are a lot of awesome bits to it to, like being yourself, and speaking honestly, getting the right bra to turn your pecs into boobs rocks!

Would you Like to Play a Game?

If so then here is a link to my game in development, Duel Wield! I built it as a web player so it should work no matter what system you are running (Let me know if it doesn’t).

So what is it? Well I wanted to learn some simple coding, so it is nothing more than top down shooter, with a little difference. The reason it is called Duel Wield is that you little character (that delightful red circle currently) has not one, but two guns! Ingenious, isn’t it? OK, it’s a working title, but what are you gonna do? The character, henceforth Gunslinger, can fire in two directions at once, currently done by moving the mouse closer to them. The closer the mouse is to the character, the wider the stance for shooting. Other wise its your typical fair, use WASD or the arrow keys to move, point in the direction to shoot with the mouse and click to shoot.

This is very early Alpha Stuff, so criticism is both warranted and sought. I’m not inviting you to simply yell “This is shite” all other the posting section. What I want are genuine critics of what can be improved, like “the whole duel wield thingy is kinda weird to use” (which I realise, and plan to find another control method for it, suggestions?). This is going to be a survival game when fully built, although I do have ideas for a rather silly story and things down the line.

Oh, I do know you can’t die. The funny thing is you do lose health, it just doesn’t do anything yet.

 

NOTE: I have since removed the game as I am working on a professional project, and my Drop Box is full.

My Experience with Suppression of Trans Culture

Sorry, ages late, but my Dissertation was due. Brings me to my first point actually. You see, as a student of Computer Games Design, it has been drilled into me that the next great avenue for games are Serious Games. Serious Games are games which have a purpose beyond being fun, they could educate you, influence you or even help physiotherapy. Its actually a really cool field, partially due to the challenge and also because you get a real feeling you are helping people.

So, in my Honours year, the year I began my Transition, I decided I would try to build a game to help the Trans Community. It was a cool idea, and instantly a hit with my chosen supervisor and fellow peers. Mitch (god people are gonna think I fancy him at this rate) embarked on a similar exercise, but on the LGBT community as a whole. It looked like it was gonna be groovy. I drew up a brief idea, and began to write my proposal. Other staff members heard about my project and were very interested. I even got in contact with a local Trans Youth group to help me design the game. The man in charge was very interested and really looked forward to me meeting them to begin drawing up ideas.

There was just one hurdle. The Ethics Committee (insert scary thunder here). I had to be careful, as they could cancel my project if they felt it was unethical. I made sure to inform them the Trans Youth Group was ready willing and able to be a part of the project, and I even tried to figure out how to get my criminal record checked for working with under eighteens. The difficulty was the University only gave guidance for Government Organisations, and the Trans Youth Group was a Charity. They didn’t know, and as far as they were concerned it was a non-issue. So I asked the Ethics Committee for help.

They originally did not respond, till I gave them a second Email. Here was the response;

“I am afraid that the committee cannot approve your Ethics application as it stands. The subject you are addressing is considered a sensitive subject and the ethical issues are complex, and unlikely to be resolved in the timescale required for an undergraduate project.”

So I was told no. After creating an entire proposal, almost nine weeks of work as I started early because I felt so keen to do it, I was told no. I tried to get Trans issues into a game somehow, a long too and fro got me nowhere. Trans issues was a blanket no go zone. The line of it being “too sensitive” carried on throughout. Then, Mitch had his project halted too. We both had to radically shift our projects, mine became recycling. I was obviously livid, and believed that this may well have been discrimination, especially due to the difficulty of getting information. I read the guidelines, got in contact with Groups to help Trans People, I was ready to fight to bring back my project. then I learned something. Many projects were cancelled. My initial though was the Ethics Committee was covering their skin, however I eventually dropped this to focus on my work.

So my school work continued, with me feeling really rather upset at not being able to do what I really wanted too. Then the module Series Games Design came up and I got excited. I could try again! I had to work with a team however, and I was unlikely to persuade them. However my concept could still be pitched, and the Lecturer could pick which they though was best out of all the teams ideas. So I created a brief, which outlined the basic idea of a game where you have to do battle discussions and mini games to learn about the issues that face Transgender people. My lecturer liked it.

The Clients did not.

According to the clients who also judged our ideas, Trans issues was not a broad enough topic to build a game around. Apparently I would be better suited to just do bullying in general. Sweep the Trans stuff away. Who would play it aside from Trans People? People, that’s who! The game was specifically designed to let the player see it from a Trans view point and a Cis view point, and so people could learn what they perhaps do in their own lives that may be anti-Trans. It was designed to be used by both Trans People, and Cis People.

Guess this is just something I’ll have to get used to. Either my ideas are to icky, or they just won’t be attractive to your typical Male Heterosexual Cis Gamer.