A Closed World: queer-friendly Flash game

A Closed World is an JRPG-style flash game, whose androgynous hero faces up to the oppressive attitudes of his/her hometown by leaving it. "[It's] a digital game with LGBTQ-friendly content, something that's very uncommon in games right now," writes the creators at Gambit. "Game designers and marketing professionals alike have cited a number of reasons for this, ranging from a perception of institutional homophobia in game culture to a genuine desire on the part of game designers to 'get it right' and create games with compelling queer content, rather than feeling that the element is merely 'tacked on' in the end."

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    1. It may surprise you to learn that merely fetishizing queer folk is not actually the last word in LGBTQ-friendliness.

      1. Actually I wasn’t commenting of on the relative LGBTQ-friendliness (or queer fetish-ness) of the game. My point was that having a game in the JRPG genre with androgynous, possible gay characters is like saying that your up coming FPS is going to include fire-arms.

    1. “Gay” is only one part of the whole sexuality/gender landscape. “Queer” has the advantage of covering the territory without adding more and more letters.

    2. Because not all queer people are gay.

      I prefer queer to bisexual … though I’m probably more accurately pansexual. Queer is just easier and essentially says, “I’m not straight but I don’t necessarily fit into the bisexual or gay box.” Others use the term queer for different reasons.

  1. I don’t see what’s wrong with tacking it on when it isn’t the core element. The presence of heterosexuality in games can also be tacked on. Unless you’re actually playing a dating sim, it isn’t core to the game. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never found a “love interest” in a game that was actually compelling, no matter the sexuality.

  2. I appreciated that there was a gay perk  in Fallout 3: New Vegas (Confirmed Bachelor/Cherchez La Femme). Bonus 10% damage to your character’s sex and there were added conversation branches with certain characters.

  3. It’s kind of unfortunate that the protagonist has to leave. In this case, does “It gets better” translate to, “It stays the same, so you should go somewhere where it’s already better”? 

    I’m playing a bit of devil’s advocate here — I’m sure that’s not the explicit message they’re trying to send. But it showed up in the first sentence of Rob’s description, and the first paragraph of the game’s description. I’ve heard of the concept of “escape valve cities” as being a negative result of our rootless society. Places like Asheville, NC or Austin, TX end up attracting people who are looking to escape the types of situations shown in this game, and as a result the original places, with their associated oppressive values (or what-have-you) have one less road block towards being even more oppressive and homogeneous. 

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would hardly call letting jerks continue making homophobic comments at your back the same as “fac[ing] up to…oppressive attitudes.”

    1. Probably breaking some rule to reply to my own statement, but I would like to say that the ‘monsters’ in the game are representations of the people in the town. So, the descriptions of the game aren’t very clear that there’s a bunch of metaphor and symbolism wrapped up here, and what the protagonist is actually doing is confronting people (using logic, passion, or ethics as weapons! Awesome!), not running away. Given that, I think the wording that the creators use to describe what the protagonist is doing (running away, etc) is not only a poor choice of words and a poor, albeit unintentional, message to send, but also inaccurate.

    2. In some situations, a happy, fulfilling existence far from home is the best revenge against small-minded hometown assholes. If a community does nothing to protect a person from being bullied and harassed, there’s no reason to stay if another community is accessible and more welcoming.

      1. Except for, you know, all of the people who are left behind who have to deal with all of the “small-minded hometown assholes” and their assorted progeny. Who in a community, exactly, is supposed to “protect a person from being bullied and harassed” when all the people who have first hand knowledge of bullying and harrassment have pulled up stakes and left town? 

        Your logic of a happy, fulfilling existence being revenge is also hardly true. You think they care one whit whether you’ve found love and are comfortable on cold, winter nights? They hardly think of you, or anyone like you, because you’re no longer THERE. Instead of unintentionally expanding their minds, you intentionally close them further. 

        I don’t mean to get all steamy. I was a straight kid who got more shit for being gay than some gay people get, and had to deal with all the confusing issues that come along with that (is it BAD to be gay because I don’t want to be called gay? but I’m not gay, and don’t care if anyone else is gay either, but it’s still an insult? and on and on…) and this issue gets my blood working. 

        1. It’s great in the movies when the plucky protagonist sticks it to the bullies and stands up for justice. I just don’t see it happen that often in real life.

          We have got about 50 good years to live, and I for one did not want to spend these years surrounded by the assholes who live in my nowheresville hometown. The vast majority of people I’ve known who were seriously bullied, even the tough and strong people, didn’t bother sticking around for more punishment. They moved away ASAP. Got better jobs than their bullies, generally. :-)

          It’s fine to disagree, and maybe you’re right and freak-flight condemns the town to a future of bigotry and socioeconomic decline … but life is too damn short to fix an entire town just so you can walk around without having bottles thrown at ya.

          “Your logic of a happy, fulfilling existence being revenge is also hardly true.”

          Depends how you view revenge – if you’ve dealt with someone dominating you for years, someone who would laugh if you committed suicide, then a happy, satisfying life would be the best revenge, no? Even if they don’t know you’re happy, YOU do, and that’s the last thing the bully would want. Letting go of the anger is even better – then they have no control at all. And if you’re really lucky, their pathetic lives are fun to read about on Facebook.

          1. Thanks for responding, joeposts. I was going to bow out, but I just have one more point to make — and thank you for taking the time to make reasoned arguments. The thing I want to say is that a reasonable assumption of numbers of people classified as homosexual is every fifth person. Add to that any number of other people who might be subject to similar harassment (any male who is slight of frame or has a lisp or likes color in their wardrobe, overweight people, people who get good grades or horrible grades, people who smell, people who eat funny foods, people with disabilities, birth defects, and on and on), and you have a significant portion of the population. 

            I’m not trying to advocate some end-of-movie scene where the trod-upon hero rises up and we all slow clap — I’m saying that if the only message one of these populations sends to each other is Leave, or Stay Inside, or Hide Yourself, or Things Are Better Elsewhere And Will Never Be Different Here, then a disservice is being done to the community as a whole, especially when there’s a whole lot of people left behind who may not be able to flee so easily. After all, people flee to where there are more people like them or they’re more accepted, right? But that’s inherently a moot point — there are people just like you where you already are. Elsewhere, they’re just more obvious about it and the small minded jerks have learned that they can’t mess with that population anymore because it’s a real thing, not an aberration, but normality. Maybe all it takes is for a few people (not just one!) to stay and just BE.

            Full disclosure — I left too. Thanks again.

          2. “I’m not trying to advocate some end-of-movie scene where the trod-upon hero rises up and we all slow clap”

            That would be nice, though! Lol.

            “Maybe all it takes is for a few people (not just one!) to stay and just BE.”

            True, and I think things change as old fogies get old and die off, and their kids rebel against them. Maybe the best thing some queers can do is head off to the big city, infiltrate the art world, and influence The Young People. ;-)

  4. I loved the Leliana/Female Warden relationship on Dragon Age: Origins. *would rate it above at least one past RL relationship*

    PS There were solid M/M options too. 

  5. Hmm… Am I the only one who played the game and thought it wasn’t that great as a game? It’s basically making you spam the same “attack” which makes your character respond with repetitive, generic responses to the enemies. Sometimes the enemy does a “change tactics” which means you spam a different repetitive attack. The plot didn’t seem very engaging, and the gameplay is just repetitive and doesn’t make one “think” about the situation at all. Subject matter isn’t everything.

  6. I would say that “LGTBQ friendly” isn’t accurate. More accurately it would be “Aimed solely at LGTBQ” since in my view, “friendly” would be more like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, where you can be staright, bi, gay whatever you choose. Here, we have the game equivalent of an afterschool special.

    1. I’m going to assume you’re not actually attempting to discourage the next group of “scumbags” from even trying, but you couldn’t be going about it any better if you were.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with Peter McDonald. You aren’t playing an androgynous character; you’re playing one who is male or one who is female. Weirdly enough, that leaves out a giant chunk of the queer community.

    Sort of makes you wonder if the developers did any research before creating their “oh so cool and progressive” game.

    1. “Hostile” perhaps not so many, but…

      …how many games offer a gender choice that is non-binary? 

      …how many games, with their strictly binary gender choices, put you in the role of either a stereotypically macho manly man or a girl whose entire purpose for existence is boobs?

      …how many games have hetero relationship options for their characters, but not gay/bi ones?  One developer actually said “There are no gay people in the Star Wars universe.”

      …how many times have game publishers or developers slighted, not necessarily with malice, people who aren’t cisgendered and heterosexual?  For example, XBox Live users getting banned for saying they’re gay or lesbian on their profiles, because it is “vulgarity.”

  8. The male or female question really bothered me… It bothers me whenever it comes up anywhere BUT for a game that’s about LGBTQ issues? (by the way, I am one of the Q)…

  9. Are there any mainstream games which are LGBTQ-hostile? I’d ask specifically for RPGs but nobody even knows what that means any more, since they invented the term MMORPG.

    Already mentioned on the friendly front are Fallout3, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect (all of which are GREAT games). I don’t think they’re as rare as the OP claims.

    There are a few which are neutral, where the persona (name, gender, sexuality etc) of the main character is predefined: GTA springs to mind, and a lot of FPSs. These are about as hostile as reading a book where the main character is straight, which is to say,. not hostile at all, merely apathetic.

    Edit: AHA! Star Wars. Interesting.

  10. I’m confused. I really appreciated that the developers made you think about the fact that most games force you to choose between a binary gender when they asked you to choose, but after that bit about “gender affects our lives,” when I played through as the other gender, well, it was the same game as far as I could tell. Did I miss something? That being said, games that deal explicitly with a mechanic of logic, passion and ethics as weapons are few and far between.

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