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Casey Baker avatar 12:44 AM on 10.05.2011
A Closed World - an interesting take on an LGBT game concept...

Today while doing some research for a different game preview, I stumbled across a free flash game called A Closed World that takes on lesbian and gay issues in a way that I've not really seen before.

The game, as an actual "game" is pretty easy, has repetitive dialogue, is a little narrow in focus, and gets a little hokey in times in both voice-narration and music.

The game as an experience, however - is something I strongly appreciate from Gambit Game Lab in Singapore. In the game, you play as a young gay male or lesbian female - although none of that is overt or totally obvious, just something you pick up from dialogue and context clues. Your character ventures into a forest and faces demons, and you do a sort of turn-based battle with said demons until you 'vanquish' them.

The demons, however, are all representative of the people you are closest to. Your weapons for battle include logic, ethics, and passion. To battle your demons, you choose one of these as an appeal of sorts. Your health bar is indicated by your composure, which you lose steadily through the battle and regain by taking a breath every now and then.

You face enemies such as your sibling, your father, and the parents of the person of your affection. Every time you defeat an enemy, you get a cut scene of sorts that hints into the storyline of your character and the interactions he or she has had with family members regarding who you are as a person.

The game is pretty short, I beat it in maybe ten to fifteen minutes - but it left me feeling a definite sense of appreciation for the developers to approach such a topic in a surprisingly mature and emotionally appealing manner.

If I were to change something about this game, it'd be some of the responses my character uses in defense of the attacks from the so-called 'demons' - though I suppose this is more because I'd wish to tailor it more to my own personal experience as they seem incomplete and sometimes a little too weak of a response. I definitely generally agree with the common attitudes shown in the attacks by these 'demons' - whether it's simple bigoted attacks by a sibling or more "ashamed for one's own personal reputation" attacks made by a father or mother.

I don't normally have much interest in LGBT topics in video games and I generally think they're mishandled by backwards stereotypes that just perpetuate this notion that all gay men and lesbian women are a certain way and should be expected to act as such - but this one caught me a bit off-guard and I played it primarily to see just how wrong they'd get it.

I was surprised to find myself accepting that in general, they got it pretty right. I hope this game finds it's way to LGBT youth who are still struggling to figure themselves out.

More information about this project can be found here:

http://gambit.mit.edu/loadgame/aclosedworld.php


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