Queer, indie game developer Nicky Case has created a semi-autobiographical, digital window into the life of a young person wrestling with the decision to come out of the closet. Coming Out Simulator 2014 is a browser-based, narrative driven storygame centering around the character Nicky who, at the behest of his boyfriend Jack, must choose a course of action to open up to his parents about their relationship.
“My coming out experience had that tension between wanting to tell the truth, and lying to protect myself.” Case wrote in his blog. “I wasn't conscious of it at the time, but I made my game's narrative structure reflect that tension too… with me, an unreliable narrator, who tells you upfront that they're unreliable.”
In many ways Coming Out is very different from your typical choose your own adventure type storygame. In place of leading players to come out point blank, the game subtly navigates the nuanced exchange of emotions and words familiar to anyone who has ever had to be honest with an openly homophobic loved one. Much of the game’s dialogue, according to Case, comes directly from the conversations he had with his parents, and its precision plays an integral role in gameplay.
“Almost every dialogue choice, no matter how minor, will be echoed back at some point.” He explains. “These tiny details, I hypothesize, make a story feel more organic than ‘every decision changes everything.’”