Being a heterosexual male in my thirties, married and with children, I’ve never had to experience coming out to anyone. At this point in my life it’s fairly unlikely I’ll ever need to, but this week thanks to Nicky Case I’ve experienced what an enormous impact it can have on someone’s life.
Coming Out Simulator is a deeply personal interactive tale about a young man making the decision to come out to his family. Set across the family dinner table one ordinary evening, the words he chooses to break the news to his parents are up to you. Do you try and gently nudge your mother towards making her own conclusions, or do you just bite the bullet and break the news?
Being a sympathetic sort of man, I spent a while testing the waters with my mother before dropping some fairly unsubtle hints. After several minutes of discussing my slipping grades, I just gave up on any pretense of subtlety and broke the news. Her reaction, I confess, surprised me. Did I do it the right way, is there even a right way at doing this? Should I have been more patient with her? More direct? Would it even have made any difference in the end?
Playing Coming Out Simulator, I realised that this conversation wasn’t even the only one that would happen to him. What about his friends, his co-workers? Would everyone else react the same way? Would he need to approach the topic with some people differently, and how would he know? How many times would this conversation have to be had, and would it ever get any easier for him?
I’ve always looked towards playing games as a means of experiencing lives I never can. Sometimes that will mean commanding starships in battle and fighting aliens on beautiful worlds. Other times I’ll march thousands to their deaths on the fields of war or perform astonishing acrobatic feats.
Last night, however, I was just a young gay man who wanted his mother to accept him for who he was.