At Microsoft’s X019 event today in London, the company announced a new game in partnership with Life Is Strange developer Dontnod Entertainment called Tell Me Why, a game set in “small-town Alaska” where twins Tyler and Alyson Ronan will “use their extraordinary bond to unravel memories of a loving but troubled childhood.” One of the twins, Tyler, is a transgender man, which is tragically uncommon among big-budget video games.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ywa7gg/life-is-strange-developer-making-xbox-exclusive-with-trans-main-character
Interesting that Dontnod’s next Life Is Strange-esque title has made the swap to Xbox exclusivity. Whatever deal they worked out is a good call on Microsoft’s end. Narrative-focused games like Life Is Strange are exactly what’s missing from the Xbox catalog and definitely widens the appeal.
I’m looking forward Tell Me Why. I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason they’re including a trans main character is to tap back into the strong, queer fan base of the original Life Is Strange.
Whatever “troubled childhood” they tackle in the game, I hope it isn’t too traumatic or at least handled deftly.
I guess the big thing on everyone’s mind is if the writing is from a trans person. That’s not a deal breaker for me, if the story is written well, but it seems exhausting for every trans story to be centered around some kind of trauma. I’m not saying a trans life isn’t traumatic, but man I just wish there was a bit more diversity in the stories we get from those perspectives.
I guess that’s Dontnod’s thing though. They like their melodrama and vampires.
I just want a trans character in like a gears game or whatever. Doin’ gears stuff with all the gear heads.
Everyone should have the opportunity to be built like an industrial refrigerator.
Luckily, the last game I played with a trans protagonist made by a non-trans director was so good that I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
I’d be interested in checking it out.
The fact that the main character is trans is kind of a spoiler (which makes it hard to recommend for that reason because people get mad about spoilers lol): The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories
I say it in a joking way when I say it because they accidentally fell into it, but Saints Row is the biggest franchise with a main character who is trans. You could not make a female protagonist in the first game, but you could in the second. The conceit behind the second game’s character creation is that after being caught in an explosion your character gets reconstructive surgery while in a coma in prison. Is this an extremely flimsy justification for me to use? You betcha!
Saints Row isn’t a game about being trans, and the developers weren’t setting out to comment on the trans experience, but honestly? It’s so nice to have a series of big dumb action games where you can at any time while playing the game make your character masculine or feminine or androgynous, especially in SR2 (they should never have replaced the masc/femme body slider with a binary male/female choice), either in their body shape, voice, or clothing, and it’s never treated as a joke, even in a series that really fucks up in their choices of comedic targets sometimes. Even before I fully realized I was trans and stopped being in denial about it, I loved that about Saints Row.
When I hear Dontnod tooting their own horn about having a trans character and framing it as a landmark event, all I can think is “oh boy, how are they going to screw this up,” and that sucks. I don’t want to play a game with my guard up all the time like that. I dunno. I don’t subscribe to the idea that only marginalized people can do justice to stories about characters who are marginalized in the same way they are, but if you’re out here beating your chest about having a protagonist who is trans and your head writer isn’t trans, I’m going to eye it extremely warily.