Queering Stealth: Failure is an Option

I love stealth games. For me they are an appropriate mix of strategy, puzzle, and action games—when done correctly. Unfortunately, among the reasons they are often criticized is what happens when you enter a fail state.

Which is why I would like to see a stealth game predicated on being in the closet. Books, film, theater, and celebrity lives are full of coming out stories. Most of them, in an effort to make you feel good about coming out, tend to be happy to a point that they manage to alienate me, though I keep coming back in hopes of seeing my own experience emulated somewhere.

Interactivity, though? The ability to help even straight people have an inkling what their QUILTBAG siblings go through? I would like to see that. It could even be used as a historical marker, for that fabled day when ‘celebrities coming out means nothing’ (we’re not there, though Anderson Cooper’s statement today has reminded me that people seem to want to adopt that attitude already and seemingly dismiss the courage it takes to come out on such a large platform).

The premise would be fairly straightforward in that you would be a member of the QUILTBAG, and seeking to keep your identity a secret. The trick would be in how you implement the stealth components, as they would not be purely predicated on occupying physical space and would require more of a concentration on social cues, norms, and with whom one spends one’s time. I imagine something akin to the dating sim portion of Persona 3 in that regard: with whom you hang out matters, as does with whom you are seen, in which activities you participate, and how you are perceived.

To avoid being overly maudlin or alarmist, being outed or coming out would not be the end of the journey. Being outed would be what we now equate with a fail state, because of our intended goal of keeping a secret. However, what would proceed is the process of dealing with being out.

The reason this wouldn’t even be the end for coming out is because there is a further story to tell here: what happens once one comes out? Many coming out stories end as soon as the coming out occurs (depending on the media, this typically coincides with the person’s first relationship—at least when it comes to sexuality), rather than dealing with the consequences and coping and strategies for what happens afterward. There is always an awkward phase, particularly with people you knew previously.

Something that could require more thought.

Also, it would be great if this could be a game that could be easily modded, so that more people could tell their stories, and share their experiences.

Other thoughts: how do we highlight people for whom being outed is a much more dire prospect? Can games do this respectfully, and how?


About Denis Farr

Writer interested in intersectionality, games, comics, nerdy stuff in general, theater, and how it all mixes. Graduate of Wabash College, with studies in Theater, English, German, and Gender Studies.
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One Response to Queering Stealth: Failure is an Option

  1. It’s only related as a potential metaphor, but are you familiar with Octodad?

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