The act of “coming out”, that is, revealing a sexual or gender identity that isn’t considered the default (straight and cisgender), can feel like an act of betrayal. In a way it is, even though the person having to do the reveal hasn’t done anything wrong; they didn’t choose their identity.
For some, the whole process is a massive relief and they may feel that, finally, they can start being themselves once it’s over. For others it makes their lives much harder as friends or family abandon them, they’re abused and bullied, or much worse. This is why some people never come out, and why some even deny their true identity even to themselves for their entire life.
Nicky Case’s Coming Out Simulator 2014 encapsulates some of the pressures and consequences that inform and surround this life-changing act. The peer-pressure from friends and lovers in the know, the terrifying projections of how parents will react—it’s all here, captured in the multiple conversation threads of this videogame. That’s why, even though it may be semi-autobiographical, there are surely many people out there (maybe even you) who will see certain scenes reflected in their own life.
I’m one of them, actually. Being pansexual, and not realizing this until I was about 20, I’ve both dreaded and had the conversation in the screenshot above quite a few times. There’s another moment in the game in which Nicky’s mother applies heterosexual relationships to his homosexual one by asking, out of him and his boyfriend, which is the woman. Yep, I’ve had that one as well—it doesn’t work like that.
What Nicky does especially well in Coming Out Simulator 2014 is getting across the frustration of the situation. You think to yourself that saying, for example, “I’m gay” to your mother would be a clear enough statement that she’d understand straight away, and maybe snap at you or give you a reassuring hug. But what may be surprising is how people twist what you say in denial of it, meaning you have to go through the painful act of saying it again, or shouting it, or writing it in bold letters on the wall; anything just to make them pay attention.
The problem with being so boisterous is that, as Nicky warns in the game’s description, you have to be “careful what you say.” In the game there are three different endings to discover, neither of them are preferable, quite appropriately. You can get the message across, send emotions running high, and cause violent reactions. Or you can be gentle and probably disappoint your boyfriend with your failure.
Luckily, Nicky doesn’t let the game end on such a depressing note, instead sharing his own inspiring post-coming-out story. It’s worth playing just for that. And if you can’t bring yourself to “come out” yet, or are thinking about it, then it might be a good idea to simulate the possible paths the dreaded conversation might take you with Coming Out Simulator 2014.