First Transgender Protagonist Debuts in New Mystery Video Game by Dontnod
Thu, October 21, 2021

First Transgender Protagonist Debuts in New Mystery Video Game by Dontnod

Dontnod Entertainment is developing a new game that focuses on unraveling the past of a pair of twins, one of whom is transgender / Photo by: Official GDC via Wikimedia Commons

 

Dontnod Entertainment is developing a new game that focuses on unraveling the past of a pair of twins, one of whom is transgender.

It's rare to see queer characters in video games, but Dontnod has been daring in terms of sexuality in its games. With the introduction of a transgender gaming character, Dontnod's Tell Me Why will undoubtedly stand out from future releases and will be a step forward to wider representation in gaming.

The new game was announced at Microsoft's X019 event in London last week and will be available on the Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, and Steam starting next year.

 

A True-to-Life Narrative

What makes Tell Me Why different is that the character is a default transgender and not just an option unlike that of Life Is Strange 2, where the players choose whether the main character likes either males or females.

Set in small-town Alaska, Tell Me Why is a "gripping, true-to-life narrative adventure" that follows the twins Tyler and Alyson Ronan as they unravel their memory of a loving yet troubled childhood.

"The core mechanic of the game is the special bond Tyler and Alyson share and is also a theme strongly anchored into the Dontnod storytelling approach," Florent Guillaume, Tell Me Why’s game director, said in a statement. "Over the course of the story, players will explore the identical twins’ different memories of key events and choose which memory to believe."

The new game was announced at Microsoft's X019 event in London last week and will be available on the Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass, and Steam starting next year / Photo by: Bago Games via Flickr

 

Guillaume further explained that the choices players make will ultimately determine how strong the twins' bond will be along with their future, reported Venture Beat, a US-based technology website that provides a deep context to help developers, enthusiasts, and business leaders make smart decisions.

It added that both Tyler and Alyson are playable characters and are equal heroes to the story.

"We love them both," Guillaume said, adding that they are "especially grateful to Microsoft" for giving its full support and help in establishing Tyler's identity and character as a transgender man.

The game will be composed of three chapters and will be released on a posted schedule.

Setting the Standard

The introduction of a playable transgender character from a major game studio and publisher will leave a mark on video gaming history and representation. Aside from having a transgender voice actor, Tyler will also show an "authentic representation of the trans experience, and a nuanced, multi-dimensional character in his own right," declared Mashable, a global, multi-platform media and entertainment company whose website is the go-to source for tech, digital culture, and entertainment content for its global audience.

It added that Dontnod made sure that the character is true to what they want to show as it closely worked with Microsoft and LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD while developing the game.

Nick Adams, director of transgender representation at GLAAD, said that the game developer and Microsoft made a "real commitment to authenticity" when they were establishing Tyler's character.

"Tyler is a fully realized, endearing character, whose story is not reduced to simplistic trans tropes," Adams added, noting that making a playable trans protagonist and making sure that they do it right sets the standard for the LGBTQ inclusion in future gaming.

Aaron Greenberg, general manager of Xbox Games Marketing, told Mashable that introducing an openly transgender playable character is "uniquely special" and that "it's great that we can bring that to market in a really thoughtful and inclusive way.

"When you do take a sense of responsibility to do these things for the first time, you want to try to do it right. We've tried our best to do that. But ultimately, the most important thing is that it's a great game," he added.

The introduction of a playable transgender character from a major game studio and publisher will leave a mark on video gaming history and representation / Photo by: Tony Webster via Flickr

 

Not Enough Representation

Introducing a main trans character will undoubtedly breathe new life and further improve LGBTQ representation in gaming. Those who are working on Tell Me Why and developing Tyler's character have "a sense of team pride about it," according to Greenberg.

"Because it's so unique …hopefully, fans and the transgender community and the LBGTQ community will respond positively to it as well," he said.

While Tyler's introduction is a significant mark on video gaming history, queer representation is still scarce. According to Games Radar, an entertainment website dedicated to video game-related news, previews, and reviews, there are only 179 commercially released games that feature queer characters in 2018 and out of that number, only 83 have playable queer characters. It may seem much but it's significantly small if one were to look at the thousands upon thousands of video games that have been released.

What's more, only eight out of the 83 games that have playable queer characters feature a protagonist who was pre-written as LGBTQ while the rest was merely an option.

"There’s more to representation than numbers but they certainly highlight the issue at hand," Games Radar wrote, "which is to say nothing of how poor or outright offensive some of that representation is."

This is why it's important that representation in video games should not be taken lightly and, when creating a character uncommon to these settings, developers should have the sense to consult people who are part of that community or have a deeper understanding of their experiences.

With this, they can create a character removed from societal stereotypes and possibly even provide future generations of young queer gamers to see people like themselves and get the chance to better themselves by knowing their stories.