For my Indie Game Show & Tell, I’d like to present a visual novel called Genderwrecked, by Ryan Rose Aceae, because I think it’s a fantastic example of what indie games can do that bigger games currently can’t.
Genderwrecked is a small experience. It’s arguably not even a game: the player sometimes chooses dialogue options, but all the options eventually end in the same place. There’s no strategy. No real decisions. No fancy graphics (it’s all cartoons and ascii art).
Despite all this, though, Genderwrecked feels ridiculously real. Over the course of the game, the player speaks with eight or so vaguely monstrous characters, while on a quest to discover the meaning of gender. And every one of these characters, whether they’re a robot dad or a pretentious tree or a pile of gay worms, feels like a real person. Furthermore, many of the odd creatures in Genderwrecked remind me viscerally of genderqueer people I personally know. It’s unusual to play a game and not only grow to like the characters, but grow to realize that the characters are actually just the people you see every day.
In succeeding so utterly at creating recognizable genderqueer characters, Genderwrecked illuminates a flaw in the commercial game industry: any game designed for profit must inherently cater to the largest audience possible, which leaves some people left behind. Indie games, often made to deliver a specific message rather than make a specific sum (Genderwrecked retails for the flippant price of $6.66), can better tell the stories of more marginalized groups. In addition, with smaller teams, indie studios can focus on a single person’s story and perspective more easily than a huge development firm.
In summary, I really believe that everyone should play this game. Gender is a frickin’ confusing thing, and a frickin’ important thing, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better meditation on it than Genderwrecked.
Get it here: https://gendervamp.itch.io/genderwrecked