Artwork 4: Boys Don’t Cry: A Transmasculine Simulator

by | Dec 13, 2018 | Artwork #4: Experience

My final project was a Twine game that simulated the experience of living one day as a transmasculine individual.

Following my last project’s subject on the reality of transmasculine life, I wanted to create a more personal and in depth experience relating to transmasculine life. After recently experiencing discrimination and microaggression at school and work, and experiencing so many non-transmascs making assumptions about what experiences or privileges we allegedly experience, I felt compelled to show what life was truly like for us.

I felt like it adequately fit the assignment and previous readings. I can’t think of a better way to emulate “experience” than to contain a huge part of what informs my life experience for others to experience.

I was originally thinking of this as a visual novels with characters, but I decided to frame it as more as a simulator to keep it personal. I was vaguely inspired by The Sims, which I’ve been playing recently. I was mostly just inspired by the concept of simulation games in general rather than The Sims itself (especially considering that when I play the Sims, it’s very character based).

I started out my game by listing certain concepts that I wanted to express in my games. Some notes include:

  • “Trans men who transition later have spent their lives on the receiving end of a lot of gendered discrimination and abuse and violence; and then suddenly found ourselves not only cut off from support for that trauma, but implicitly associated with its perpetrators.” – jay edidin
  • others tend to believe that trans men have access to male privilege simply because they are men, ignoring the fact that society mostly sees them as women and they have been or currently are treated as women/experienced misogyny
  • non-transmasculine trans people often alienate transmasculine people by associating transness as inherently anti-man/anti-masculinity
  • transmasculine peoples’ views on transness and gender and oppression are put on the back burner because of their maleness and the association of transmasculinity with cis masculinity and patriarchy
  • trans men are viewed either consciously or unconsciously as gender traitors, and this is especially seen with the perpetuation of the idea that they should be relinquishing their claim to their experiences with misogyny and gender-based discrimination

From there, I began to outline a story, and then separate that into multiple possible stories defined by choices.

Halfway through that outlining, I decided to go ahead and transfer it to Twine, and wrote the rest within the program.

In my first iteration, I ran out of time to create an alternate line of story depending on whether you wore a binder, but I remedied that in my second iteration.

If I were to create another iteration, I would create more experiences within the day or expand the world of the game. I initially wanted to include interactions with different kinds of trans men going through different things, with options to find out more about them and their experiences (i.e. feminine trans men, nonbinary trans men, trans men suffering from toxic masculinity and gender roles, etcetera) as well as transmasculine interaction with other trans people (negative and positive interaction between trans men and women was something i wanted to touch on because i’ve seen such polarizing behavior between us).

Gameplay wise, I received feedback about problems in the game re: options not being clickable and text showing up multiple times. I would definitely proofread it more and do more debugging to make sure everything runs smoothly. I feel like I could have organized the game in Twine a lot more cleanly so it wouldn’t have been so confusing and easy to mess up with.

play here