Winter

Happy Pride Month, everybody! As usual, I’m going to try to make an effort to cover queer games for this month, whether they have queer characters or were made by queer creators.

The Queer Games Bundle was launched at the start of the month, aiming to support marginalized creators. Now, full disclosure, one of my own games that I made with a friend, To Crime Nirvana, is part of the bundle. I’m just one small part of the bundle, but a part nevertheless. So, I’m just introducing the bundle and talking about one game from it, and I’ll aim to take a look at games outside of the bundle for the rest of the month.

Starting things off, we have Winter, by communistsister/Freya Campbell. It’s a short Twine game about two trans women stalked by symbols of their insecurities. Meredith, a woman with another shadow, meets a skull-faced woman named Winter after a bad night and comes to confide in her.

The game is about the sense of identity crisis that trans women could have with regards to attraction. Meredith spots a woman she knew that she’s attracted to at a party, but she comes to question if it’s right to feel that attraction. Meredith is afraid of being anything but chaste as a trans woman, lest she be viewed as a creep. And of course, there’s the reasonable fear of the woman she’s into being a transphobe, who could view her as such regardless.

There’s this discourse at Pride about whether or not people should exercise kink. And well, Meredith’s struggles kinda reminds me of it. A completely sanitized Pride would be one where nobody can practice or display their sexuality. It’d be a celebration where people would be afraid to be themselves, which is a mindset that I think leads to insecurities about identity, like what happens with Meredith. Like yeah, queer kids exist and should explore their identities safely, but with regards to the “kink at Pride” discourse specifically, you have to recognize who defines what as kink, and if those people simply want to muffle queer voices.

Now, Winter suffers a sort of inverse problem with attraction. She’s more confident, more sure of herself, but she doesn’t want to be seen as attractive to others, having anxiety over not being fully perceived as “her.” Her fears are realized when she goes on a date with a guy that’s implied to be a chaser, and is left sickened by the fact that she was only viewed as a thrill for him.

Whereas Meredith fears being intimate, Winter lacks the space to be intimate in a way that respects her, and it’s through their mutual understanding that they find solace in each other. Being out and proud can be hard, but crafting a space where you can be recognized and practice who you are can melt those fears away.

Winter is a short and sweet game. While the narrative is the main drive, I think the visuals accompany it nicely. Its use of distorted pictures and the images having parallax scrolling when you move the mouse around makes things feel uneasy, which I think perfectly captures the mood of the protagonists.

If you like Winter, Campbell has other low-performance LGBTQ games to check out. Why stop your support of queer devs at a bundle when you could be checking out their entire body of work?

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