P2: Tiny Playable Prototype of Gender Affirming Care Ban

I was inspired by this post about Eric Curts’ Dragon Quest which is made in Google Slides by hyperlinking texts to slides. I decided to make my rapid prototype in Slides as well to help organize my thoughts and not get lost in the branches. By having each step be a slide, I can easily edit wording and build upon the current slide without having to remake it physically. I also wanted to play with using different fonts to represent different people speaking. 

In class on Thursday, October 20th I was able to playtest my tiny prototype (embedded below) and get feedback about my interactive fiction. My game is about a world where gender affirming care is threatened to be banned. The main character is a hacker who deletes all gender data to make passing and enforcing a gender affirming care ban difficult. The gov threatens them to make a gender identification program. The player is then forced to have a dialogue with the gov to figure out how to even define gender and what gender-affirming care even means. The goal is to normalize the concept of gender-affirming care and impart how it is an essential part of everyone’s life regardless of gender or sexual identity.

As placeholders, I had some options just be what I am trying to convey instead of the actual nuanced nicely done way of having true dialogue and getting to the matter. Some play testers who are unfamiliar with the issue said it turned them off. A lot of feedback centered around the fact the story currently leads in the message instead of discovering it and feeling the emotional ramifications of a world where banning gender affirming care does happen and is bad. Play testers wanted to feel like the options they chose had more power and see the ramifications of a gender affirming care ban. I am thinking about switching the game so you are a national public health consultant and are presented with different cases of people being unable to access care because it is demonized as being or adjacent to gender-affirming care. That way the player gets to experience and see the ramifications of the world and not just the threat of it. 

I also spent an hour after class speaking with one of my play testers who have a more “moderate” view of queer health care to learn what kind of presentation would work best to convince a player who doesn’t necessarily care or has a negative view of gender-affirming care. Their favorite part was the idea of reconstructing the idea of gender without access to medical/birth records and the question if we can determine someone’s gender based off of habits. They would like to see more story/vignettes shared about people who need gender-affirming care before having to make choices about it. They also wanted more neutral language towards the issue when first entering the game and wanted to discover the message as they played it.

By the way – this game is inspired by One night, hot springs which presents a great narrative about a Japanese trans woman who takes a trip to the hot springs for her best friends birthday and shows a sliver of the trans experience.

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