Critical Play: Play Like a Feminist by Meerim Nurlanbekova

This assignment’s theme was so relevant to me, as I am a feminist advocate and a founder of a feminist movement back in my home country. I would have loved to play these games but unfortunately, my devices did not let me install Steam and my Android kept asking for money to download that game. What I was able to do for this assignment was read the chapter and observe how  “One Night Hot Springs” is played! I learned a lot and hope can play the game in the future!

“One Night Hot Springs” is a video game where you play as Haru, a 19-year-old transgender woman in Japan. Invited on an overnight hot springs trip by an old friend, you make choices in the game that affect Haru’s experience. The game explores the challenges of being transgender in Japan, particularly in relation to hot spring baths’ gender divisions.

With cartoon-style visuals and dialogue options, you guide Haru through decisions, such as whether to be cautious or open about her identity. The choices shape Haru’s day, and playing the game multiple times reveals different outcomes.

The principles elucidated in Shira Chess’s “Play like a Feminist” chapter, particularly the emphasis on feminist storytelling and agency in video games, find tangible expression in the interactive narrative game “One Night Hot Springs.” As players guide Haru, a transgender woman, through a series of decisions in a Japanese hot springs setting, they actively engage with the challenges and choices inherent in her transgender identity. The game’s mechanics reflect Chess’s assertion that “game mechanics are entirely dependent on player agency,” as players shape Haru’s experiences through their decisions. This specific intersection of gameplay and storytelling mirrors Chess’s argument for the potential of video games to convey diverse and empathetic narratives. The inclusion of transgender themes in “One Night Hot Springs” serves as a concrete illustration of how gaming can contribute to more inclusive and reflective storytelling, aligning with the concepts outlined in Chess’s chapter on “Play like a Feminist.”

I believe that games like this could raise awareness, solidarity and inclusivity toward different gender identities which are still taboo in countries like Kyrgyzstan where I am from.

(Screenshot from Steam)


Chess, S. (2020). Play like a Feminist. MIT Press.

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.