I managed to get in touch with designer and creator of Coming Out Simulator 2014, a game I have written about it in a previous article. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a simple game about choosing whether to lie, tell a half-truth or the whole truth when coming out to the parents of the person you play. Nicky Case was fantastic and answered all my questions!
Susie: How did you get into designing games?
Nicky: When I was 10, I started out doing animation in Flash. Soon, I discovered Flash had programming capabilities, and so I made some games! Of course, my first few games were technically simple, and amateurly designed. Over time, I learnt more about programming and design and storytelling, and hopefully now my games aren’t as bad. (P.S: I no longer work in Flash. For the past three years, all my games have been made in HTML5)
Susie: Was it something you always wanted to do?
Nicky: No. When I was 8 years old, I always wanted to be a cat.
Susie: Any tips for those who want to get into making games?
Nicky: Keep your first few game projects small. That way, you can quickly go through and learn the entire gamedev process: from idea conception, to prototyping, to playtesting, to polishing, to publishing and press. This gives you a fuller understanding of how games are made. (Also, if you’re looking to be hired by a gamedev studio, the recruiters mostly only care about your published games.)
Susie: What’s next for you in the gaming world?
Nicky: My main project is Nothing To Hide, also an open-source game with a social cause! (online privacy, mass surveillance) A few months ago it raised $40k in a crowdfunding campaign, and this will be my main project for at least until next year. But of course, I’d still take time off for doing side projects like Coming Out Simulator 2014! (I also really care a lot about the public domain, which is why I organized The Open Game Art Bundle and sponsored The Public Domain Jam)
Susie: Did you game a lot as a kid?
Nicky: Yep! Mostly PC & web games, though. We couldn’t afford a console.
Susie: So what was your favourite game as a child?
Nicky: Off the top of my head, these games were (and still are) some of my favourites, and have also been deeply influential in the kinds of games I would make later on: Braid, the original Portal, and this flash game called The Company of Myself. Also, I remember losing lots and lots of hours to N, The Way Of The Ninja.
Susie: What was the thought process that built up to Come Out Simulator 2014?
Nicky: Three reasons why I finally made Coming Out Sim 2014:
1) There was a game jam!
2) I wanted to experiment with making a narrative-heavy game. (Most of my previous games are mechanics-heavy)
3) Four years after my messy coming out, I finally feel secure enough in my emotions and identity to, basically, broadcast my story to tens of thousands of players worldwide.
Susie: Did you find it difficult to do? (Due to you having to think about how hard it had been for you in the past)
Nicky: Oh yes. It was emotionally difficult to write, but also emotionally fulfilling. I needed to semi-fictionalize myself in the game, just so I could have that emotional distance from myself while I wrote the game. Otherwise it’d be too painful.
Susie: Have your parents accepted your bisexuality? Or are things still difficult with them?
Nicky: Nope. Things are still difficult. I don’t know if they know about my game, I haven’t gone out of my way to tell them about it.
Susie: Is there any support groups you would recommend for anybody who needs support in the LGBT community?
Nicky: My support group was the internet! There are accepting and safe space forums online. For in-person support groups, most places in “Western” countries now have local Pride & LGBT support groups. Counsellors at one’s school, or youth clinics, are usually very understanding, too. (Sorry if that sounds euro-centric. For context, I was born in the Asian country Singapore, where gay sex is still technically illegal.)
Susie: Do you feel things have improved for the LGBT community in the past 4 years?
Nicky: From an Amercian viewpoint, definitely! (I don’t know much about the LGBT movements in other countries.) Diversity of sexual orientation is more widely discussed, and DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell have been repealed. On the other hand, I’d caution against the growing belief amongst the LGBT movement that “coming out is for everyone”. That’s actually one of the reasons I made Coming Out Simulator 2014, to remind people that for some people, there are concrete consequences to coming out. And that you should never feel pressured to come out.
Susie: Finally, anything you wish to say to those of the LGBT community or friends/family of those in the LGBT community?
Nicky: To those still closeted, please don’t feel guilty for being closeted. Take your time. I definitely felt a lot of guilt, and that’s why I came out when I wasn’t ready yet.
I want to personally thank Nicky for what he’s done by putting this game out there and helping others open their minds or realise they aren’t alone.