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A videogame designed for LGBT teens searching for themselves

A videogame designed for LGBT teens searching for themselves

A new videogame is aimed at LGBT teens, to help them experience the ups and downs of high school before they actually live it.

LongStory is a dating simulation game set in a fictional US high school. The focus of the game is your character, fresh from school in France, as he, she or they attempt to woo their peers. Meanwhile, they attempt to solve the mysterious absence of a female student from the previous year.

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As might be apparent, the game is noteworthy for incorporating LGBTQ options into its gameplay. Your first option is to pick an avatar and gender identity (‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘they’).

Interestingly the writers have drawn attention away from identities like gay or straight and focused instead on fluid sexuality. Marcel, the first boy I dated, had previously dated girls; and despite coming from the United Arab Emirates as part of his back story, didn’t fret at the idea of being my character’s boyfriend. The game doesn’t make you spell it out: At any point in the story, I could have U-turned and chased one of my female friends instead of Marcel.

This is both a pro and con. While it’s entertaining and even illuminating for players to assume the identities of not just the opposite gender – as is standard in today’s videogames – but genderqueer and differant sexualities, it causes some continuiety errors. In real life, Middle Eastern Marcel isn’t likely to have taken so readily to being my male character’s boyfriend. It takes some of the realism out of the game.

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The dialogue also detracts from the action. It’s at once squeaky clean and peppered generously with ‘internet-speak’ – the way people talk on blogs like Tumblr, like ‘rofl’, ‘ttyl’. If the gamer isn’t up-to-date with Tumblr and other social networks, they might miss pieces of the drama.

On the positive side, the story is engaging and works well around the unfolding romantic subplots. Characters are well-detailed: the dancer with the blue hair, the sardonic outsider from abroad; although, as previously stated, somewhat poorly prepared for the multivarous choices the player can make.

The game is intended for young teens, and it makes a good go at capturing a time of intense, confusing feelings. Especially when you need to know not only who you like, but who you’re supposed to like. It makes a great gift for any teen growing up and unsure about their gender or sexuality – or for parents trying to understand what their child is going through.

The fourth episode of LongStory was released on December 18, and more episodes will be released in the future. The mobile app is avaliable on the App Store and Google Play.