Although A Closed World, the free online game made by the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab that aims to explore queer issues within the confines of an RPG-like environment, has been out for a few months now, I avoided playing it until earlier this week.
Mind you, I didn't intentionally ignore it. I remember reading about its release with more than a little interest, but for some reason I can't recall at the moment it fell off my radar before I got around to playing it.
How'd it get back onto my radar? While chatting with the Gayme Bar guys last week, one of them brought up the game as a good example of how the medium can address and otherwise tackle LGBT issues.
Feeling like an idiot for not having played it, I vowed to do so the very next day. That I did--and then some, as I played through the game three or four times over the course of about an hour (mainly so I could see how things differ when you choose to play as a male or female).
My initial impressions based on those playthroughs: It's ... interesting. I of course like that the game tries to depict the struggle of being "different" (whether that means being queer or being a minority or an outcast in other ways), but with just a few exceptions A Closed World's story is a bit too awkward and heavy-handed for me. Also, it can be confusing at times, as you aren't always sure who you're dealing with or where you're supposed to go or what you're supposed to do. (Thankfully, the game's map is tiny, so you can only wander around like a lost puppy for so long.)
On the plus side: The game's graphics, especially those found in its turn-based, rock-paper-scissors battle scenes, are quite pretty. Its soundtrack is similarly appealing.
I don't want to say much more than that right now, as I'm currently in the middle of writing a "somewhat gay review" for this game (expect it to be published sometime in the next week or two) and I'd rather save most of the pro-versus-con discussion for that post.
In the meantime, I highly recommend giving A Closed World a go--whether you're a member of the LGBT community or not. Yes, it's flawed in many ways, but for the most part I think it's admirably so. Also, it's sure to prompt you to consider how future games should tackle these same issues. For that reason alone, I think playing through A Closed World once or even twice is well worth anyone's time.
Play: A Closed World