Over the years, especially when I was younger, I would find games that would allow me to play a girl. It was my escape from the body I felt trapped in. Be they pen and paper games, like D&D or Cyberpunk, or video games like Tomb Raider ( I know, I know, misogynist representation back then) or Dreamfall, I loved escaping into them for a while. I was more hesitant to play D&D as a girl, not wanting to tip anyone off to my dark secret. But in video games, I was her. If I traveled or fought, puzzled or just sat down, I was doing it as her. I was referred to with correct pronouns, I was hugged and even treated badly as a girl. Dreamfall was perhaps my favorite for a long time. It wasn’t perfect, but it had that perspective of being an actual girl without superhuman action sequences. These small islands of electronic imagination allowed me to keep going in an all-to-real world that I feared.
I’m old now, in no way considered a girl, but they don’t make video games like Dreamfall for older adults, they make them for 15 to 20 year olds. So, especially after coming out, and no longer having to walk my life behind a mask, I had no want to play these games anymore. I played things like the new Tomb Raider series, that showed a bad-ass woman taking on the world but without the misogynistic slant these games were known for previously. Or I played sandbox (Fallout 4) or MMOs (WoW/FF:XIV) in which I got to choose female characters. These were an escape from the day to day life, but no longer were these needed in order to escape a body that I despised.
I was going through Steam for the long weekend, July 4th, which for my company let me have four consecutive days to just enjoy the holiday. I happened upon a game I had heard about but never looked into, Life is Strange. I was happy to see that this was a female protagonist game. Then I saw that there were two of these games, Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Prequel) and Life is Strange. [Life is Strange 2, is about male protagonists and really doesn’t appeal to me.] I saw that they were offered for a very low price each and thought, what the hell.
If I had known the angst these two games would dredge up for me, I wouldn’t have bought them. LiS:BtS was my favorite, being a non-superpowered game, it was realistic and *Spoilers* it featured the possibility of a same-sex relationship between the protagonist and an NPC. I’m not reviewing the game and I don’t want to give anyone actual spoilers. The game was sufficiently good enough to draw me into the story and make me lose myself in the main character, Chloe Price. The game was at times uplifting and others downright darkest depression. I actually love/regret playing this game. I cried after the game was over. I cried for the characters and I cried for myself, as the soundtrack washed over me. Long forgotten teen angst is only a part of what it brought up. Mainly it brought up that I never had the girl teenage angst, I wasn’t allowed. I had to swallow it whole and never acknowledge it, blunted and flattened by testosterone and denial. It brought up that I was denied those early relationships and perspectives. The game is gut wrenching all by itself, but add to it the regret and acknowledgment of non-Cisdom, well it becomes a blackened pit of cathartic despair. I cried deeply.
The second game, Life is Strange, it continues from the prequel. But it introduces a supernatural element which I found annoying and distracting from what could have been deeper stories and more intricate storylines. I found that not having the ability to form actual love interests also annoying. But I still enjoyed the game beyond this. It was for me, a long way to go for more of Chloe Price’s story, though she is an ancillary character, the protagonist being her best friend, Max. It was fraught with frustration and a different angle to teen drama. It didn’t appeal as much as Before the Storm, but I still found myself drawn to the game when I had time. I didn’t cry at the end of this game, I was a bit numb. It didn’t kill my soul like the first game and for that I was actually thankful.
These games brought up all the things I missed while I was trans. My entire life, pretending or not, I would still not be cis. I was born as a transgender girl, which put me into this nebulous childhood of confusion and misplaced anger. If I could have come out as a young child, if my parents were the kind to listen, if… if. See what I am saying? These games threw me into the what if. Even the tragedy and the angst would have been worth the certainty of Cisdom. I don’t hate being transgender, I don’t anything it. It’s part of who I am, like having freckles. But like a girl with freckles who wishes for the unblemished skin of an ivory beauty, I wish for Cisdom. It won’t come, and that is the tragedy, wishes are for princesses and falling stars.
So, this was kind of a game review, spoken from the perspective of an old transgender woman’s issues with never being a young cis girl. Be careful getting into this if you already live in depression, this may not help, but what do I know you are your own person. The soundtrack for both games is really good, but it’s the kind of music I find appealing to begin with.