Tonight, I’m publishing my #JamforLeelah game on itch.io. The game is titled To put it simply, and I hope you enjoy it.
To put it simply, is a Twine game I made over the course of a month for a game jam in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a young girl who committed suicide in late 2014 due to being unaccepted by society as a trans woman. Her death caused tons of outcry for transgender rights, and renewed the discussion about one of the most controversial “medical” practices, conversion therapy. You can read more about Leelah’s death and the reaction to it with a quick Google search, but I definitely recommend you play To put it simply, and read the story I put together.
I took the term “interactive fiction” that is applied to most Twine games and combined that genre with my passion for telling stories around events that have actually happened (no offense to fiction—I’m an avid IF reader). A big thing to keep in mind when you’re discussing issues in the LGBT community is that you should be very aware of personal experience, and know that someone’s personal experience is generally more important in context than what you think the experience is like, or what you have heard it’s like. I’ve had very little contact with trans people in my life, so I decided to tell the only story I thought had enough coverage and perspectives to be told fairly by someone who isn’t trans—Leelah’s. And to be honest, I don’t even tell it much. Most of what I did was arrange various news articles and postings online to tell the story in a non-linear fashion.
I did my best to respect the topic and treat it with the care it deserves, but I also made sure that everything included in To put it simply, is there to prove a point: Leelah’s death is a tragedy, and the fact that we still aren’t helping trans people in these types of situations is disgusting. I used various articles on the web, quotes from significant people related to this issue, experiences of the family and friends of Leelah’s that they’ve been quoted as saying in interviews…all of these sources contribute to the truth, the root of it all, and the call to action that we must spread in order to help trans people feel safe.
So, I hope you learn something from my game, and I hope you gain a better understand of what Leelah went through. If you have any feedback at all, please feel free to let me know on here or Twitter: @MaxPMallory.