34/365 – Meditation Games #34 – Identity Quest
Launcher Quote: “Destroy your old self
Forge a true identity
All in three minutes”
One of the most common tropes in games, especially when it comes to JRPGs, is the quest to have the protagonist, and/or their surrounding cast of characters, find their identity. From humble beginnings to a final, climactic battle where the characters you control have in essence found themselves, it’s a quest that often appears as parallel, sometimes obvious, sometimes not, with the idea that there have been many trials and tribulations to get there.
Today’s entry from Quinn Crossley attaches a more real world sense to the identity quest in games by presenting a game that provides a lot of symbolism for transgender people and the process of discovering their true gender identity. You’re given a set of rooms where you are shown to be of one gender (in this case female), being displayed as a set of mirror items and iconography, go through a discovery of change and an intermediary literal shattering of that identity, and come out the other side as a new person with a new gender identity (male) entirely. As far as identity quests go, nothing really comes close in games to this sort of fundamental change that someone who is a member of the transgender community goes through, so it was really great to see Quinn break it down in game form and present it in such a way that it’s understandable without a single bit of text per the Meditation Games principle.
It’s worth noting a couple places in the game. One is the slightly scary turn in the middle, when the shattering of existing gender identity happens. It’s presented in a starkly different light and seems to show how difficult the shift from one gender identity to the other can be. It’s a very solitary journey through darkness, where you progress by literally breaking through the mirrors from before, and is very powerful imagery for those who haven’t gone through this kind of journey and are told of the struggle to do so by those who have.
The other is the end, where your character gets to the end and is greeted by a cast of supporters as they get to the end (or perhaps the new beginning) of their journey with their new identity. As with the identity quest in games that we are so familiar with, the quest for identity for those in the transgender community is made oftentimes with a support structure of those that are behind them all the way as they work through their journey of re-discovery. It’s also a reminder that oftentimes quests are accomplished with the help of advocates, allies, and true friends, and that the journey, however difficult, need not be embarked on or traveled alone. In this respect, the reflection of quests in life is not so much different than the ones we often encounter throughout the lifetime of a game.