This Strange, Binary World
You want to use the toilet. You're faced with two doors. Which will you choose?
An off-shoot project for the short play 'N.B^' by NMS Martin
Content warnings for transphobia, homophobia, violence and references to rape.
Comments and suggestions are welcome. Feel free to tweet @ us!
- - Nemo @zeus_japonicus [script/dev]
- - Jade @JDWasabi [audio/art]
- Playing on mobile devices is currently a bit buggy. More updates to follow once figure out how to fix this. Many thanks!
- Software used: Tyranobuilder, Logic Pro X, Photoshop CS6
- Some sound effects are from freesound.org
|Tags||LGBT, non-binary, sound-novel, Transgender|
|Average session||A few minutes|
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Nonbinary AFAB here.
Despite being very much not a girl, I've never used restroom spaces for the opposite sex.
One of my best friends is trans female, and playing through this really helped me to imagine what that situation might be like for her-- and just in general, the awkwardness of the world seeing you as a different person than you really are, and possibly even being seen as a threat. It stings. It stings hard, thinking that she has to go through this. And that I probably will as well, as I transition.
For those brave people who choose to use the restrooms that validate their identity, and for those who don't, you are valid. You are worthy. And you are wonderful.
I'm AMAB and Enby with a mostly androgynous name and pronouns (He/She/They). I absolutely hate going into public bathrooms but I always have to go into the male restroom. I feel if I could be open with who I am in public, I would be able to go to the bathroom in female restrooms because I would feel much more comfortable with that instead of male restrooms. Ultimately, I wish I had access to non-binary restrooms that are exclusively for any people that aren't cis female or cis male. We need so many more safe spaces and the seemingly small things like bathrooms require so much courage. (edited)
As a nonbinary person who hasn't transitioned besides using my desired pronouns, this is what I'm afraid of. Right now i feel okay using fem restrooms since i am afab, but it probably wont be like that for long and that scares me.
I understand this, and even though my beliefs are strongly against LGBTQ, they exist and the world is terribly difficult for them. This game perfectly illustrates their hardships. Not just bathroom, but everything else. [bug didn't actually exist it was my lag]
why are you against lgbtq+ people
Thanks for this game.
I'm nonbinary and soon moving into the territory where both bathrooms could be risky for me. I'm not even afforded the chance to express my identity, instead I have to worry about the reactions of others above all else. This really spoke to my fears.
Thanks for the comment <3 Reading through the comments /playing through, I hope it can give you at least some kind of comfort to know that you're not alone in the world. Sending love and stay safe <3.
Sending this message of love and support to you. The world can be cruel and full of injustice, which is what spurred us to create this experience game in the first place. I hope you are doing okay, and that you have the strength to carry on <3.
On behalf of Nemo and myself, thank you for playing our game and taking the time to write a comment.
If there are any people trying to be jerks in the comments, ignore them. This message is important
Hi Rockethro!7, thank you on behalf of Nemo and myself :)
I really like this premise. Using public restrooms comfortably is a privilege many of us take for granted, and this is a very important issue to tackle.
I was confused who I was playing as. I knew I was a transgender teenager, but what was my specific identity? Going into either bathroom gave the message, "this is not your identity." If neither is my identity, then what is? Is the idea that if I enter the woman's bathroom my character is biologically female but identifies as male, but if I enter the men's bathroom my character is biologically male but identifies as female?
I think it would've been nice to know where the restroom was located too. The pictures are surprisingly not helpful! The bathrooms look like they could be at the safe warehouse my Dad works at just as much as they could be at a subway or ballpark stadium! If it was in a place that I thought was safe and the protagonist was familiar with, I would probably have chosen the bathroom that they would have preferred.
I realize after reading some comments that you say the character is non-binary, and that this was expressed in the "about" section. That would explain what was meant by ",this is not your identity." I think this should have been included as exposition before you begin the game.
You did a great job with this game! Even though some bits were confusing, the fear and anxiety of the protagonist came across very clearly.
I don't think a game called "This Strange, Binary World" really needs a complete introductory paragraph on the protagonist being nonbinary, that's kind of self-evident, and no game with a binary protagonist would need a complete introductory paragraph explaining That...
You're right that most games don't have the burden of introducing a cis-gender character as such; it wouldn't be a relevant trait to discuss unless it might change over the course of the story or cause conflict. Some games give you complete control of your identity, so there's no reason for the game to introduce a character you just made.In this case, gender identity will cause conflict and you don't have any control over it, so its definitely necessary to tell the player about this character trait.
You're also right that the game already takes measures to tell the player they are playing as a transgender and non-binary person. But they still need to do a bit more, but definitely not a "complete introductory paragraph" :) I think just adding one more line after "You are transgender." saying "You are non-binary." would clear up all confusion. It's not tucked away in the "about" section. The player doesn't have to infer it from the title. Every player will see it.
The entire point of the game is that neither of this cut-and-dry words fit the identity of the person you're playing as. "Nonbinary" isn't one, singular third identity, it's a spectrum of identities and experiences that can't be explained in a way that's easy to consume, or that any cis person would be content with. The point that the entire game is making is that in a cisgender world we're expected to put ourselves in these boxes of male, female, blue, pink, one or the other, something that a cis person understands. The game stating an absence of identity rather than the exact description of the player characters identity is the entire POINT of the game. Because in a binary world, being nonbinary is an absence, it doesn't fit. "You are nonbinary" seeming like a valid fix for this, is a shoe-horned, cisgender way of looking at the point of this game.
Ahh, I see. I had never considered the game was, "stating an absence of identity." It's an interesting idea that the game is highlighting that absence by clarifying you are transgender but not that you are nonbinary. I could see how telling the player explicitly that they are nonbinary might give the impression that their player character has their identity pinned down, and that would go against the definition you gave for nonbinary.
That being said, maybe there are better ways this idea could be presented. For instance, maybe the game could begin to type "You are nonbi-", but then the screen glitches, and you are presented the first choice. I dunno, something for the developer to decide.
Thanks for giving me such good explanation for nonbinary. It gave me more perspective on this topic.
I might've done all the possible paths in this game, and they rly give good insight into the experiences of a transgender person. Even binary trans ppl can relate, esp in the Male Toilet paths. I think it'd be interesting though to insert one of two choices: A) in the Female Toilet path, you choose if you appear masc or fem or B) in both the Male and Female Toilets, the first time you get to choose if you leave or carry on, there's 3 options (Leave - You want to carry on - You have to carry on). The first one is clear. The nuance about the other two is the following: You want to carry on implies that you are comfortable in the bathroom, just as the original intent. You have to carry on implies that you are not comfortable with this decision but that you would rather go through the dysphoria of it all than to risk subjecting yourself to transphobia if you were to use the other washroom.
Things would go smoothly (as in, no one confronts you because you are viewed as cisgender), but the inner monologue could reveal how painful it actually is. As they leave the bathroom, these thoughts occur: "You let out a shaky breath as you exit the toilet. You can feel your heart hammering in your chest. Your fingers shake. This hurts more and more every single time. You can't continue like this. How long are you going to pretend? How long can you go? Should you just avoid public bathrooms altogether?" Stuff like that.
Not to say I didn't enjoy it at all. It's just a suggestion, take it or leave it. I thought it was great, I spent over 30 minutes playing! Thank you for this, it's very great!!
Hey there, thanks!
I've passed your comment to Nemo and we appreciate the feedback! I'm sure we can expand on the experience to include choices for how you as a player can choose to present yourself for our next project. Agreed that changing a single word can change the whole tone of the scenario!
Thanks again for taking the time to play and write a lovely feedback/comment! :)
As a nonbinary person, this captures how public bathrooms feel perfectly. I'm afab, but I look pretty androgynous. I always feel like I'm in a place that I'm not supposed to be. I don't associate strongly enough with a male identity to use the other bathroom, though, and most of the time, the women's room is safe enough when you look like me, given that afab people are "allowed" to be masculine. I've only been mistaken for an amab in a bathroom once, and it wasn't anywhere near as jarring as the experience in the full female path.
Keep making games like this.
Thank you for the kind comment, Friend <3
As a trans man, bathroom anxiety is a very known feeling to me and to see some of the comments about how this game was 'useless because gender is binary' or the especially disturbing one about how someone wanted a rape scene is very painful because it just reminda me of how some people think that way still. I think this game is incredibly important and knowing that it exsists makes me very happy! You did a wonderful jub on this project!
Thank you so much for the kind reply! I've passed your sentiments over to the Nemo, our writer and it makes us just super happy to know that our work means something. We hope to create more meaningful games like these in future!
Best wishes :)
here's a fun fact: gender is binary.
Nope. It's a spectrum. Science agrees.
Thank you very much for that fantastic little game. I think it's always important to raise awareness for such issues. The focus on a specific aspect - the possible treatment of trans people in public bathrooms - was great for that, because it doesn't overgeneralize it in my opinion. Happily I included your game in one of our compilation articles about the entries for the ResistJam as well as in the related showcase video. :) Keep it up!
Thanks for the kind comment and taking the time to check out our work, Sebastian !
Hope you have a good one too :)
You're very welcome! Always glad to see that people appreciate our recommendations. :) Hugs to you!
I can understand the paranoia aspect, like worring about sitting down to pee even though men do it too, but having the man in the male bathroom be some monster is feeding that paranoia. Also, the one if four statistic isn't true. It did have an intresting visual aspect.
This is Nemo, the writer. If you read the epilogue, you'll find where I've written how This Strange, Binary World hinges on the possibility of worst case scenarios in the everyday experiences of a non-binary person, and what anxiety it induces. It is about feeding paranoia, because it's made out of anger for being told I can & should only make products that have violent outcomes for my characters. So I did it, so I can point to this and say: "look. here's my horror story, it demonises everyone involved. now let me write happy endings."
Turns out you're right, it's actually: Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) have been raped in their lifetime (by any perpetrator). http://www.annalsofepidemiology.org/article/S1047-2797(12)00024-5/abstract
But as a piece of fiction, I went by common lexicon and understanding. 1-in-4.
Anyway, thank you for playing.
Sorry I missed the epilogue explaining that. What I meant by the statistic being wrong was the fact that the "1-in-5" statistic comes from a flawed study and even in that study 1-in-5 wasn't just rape, it could also be things such as forced kissing or unwanted groping of sexual body parts. I'm not sure what the real statistic is, but I've heard the one for men and women is actually really close.
Hi Elliot, this is Nemo, the writer. I identify as non-binary and as transgender. I wrote this game with my personal experiences in mind as a non-binary trans person. This is not to say that any other experience is invalid, only that I had never played a game with this specific perspective as the focus.
Thanks for playing, N
Not all trans people are binary. Not all non-binary people are trans. The character in the game can be both transgender and non-binary, as they don't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.
wow, this was great. The men's bathroom gave me a lot of anxiety, I was so afraid that guy would kill me. I personally have no experience with this, but it's important to know other people feel in these types of situation. That even something as simple as going to the bathroom can feel so sucky. So thank you so much for making this game!
Sorry to hear that you had a lot of anxiety, I hope you're feeling better now? Thank YOU for taking the time to push through and play our work, and letting us know of your experience! It makes us super happy to know that we've created something that people could understand NB people little better. Thank you again :)
Wow. I entered the men's restroom first because I feel like I'd feel more comfortable with it and immediately felt so bad when the text saying "this is not your identity" came up. Of course I expected anything in the women's bathroom but the same and you really captured the dysphoric feeling a non-binary person gets (I'm a non-binary teenager). I'm really glad this exists, even though it made me feel really bad while playing (like seriously, I have clammy hands rn but that is the purpose I guess). I think I'll show this to my best freind to help her understand my everyday life fears better, so.. thanks for that, seriously.
Thanks so much for the kind comment, it's comments like yours which really makes me want to continue working with Nemo in making more NB related stories :). I hope that you feel better and that your friend now understands your experiences a little bit better. I've passed on your message to Nemo so hopefully they'll reply soon!
Thanks again <3
THIS WAS SO GOOD I APPLAUD YOU
Hey friend! Sorry for the late reply. Thank you for the comment, it means a lot :)
As a non-binary teenager it brings me and odd sense of joy for a game like this to be out there. It's not overly positive but that's the point and I'm appreciative of that. It's a topic rarely, if ever, discussed and it's something that quite a few individuals go through in their day to day lives. So thank you for making this game.
Hey kid. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such an amazing review. Sometimes creating feels like shouting into the void... and sometimes you realise that the void is actually populated with people trying to shout back too. So thank you, for helping me realise we're not alone out here. <3
Every time I experience this, I come back to this game. I feel dysphoric in the women's room, but terrified in the men's room, all the while not fitting into either. We need more nonbinary representation, so thank you so much for this, sincerely. I'm home at the moment and being constantly misgendered, so I came back here to remember I'm not the only one.
Hi there, thank you so much for the comment!
I'll be sure to pass on your words to Nemo who is the main visionary behind this game :). I hope to continue working with Nemo and create more nonbinary focused games with them so if there is anything you'd like to particularly see (or not), you're very welcome to get in touch with us too. <3
So im trans, ftm and decided to give this a shot. slightly disappointed when entering the mens restroom when told "this is not your identity" I can't continue playing it knowing I would have to go into the women's restroom. I have really bad dysphoria when it comes to that
Hi, I'm really sorry you felt this way. This game was designed with a non-binary experience in mind. If you enter the female toilets, the same "this is not your identity" message shows up because I feel equally dysphoric in both gendered toilets, and do I wanted to show what that anxiety feels like. I intended to educate not only cis but binary trans people on why non-gendered toilets are necessary for people like me.
avoir peur ou être violenté
c'est tellement binaire!...
mais j’adhère a la demarche
bon courage si vous faites d'autre jeux
As a Trans NonBinary 19 year old, I found this to be....painfully accurate. You hit it right on the nail my friends....To be honest it was frightening playing this. None the less, I Thank-you for making a game that simulates this. I know it will help a few others to better understand eachother.
thank you so much for the comment. Honestly I've been most worried about how other NB people would feel playing the game and, as ever, know that it can be at once terrifying, as well as affirming to realise that your own experiences aren't just your own, but that you belong to a community who suffer through the same things you do. Thank you for playing, and for taking the time to comment. I hope this game finds its way to people who will be better able to understand you, and can help you through the more difficult times. -N
I like the diversity of endings. I think I got all of them, despite I didn't found a "good ending", just some "not entirely bad" ones. I guess this is the message. Good game.
hey! thanks for playing all of the routes - and yeah, the sad truth is that with our current binary system there are no good ends. Glad to hear you liked it.
Interesting little game about an important topic, thank you! :)
Hi Kenneth Plasa,
Thank you so much for taking the time to check out our work and the kind comment, friend! :)