Sure, we’ve all had those uncomfortable family dinners. Though, I’m sure when a trans person reads those words another moment or fear comes to mind. That’s whats developed in my mind with an itch.io game of the same name. Family Dinner is a game developed by a 17-year-old all about those painful and tense conversations a trans person has with family members over the dinner table.
In this game, you play as trans man Toby. He’s prepping to just make it through another family dinner. He has a friend by the name of Jack, that he talks to online as support. It’s being described as a “choose-your-own-answer simulator.” It was developed by Tom Hosford, who is now, along with their game, a BAFTA finalist. The 17-year-old had the following to say about the game that was named a finalist in the Game Making Award: 15-20 years old category of the BAFTA 2020 Young Game Designers competition:
“This minefield [an LGBT person navigating talking to family] is often overlooked by non-LGBT people, and I wanted to highlight how something that appears so trivial (or even boring) for them can be seriously upsetting and stressful for LGBT (especially closeted) people.”
Rife with text and tense conversation, the game is a very real situation for trans people. Sure, most of us have had that difficult conversation over dinner with conservative extended family members. This game, however, takes it to another level. Non-diegetic sounds such as an intense heartbeat and clinking of dinner plates with cutlery are implemented during the game, along with different text options to react to your family members. As many trans people unfortunately know, these conversations rarely end in roses. In saying that, be prepared for some potentially triggering content as the game unfolds.
Huge props should be given to Hosford, for exploring such a real and raw topic. Family Dinners can be accessed for free here.