Family Dinner – An Emotional Interactive Fiction about Transphobia

Family Dinner - Key Art

“I followed the trail out of the room, invigorated by the possibility of reinventing my own body. The meaning was mine, as long as I was with those who had the vision and vocabulary to understand my creation.” – Nick Krieger

Developer: Pansandpots
Released: 1st July 2020
Price: Name your own price

Platforms: Windows, HTML5
Available on: itch.io
Engine: Construct

NOTE – Content Warning: This game contains some distressing scenes and instances of transphobia.

Overview

Family Dinner, a BAFTA YGD 2020 finalist, is a short, narrative-based game about being transgender and closeted at a family gathering, which quickly escalates. According to its creator, Tom Hosford, it was written and developed from a personal place, aiming to raise awareness about a situation often overlooked yet all too common for LGBT youth.

Family Dinner Screenshot - Mother's Dress Demands
Toby’s mother makes dress demands.

Narrative

In Family Dinner, players take on the role of Toby, a closeted, transgender teenager having to navigate the before, during and after of an awkward family dinner. The unpleasantness begins immediately as Toby’s mother uses his deadname, despite seeming to know the truth and makes demands that he wear a dress to the occasion.

Events during the meal are just as uncomfortable, with much of the initial upset sparked by a particularly vocal and bigoted uncle. Toby is left in increasing distress as he attempts to navigate the ignorance and cruelty that surrounds him. The only consultation is that Toby can find solace and support in his friend Jack, to whom he reaches out in these touch times.

Family Dinner Screenshot - Awkwardness over Dinner
The particularly vocal and bigoted uncle Barry.

Gameplay and Styling

The game’s styling is minimal and consists of a few sound effects, text-based story delivery, a black background and possibly stock photos. It is, however, very clean and perfectly apt in delivering Toby’s narrative.

Family Dinner has similarly simple mechanics, switching between conversation and text-message format with branching dialogue choices that lead to one inevitable conclusion. Toby also interjects sporadically with his thoughts and feelings which can impact available choices later on.

Family Dinner Screenshot - Reaching out to a Friend
Toby reaches out to his friend Jack.

Summary.

Despite the simple aesthetics and gameplay, Family Dinner is a poignant and emotional experience that I would highly recommend. It will take around 15 – 30 minutes to complete and provides valuable insight into the daily struggles of transgender people and serves as a reminder not to excuse, ignore or disregard these issues. As a story that will be all too relatable to many, this is an understandably upsetting game but worthwhile experience.

For more LGBT+ games, take a look at some of the following:
If Foundmissed messagesCurtaina new life

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