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Stonewall

STONEWALL

This is a one-player game, plot-driven, and you can’t win.

“1969” flashes across the screen, then the game opens with a silhouette of a head. Its look is random: it can be fat or thin with any sort of hair style/length. The player clicks the male or female symbol to the head’s right, but the silhouette stays the same no matter which is clicked. A full purple bar, a happiness meter, lies underneath it.

Click on the face after selecting a sex and the screen goes black. Click again and the character is now in the middle of a large, fully stocked closet. The character murmurs happily; the purple bar glows. Hover over each item of clothing (from shirts to pants, dresses, wigs, shoes, underwear, etc.), and a male or female symbol shows up over it. Drag an item onto the character and he/she will put it on. As the character becomes more fully clothed, he/she transforms from a silhouette into a real person. If the character is female and chooses to wear a “female” article of clothing, the happiness meter drops one notch and the character shows her disapproval. If the character is male and chooses male clothing, it drops two notches. The happiness meter moves up the more fully the character crossdresses. (There are only 6 or so notches on the meter.) Use the arrow keys to eventually exit the closet.

Now in the hallway, the character automatically moves to the front door, then pauses. A coat rack is next to it with a large coat on it. Choose to click the coat and wear it to cover up the drag and the happiness meter goes down. Use the arrow keys to exit the house.

The character looks both ways, then walks to the curb where his/her car is sitting. If the character is not in the coat, a cop drives by and notices him/her, follows the character to the bar and then arrests him/her. The happiness meter crashes, and it’s game over. If the character is in the coat, he/she runs to the car safely.

Driving sequence. The character parks in front of the Stonewall Inn, moves to the front door and goes inside. The character is approached by a drag queen (a different one every time the game is played) who asks the character what song he/she is going to perform. A list of ten or fifteen random songs from the 50’s and 60’s pops up. (If the character is female, songs by men show up and vice versa.) Click a song, then head backstage.

The screen goes black again for a second, then switches to a shot of a small stage. Silhouettes sit at tables in front of it, yakking. The song comes on, the room goes quiet, and the character comes out and performs.

Halfway through the song, sirens go off and all the lights in the building go on. The character stands there in shock as all of the silhouettes jump up and run out as cops rush in. The happiness meter blinks on and off. The player can now use the arrow keys to run offstage, but a cop still comes up and shoves the character against the wall. The screen changes to show the character against the brick wall of the building with a flashlight in his/her eyes.

The cop asks for ID. If the character refuses, the happiness meter goes up. If the character gives him ID, happiness points go down. Either way, the character is then made to face the wall and strip down. If the character is female and found wearing less than 3 pieces of feminine clothing, she is arrested. Game over. If the character is found with enough “correct” clothing (or if the character is male), he/she is still humiliated, and happiness drops 3 notches.

If the character’s happiness isn’t drained at this point, a button that reads FIGHT pops up in a corner. Click it and the character does a random attack: punch, kick (being in heels helps), etc. Zoom out to show the cop and character opposite each other. A green health meter appears under the cop and they begin to fight. The character is either quickly knocked out and arrested, or other cops eventually rush in and surround him/her to end the game. The game will always end fairly quickly because the happiness meter has so few notches on it to start with.

The game could get more complicated with how the happiness meter works. I want the scene with the cop to be the longest part of the game (unless the player chooses to stay in the closet for a long time at the beginning, ha—maybe happiness goes down if the character stays there longer than five minutes!), so the cop could do more questioning and different character responses could pop up for the player to pick from.

Maybe there are hidden ways to increase happiness (click on a character at the bar to dance with before the drag act or click on the bartender to get alcohol, etc), and maybe in one in every one in fifty or so game plays the player can actually win and escape from the bar at the end. THE GAYS HAVE BEEN LIBERATED!!! could flash across the screen, changing morphing from Courier into a decent normal font.

Analysis: 

The game simply shows how it was nearly impossible to have a good time as a queer back then, and hopefully it would make the player more grateful for the greater gay (and crossdressing) freedom that he or she has today. STONEWALL wound up turning into more of a stereotypical drag game than a gay game, but I didn’t want it to be overly complicated or to include silly sexual encounters just for the sake of portraying sexual orientation.

The game is quick and the player plays alone, showing how much more vulnerable queers were then. The game also has an old-school feel to it (the graphics are not great, the plot is simple, the font is Courier, etc.) to show just how “outdated” homophobia/transphobia/etc. is. (In other words, the game is just as stupid as the Stonewall raids were.)

As the player tries again and again to keep the character’s pathetic happiness meter charged, he or she will understand just how little happiness a gay person may have had to start with in the 60’s. As with the JFK game, the player becomes increasingly more depressed as he or she attempts to win the game, and will probably give up before it ever happens.

Nabbed images because I am not an art major:

http://www.advocate.com/uploadedImages/ADVOCATE/NEWS/2010/2010-09/2010-0... (stonewall inn sign)
http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/81/d0/ea/stonewall-inn... (stonewall inn, front door)
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2379/2326860820_a446f035cb.jpg (numbers)
http://www.next100.com/Club%20Surya.jpg (bar)
http://www.bculik.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/doc-mobili-big-walk-in-... (closet)
http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/adavis/adavis0908/adavis090800016/5330... (brick wall)
http://www.clker.com/inc/svgedit/svg-editor.html?paramurl=/inc/clean.htm... (character silhouette)
http://www.clipartguide.com/_small/1386-0905-2723-3818.jpg (drag queen silhouette)
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2649/4232301621_5d6d286dee.jpg (stage)
http://www.narratives.co.uk/ImageThumbs/JB003_03B/1/JB003_03B_View_from_... (front door)

(Also, credit goes to Nancy for letting me steal her discarded game idea! A++)

Mockup: 
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