Acceptance: Why You Should Pay Attention to This Small Visual Novel
Acceptance is a short and impactful visual novel about being transgender. It was created by Laura Kate Dale, a games journalist turned developer, as part of the remembrance game jam for Leelah -- a transgender girl who died back in 2014. It's a short game in every sense -- development only took one month, and I finished the game itself in about 15 minutes. But the impact it made on me will stay for a long time.
First and foremost, I have to say that this game is not meant for trans people. Rather, it was intended for cisgender people to play so that they can experience the struggles that trans people face on a daily basis. It puts you in their shoes, on both a physical and emotional level. And though it's small, this visual novel is hard-hitting in every respect -- from the narrative scope all the way down to the music.
The first question Acceptance asks you is:
"Are you a man or a woman?"
No matter what your answer, the game disagrees with you. From there, the narrative branches out in one of two ways based on your answer. The plot paths are mostly similar, but altered slightly to fit the perspective of a transgender man or transgender woman.
As the story unfolds, seemingly simple and easy choices -- like whether to go swimming or to the gym -- get snatched away from you. The game forces you to think about the consequences of being trans and swimming, or whether to use a male or female toilet out in public.
The things you face become increasingly more difficult, escalating to the point of dealing with things like assault and suicide. But the game includes content warnings to let players know what's coming -- something I appreciated and think more games should strive to include.
Acceptance might boast simply drawn art, but it's clear that the focus was on the emotional impact it delivers rather than its visual appeal. And without a doubt, it definitely delivers. I found it emotionally draining and powerful -- and I wasn’t even the game’s intended audience. That says something.
If anyone has any trans friends or family, I would urge them to play this game to experience what it is like to be a trans person and how the world sees those who deviates from the norms of gender.
You can check out Acceptance for free, or you can donate a sum of your choice, on itch.io.