Queer Gaming for Kids?

When I set out to create Michtim: Fluffy Adventures, I already had a dozen years of experience playing and game-mastering pen & paper roleplaying games. It was only after 2007 that I finally accepted that I was indeed gay. Before then, nearly all of my characters were straight, and I tried hard to be something I was not.

After 2007, I had a different perspective on many of the games I owned and used to play. I stumbled over game mechanics that were heteronormative; wordings like “members of the opposite sex….” That really bugged me. What if – I argued – my gay character met a sexy female that tried to charm him? Why should I fall for it? I thought that my sexuality, and well my essence, was being excluded.

Now sex was seldom of importance in my gaming circles. It was just that I felt the vibe of non-normalcy. It is something that isn’t very comfortable. Geeks are often already ridiculed when they’re kids. If you’re geek on the brink of accepting who you are, you need every friend you can get. A rulebook that basically tells you “Erm, you’re not okay.” hurts my feeling. Sure, I can try to ignore it, but if it’s part of the rules, then someone probably is going to pull it out on you. Saying stuff like “You know, it’s in the rules.”

There’s a game by a German designer that’s really cool. It has an awesome noir steampunk setting. Mixing elements of gothic intrigue with the hunt for fragments of your lost soul. That game has awesome artwork and it really caught my attention. Then I read the game’s view on homosexuality. It was deemed a deviancy by the setting’s inhabitants. A shame to be hidden. Well. That was the moment I lost all further interest. It sits on my shelf, but I have the feeling of being rejected by the game. Why does it need to tell me that I’m not okay? Yeah, in the setting homosexuality might be deemed inappropriate, but if I want to explore that, I can just go out into the real world.

I need a safe place. Something to comfort me. Tell me that I’m okay the way I am.
That’s Michtim. It is a game that’s suitable for kids, but it also has a variety of political messages. Humans destroy the environment, and we have to stop them! Or taking care of those who have fewer than us, is important. Michtim has a rich interaction between three houses, who each emphasise different values. But you know what’s not a matter of controversy? Sexuality.

Michtim culture is open and accepting of queer love. There are even polyamory couples who raise a nest of young Michtims. Gender is also an open field. On the outside, there is no true visual distinction between Females (Moschischke), Males (Michterische) and Intersex (Meschne) Michtims. All sexes can be everything, and be damn good at it. There are big, muscular female warriors like Apollonia Stahlfaust. But there are also more feminine Moschischke, like Thekla Leckertopf. The game does not ask the player for the sex of their character. Because it is not important. This is established solely in the fiction, and that’s for a reason. Meschne Michtims are quite common, and they encompass all sorts of in-between variations. The reason these have a label is for Human players to understand the distinctions. Michtims do not really care about that at all.

So when kids play Michtim, will they be endangered by all this equality and LGBT “propaganda”? I hope not. But I want kids to know that even if they think “I’m different.” that they see value in that. An opportunity, not a threat. And I want them to know that everyone deserves a place in society, no matter how they were born.
If I had been told earlier that I was okay no matter who I fell in love with, I would have had an easier time accepting myself.

That’s my message.

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