How DontNod’s ‘Tell Me Why’ Heralds a New Era for Gaming

How DontNod’s ‘Tell Me Why’ Heralds a New Era for Gaming

When DontNod Entertainment announced Tell Me Why in 2019, few knew what to expect. Fans of their cult-classic Life is Strange (2015) expected another emotional journey, but the studio went above and beyond in making this a paradigm-shifting game. While narrative has always been their primary focus, DontNod as a studio has taken great leaps forward in making quality, thought-provoking content. Gone are the days when games were restricted to simplistic storylines or mindless shooting. Emotion, relevant themes, and a broader representation of humanity have come to the forefront now.

Video games and the LGBTQ+ community: Tell Me Why’s Positive Impact

Video games haven’t enjoyed the same advancement in LGBTQ+ representation that film and TV have. From same-sex marriage being a taboo on-screen, we have reached an era where brilliant films like Moonlight or Call Me By Your Name push boundaries by subverting expectations. Games, on the other hand, are met with severe backlash from players, along with accusations of making their beloved media ‘political’ or being ‘unnecessarily woke’; at times, it feels like hating on games that incorporate progressive ideologies is in fashion. Tell Me Why, now a ‘Games for Impact’ nominee at TGA 2020, surprised the world by featuring a trans lead; this was something virtually unheard of before. This move was solidified by their decision to cast August Aiden Black, a trans man, as the voice actor.

Through this, it is bringing about a change by championing LGBTQ+ representation in this industry. This is symbolic of today’s age, where people are becoming increasingly aware and respectful of one’s relationship with gender identity. This diversity also means that there are more experiences that need to be shared, more stories that can send out a positive message of hope and acceptance. What I found wonderful about Tell Me Why’s approach to storytelling is that having a lead trans character doesn’t take up all its focus. The game is just as dedicated to touching heavily upon emotional trauma, child neglect and the bond between two siblings. It boasts of breathtaking landscapes of the Alaskan wilderness and a moving, gripping narrative. Overall, it does a great job of delving into delicate themes in a sensitive manner, without coming off as preachy.

Tell Me Why set in the Alaskan wilderness

Tell Me Why features some truly beautiful scenery (Credit:

@TellMeWhyGame on Twitter

)

DontNod Entertainment: Making waves in the industry

All of this makes DontNod the studio to watch out for. After making a name for themselves with their heartfelt graphic adventure, Life is Strange, the team has only moved upwards with more intense stories while holding onto their trademark hand-painted visual style which makes their games so different. This dedication to telling the stories they consider relevant – no matter the backlash or potential review-bombing – is encouraging to see in an industry where sales figures often dominate and drive development. Tell Me Why’s positive impact is just the latest in a string of successes the studio has had through connecting to diverse audiences. I cannot wait to see them take a shot at making a thriller with the upcoming Twin Mirror.

Video games are lauded for being windows that allow us to escape from the mundane details of reality. However, they also possess the potential to serve as a mirror that you can hold up to examine society. Their reach fascinates me – one could promote a message of awareness and acceptance to millions if they wished. That does not make it ‘unnecessarily woke.’

There is so much more to gaming than just rushing B or hooking up survivors. We are not at the end of the road yet, but this is definitely a step forward in the right direction.

Thank you for joining us at Gamer’s Waypoint! Make sure to check out our Twitter page and YouTube video on the endings in the Life is Strange franchise. Do you have a favorite DontNod game? Let us know in the comments below!

Want something different? Why not check out this review for Ghost of Tsushima, another awesome narrative-rich game?

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