Carly A. Kocurek
Illinois Institute of Technology
Austin Community College
Citation: Kocurek, Carly A. and Allyson Whipple. “Choice: Texas.” Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, no. 21, 2019. doi:10.20415/hyp/021.g01
Abstract: Choice: Texas is a meticulously researched role playing game that grapples with reproductive rights through decision-making based on five unique characters and their circumstances.
Keywords: game, gender, reproductive rights, role playing game.
The initial idea for Choice: Texas was actually to build a deliberately broken role playing game—one where the character creation system more closely mirrored real life, and so some characters were in fundamentally untenable positions. In role playing games, character creation systems are always very carefully balanced to make sure they don’t destroy the balance of the game. Balance is part of what makes those games so clearly fantasy: Real life isn’t balanced at all, and everyone deals with radically different levels of access and ease in their day-to-day lives. Over recent decades, legal and political discussion of reproductive rights often hinges on this notion of choice with little real engagement with how much people’s choices are constrained by factors ranging from geography to age to employment. That language of choice seemed so removed from reality, and we wanted to really ask people to think on that.
However, as we began working on the design of the game, we couldn’t find a way to make a playable game out of those unbalanced characters. At the time, a number of Twine-based games, including Depression Quest were shaping discussion about game design and independent development, and so we started playing with Twine. First, we tried to reuse sections of the game, so that your choices in-game would constrain you, much as character creation might have. But, ultimately we wound up creating 5 complete, distinct fictional narratives based on individual characters. We used a lot of legal, geographic, economic, and demographic data about Texas at the time, so the game is fictional stories set in a pretty real world.