This article will analyze Behind Every Great One in order to argue that this game not only tackles normative gender roles and pressure from a narrative viewpoint, but also from a mechanical point of view, which, added to the very nature of the video game, establish a link with the player that allows for a deeper connection between character and avatar. This, in turn, affects the way in which the narrative develops.
This approximately 30-minute long video game by the Spanish team Deconstructeam gives a twist to chore-based video games (like, for instance, The Sims saga) by putting players in control of Victorine, a housewife married to Gabriel, an artist. The game, thus, explicitly puts the focus on a cis-heterosexual couple with traditional gender roles, and challenges them almost from the beginning.
To do so, first, this article will explore the notion of agency and limited freedom within the video game. While agency can be arguably attributed to any cultural production that an audience follows, reads, or watch, this article will investigate extranoematic agency, that is, the non-mechanical, text-altering efforts that players can do within the confines of their limited freedom.
The second issue that this article will investigate is what researchers have called queergaming and how it applies to the narrative of Behind Every Great One. What this article will aim to argue is that, although there are multiple ways to get to the ending of the video game, they all lead to the same, as will be argued, sad (or, in video game terms, “bad”) ending. In that sense, the philosophy of queergaming may apply to the way the narrative is constructed. In other words, the game is constructed to make players unable to fulfill all the tasks that are required and subverts the notion of achievement in a normative way.
Finally, the third issue that the article will explore is the notion of gender and gender roles within the narrative and explore how these appear related to the other two axes upon which the article is founded. The game attempts to establish empathic links between the player and the characters through a series of mechanics that are essential to the notion of video game, and, in so doing, engages in a debate with the player in which gender roles and normativity are key terms to explore, subvert, and diagnose.
In short, what this article argues is that Behind Every Great One explores gender and their role in society by attempting to make players reflect upon the emotional side of the equation. As such, this video game aims to make players connect with their avatar, and, as a consequence, think about the game as a mirror in which Western society reflects.
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