The game briefly mentions the possibility of characters around the persona being LGBTQ+, but it’s only for one short scenario where a female persona’s friend admits to the persona that they like girls rather than boys and the only “accepting” choices are to refer the friend to a therapist, or suffer becoming her confidant until the friendship slowly dies out since the persona can’t handle being the only person they can talk to about it.
Even if the persona is straight, there are still choices and experiences that the game blocks the player off from. While it’s a difficult topic to sometime engage in, becoming a teen mom is much more accepted than it was twenty, or thirty years ago and is a valid experience that some people go through. Alter Ego, however, doesn’t allow for the option to have kids until the persona is an adult. Even then, the persona can’t have a biological child as if the persona is on their own and does not want a partner, but still wants a biological child through means like artificial insemination, they're blocked from that choice. Their only option is to adopt a child. There is no scenario in which the persona can become pregnant from a one-night stand either. It’s an extremely limited and narrow view of what’s acceptable in modern society and the game hasn’t aged well in that regard.
The current copyright holders and distributors of the game, a company called Choose Multiple LLC, have maintained and preserved the original version created by Dr. Favaro as an important part of electronic literature, but they admit that the story of Alter Ego is inherently one of a cisgender, heterosexual, non-minority persona; though that’s not entirely the same feelings that we as a society hold today. What Alter Ego lacks in this type of agency is vast, but Choose Multiple LLC also encourage those disappointed by the gaps in Alter Ego to write their own version of the game and create the experience that this one doesn’t allow. Even though it wouldn’t actually be Alter Ego and it is extremely presumptuous that the consumer should have to create what the game doesn’t allow, it does show a unique opportunity of agency to restyle the structure of Alter Ego into a more modern and updated version of the game that brings better representation and a more dynamic experience for both the persona and the player.
Although the game lacks any choices to create a narrative that goes against the stereotypical life of an American in the mid 1980s, it does make a lot of the right moves to mimic the choices that we find ourselves making in life which fulfills its duty in allowing us to create an alter ego of our own to see what our lives in a different time could have been. Alter Ego doesn’t tell a story like my own, but it does give me the ability to find pieces of myself in it, and that relatability makes all the difference.
It's interesting that we're able to enjoy something that seems culturally similar, but distinctively from its own time in comparison to ours. The progress we've made in thirty plus years makes playing this a little jarring as you're suddenly stripped of choices our current society sees as typical. While it's important to preserve these for future use, we shouldn't hold them as an industry standard and need to continue innovating the choices in development until our current era of games give others the same feeling of being displaced as Alter Ego gives those in our current society.
They are filled with excitement to see you, though you soon realize they are not communicating their joy in words. It's almost as if... this will go on forever...
Works Cited and Consulted
Favaro, Peter J. Alter Ego. 1986. Choose Multiple LLC. 18 09 2017. <https://www.playalterego.com/>.
Ganz, Steve. "Percentages" 22 10 2008. 10 10 2017. Digital. <https://flic.kr/p/5w5VFy>
Jackson, Gin. Screenshots of Alter Ego. 10 2017. Digital.