Speculative fiction often turns the lens back on the reader, making the previously unknown become knowable by turning it into story.
It’s long been used as a vehicle for representation, from Star Trek exploring new frontiers of romance, to Octavia Butler positioning a Black woman at the forefront of humanity’s escape to space in Parable of the Sower, to dystopian YA like The Hunger Games tapping into every young woman’s desire to change the world by burning it down.
I’m Lindsay Ishihiro, and as the narrative designer of I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, I’d like to tell you about the ways our game follows in this tradition, breaking new ground in how players represent themselves and their gender, sexuality, and relationships in a video game.
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is a genre-spanning game about growing up on an extrasolar colony: part life simulator, deck builder, roleplaying game, and dating simulator. You play Sol, a child whose parents – unhappy with their life on a dying Earth – flung themselves into space intending to create a new human culture from the ground up on the planet Vertumna IV.
Given absolute freedom, what do a group of idealists preserve from human cultures, and what do they reject? And what do they accidentally bring with them, despite their best intentions?
Exocolonist’s simple character creation system hits far above its weight class. There are only two questions: what are Sol’s pronouns, and will they grow to appear masculine, androgynous, or feminine?
Even the UI to select Sol’s appearance is a slider instead of three buttons, giving the player a chance to say their Sol is ‘just a little’ masculine or feminine.
They/them is included in the standard pronoun selection, but players who prefer a more bespoke experience can teach it to use their correct pronouns and other gendered terms. In space, anyone can be fae/faeself.
You can even change their pronouns and appearance at any time, no gender-changing items or cursed springs required.
Sol’s anatomy is set later, during puberty – but there’s even an option for Sol having no reproductive anatomy at all, thanks to futuristic medical technology. Anatomy being separate from appearance and pronouns allows for a huge spectrum of possible genders, encompassing cis bodies, binary and non-