Thursday, April 18, 2024

Moonglow Bay includes pronouns, nostalgia, and a cutesy LGBT friendly town

Moonglow Bay is an upcoming game from developer Bunnyhug that combines two things that you might not expect to be combined: the role-playing genre and fishing. It’s got a cutesy look and follows a rookie angler (aka, you!) as they nourish their relationships with the people in town, and try to restore the community to its former glory. Moonglow Bay is also very LGBT friendly.

That might be shocking to those who’ve watched the original game trailer and saw that you can play as a queer angler who, inevitably, loses the love of their life during an accident. After all, it’s a very much Bury Your Gays move, and we’ve already expressed how we feel about those. But ultimately the loss of your partner in Moonglow Bay remains, regardless of whether you play your character as part of the LGBT community or not.

Still, during my talk with Creative Director Zach Soares and Art Director Lu Nascimento I was curious on whether either was concerned that queer fans would be put off by the death of their loved one.

“I don’t think so. It’s the way life goes, which is partly what we try to highlight throughout the game’s story.” They explained. “You’ll talk to various people in town, some of whom are LGBT and you’ll see that that’s an aspect of their lives like any other. Death is a part of that, a large part for many, so touching on this subject from the outset is very important. How we handle that grief, how we approach death is something worth exploring further rather than seeing it as an endpoint.”

You’re given a choice of three partners in Moonglow Bay, and while each has the same dialogue and role in your angler’s life, their personality is conveyed through the various designs shown. More importantly, you can choose both your and your partner’s pronouns, too. With a choice of pronouns, more players will be able to shape the story into a way that’s both meaningful and personal if they so choose.

You choose both yours and your partner’s pronouns in Moonglow Bay

While some people are, not at all surprisingly, averse to pronouns in video games, the team at Bughunny knew the inclusion of pronouns was a significant addition. It was also one that would require work to be inclusive not just to their English speaking players, but other languages such as French and Portuguese, too. It was difficult to make sure everything was accounted for in dialogue, but in Soares and Nascimento’s own words the inclusion of pronouns “lets you establish the relationship and dynamic that suits you, the player, best.”

The appearance of your partner in-game is brief, but their presence is felt throughout the majority of the game – particularly within Moonglow Bay itself. Your main goal is to find out what actually happened to them, as well as try to pick up the pieces that they left behind. That includes making sure the community, the town of Moonglow Bay, is able to recover. It’s that ol’ classic ‘small-time hero’ which is very present within ‘slice of life’ entertainment and one that I can’t help but love.

The slice of life vibe around Moonglow Bay relates directly to the origins of the game in the first place. The game is set in the 80s, where the internet and modern technology that we know of today has not quite yet come to fruition. Because of this, the focus for Moonglow Bay is about the human connections that you make through the characters you meet in town. “Instead of hearing about the characters in town through an interface, you need to actively place yourself in their lives.” Soares and Nascimento explained.

And what a town it is. While the 80s weren’t exactly nostalgic for marginalized people during that time, Soares and Nascimento have made sure that the town you’ll reside in isn’t full of hateful people. Nobody will comment on you and your partner being in a same-sex relationship. In fact, there are LGBT relationships within the town of Moonglow Bay, and it’s just something that is. There’s no explanation, but that’s what makes it so special. There doesn’t need to be.

The team at Bunnyhug have made it clear that they want their slice of life, fishing RPG to be something special and meaningful to LGBT gamers. We can’t wait to try it out to see if it lives up to that hype.

If you find yourself interested in Moonglow Bay, head on over to the game’s official Steam page and wishlist it to show your support.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.