Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood welcomes ALL women, and that rules

Deconstructeam’s latest project, The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, is a very noticeably gendered game. In this setting, humans have started colonizing the stars, and only women of the species randomly Ascend to become immortal Witches who live in the cosmos. All but one of the characters you meet in this game are women, and as the title of the game implies, your main focus is on how the sisterhood of your coven will turn out after a shift in leaders.

Spaces that are so centered around women often only mean cisgender women, as we’ve seen with all of the current bathroom debates, and the long history of controversy surrounding the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival excluding trans women that eventually ended with the festival’s founder shutting it down rather than allowing trans women access. There is still a lot of transphobia in women’s spaces, and it’s being fanned by trans exclusive radical feminists every day.

But that’s why The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood feels so damn good to play. SPOILERS AHEAD!!! The coven your protagonist, Fortuna, is part of is explicitly very queer, with multiple witches discussing past or current relationships they’ve had with other women. But beyond that, there are trans women in this coven because they’re just as much women as any of their cisgender sisters. We get to see this in action as Fortuna when a new Witch who hadn’t even started her transition as a mortal Ascends to the coven.

This was probably my favorite depiction of a transgender character I’ve seen in a video game to date. The new witch comes to visit Fortuna on the recommendation of her friend Dahlia. She hasn’t started her physical transition at all yet, and hadn’t come out in her mortal life. But neither of those facts matter; this Witch is a woman, and women can Ascend.

Fortuna doesn’t belabor this point or really react to the new witch being trans. Instead, she uses the new divination deck she’s created with the help of a powerful forbidden entity to help her new sister figure out who she wants to be as a Witch. The reading is focused on who the younger witch aspires to be, what she hopes for, and how she can feel most comfortable. There are a few different ways you can steer it as the player, since you’re the one choosing each reading, but the process still feels very centered around her.

It also just felt great to be able to help a trans person in a game realize themselves without having to deal with trauma and transphobia. That aspect of the character’s life is acknowledged as we watch her Ascend, but it’s firmly in the past. Her future with the coven is a clean slate, one you and Fortuna get to help shape into a new, exuberant piece of art.

Everyone in the coven is very welcoming to the newest addition as well. Unlike some IRL women’s spaces, the coven in The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood doesn’t blink an eye at transgender witches, welcoming them like any other women who Ascend. The core of the conflict in this game is about how to move forward and improve as a whole, rather than discriminating against individual members for being different. With this attitude, the coven is inherently stronger than they would be otherwise, and though they still have disagreements and varying politics, they focus on trying to find productive solutions, rather than tearing each other apart for variances in their shared identity.

Ty Galiz-Rowe

Ty is a freelance games writer and esports expert.