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The Cat in the Hijab

About The Cat in the Hijab

A cat wearing a hijab (an Islamic headscarf) boards the subway on her daily commute. What interactions await her over the course of her commute, and how does she react to them? This is a short point and click game for #ResistJam, and briefly explores the topics of diversity, inclusiveness, tolerance, racism, bigotry, sexism, Islamophobia, and homophobia. The game presents the player with dialogue choices to explore reactions and responses to different situations. Urban subways are a petri-dish of society. Diverse elements are forced into a confined space. This non-didactic game explores what it is like to be on the receiving end of hate speech, and asks the question of what do we do when hate speech happens to us and what we do when it happens to bystanders.

Developer's Artistic Statement

I made the game in a week for #ResistJam to bring awareness to the increase in hate speech and hate crimes. It explores what it is like to be on the receiving side of it and actions one might take as a bystander. I've also seen videos of bystanders reacting differently to or ignoring hate crimes. Rather than be didactic and preach, I wanted to make a space that allows the player to experience speech and explore how they can respond. This is not a game about religion or theology. It's set in a game world populated by cute anthropomorphic cats! The cuteness is meant to disarm the player's biases. Except for the player's character and a victim character, the other cats are all procedurally generated and will look different every time to reflect the diversity and changing faces of hate crimes. The game world is set in a subway car based on New York City subways I've been on. Subways confine diverse populations into a relatively small space, increasing the likelyhood of interactions between them. I was upset about the recent drastic increase in hate crimes in general, and saddened by the especially sharp increase in hate crimes against American Muslims. Women wearing hijabs are an especially targeted and vulnerable group. To make the game, I spent way too many hours researching forums, social media, and watching YouTube videos on Muslim-American women sharing their experiences. It was heartbreaking! Most of the dialogue in the game is based on a summary of real life Muslim-American women's' experiences. Based on a social media picture "What Liberals Want", which shows a woman in a hijab sitting next to a trans woman on a subway, the game also sets the player as a bystander to a trans passenger being harassed on the subway. Most of that dialogue is also based on real life experiences shared on social media and in forums.



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