Below are questions which players may have about the content and themes that appear in Tell Me Why. Click on a question to reveal its answer.
NOTE: Some answers contain spoilers for the game, so please proceed with caution!
Tell Me Why was developed with guidance from cultural, mental health and transgender advocates. The game portrays intense situations related to family violence and emotional trauma. We encourage any players with questions about the content of Tell Me Why to contact us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more information.
This page was last updated September 21, 2020.
Tell Me Why is the story of two twins, Alyson and Tyler Ronan, who reunite for the first time in ten years after their mother’s death. Upon returning to their childhood home in rural Alaska, the Ronans realize that their shared past may not be as they remember it.
Tell Me Why is a narrative adventure with a strong focus on its characters. The gameplay is anchored around the Bond, a unique link between the Ronan twins that allows them to revisit their memories. Players will use the twins’ supernatural Bond as one of many ways to find out the truth of the events surrounding their mother’s death. The choices the player makes with the Bond will influence Tyler and Alyson’s relationship for better or for worse, as well as alter the course of the game through branching dialogue and dramatic actions.
Trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming staff at both DONTNOD and Xbox have made countless key creative contributions to Tell Me Why, including in character design, narrative and dialogue, building inclusive online spaces for the game, and much more.
To ensure that Tyler’s character would resonate with a wide and diverse audience of trans people, the Tell Me Why team worked closely with two of GLAAD’s transgender staff: Nick Adams, Director of Transgender Representation; and Blair Durkee, Special Consultant for Gaming. For over two years, Nick offered foundational guidance on story and character, consulted on casting, and reviewed scripts at all phases of production.
Importantly, August Black, Tyler’s voice actor, also made significant contributions to Tell Me Why’s dialogue. During recording sessions, August provided edits to the script if he felt a certain line or moment did not do justice to Tyler’s story, making him an invaluable part of the creative process. August’s personal experiences also inspired key moments and lines of dialogue.
To hear from some of the many people whose lived experiences informed Tyler’s character, please watch our interview Tell Me Why – Approaching Representation.
Tlingit culture is a key part of Tell Me Why’s story and scenery. Our partners at Huna Heritage Foundation have been integral in our goal to portray these elements respectfully and responsibly. They also informed many other aspects of the game, including atmospheric sounds, Tlingit-language pronunciation and spelling verification, and information on customs such as funerary rites. We also commissioned Huna Tlingit artisans to create the many Tlingit objects, murals and designs that appear in the game. For more info on their work, read our blog post.
Two Tlingit characters appear in Tell Me Why. One is Michael Abila, Alyson’s coworker and best friend; another is Eddy Brown, the police chief of Delos Crossing. We look forward to players learning more about these characters when they play the game.
Yes. We are creating versions of the game that have subtitles in French, Italian, German, Spanish (Mexico), Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. We are also recording voiceover in French, German, Spanish (Mexico), and Portuguese (Brazil). Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made it very difficult – and in some cases impossible – to record all our voice actors safely. As a result, we are only able to ship with localized subtitles at launch. We will update the game as soon as possible with all of our non-English voiceover.
No, Tyler’s birth name does not appear anywhere in Tell Me Why. In flashback scenes, players will hear young Tyler referred to as “Ollie.” “Ollie” was the first name Tyler chose for himself: he liked that it sounded similar to Alyson’s nickname, “Aly.”
No. Tyler’s mother, Mary-Ann Ronan, was not transphobic. In Chapter 1, Tyler and Alyson discover that their mother had been taking steps to learn how to support her transgender child.
In Chapter 1, Tyler will face some ignorant comments and microaggressions from a few people in Delos Crossing: family friends who knew and cared about Tyler ten years ago but who have not seen him since his transition.
One moment Chapter 2 at the cemetery includes a scenario, dependent on the player’s choices, in which Tessa may attempt to deny Tyler’s identity as a man. In this situation, both twins stand up for Tyler, and the player is not given the opportunity to reconcile with Tessa.
By Chapter 3, all characters in Tell Me Why interact respectfully with Tyler, and without microaggressions. Tyler is never called by his birth name in Tell Me Why.
Chapter 1 of Tell Me Why contains three instances of misgendering, two of which are in cutscenes. The first instance occurs in a flashback with Tyler’s mother in the twins’ bedroom, before she understood that Tyler was a boy. The second instance occurs when Sam Kansky, an old family friend, sees Tyler in the Ronan house and uses inappropriate language to comment on his transition. In both cases, Tyler responds by asserting his gender. One other instance occurs during an optional conversation with Alexander on the ferry. There is no misgendering in Chapters 2 or 3.
In some localized versions of Tell Me Why, standard grammatical rules made it necessary for some characters to refer to both Ronan twins with feminine-gendered language in flashback scenes, when they were children. Players experiencing Tell Me Why in these languages will hear feminine-gendered language to refer to both young Alyson and young Tyler during flashbacks.
Tell Me Why contains two moments where a gun is pointed at Tyler. The first occurs in a flashback with Tyler’s mother, and Tyler mistakenly believes that his mother attacked him because he changed his gender expression. The second moment takes place in Chapter 1, during a brief sequence inside the Ronan house where Sam Kansky, an old family friend, mistakes Tyler for an intruder. In Chapter 2, another character unintentionally knocks Tyler to the ground during an escape; Tyler does not sustain any injuries from this event. None of these events are motivated by transphobia.
No. As players explore the Ronan twins’ childhood home, they will discover memories and sentimental objects which depict the ways Tyler expressed himself as a boy even before his mother’s death. The idea that being transgender is caused by trauma is a stereotype that has no basis in fact, and it plays no role in Tyler’s story.
Each of Tell Me Why’s endings will include an optimistic future for Tyler. What may change based on a player’s choices is Tyler’s relationship with his twin sister Alyson, where his journeys take him after the events of the game, and much more. Because so many mainstream narratives about trans people are rooted in pain or trauma, it was important to our team to tell a different, more multi-dimensional story with Tyler. We hope you’ll enjoy everything Tyler’s story has to offer!
No, Tell Me Why does not depict homophobia against Michael. In one optional sequence in Chapter 2, Michael briefly describes in his own words some of the homophobia he has experienced while living in Delos Crossing and how he took steps to surround himself with people who accepted him, but these events do not take place during the game.
No, Tell Me Why does not depict violence against Michael.