Totally Game: How being trans and having Tourette’s inspired this young dev

21-year-old Isaac Wirth is a North Carolina game developer working on an accessible VR dancing game, Spotlight, and the subject of this week’s episode of Totally Game, Future’s documentary series that meets remarkable gamers.  

Wirth was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when he was 14, and a year later became aware that he was trans. Games played a big part in Wirth coming out when he was 18 and helped him find comfort when he was being bullied, in particular Breath of the Wild.

« Growing up, I always loved the Legend of Zelda games and projected myself on to Link and I never really knew why, » he said. « When I came out as trans, I found a lot of comfort in Link as a character—a lot of people mistake Link for a girl because he is kind of androgynous. »

Wirth is currently studying game design at NYU and has released a few games already, including Tics, which puts players in the shoes of a high school kid with Tourette’s, while Messages explores toxicity in a queer relationship. Now he’s working on Spotlight, an adaptable VR dance game for people who might not get the opportunity to show off on stage. 

« When I was three or four I begged to dance, but I didn’t start formally dancing until I was five years old, » said Wirth. « My mom bought me this little tutu, and I called it my ballet suit. I wore it all over the house and danced all over the place. I think dance can offer so many things to people, it’s a form of stress relief, when you dance for fun, it is so relaxing. »

He believes dancing can provide an outlet for people and help them express emotions that they didn’t know they had. For the prototype, he’ll be getting gamers to dance the Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairy. 

« I think it’s really important that it be this song because the Sugar Plum Fairy is such a coveted role by so many dancers, » he said. 

Growing up as a trans person with Tourette’s has made inclusivity an important issue for Wirth. He wants to be part of a grassroots movement to create more accessibility features and games, and he hopes to eventually work at a big developer and bring his interest in inclusivity and accessibility with him.

Check out Wirth’s website to see more of his work.

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