Maddy Thorson, creator of the tricky yet accessible platformer Celeste, has written a self-reflective blog on the game's fourth anniversary.
Released on 25th January 2018, the story of Celeste - that of overcoming impossible odds to climb the titular mountain - resonated with plenty of people, none more so than Thorson herself.
In a previous blog post from 2020, Thorson answered the question: "Is Madeline canonically trans?". "During Celeste's development, I did not know that Madeline or myself were trans," she wrote. "During the Farewell DLC's development, I began to form a hunch. Post-development, I now know that we both are."
In this new blog post, Thorson thanks fans for the game's reception and explains further how the game is intertwined with her trans identity.
"If the discourse around Celeste hadn't become so focused on its queer undertones, I don't think I would have come out publicly for a long time," she says. "It felt like people needed to know whether Madeline was trans, and I felt a responsibility to engage with that conversation. Once I started trying to do just that, I found it impossible without talking about my own now-apparent transness.
"I think there's value in the confirmation that yes, Celeste is a trans story in addition to its broader relatability. I am thrilled that my work and my personal story have helped people, and I think that it's important for real live trans people to be visible."
With this, though, comes a sense of "heavy responsibility" for Thorson. It's for this reason she plans to step away from social media.
"Who I am is changing, or wants to change, and this public persona has become an obstacle to that change," she says. "It doesn't feel like I have room to be the messy, growing human I am in this kind of position. I'm not ready to be a symbol in the way that social media demands - I'm still just a girl who's trying to figure her shit out.
"I do not want to make Celeste again and I do not want to be who I was when we made Celeste, again.
"And this gender transition, more than anything else, is begging me to let go. I need to let go of who I was and the roles that I tried so desperately to fill. I need to allow my identity to disintegrate. I need to have faith that the essential core that constitutes 'me' is indestructible."
While she reflects on the importance of Celeste, it's time for Thorson to look ahead to the future.
"Celeste taught me so much about myself and will always be a part of me. But for me it's ultimately about who I was - it can't contain everything that I will ever be," she says.
What's next is a new game: Earthblade. There's still no release date, but last year saw a "vibe reveal" showing teaser artwork and music. All we know is it's a "2D explor-action game in a seamless pixel art world".
Earthblade 🌷 Vibe reveal! (🔊sound on!)— Extremely OK Games (@exok_games) April 19, 2021
A 2D explor-action game in a seamless pixel art world. The next release from the Celeste team, coming 20XX. pic.twitter.com/ceAM80PEaG
Celeste is available to play on Switch, PC, Stadia, Xbox and PlayStation.