Changing gender rules

This would be a really worthwhile extension, and it might be more broadly useful than one might initially expect. For instance, the player ought to be able to refer to a ship as either “it” or “her” (as in ‘x her’), and the author ought to be able to specify the ship as female without also making her animate, so that outputs like “You can’t board her right now” would appear as expected, alongside outputs like “You can only do that to something animate,” which probably would get waylaid if the female ship had to be created as a person.

On a philosophical level, I’d say that Inform’s insistence on a hard-coded male/female gender dyad is slipping, or ought to slip, down the rearward slope of history, along with the now-outmoded idea that “he” and “men” can be used to refer to either men or women.

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I wish there was an applaud in the smilies. Since there isn’t I will just add…

I applaud this idea.

Thank you all for your helpful replies. This gives me an idea of where to go. I really appreciate it.

At this point I’m actually thinking of just coming up with a classification that will assign pronouns to characters without actually identifying their gender since, for example, I go by “it” but other neutrois people I know use “they”, “he”, “zie”, and others; and any gender identification I need to give to the player I’ll just put in the character’s description. It seems to me that that would also make it easier to allow the player to tell the game what their pronoun is, for other characters to use when referring to them.

This sounds fantastic. I’ve long been vexed with I7’s handling of pronouns in this situation, and I’d be ecstatic to see it done away with entirely and (hopefully) replaced with something under the author’s direct control.

Very interesting - I’d be interested in seeing what the results of this are.

In response to this thread (and in deference to a former transgendered roommate of mine) I’ve modified the upcoming next version of Custom Library Messages to support adding new pronouns. Meaning, new viewpoints like “third person neutrois” can be created, and the standard [we], [us], etc. phrases will honor them when the story viewpoint is set to said viewpoint.

The same feature may also be useful for the international IF community who wish to adapt CLM to non-English languages, as I’m sure each comes with a slightly different set of pronouns (gender, case, number, etc.)

This thread makes me so happy.

It certainly has, if not restored my faith in humanity, but reinforced the faith in the awesomeness of this community.

Me too. It shows that the world (real and IF) is bigger than each of our own lives and experiences. We all need to grow out of the subset that defines our own past, teachings, and thinking. I was worried when the OP posted this. Not because I judge, but I was worried it would create a controversy and division in the community. I am so glad it is being accepted as a valid point, and people are working on making it happen. In the end it will be better for us all. We will have new rules to deal with, but it will give us so many other options, and ways of expressing ourselves.

Now… If Inform only had a Cyrillic extension/translation… My fiance is a Russian psychologist, and I can see this platform being useful as a teaching tool in her work.

I feel the need to point out that lack of verbal opposition on this thread doesn’t mean that everyone is accepting this as a valid point. It could very well mean that any opposition in the community is willing to ignore this post, to avoid contributing to “division in the community.” Or, that anyone who is willing to oppose it simply hasn’t read it.


I guess I was overly enthusiastic hoping in the goodness and acceptance of humanity and this community. Real life tells me otherwise at times, but overall, I am not disappointed. As Dylan said “The times they are a-changin”.

I’m sure there are people reading this thread and thinking, “Wow, what a bunch of smug, self-congratulatory whining,” but I’m perfectly content to pretend they don’t exist. To those of you who did reply, thank you for being so supportive. I know where I’m coming to ask for Inform help in the future. :smiley:

Even if someone didn’t accept our modern society’s conception of sexuality and gender, the changes to I7 should be welcomed for the potential they give for telling very alien stories, such as something inspired by Asimov’s The Gods Themselves.

That’s a really excellent point.

It would also be interesting to specify that the parser shouldn’t reveal a character’s gender at all, instead always using a full name. While this might lead to awkward auto-generated messages, it would at least give the author more control over what’s being revealed in a case where, say, a shadowy figure enters the story.

For the adventurous, an alpha version of Version 4 of Custom Library Messages is available here. It still has at least one bug that I know of when used in combination with Plurality – try CUTting a NPC – but that’s fewer bugs than version 3.

I’ve added a new example showing how new pronouns are made. As it happens, I had a couple of sci-fi stories in mind when I wrote it, but I opted for zie rather than et or yt that I’d seen in the books. Also, some credit must go to the gender-neutral pronouns FAQ that Google introduced me to. (I pray it isn’t out of date.)

(Otherwise: for authors who just use CLM for it’s tense & viewpoint changing abilities, nothing’s changed I believe. Well, a neater index and smoother working with Plurality (still undergoing testing). But the more rarefied features such as irregular verbs received an extensive rewrite, and modal auxiliaries are still morphing. Constructions like [aux][have*] are now just [have*]. The as-auxiliary say-phrases can now be written how David’s extension writes them: [have+], [are+], [do+]. And the [^] capitalise-next-word phrase from Mentioned in Room Descriptions has joined the party!)

Oh, almost forgot: I took a stab at the issue in I7, and (as stabs tend to be) it was… well… hacky, to say nothing about its crudity. Anyway, link is here, on the off chance that it’ll help.

My job involves computational linguistics, with a focus on the Arabic language. I’m not a linguist by training, so I was fascinated to learn that Arabic has a dual number in addition to singular and plural. I’ve been told it’s not the only language that does, either.

Oh it’s very common. Even ancient Greek had a dual. And then you get inclusive and exclusive pronouns…

In case anyone wants to read further… some languages are even more complicated in how they apply the “dual”. … _number%29