Gender of the player

Oh, I should also mention why I haven’t just gone all the way and included a gender. In Stormrider I went so far as to provide a name and (fictional) ethnicity, after all. Saying “you’re Zagin from the Arali provinces” is not that much less specific than saying “you’re Zagin from the Arali provinces and you’re female”.

Back when I was working on Scroll Thief I had a couple trans testers who mentioned slight discomfort when the character referred to as “you” was suddenly and unexpectedly described with a conflicting gender. Nothing serious—at least, not in the contexts it came up in Scroll Thief—but in the sorts of games I write (lots of puzzles, not much conversation) it’s usually not difficult to avoid gendering the player character. So for my particular authorial style, there’s some benefit, and no cost.

(I ended up adding an explicit “choose your gender” thing to Scroll Thief for separate reasons—a bit of narrative sleight-of-hand that really didn’t work as well as I’d thought it might—and Loose Ends has a similarly explicit “choose your gender” bit due to the logistics of working as a team, but my default now is to just never make it explicit unless it’s relevant in some way. Labyrinthine Library is a game about being a horrible little creature, it doesn’t matter if that horrible little creature is male, female, or other.)

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It might possibly have been implied as male, but back then female game player me (playing IF since 1980) would usually interpret the player character I was playing as female. Unless there was a very explicit reference to the contrary. It’s amazing how flexible player gender can be from a player perspective.

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This is very interesting.

When playing a neutral (or close to) character, do girls and women in their imagination/role-playing default to their personal gender or to the culturally more supported male gender?

Is there a difference between girls and women in this respect?

Does the “You”-form make it easier to make your own gender also the PC’s? (I always experienced the “You” in IF as a literary convention more than as a successful immersion technique.)

I just imagined the player was me, unless told very explicitly otherwise. So yes I visualised a female player. Me,

I might do things differently now, but that’s how pre teenage and teenage IF player me visualised stuff all those years ago.

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Also as a female I’m really having issues with the “culturally more supported” stuff here! The player character as I played it was me. So female. Simples :slight_smile:

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Got it.

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Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I just assumed everyone would imagine the player character as, essentially, being their own sex and cultural background.
As I start with a character waking up naked in a stasis chamber and being handed clothes by a comrade this immediately made me stop and think if others would find that weird or slightly creepy.
I’ve adapted that bit but it got me thinking about the player experience more generally. Interesting to see the thoughts and approaches of others.

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Not to be contrarian for the sake of contrarianbeingness, but nothing makes my eyes glaze over like the celebrated empty husk type character. It’s the blandest thing you can throw at me as a player/audience/reader. I don’t consume media to be me, I’m me all bloody day long. Characters are a big part of what makes any kind of fiction interesting for me and the oft-used “insert yourself here” always makes me go “nah, that’s your job, it’s up to you to create a character I want to spend time with”. Give me a strongly constructed character whose voice I want to hear, or don’t give me anything at all: I can already talk to myself about myself without your book/movie/game.

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I think there have been a few games I’ve played where I thought the player-character was written as any-gender, only to learn late in the game that the player-character had a gender after all. I do find that sort of thing mildly annoying, but not so annoying to complain about it. Until now, I guess. And even then, it’s not really a problem. I can tell myself it was yet another secret I uncovered, and I feel all-clever again. Yay me.

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I suspect that Viv will at least be intrigued by the twist I give to the PC’s gender (and not only the gender…) in my major WIP :wink:

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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That’s a pretty good point. I have never thought about it like that. I guess I like myself very much, perhaps too much… :rofl: Seriously, I think I should be more open to other characters.

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Peter’s self: Are you breaking up with me?
Peter: No, but I think we should see other people.

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Copy ‘Leather Goddesses of Phobos’: the player starts with an urgent need to pee. Which ‘restroom’ they enter sets their gender :smiley:

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Do be aware when writing a non-gendered character that it is very easy make mistakes just by habit especially if you are cis and thinking of the PC “as yourself” that are easy to naturally overlook on re-read/testing since your own gender is familiar. I combed Fair pretty thoroughly and I think I did encounter one part where another character refers to the PC as “him” just by accident which can be immersion-breaking as David mentions. If you can get a beta tester of the opposite or fluid gender to solely concentrate on checking pronouns it’s a big help.

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Hanon: cis ? what means ?

BTW, in Creative Cooking I manage (easily) to have a clearly defined PC gender, but leaving to player’s imagination the PC’s sexual preference.

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Cis(gender) = not trans(gender)

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ah, OK.

question about the cis/trans, if I’m allowed:

cis includes people whose are gay or lesbian ?
(I consider “transgender” people whose ID themselves in the opposite sex, a thing IMVHO different from same-sex preference…)

I’m not sure if I’m clear in my question, more so in its underlying logic…

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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The way I’d put it, cis/trans is about your own gender, while straight/gay is about the gender of people you’re attracted to. You can be cis and lesbian, trans and lesbian, cis and straight, trans and straight, and so on—no conflict between them. (Similarly bi, ace, all the others.)

It’s like the two classic questions at the start of an AIF piece.

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LOL for the closing line !! a bit of laugh is what I sorely need…

Anyway, thanks for the explanation of the mess (whose is admittely this, indeed I think that gender is analogic, not digital :smiley: )

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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Unironically though! I haven’t played much AIF, but I imagine a lot of it starts with “what are you” and “what are you interested in”.

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