My main instinct is to say writers can write how they want. Not in the sense “don’t like it, make your own game” because that’s stupid. You don’t need to be an award winning author to know when you didn’t like something. In the sense that they are the ones who actually put the work and effort in, they do in fact, get to decide what does or doesn’t fit.
My biggest issue about genderlocked games is that when people talk about the game, it becomes just about that. Nay sayers and supporters alike, talk about all the pros and cons, but say nothing about the actual quality or merits of work, which is what should be judged rather than “This doesn’t meet all my specific criteria for enjoyment.”
So my problem, I guess, is that people only want to focus on that aspect and remove all others in determining if a game is actually good or not?
I don’t think it should be surprising that a choice-game lacking the first and arguably most basic choice should get flak for just that.
That’s not to say I’m against genderlocking, I just think criticism is warranted, especially when authors pump out excuses like “I don’t know how to write those people” or “I specifically designed my world to exclude [minority]” . Moonrise was at least written specifically for queer women and femme-presenting individuals, so criticising the genderlock would be criticising the idea of any media catering to that crowd.
I’ve always had some complicated feelings towards Genderlocking, especially as a long term fan of the CYOA genre.
Personally, I am not fond of genderlocking, though that won’t outright cause me to dismiss a game, the story may be well written regardless of the gender enforced on my character. When a story takes advantage of a genderlock to perpetuate gender stereotypes, that becomes downright frustrating. I don’t want to be forced to play a male character, and then all of the choices I make be of the ‘manly adventuring’ kind. I don’t want to be forced to play a female character, and then all the choices I make be of the ‘sensitive innocent flower’ variety. By genderlocking to enforce a certain behavior, it takes away from the ‘choice’ aspect of a given narrative, and becomes more of a traditional narrative, and if done particularly poorly, it can be downright offensive.
This does not mean genderlocking is inherently bad, or without its uses. If a game is targeting a specific demographic, then a genderlock might make sense in the narrative to draw in that particular readership. If a game is trying to recreate a specific experience; I.E. The Courting of Miss Bennet, which is recreating a book atmosphere where the main character is female, but also targeting a specific group in a specific era.
To summarize, when someone genderlocks a game, the question that should be asked is Why? If the answer is because they may not understand another gender very well, or they don’t want to deal with the complications of programming other genders, then perhaps a more gender ambiguous route should be taken. Even if it feels like a character is somehow more ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’, going with the ambiguous option may prevent an author from alienating a part of their base, and/or falling prey to typical gender stereotypes.
Perfectly acceptable, provided it is openly stated as part of the story summary.
Every choice or hosted game is a time consuming endeavor, with some wips never seeing more than a few months of development before something, usually real life related, brings development grinding to a halt.
I would rather an author stay within their comfort zone and produce a gender locked fic than suffer extended writer’s block and having the wip end up on permanent hiatus.
While it is perfectly within our rights to state our criticisms or dissatisfaction with certain features we are not entitled to more of the authors time than they alot to us.
In the end it is the authors prerogative whether or not to gender lock and risk sales loss as a result, just as it is the readers choice whether or not to purchase the game.
Usually the latter is directed a male gender locked stories, I wonder if the reaction would be the same for female/nonbinary/etc. locked.
Donor seems to have gotten great reception despite being gender locked, so I think the ire is almost always directed at gender locked male stories.
Although I do think the audience plays a part in this.
Forum goers have a pattern of only having a problem with gender locked male stories, but are welcoming of other gender locked stories. Meanwhile, Steam players have problems for stories that aren’t gender choice or a locked to another gender besides male.
Well, obviously 99% of female locked stories are not for me, as a consequence I simply don’t play them. This is more of a problem for me in the VN world where I do sometimes run up against a story that I like and where it seems like it could have been made to work with a male protag too with only minor adjustments.
The thus far sole exception on this site was @iris rather innovative take on the beauty and the beast fairytale.
That was a good game/demo. I’m sad that it’s dead.
Anyway, as long as the author doesn’t enforce a particular behavior/personality that’s stereotypically associated with one gender or the other (women are submissive/meek, men are assertive/bold, yada yada yada), then I’d think it’s palatable for most people.
I’m the exact opposite, gender wise, but I totally agree with this approach. I’m not going to castigate an author for gender-locking the MC male, but I’m not going to play it either.
Some people really like creating characters that they play with to try and understand different perspectives. I think that’s awesome, but it’s not what I enjoy in gaming. I want to be an idealized version of myself. So I generally don’t play games that don’t have female protags.
Why not? Also, please don’t presume to speak on my behalf; I, in fact, actually quite like games which are gender-locked, as I feel that games like that often give you better opportunities to properly flesh out your character more. So many of the protagonists in games on this website come across to varying degrees as bland unfortunately, which to me is a result of trying to cater to too many types of people.
For me personally, as long as I’ve got control over most (or at least some) of the things that matter - decisions, feelings, relationships to other characters, thoughts, and just generally the MC’s autonomy and personality - my character’s gender doesn’t matter too much (Guenevere, for example, is easily one of my favourite WIPs, despite the fact that I can’t play as my own gender - the opportunities for roleplaying are wonderful!). I find that in games where the MC doesn’t really have too much predetermined about themselves, I often end up just self-inserting too much of myself into the character, rather than actually roleplaying as the character within the setting of the story (which is what I actually want to do).
Besides, from my experience, in games where you’re given a choice of gender for your character, it’s almost-always mostly cosmetic - what’s the point in giving me a choice of gender (or hair colour, body type, etc.) if it’s going to be even slightly relevant - so I’ve never particularly understood why anyone would get bothered by the lack of choice in this regard (it’s actually happened to me a few times where I’ve actually forgot what my character’s gender is while playing a game - it can be that irrelevant of a choice)
In my book, if an author wants to create a story with a gender-locked protagonist, then they’re more than welcome to do so, nor should they feel bad for doing so (which posts like yours seem to imply that they should). I think we as consumers need to remember that art isn’t a democracy - of course, we’re free to criticise an author’s creative decision (or lack thereof), but, at the end of the day, it’s the author’s story, not ours. As far as I’m concerned, they shouldn’t need to justify themselves in this regard, though if they attempt to do so, and you don’t like their reasoning for whatever reason, then that’s on you. If an author takes any criticism/feedback to heart and genuinely wants to change something about their work accordingly, that’s fine; however, they should never be forced/feel compelled to do so just because what they’ve created offends somebody else’s sensibilities or is different from how someone else thinks a game/story should be (whatever that means). In short, create what you want to create, not what somebody else thinks you should.
I have said before that where the most important part of a game to me where romance and thus the most likely reason to define gender, if it’s going to be easier or more inclusive to create a game with numerous female characters to date or romance rather than specifically making the player be Male, I would be okay with that. I do think it’s still hypocritical to say that a straight male romance focused game should never happen if there’s the right idea - I for one would love to see a male protagonist counterpart to Guinevere or Murray like Robin Hood or Captain Nemo. But equally if someone suggested a game with romance focus that suits a male perspective or has only female characters to romance, power to them. I would hope it would receive the same kind of attention and respect as one with a female or non binary specific character.
Generally, when people want a gender choice, it’s not because they want it to make a big difference in the game in the first place.
Anyway, I’ve said all this before, so…
And I don’t see that having a set gender is going to make any character “less bland,” because just knowing someone’s gender doesn’t tell me anything about what someone’s like as a person. It does nothing to flesh them out.
I get the feeling that this line of dialogue is treading into the acceptability concerning predetermined characters (i.e. personalities, backgrounds, or possibly more) rather than predetermined gender in a story.
On the one hand, I can understand where @ChairmanMeow is coming from. Blank slate characters aren’t my cup of tea; it’s why I gravitate to stories like Fallen Hero where the MC has a personality.
However, @TSSL has a good point. Crisscrossing the impact of gender choice with or against narrative quality is probably not the point of having a gender choice in the first place.
Gender choice is all about inclusivity, but being inclusive doesn’t necessarily cancel out having a predetermined character/personality/background.
Genderlocking is fine by me, especially if it gives me perspective of how they could feel or react. It would also probably useful too if other authors want to study how they(certain group of individuals) would act/react to something so they could probably make their stories better in the coming days with the help of other author’s stories. and I don’t suppose that to be considered stealing intellectual property but rather sharing awareness to improve everyone else’s leading to improved works of art and intertainment.
Might take a long run but I can only hope beyond hope it would, eventually.
Not sure about how acceptable part it is. Everyone has a different perspective on these matters and hence will judge it differently.
For my part, I can say i feel it to be a NEED to lock the gender, at least when it comes to what i am doing now. When a world as large as what i have is being made, it causes a few problems in some ways. Not to mention we all have obligations outside of this and finding or having time to create all the routes and options for every gender is an astounding amount of work.
Perhaps not as much in writing, as in for the fact the there is coding also to be done here. Speaking for myself, i included multiple gender choices it would be overly difficult for me to reveal information about the world in larger magnitude…not perhaps in writing terms but the time required for it is simply something i do not have at my disposal.
Not sure how people look here on gender locks, but i see far more negative opinions than good ones. Then again maybe just me, but i myself do not feel as if my WIP received almost any feedback or anything precisely due to gender lock, which is rather disheartening when you put some passion in it.
As much as it is the right of the author to genderlock, the player also has the right to choose what is interesting for them. If genderlocking matters a lot to a player/audience that the game ends up having less popularity, then it is what it is. A product has to be interesting to a customer to attract them.
I’d say the author should understand that such a decision can cut the popularity of the game; it’s up to the author if they wanna change that to conform to the audience’s wishes or stick to their own decisions.
For me personally genderlocking is not the problem. I do mostly Play female and male chars. What I do not like is, that often a genderlock to male also means a kind of romance Lock. Either there is no romance or you can only romance females.
Every author has the right to write what they like, but readers follow that guide too, they read what they like. So as long as I know before I read the game that it is genderlocked, I can decide properly, If I want to play it.
Force? Well its not like authors or the company force you to play a game, for example when the drag queen game was released i really dont liked the idea of buy it or play it, so i didnt, we can choose what games we want to play, no one is forcing you to play them, if your story is well written i dont see any problem if the MC is a female to be honest.
I agree with you. Admittedly playing as male isn’t my cup of tea so I just keep away from games like the Infinity series. It’s not like @Cataphrak would come and actually force me to play his game so while I shared my opinion here, I don’t see the point in going to camplain about the genderlock at the playstore reviews and give a poor rating bc of that. And looking at the reviews it seems people keep the same attitude when it comes to male genderlocked games hence why it annoys me as hell that people aren’t as respectful when it comes to female or non-binary (is there even a nb genderlocked game? Well if there were I’m sure people would get whiny about that too) genderlock.
Edit: Also another thing about gednerlocking what I’m not a fan of regardless of the genderlock is when the reason the author gives is something like “I’m a man so I don’t know how to write women” or vice-versa. Then how do these people write female NPCs? Also it’s not like they have actual first hand experience with supernatural forces, space travel, mediavel era etc., how do they write that? So if that’s all the reasoning they give then it just falls flat.