Consolidated Gender Lock Discussion Thread

I don’t care. What annoys the tar out of me is the people that come out to woodworks to try bullying authors, arguing with them endlessly about it (and being quite rude and pushy). I have no idea how to code and figuring out how to create an in-depth player experience while not genderlocking would either mean waaaaay to much work and essentially having to create two separate games. Or, creating a super bland world where people may as well be barbie dolls for all gender, race, etc. influence who they are and their perspective. So I simply won’t be trying to make a game using choicescript.


We do our best now to discourage bullying. There’s a rule specifically that addresses the situation you’ve mentioned.

If you witness anything like that please flag it.


I don’t think that’s happened in a few years now, but let me know if I’m wrong. As FG said, if you do see it, flag it.

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Personally I think it’d be interesting to use genderlocking as a genderswap story! It’d be an intriguing twist either way especially if the background has some serious gender divides (roles, inequalities, cultures ect…)

BUT aside from that… I’m not a big fan of closing doors in terms of choices, character customization included. There are uses for everything though and are completely dependent on the writer’s skill.


Well some present CoGs (quite evidently) have used this (non-)Gender-locking mes to their advantage(?), or at least a way that works. Like for Broadside and Romance, instead of locking the player’s chosen gender, the gender which the player chooses is put in a specific position, in the former, the player is put in more, dare-I-say-it, powerful, dominant positions, while for the latter, it’s the opposite.

Though I have to say, that the possible disadvantage of doing this is that it results in fewer-possible viewpoints the MC can take.

Absolutely. There’s a tradeoff here between two things that players like – high MC customizability (generally though not always because they want to be able to readily imagine themselves as the MC) and a distinctive, non-generic character to the MC (rather than having the MC be the least interesting character in the piece).

The more you aim for both, the less likely you are to ever finish your game. It’s a huge amount of work in my WiP to code the differences between serf and noble MCs, even though the main plot is the same for both. Guenevere’s extraordinary degree of customizability when it comes to orientation, personality, and relationships is both what makes it so beloved and why it takes so long to write.

I’d recommend any aspiring new CoG author to decide from the outset whether they want to come down on the side of high customizability and accept that the MC will be a bit generic as written, or write a set personality whose actions but not identity are under the reader’s control. Either way, you’ll alienate some readers with a strong preference for the other kind of IF… but you’ll finish!

One of CoG’s goals is to promote inclusive fiction, so as a company they privilege games that allow a choice of gender. But that doesn’t mean they (or the forum as a whole) deny the value of gender-locked games. Note that both Heather Albano and Becky Slitt, core CoG contributors, have now written games on the Hosted label because they felt those stories called for a more defined protagonist.

Oh, and a bit more on the “generic as written” point… I don’t think a generic-on-the-page MC is necessarily generic where it counts, which is in the reader’s head. IF invites readers to consider themselves co-authors, contributing to their characters as well as the plot. So I think it’s appropriate to judge interactive fiction MCs by a different standard than the protagonist of a standard novel, where writing an “Everyman” is a major sin. (This is also why I’m not anti-fake-choice… the effect of a fake_choice on how the reader imagines the character can be just as significant as a change tracked by stats).


Yes it’s perfectly acceptable to genderlock the main character.

There can be perfectly good and acceptable reasons to genderlock and I say that as someone that is much less likely to be interested in a story where the main character is male genderlocked but have enjoyed some of those. I don’t always agree that every story that is genderlocked really gained anything from it but I also don’t get upset by it.

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Is it truly? I mean both are Rebels against the current regime that’s true, but given how highly stratified society in the game world is the differences between the two are by no means insignificant and they practically lived in separate worlds with their own realities before the start of the rebellion.
Then there is of course the fact that you allow for a wide range of goals for the rebellion to be anything from just a regime change at the top to root and branch societal change and anything in between and allow us to approach those goals in many different ways and you’ve got your work cut out for I’d say. Still wondering how you are planning to make non-violent work given what I know of the game-world thus far. :sweat_smile:
On the other hand when it’s finished I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be the most replayable CoG game ever.


Too lazy to actually read all the rest of the post, but here is my 2cent.
TLDR: I don’t mind at all, so long you manage to make a good story.

  1. Would it make sense in term of the story and general settings? The Infinity series (Gun and Sabre) is a very good example of this, Being set in something out of 17th - 18th century with distinctly European military setting, the games make a very good choice of fixing the gender on male. It suits the setting pretty well.

  2. Would the character customization be meaningful in any way? If it is, could you implement them without feeling half-baked? Again, example from Infinity series. If let us say, the author decides to include gender selection. Instead of making the setting vaguely “no distinction between man and woman” kind of fantasy, the writer could make being a female actually an interesting experience. People would react differently, have different expectations, etc. Make it matters.
    Addressing the very fist post here regarding Dwarfen Queen, it is actually pretty interesting take on how having gender makes the story. Choosing to give option to play as male would subvert the whole premise of the story. As a writer you could perhaps write it as more traditional Dwarven politic style of story when writing the male leads. Different gender, different challenges.
    Of course if let us say you are writing in a neutral setting regarding to gender, the it is not much of a problem.

  3. For gender one of the main thing affected might be romances,something that somehow become a staple of CoG games regardless of quality. So do you feel the need to implement it? If yes, would it be meaningful or is it just romance for romance sake? If you think you could write romance sequences that doesn’t feel forced and having the characters involved to be significant enough and able to make it good enough for multitude sexualities to cater to modern audience (well this might be optional) then go for it.

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I dont have any problem with having predetermined gender as long as the game itself is written well.


Many people expect COG games to have a gender option. One hosted game that was gender locked and did not mention in the description that it was gender locked got a lot of one star ratings because of this. So, if you do gender lock, maybe put a disclamer or something.

But, most games (in general, not just COG) have well defined main characters. Having a choice of gender and personality for the MC makes a game more unique and original.

I don’t play historical or male gender locked COG games, but I do think that historical games benefit from gender locking. All I could think about in the Pendragon Rising game was how any of that was possible. I don’t know how a woman can have an illegitimate child when DNA testing does not exist, unless the husband was already dead. How can an entirely female army exist when birth control and related technologies aren’t advanced? What do you do with pregnant warriors who didn’t know they were pregnant until they were deep in enemy territory? If a pregnant mother dies, the child dies and that impacts the population and military strength and size. A modern day female army could be plausable, but a historical fiction one is harder to believe without extra explaination.

I feel like I was the target audience for Choice of Romance, so the gender locking didn’t bother me, but the content did.

@IndigoInsane It’s actually not that hard to code gender switching MCs. If it’s a historical game where there is a distinct difference in race and gender, that would be difficult to write. But, there is little diference between modern day people in a more gender equal place. Most COG games that are not historical handle gender switching well. So a game about a young modern day college student or other modern settings could be written without much emphasis on race or gender, because people are people no matter their race or gender.


I agree with @Sovereign2Lilith, make sure you make it clear it’s gender locked as since some people really dislike it and will leave neg reviews if not.

In saying that, I’m female and have no problem playing male or female locked games if there’s a good reason for them to be that way. Sometimes I’ll even play as the opposite gender if it makes more sense to me for the story. (Pendragon is one, just found it jarring to have all the characters names changed from what I was used to.)

So yep, I’d say go for it. Just make it clear in the description :). Good idea to have it beta tested here as well, they’ll often pick up anything that seems amiss with the story line.

This was actually named as one reason why the infinity series and Guenevere are genderlocked by the authors of these games.

Long story short: It’s frowned upon, but if you write a good enough game, people will play it anyway. Good luck.

(Late to the thread, haven’t read the rest of the replies.)


Well that certainly was an interesting, if not a little lengthy, read. I realize I’m a few years late to the discussion, but all the same, I enjoyed reading what everyone had to say, and yes I read the whole thing. I’m glad to see so many diverse opinions on the matter, it’s given me something to think about moving forward.

The last thread of this kind was locked for causing arguments. Can we please not resurrect another thread of the same kind again to get around the lock.

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There are two threads regarding genderlocking: one was locked and one is in the plaza. No need to have too many of these running around.

With the recent arrival of Moonrise, there’s been an uptick in discussion surrounding game design decision concerning the gender lock.

This thread was created as a place to discuss the female/queer/nonbinary gender lock, why the game seems to have gotten such pushback, and any other points related to this topic.

Before commenting in this thread, I would encourage you to read the link above to gain an understanding of all sides of the equation. Thank you.


I’m going to move this to a thread where a lot of these issues have been discussed already, so that there is context and the conversation can consider some past opinions and examples.

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