Do Romance and Gender Requirements Complicate Game Designing?


Something I was thinking about since it tends to be such a critical set of elements in some games both on here and in the mass market, and I do wonder on occasion if some games never get finished since the designers are having to factor in such things to satisify criteria and the like. Yet they also really help to wide a player’s inclusion and immersment in a game when they work by getting to choose a gender and from a selection of romances in a game. I was curious if we could have a rational discussion as to whether one or both might be more true.


They both complicate design, but I don’t think games fail to reach an end because of their inclusion. If an author’s got the drive they’ve got the drive, if they haven’t, they haven’t - I don’t think something as trivial as that would force their hand in either direction.

Remember that neither are actually compulsory requirements for hosted games, an author might feel pressured into using them, but they don’t have to!

tl;dr - They complicate it, but not to the extent where I think it affects the number of games being completed.


@CJW Fair enough, right now in the two games I’m planning I’m having to decide over such things. My Paris Resistance plan for example has no issues with gender but with romance I’m at the stages of thinking how many love options I want and whether to let them be datable by either gender or have a mixture as per Mass Effect does. I’ve been playing Willow Creek for example and I did like how that handled romance - four options, either gender, with enough involvement to influence gameplay but not so much as to feel like it’s all that matters. I think with my games and indeed with most, unless there’s a core story driven reason romance will likely be second to the main story.


I understand what you mean.My point of view is that romance is just something that adds a certain spice to the game that almost always turns out to make the experience and if included and not satisfying will detract from the game.So its kind of like cash cab (the game show) if you win you get double the prize if you lose you lose it all.

As for gender its my opinion that i do not mind if there is no gender.But what i do mind is when game creators do not specify the characters gender so both genders flirts with said character i disagree with that though others do not.I personally do not care if you have same gender option in the game for people who want it.But i do not want to play a game that it is forced on me.

For gender if the paris resistance is what i think it is ( i am just using it as example) and you are a soldier or something like that there would be no real need for gender or romance if you are fighting a good action packed war. so it could work.
But really it comes down to you.

See what you want identify it then make it and don’t let anything stop you.


“But what i do mind is when game creators do not specify the characters gender so both genders flirts with said character”

Interesting that you should say this as I’ve recently been considering doing exactly that.
Given a certain context, I think a withheld gender can work. Like if you weren’t playing as a human, but a robot for example? Or perhaps you don’t know the genders of those your courting either (You might communicate by letters?).


@Theotian You described it well there! I think Gender varies in terms of importance. If one writes something in a certain way they don’t need to question it at all. On the other hand, it’s nice to see a game like say Slammed where it’s interesting to play another gender because the game changes, not in a negative or positive way, but differently. I hope to do that with Resistance in particular if possible

Actually in Resistance you are a Resistance Member in Occupied France so you’re not technically forced to be a soldier type, and I was thinking of giving players the option of romancing some of their allies. But it won’t be the main crux of the game. I figured 4 options is a nice round number, having 4 characters lets you give them enough of a developed back story, and hetrosexuals thus have 2 options for their specific gender as well. Of course I would like to make it that players don’t feel punished for not picking a romance preference too - Beyond Two Souls for example had several endings relating to who Jodie ended up with romanically, yet one of the more interesting was no one at all. So I would like a nice solid ‘No One’ ending as well for Resistance.


I’m working on a project where there will be romances, but who you can romance will depend on your gender. There will be many characters, each with a different part of the story, and each romance will cause certain subplots to pop up and modifty your attributes and skills.

For example Big Tough Guy is a male. He’s straight, as in he would only romance the MC if the MC is female. However, Tomboyish Girl over there is bisexual, so your gender doesn’t matter so long as you accept her advances/show her you’re interested. Then there’s Flexible Magic Man, who is gay, so he’s only romancable if you’re male

That, at least, is my plan so far.


You know, a lot of how difficult it is to include these things depend on how the writer is design choices and style for the game.

Making a game that’s in more of a gender neutral tone with all romantic interests being PC-sexual is not at all hard to implement. You just make some dynamic pronouns for the PC and perhaps set up a selectable sexual orientation for them as well and you’re set.

If you want to diversify things depending on the PC’s gender, or set up different orientations for NPCs, then it’s a bit more work. But it’s still nothing compared to the amount of effort needed to actually finish the rest of the game.


It doesn’t matter the medium, you’ll generally find in forums that are filled with amateurs, that the majority of projects won’t ever be finished. It has absolutely nothing to do with romance or gender requirements.


Depends partly on what you mean by “romance”. Does it just mean that the character sleeps with you/kisses you/whatever the maturity rating you’re aiming for permits? Or does it actually change your relationship with that character - the way they talk to you and react to your choices - and reveal new sides to them that would otherwise be hidden?

I’ll agree with everyone who’s said that it’s unlikely to cause people to give up on a project. But it can be a lot of work. I’m hesitant to open up new characters in CoReb as romanceable because of that.


I don’t think every NPC should be romanceable. There’s other interesting forms of relationships too that can be explored without romance coming up at all. I think it adds depth to have some people just not interested, be it for whatever reason. At times it’s frustrating that the only way to discover everything about a NPC is by romancing them.

I’ll admit sometimes I’d like the chance to flirt with a character that’s not romanceable. I’d like to feel that sting of rejection, instead of just not having it an option at all. In Slammed I’d have loved to have been turned down by Alex, be told I was too young by Solitary.

One of my favourite scenes in a choice game is in Resonance, when I get the chance to doll myself up and attempt to seduce the King. Everyone knows how this goes, the King’s meant to fall for the beautiful youth, you can twist him around your little finger and get him to dance to your tune. I loved that that wasn’t the case though.


I think with romance it comes down to how complicated you want to make them. There are perfectly enjoyable romances that are really only based around one variable: “do you want to romance character X.” Those sorts of romances are very easy to implement. On the other hand, if you want to do something more complicated (i.e. to romance character X you need to be their preferred gender, have their preferred states, have enough approval, do their side quest, etc.) it’s going to get a lot harder to pull off. I think it just comes down to figure out how many variables you’re comfortable with handling.

At the end of the day though, I think it comes down to if you want to write it or not. If it’s something you want to try/are neutral about, I’d say give it a shot. If you really don’t want to write romance, then don’t force yourself to do something that will make you miserable for the sake of checking an imaginary box. Besides, I find that even if a game doesn’t include romance, that doesn’t stop people who want a romance from head-canoning it in anyway.


WRT gender requirements, one issue is that while some writers may want to (for any of a number of reasons) restrict protagonists to one gender, on this forum there has historically been a vocal subset of the community that is actively hostile to games that are gender-restricted, have a sexist or homophobic setting, or otherwise do not actively promote the ideal of a gender-neutral, inclusionist game. One game was actually cancelled (fortunately, later resurrected) as a result of persistent attacks by one user on a crusade.

On the other hand, it’s obviously much more work to have PCs of multiple genders, unless you want to make gender completely irrelevant, and sometimes even if you do. Much of the setting design for Choice of Romance was specifically to allow homosexual marriage in a setting where childbearing is a big thing, as a part of the whole Jane Austen does Henry VIII schtick, and even then there’s places where this causes flaws in the narrative for geeky users to obsess over.

Pick your poison.


I always found funny that men always design girls bisex but their boys has to be straight like a sword is that the proverb? thats pure sexism .

In my games there is no gender switch and no preset orientation.

Characters “remembers” your previous actions you are a bad guy who has insulted npc she he don’t want nothing with you and if you insist could end badly. For me that is more realistic and funny. Their character would detrmine if want love you betray you or help you.


@MaraJade Hmm, “always” is a bit strong… I do agree there is that tendency at times, but it’s a bit unfair to dump all male writers in the same boat! Indeed, some would say it’s decidedly… erm… sexist of you. :wink:


@FairyGodfeather Whatever happened to Resonance?

@Ramidel Actually it was more like persistent attacks by one user on a crusade and another user who was just generally kind of misandrist… Ironically, the writer of that game just recently returned from a mysterious absence, and those two are gone… Whatever happened to SG anyway. I really liked what little I got to play of her game.

@MaraJade I think the term is “straight as an arrow” but swords are seemingly more often considered phallic symbols anyway.


@Vendetta i was talking about THAT MEN not ALL MEN UPS sorry i had to said THOSE sorry my grammar strikes again . Yeah not all, you and @Nocturnal_Stillness are great exemples of all contrary. :slight_smile:


@MaraJade Remember, blanket statements are always wrong. :wink:


@derekmetaltron thanks and

Ya that may work. Similar if not exactly what @MaraJade is saying A way that seems works well is when you make the player/user have to push for romance for a character.

For instance in story you may just be in a conversation with another character asking them what their story is before the war and you could make the main character have multiple responses to what they say. For instance
1.It is amazing that you are still alive!
2.I hope i can learn more about you.

^options like that would clearly show the player that option 2 would imply romance and 1 just friendship.That is just a rough example ,but you get the point i hope.

And if you do not want the romance to affect the games ending you could make it a epilogue of life after including the romance partner or you could simply just end it with you and said romance staring at the sunset.Just some ways it could work

True, have seen that work out to me it seems difficult to pull off as often it is difficult for the writer to make it not sound awkward or over doing it.When it comes to withholding gender i think it comes down to the skill of the writer.


Been lurking this thread, and was just wondering how you guys would go about romance for genderqueer characters. E. g. Choice of the Dragon allows you to tell the narrator to shut up and move on, and leaving gender undetermined.

Would it be best to just play the Everybody’s Bi card and have any and all character romance options available, and remove the need for a gender preference? Or would you only let certain established bi characters romanceable? Make characters pansexual, I suppose, and have previous choices establish whether they’re available to the MC?

I was just considering allowing an agender option for ambiguity’s sake and in my head romance was starting to be a struggle.