Does sexual orientation/sexual preference need to be defined at the beginning of the game?

Thanks for your feedback, everyone! :slight_smile: I never considered that that question usually appears in stories that gender-flip the characters based on the response! I think I will stick to not asking at all in the beginning and letting the readers decide through their own romantic pursuits or through conversations they may have throughout the story, organically.

This brings me to another, somewhat related question–how do you feel about keeping characters gender-locked, and more specifically, of a certain sexual orientation themselves? I find myself torn. In my head my characters are canonically straight, gay, bi, or asexual, and while readers may want to pursue them, it may just not work out. The object of their attractions may not swing that way, and spending time with them may open up a completely separate path that leads to friendship, but not romance. I find this to be the most “realistic” approach.

However, I’m also aware that this does limit player choice in a franchise that’s all about, well, choice. It might be frustrating for someone to really like a character but be denied the chance to romance them if their player character isn’t a particular gender or orientation. Though this does happen in real life, maybe I should be leaving all RO open if the player gives the right responses, as you say, @Jacic. This would definitely be the easiest to code and gives the player the most freedom… However, I remember Dragon Age 2 being criticized for making all of its characters indiscriminately bisexual, which just doesn’t feel plausible.

Does anyone have thoughts about this?


Just speaking for myself, I’m fine with characters (not the MC) being gender-locked, and having a specified orientation. The key thing here is to try and have equal number of romances available, then, if you are trying to appeal to a large crowd.

I mean, it is a bit of a running joke in the visual novel community how many otome games (GxB) will have one GxG relationship thrown in so those who prefer yuri will buy it.

Of course, by making specific characters this way, you also greatly increase the number of NPCs you make for romances as well. Ease of coding is one reason CoGs usually just go with the ‘gender-flip pronoun’ option, or go with everyone being bi.

This will depend somewhat on what your target demographic is. If you are essentially making a dating simulator (as just an example), then making it as wide open as possible for romances is recommended.

However, I do like realistic stories as well…and I know I have often said sigh, I wish that person was romanceable…that is just a minor thing in the scheme of things and rolled with it since it was a good story.

So a lot of your own choices will be down to what you think your market wants, how much work you want to put into the game/romances, etc.


I’m sure you can find something useful here


Give them defined preferences, just make sure everyone has equal options. Having characters have their own identities is always awesome (including bisexuality–characters that have a gender preference aren’t automatically more solid characters than ones that don’t), and you should stay true to what genders your characters are attracted to. But make sure that everyone has roughly the same about of options–if one identity gets two options, the others should also get two options.

That said, if you feel like multiple characters are bi, make them bi. I understand the frustration of bisexuality being used more for convenience than character identity (as it was in DA2) but I also call bullshit on people who think it’s unrealistic for there to be a lot of bi options all together. It happens in real life all the time, it can happen in games


I personally prefer gender-locked characters and orientations as, for me, it makes them more realistic. Even if I really like a character who can’t like my character back because they are only attracted to females, I can just replay the game afterwards if I really liked the game. To be honest I’ll probably look past the pronoun usage for the main character anyway because I usually skin read my subsequent playthroughs.

I don’t know, in the end it’s up to you. Coming from a group of friends who vary in sexual orientation and gender, I know how many bisexuals you can fit in one room, but they’re always mixed in with heterosexuals, homosexuals, asexuals, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a group where everyone was all the same sexual orientation.


I think sometimes I can even find those particular examples a bit offputting… I wouldn’t want to assume that every character who isn’t asexual must therefore be checking people out, or that they must have exes, too… I guess I just don’t like it when those questions assume more than they really have to :thinking:

On a job application, yeah, I think asking that would be pretty inappropriate unless you’re applying to a dating show or something :stuck_out_tongue:

Agreed… I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a guy* complain about a male character “hitting on” his character when it was just a mild flirtation or even the faintest hint of a crush :angry: this is the same attitude that creates danger for gay people in real life.

(*No, I’ve never seen a woman complain about this :thinking:)

This is the way it works in Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven, which has been mentioned :thinking: it gives more detailed and rather, ah, steamier descriptions for characters based on orientation… stuff like muscles… :grin:

That sounds perfectly reasonable. Honestly, I don’t mind either way, as long as the game won’t make assumptions either way… y’know, describing someone as being attractive to my character (which, you really shouldn’t assume anyway), etc.

You mention coming up in conversations in the story, and I do think that can be nice, depending on the dynamic of the story :slight_smile: just in terms of character interaction, since sometimes you might see a scene where someone’s giving a wink-nudge “aw, you’d be cute together, aw, is he your boyfriend, aw, you lucky guy ;)”
Or, in terms of characters hitting on people, being able to say “sorry, I’m not into women” would be natural… and I think it could even be rather cute to have some bit of dialogue where a character’s trying to find out if you have compatible orientations :blush: I’ve never seen that in an interactive fiction before.

I usually like having defined characters, as long as that doesn’t mean you’re giving gay guys and/or lesbians a rougher deal… I have seen pieces, not in ChoiceScript, but elsewhere, where there’ll be some plethora of hetero options, and then one gay option, and that just really feels unfair. As long as the orientations are balanced, I have no complaints. (I might be disappointed, but, well, that’s how it goes.)

A corollary of this is that, if you only have a few romance options, best for them to be bi. If you have enough that everybody gets at least a little choice, that’s all the better.

It’s not just a realism issue… representation is key as well. It’s nice to have gay characters around who are acknowledged as such. (Granted, you can also do this by having gay characters who aren’t romances. Or both. Both is good :stuck_out_tongue:) This is also worth noting for bisexual romance options as well… it’s nice for them to be acknowledged as bi. It’s… not uncommon for bisexual romance options to only ever express heterosexual interests and backstory, apart from the main character, which… is fine for any individual character, but, when you take these characters as a pattern, it tends to make it seem like they’re be written as essentially hetero, with the gay option being tacked on.

There’s also the option, if you want your romance options to be available regardless of gender, but still have some individuality in orientation, to just represent them as having a preference. As long as you avoid the pitfall of making it seem like a gay character can be “cured,” just showing a character who’s mostly been into same-gender relationships but could potentially fall for the right opposite-gender person is the way some people are (and the other way around, too).

I’d also like to double-like everything @HomingPidgeon just said. All important points, and well-said.

While we’re linking threads, this one has a lot of good content about gay representation in choicescript games, including the issue of romance options. :smile:


The game logic reason for asking is so they you can then set a variable. If you want to have one potential romance partner, they will be Daniel if you select male-preference and Danielle if you select female-preference for example.

Some games have one defined romance option, others let you romance a range of characters and you can pick which to romance.

Both have pros and cons, one gives you a chance to give the relationship more depth, the other lets you give the player more agency.


Actually, setting a variable early-on is no much different than setting the variable later.

I’ve rewritten the intro of my WIP, and somehow I managed to tackle the first-half of the chapter with the MC being a “blank slate.” And that’s quite a record for me… so, hurray. :confetti_ball:

The only issue of not having those orientation/preference not set up early on, is that all NPC must use “gender neutral” ways in regarding you, and that makes my first-half of the intro kinda bland.


In XoR, I set things at the pace of the story – your assigned gender isn’t chosen til toward the end of a (generally longish) prologue, your attractions early in Chapter 1, your name a bit after that, and what you’re good at toward the middle of the chapter.

Might you be bi? We won’t know until halfway through the game when the ROs from the opposite gender to the one you originally picked show up.

As a reader, I much prefer this style to the “char-gen” section all packed into the first few pages of the game, which is why I’ve also written my game that way.


Yes, your approach is what has influenced me - I was making things way too complicated until I rethought my way forward in the same manner as you. It also allows the story to unfold more organically - a word I’m using a lot today.

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And I also liked how you incorporated your attraction. The first two options you did say “attractive” for Breden, then at the other, rather than going for physical attraction, you used “confident”.


Definitely! Thanks for your advice–I’m going to have the characters stick with the preferences they have in my head because they feel like real people to me, so I hope that comes through and appeals to the reader as well! I’m also making sure that every player has the same amount of options (2 each), though some characters are much harder to romance (by dint of their specific personality, not their orientation). Hopefully that will still be fair!

And yeah, I think DA2’s problem was not necessarily the apparent prevalence of bisexuality, but just that it was a convenient ‘prop’ that didn’t affect the characters’ personalities/experiences in any way, as you say. I think people recognized that corners were cut when the romantic cutscenes stayed just generic enough that they could be exactly the same, whether or not the player was male or female. XD Which I’m trying to avoid too!


Thanks for your great response! And about this ^, you’ve basically described how those conversations go haha! It’s not this big momentous question the game asks you, it just may come up when a character maybe flirts with you a little or asks your opinion on some random stranger they’re checking out! :grin: I’m glad this is something you would like to see!

Well, if you’ve got that few, it might become a problem. If, for example, the gay romances are far harder to get than the straight romances, then no, that wouldn’t be fair. Especially if there are only two options.

I haven’t posted here before (mainly because as long as I get my gay romances, I don’t mind if I’ve been asked about it in advance), but one thing I though I should mention is that here in Britain, job applications will quite often ask about sexuality (along with race, religion, and other similar topics. It’s supposed to be for HR purposes only, is completely optional, and shouldn’t be seen by the interviewers (although one does wonder :unamused:), but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see such a question in an application form.


Ahh, I see! As of right now I have 12 recruitable characters, 7 of whom are romanceable. I would say each orientation/gender gets one easier option, and one that takes more work. So one of the gay male ROs is down to form a relationship pretty quickly, whereas the other one takes much longer to cultivate (your responses can turn him off more easily than the other guy). Similarly, one of the straight male ROs won’t be open for a romance unless you take every opportunity you can to earn his trust, whereas the other one is much more open and can fall in love with you faster. It repeats like that for each type of romance, so hopefully it evens out?[quote=“ParrotWatcher, post:21, topic:26404”]
Well, if you’ve got that few, it might become a problem. If, for example, the gay romances are far harder to get than the straight romances, then no, that wouldn’t be fair. Especially if there are only two options.

I haven’t posted here before (mainly because as long as I get my gay romances, I don’t mind if I’ve been asked about it in advance), but one thing I though I should mention is that here in Britain, job applications will quite often ask about sexuality (along with race, religion, and other similar topics. It’s supposed to be for HR purposes only, is completely optional, and shouldn’t be seen by the interviewers (although one does wonder :unamused:), but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see such a question in an application form.

Also, I had no idea! That’s a crazy concept to me (I live in the US). Maybe we actually do that here, too, and I just haven’t been seeing the right job applications haha. Thanks for the interesting insight!


That sounds fine, yeah. :smile: Good luck with the game.


I read through a lot of this thread and think you all are spot on! And I learned a bit also. This forum has truly opened my eyes to true inclusion. I am not writing a romance game, but there is romancing in it. I find setting your MC character’s gender preference so that other characters react to you a certain way not akin to real life. I’ve gone up to a woman and flirted with her only to realize she is a lesbian, and we still talked longer, but just not romance talk ha ha. Anyhow, and it may be more complicated, but i think the best solution is setting the characters preferences and you navigating those preferences how you see fit. By making characters sensitive to gender differences you create the world we all strive for… acceptance; however, not a world free of a little embarrassment. You may also be pleasantly surprised by a character’s preferences. After-all, non of these preferences come in a single package. Well done with this thread!

I prefer it be defined. Even if the game asks your preference but still makes all the romances available regardless, I find it preferable. Sexual orientation is an important part of a lot of people’s identity. When the question or option never shows up, I feel as if the game is treating me as bisexual by default.

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Don’t mind characters having set genders, but personally I’m not a fan of them having locked sexualites. I’m only speaking for myself here, but I can never romance straight male characters in CoGs/HGs because, well, I spent far too long in the closet to play as a woman attracted to men you know? Again, that’s just my personal experience, but it is kind of a shame when I wanna see what a certain character’s romance route is like, but I just cant because I’m uncomfortable playing that way.

I’m gonna have to disagree that it doesn’t feel plausible. I mean, first of all, if I can imagine a world with elves and magical powers, I can imagine a world where most of the people I interact with aren’t straight. Second of all, at least in my experience, it’s really not that rare people who aren’t cis or straight, to have mostly friends that aren’t cis or straight. I’m reminded of that one post where someone said something like “came out as bi to my friend group a couple years ago, just found out that every single one of us is in some way part of the LGBTQ+ community lol”


I would also like to add that in a fantasy world where social norms are different there could be a lot more bisexuals who are out of the closet xd In fact I think straight people would be shocked to discover how many bisexuals they know. We are not an “out and proud” bunch.

Personally, I find a perfect mix of sexualities and even amount of genders in a group to be more unrealistic than bisexuality. How often do you meet perfectly diverse groups? Exactly, but it’s fiction so you suspend your disbelief a little :joy:

Additionally, if you don’t make everyone or most of you love interests bisexual you might be tempted to add characters for the sake of giving the player someone to romance or an alternative to the romance they might not like. You end up with at minimum 2 gay character, 2 bisexual, 4 straight. And hopefully all of them will fit into the story and get equal amount of screentime.

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