I’m busily working on my CoG project, and have been discussing PC sexual orientation with @Mary_Duffy. I’m curious to hear your thoughts as writers and as players! There are two ways of dealing with orientation that I’m wavering between:
Telling the game, whether through dialogue, the PC’s internal thoughts, or other events, that the PC is XYZ orientation. It seems this method is often used to select a romanceable NPC’s gender, eg for Wakefield in Choice of the Deathless. The assumption here is that if the PC says she’s gay, for instance, a romanceable NPC will not flirt with her, and there won’t be options for the PC to flirt with him either. For me, this does not feel entirely natural, and doesn’t allow for flexibility about who you want your PC to romance in-game (selecting the orientation often takes place before your PC has had a chance to meet romanceable NPCs).
Leaving orientation open-ended, so the PC does not specify what gender(s) they are interested in, and responds to or initiates NPC flirtatiousness on an ad hoc basis (I’m thinking of something like the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games here). This feels more natural and flexible to me, and allows for orientation fluidity as the PC wishes. However, it might be frustrating for a PC whose player identifies her as gay, for instance, and has a male NPC flirting with her. It may also result in the PC feeling like more of a blank slate, as the player has not had the opportunity to take a moment to define their PC in more detail.
Currently my project uses 2), but I’m open to 1), or any other ideas if you can think of them! In my project, the PC’s orientation wouldn’t change the romanceable NPCs’ genders - their genders are fixed independent of the PC. All the romanceable NPCs are pansexual. There is also the option to be romantic and asexual with the romanceable NPCs.
What do you think? Do you have particular preferences? Which times have you played a CoG or HG and found the PC’s expression of their orientation really effective or immersive?