First Person vs. Second Person

So with the recent release of Samurai of Hyuga 2, I went ahead and played the demo for the for the first one. And for some reason, I was unable to connect with the protagonist. No matter how hard I tried, the protagonist felt like a separate character rather than an extension of me and my thought.

This was new to me since, in all the games I’ve played on this site, this has never happened to me. And for the longest time, I couldn’t understand why. I was fairly confident that it wasn’t due to the main character’s pompous personality since the persona of the main characters in the games I’ve played have varied, ranging from geeks to complete badasses.

That’s when I realized that Samurai of Hyuga was written in first person as opposed to second person.

And since it was written in first person, the main character’s thoughts were plastered all over each page. Naturally, since I don’t think exactly like this character, it separated me from, especially when I didn’t agree with them. But in second person narration, the text is primarily composed of your actions with your thought process being included in your choices, helping you make your choices. If you don’t agree with the thought process behind a choice, you simply don’t make them.

The you’s in second person refer to the reader while the I’s in first person refer to the character.

So basically, I came to the conclusion that second person makes it feel more game-like since I feel more connected while first person feels more book-like since it often feels like the character is in control rather than you.

What do you guys think? I’m looking at you @MultipleChoice :stuck_out_tongue: this being feedback from a reader.


I like stories written either way really, looking at SoH in specifically I could easily see myself in my character’s situation, given the time period and culture an orphan lesbian wouldn’t have many options in life, women not really having many options, especially not without men being involved. It was easy for me to slip into the mindset that in youth crime is really my only option to survive and later finding a teacher that is willing to train me to take a future instead of simply accept one. Everything else just fell into place storywise, making my way by the blade, falling for Junko and eventually regretting the terrible things I did and trying to make amends.


See, I don’t have that flexible mind set like you. I find it hard to compromise my actual way of thinking to match the time and place. I like to play the game as me rather than them. Seeing how you aren’t (at least I hope you aren’t) an orphaned lesbian in feudal japan, you don’t think exactly like one. But you’ve molded your perspective to match one, making your experience smooth and naturally.

To sum it up, I lack your imagination.


Well by that sense I can’t imagine any of these games can be that fun, I mean at least for me in real life I’m not a super heroine, princess, mage, pirate, or any of the other roles that MCs tend to take. For me I am anchored in the fact that I am a woman and I am a lesbian and those options I get to choose, I also (depending on the choices) tend to mold appearance and personality to match my own…so in essence I am being ME in a different time/place


I see it as me if I were here or me if I had that. Basically, the setting around me has changed, but I am still me. Even if my background has changed, whether it be my family, race, hell, even my gender if I’ve had one too many beers that night, my way of thinking is still that of the real me. The mind that was nurtured by my parents and the environment I grew up in will be the one making the choices, not the mind of the orphan that grew up during medieval times.

I realize I’m being pretty inflexible. But hey, that’s simply how I work.

There’s been a few good discussions on these forums about 1st vs 2nd person perspective. Here’s a link to one of them with my thoughts:

Ultimately, the magic won’t work on every reader—not everyone is willing to roleplay. It is the difference between being in the story and taking on the persona of someone in the story. It’s a huge difference, and it’s mostly about control.

In 2nd person, the author can’t make strong narrative assumptions and can’t write with distinct tones for fear of losing reader immersion. ‘You eat a piece of bacon’ is more than enough to break immersion for vegetarians. It’s a small example, but you can see that control is in the reader’s hands.

In 1st person, the author can make very strong narrative assumptions, write with tones and have a personality behind the words inbetween choices. The feel of the narrative (very technical!) is going to be less bland and come across less generic because it’s not for every reader, just one: the one who has taken on MC’s persona.

My guess is that you were unable to adopt a persona outside of yourself. That’s perfectly fine! I’d go on to say that the appeal for 1st-person CYOA games isn’t as broad as 2nd-person, but I find the other benefits more than worthwhile!


I am properly alone in this, but I don’t want the MC to be extension of me and no MC (second to first person) have ever done what I would do n their situation. And thank god for that since what I would do would more likely than not be an adventure killer. (I tend to run for the nearest authority and hate getting into conflicts)

I am also a very emotional person, and tends to react to things emotionally, so MC without a powerful inner emotional life (as most blank slate MC’s tend to lack) are, and have always felt very alien to me. I can’t connect with them and end up caring more about the NPC than I do the MC and that pretty much fail the story for me.

An MC on the other hand who feels different than me, but feels, that is an MC I can relate to. Granted I tend to take something from myself when creating MC, but never the whole and always a little bit distorted, since I don’t want to read about me

To take SoH for example. Since I am ace, my ronin is not perverted, but clearly not ace either. She is, unlike me, straight, but has thanks to her violent EX has a difficultity in seperating combat and intimacy. She slips up and shows her brutal sides some times (not a trait I especially like in people) and is calculative where I would be impulsive. And I am very much invested in seeing her conquer both hers and the country’s demons, which is a great way to ensure that I will buy the following chapters.


I prefer second person, with choices in first person.

I totally see this. More MC character is usually a good thing. I do think the NPCs steal the show from the MC in many COGs and HGs. If I ever finish with CCH, I would strongly consider writing a first person story.

I’d argue that the Heroes Rise books could have successfully been written in first person as they already included large narrative chunks devoted to the MC’s feelings, reactions, etc, many of which were set as opposed to being choice-driven (this is by no means a criticism, just an observation).

I guess the tense issue is the stumbling block for me to figure out first person. With past tense, I feel like everything has already happened, so the tension is lessened considerably. And with present tense, it’s like you’re a little angel/devil on the MC’s shoulder giving some guidance.


Keeping a consistent tense is definitely tricky for me, and I only learned to appreciate the past after suffering in the present. I did a write-up on my struggles with present tense for Fatehaven here:

I think some perspectives naturally fit better with certain tenses. It might tie in with control: for perspectives where the author has more control, past tense is better because it grants him/her more power to manipulate time. So the relationship might look something like this:

1st person: past > present
2nd person: past < present
3rd person: past >>> present

But really, it’s best to go with whatever comes out easiest when you write.


Odd Question: I or You

Like the title says, this is an odd question, but one I’d love to know people’s opinions on.

When you’re playing/reading an IF do you prefer the author to use ‘I’ or ‘You’ pronouns?

E.g, “I ate the food” vs “You ate the food”.

Do you become more involved in the story when one or the other is used? Or does it not matter?

:slight_smile: Thanks for your time. :slight_smile:

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I think a topic was made on this recent-ish: Second Person vs. First Person

I like either, as long as they’re well written.

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Yeah i agree with alot of people on here, either way does for me if it’s wriiten well. Plus my mc different from me a bit and some i keep the same, like same im a male, and different because like on SoH my character is perverted and are smooth talkers and stuff when im sure as hell not smooth at talking im awkward as hell in real life and normally and laid back and im not a prevert either. But i like that your mc can be anything so i tend to put some aspects that simliar like hair, eye color, athletic (i always make my mc play sports if its and option) to make me feel more in tune with my mc. However other stuff, like being a superhero or demi-god is fun because i know that i can do stuff i could never do in real life or isn’t my character, which i can make my mc do which i think is awesome.

Just interested to know, what would people think about an interactive fiction game written from a first person point of view? There’s a game idea I’ve been toying with for awhile that’s a kind of film noir style detective game with the main character narrating.

Here’s an example of what a paragraph might be like:

This city’s going to hell. Just three blocks I got to walk from my office to my apartment and on the way, I got one guy trying to peddle me the latest high on the market, three girls selling whatever diseases a lady picks up in that line of work, a group of kids trying to slip my wallet out my pocket and to top it off, I got to end my little midnight stroll by breaking the jaw of some asshole beating on his old lady right there in the middle of the street. Dumb broad didn’t even thank me. Went and patched up the guy that was smacking her around not five minutes before. She even threatened to call the cops on me and then the two of them went home together like nothing even happened. I need a goddamn smoke.

Then again, if the paragraph was written in the traditional second person POV, it would look more like this:

Your city’s going to hell. You only need to walk three blocks from your office to your apartment and on the way, one man tried to peddle you the latest high on the market, three girls approached you, selling whatever diseases a lady picks up in that line of work, a group of kids tried to slip your wallet out of your pocket and to top it off, you ended your little midnight stroll by breaking the jaw of some asshole that was beating his wife right there in the middle of the street. The woman didn’t even thank you. Instead, she went and patched up her husband that was smacking her around not five minutes before. She even threatened to call the cops on you and then the two of them went home together like nothing even happened. Now you really need a smoke.

What does everyone think? Would first person POV put you off reading a game or do you think it can work well in some cases?

  • I wouldn’t play a game written in first person.
  • I would play a game written in first person, but I think second person would be better.
  • I think this game would be better in first person.
  • I don’t think it matters either way.

0 voters

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Not sure I would be interested in your game. For your question though it would depend on wich you’re more comfortable with. Just make sure that if you write in first person you dont give out a feeling that the protagonist mind is too set. For example I wouldnt have found that woman dumb. Abuse is not as easy as people think and I’m already against the MC because of that so I couldnt continue the story.

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Fair enough. :blush:

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I prefer or mixed pov or just second. First alone break down my immersion, I am playing a role first person makes it like I have no control and it is a normal story.

I found weird that in English people don’t switching from pov frequently. I am in Spanish used to change a lot more. For instance, The part of action I am used in second however, the thoughts and inner feelings I am used to first person.

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That’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a game that switches between different POVs.

There are games that work well in first person pov (Samurai of Hyuga for example). But I think it’s true that you have to be even more carful to not assume too much about the MC, so it may works better with more predefined MCs.


Personally, I think that first person kind of alienates the reader in this sort of interactive fiction. When I play these games I like to really be the character, not in a self-insert-character type of way (I would be an awful character) but in that I enjoy feeling like, even though I do make up characters to play, it’s my consciousness in there.

Honestly, it seems like a lot of the difference between the two paragraphs you posted is your use of tone words. In the first paragraph, you say things like “dumb broad” and “I need a goddamn smoke,” while in the second one you go more tame with things like, “The woman didn’t even thank you,” and, “Now you really need a smoke.”

That makes sense in a sort of “it’s second-person so I don’t want to shove a personality onto the player,” but I do think that it’s more than possible to use tone words and emotional language even in the second person. After all, I think everyone can understand that when they start playing the game they step into the mind of the character, and that even though they have a say on the story, the character may still have a sort of inherent personality. Even if you just take the first paragraph and switch the POV, it still works effectively, like:

This city’s going to hell. Just three blocks you got to walk from your office to your apartment and on the way, you get one guy trying to peddle you the latest high on the market, three girls selling whatever diseases a lady picks up in that line of work, a group of kids trying to slip your wallet out [of?] your pocket and to top it off, you got to end your little midnight stroll by breaking the jaw of some asshole beating on his old lady right there in the middle of the street. Dumb broad didn’t even thank you. Went and patched up the guy that was smacking her around not five minutes before. She even threatened to call the cops on you and then the two of them went home together like nothing even happened. You need a goddamn smoke.

I think it still works, anyway.

That said, I really do think that it could work out really well just the same in either POV. Like most things in writing, I think that the first-person POV could even potentially be better – it’s just a matter of using it well.

I did vote for “I wouldn’t play a game in first-person” though. Personal preference, I guess, lol.