First Person vs. Second 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:

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.

1 Like

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

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.

Fair enough. :blush:

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.

1 Like

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.



Haven’t read a passage of first person text in ages funnily enough. Reading that first paragraph was really jarring, it made me think “who is I?” :confused: I need to be immersed in a game, even if it’s more of an interactive novel. For me it makes me feel like a spectator, separate from the MC, so gives it more the feel of a traditional book. Just my reaction from that, did play a little of the samurai game, but only a bit, ages ago, not sure if any other COGs use first person?


Typically not a fan of first person point of view since it always feels like I’m playing as “the author” and I hate author self inserts.

However, there have been a few exceptions and I believe you can sort of get away with a first person point of view for the whole noir detective style genre.

If this was any other genre I’d probably say stick with 2nd person, but if you really feel strongly about doing this particular story in 1st person, I’d say go for it.

1 Like

I think Samurai of Hyuga is the only CoG/HG I know of that uses first person, and I’m really not a fan. It feels much less immersive, like you’re reading about a different character instead of making it your own. Gameplay-wise, it really has no difference, but having the author use first person just gives off an alienating impression. What the author is writing is the internal monologue of the character, instead of just describing what’s happening to them, so it feels like the player has less control over what kind of person they’re playing.

I really second what @CoyoteaVegas said,

You can keep the same wording and tone you used in first person and still retain the personality of the work without making it feel so much like the character you’re playing is already established without the player’s input

1 Like

Thanks a lot for all your insight @CoyoteaVegas, It’s all really helpful. I completely understand how first person would alienate the player, since whatever the character’s tone might be imposes a personality on the character rather than letting the player choose.

It was actually intentional in this case since I’m intending the game play to be more about discovering clues and solving mysteries through detective work than building a character through decision making. I’m starting to think a game like that might not be too popular on this particular site though, since this is a site that specializes in allowing the player to create their own unique character through their choices.

I’m starting to rethink my original idea though, since I think it would be quite easy to incorporate decision making and character building into a game that also includes detective work and solving mysteries. For instance, maybe the player can decide whether to beat up the man, call the cops on him or just walk past and ignore it. :blush:


Thank you for your sage advice senpai. :slight_smile:

I was talking with another forum member about these issues today and then I saw this thread. Very timely!

And I’m starting to move into the “I’m getting tired of blank slate MCs” camp. Yes, I know some readers roleplay heavily and don’t want the main character taking strong positions on issues unless the player/reader gets a choice in the matter, but that generally results in blank slate MCs, or at best, MCs who aren’t as interesting as the other characters, because it’s a lot of freakin’ work writing and coding all the various possible reactions and then trying to repeatedly weave those seamlessly into the narrative.

Recently I’ve been taking a few minutes per day at work sketching out a story with a first-person MC, and it just flows so much more easily, more intimately, when the MC has some pre-determined personality. The reader would still guide the MC and plenty of choices would be presented, but the MC has a consistent personality and worldview that serve as the lens though which the story is told and hopefully result in the MC being the star of the show.

And another issue with second person (that can be worked around) is the over use of “you,” “your,” etc.

Consider these basic sentences:

First person: "I hang my cape by the door."
Second person: “You hang your cape by the door.”

“I” and “my” sound different. That’s an advantage. “You” and “your,” especially used in back-to-back sentences, can quickly create some verrrrry bland passages.

All this being said, as was mentioned above, an author can still use second-person while creating a more robust MC with pre-determined personality. I think the “giving the MC more personality” is a bigger deal than using first person versus second person.


I’ve never understood people’s desire to be in the story themselves and to play as themselves. It’s a story with a fictional character as its protagonist. For me, it’s much more interesting to play as a developed character from the time period, with their own personality, rather than try and pretend that I am there doing all that.

1 Like

I disagree heavily with the idea that a blank slate MC is inherently less interesting than an MC that was more or less made by the author. I mean to some extent the MC is automatically interesting to the reader, since it’s their character–even if the author feels like the character is bland, the player won’t, because its their character. Maybe looking at the code, yeah this is some flighty piece of cardboard that could do whatever no matter what, but the person playing that character more often than not has their own motivations and thought processes and the fun of the game is figuring out what of the available options would be best for your character to take given the situation they’re in.

And with regards to narration having to be intentionally bland because of that–@Scribblesome’s work in progress has a few different personalities your character can fit into, and some of the dialogue in the narration changes based on what personality your character has. Granted that it is a lot of work, but the pay off is undeniable–it allows for good, solid narration while still giving the player control over who their MC is.

Other people might disagree, but my interest wanes highly when I feel like a work is trying to tell a story about a specific person. I think in traditional videogames, this works because along with the story there’s also gameplay–fighting and exploring and running around and jumping and whatnot, it’s a game that the player is controlling. CoGs and HGs have ONLY the story. I’m sure to some extent a good CoG can be written about an already established character, but quite frankly I feel like if an author would rather be writing about a specific person, why not write a traditional novel? If the MC has a predetermined personality, would the player have only options that are in character with that personality? Would they be punished for taking options that are against that idea? It might be more compelling to write, but (and this is my personal opinion) I can’t help but imagine it’d be significantly less fun to play.