Gay Representation in ChoiceScript games?


#1

After a certain gay character was killed off in a certain WIP (and my comments were almost certainly unable to save him), I realised that there are actually worryingly few gay characters in these games, as most characters (ROs especially) are bi or MC-sexual.

While it’s true that, for example, when I played the game, Carl in Psy High was a gay boy, I know that he was straight for any straight female characters, and a girl, Carla, for straight male and gay female characters. Now, as a player, I’m glad about this; I get to romance any guy I’m interested in, without fear that he might not be interested (or, worse, be homophobic). However, to the aspiring gay rights activist in me, this is slightly annoying. It almost feels as though these characters are “gay” by convenience, rather than actually being gay. (I should note that my own WIP also suffers from this, but I started writing before I thought about this, and at this point it might be more trouble than it’s worth to make a couple of the ROs gay, especially as it might annoy their straight fans. I am, however, going to be adding in a gay relationship between two ROs, as long as they both survive, and neither is being romanced by the MC; indeed, the seeds have been sown as of the last update.)

There are, of course, a few examples of actual gay characters. Jenny from Heroes Rise (admittedly female, so not exactly to my tastes), and Villeneuve from Choice of Broadsides (who is always the same gender as the MC) are the two who spring to my mind, and I know there are a few in current WIPs too. (Obviously, gender-locked games offering both genders as ROs will include gay, or at least definitely bisexual, characters, but I’ve never been particularly fond of these games, for reasons I can’t quite identify.) I should note that I haven’t played all of the games on this site, and so it’s quite possible I’ve missed several actually gay characters; if I have, please let me know.

What are other people’s feelings on this topic?

(Note to the Mods: Sorry if there’s already a thread along these lines; I couldn’t see any when I went searching. If so, feel free to move this.)


Does sexual orientation/sexual preference need to be defined at the beginning of the game?
How active should ROs be in romance subplots?
A Drop of Night (WiP) (Demo Uploaded 04/11/2017)
Through Broken Lenses (Update 38 on 06 JUN 2018) WiP
Through Broken Lenses (Update 38 on 06 JUN 2018) WiP
Caught in a Reverie (Halloween Edition is finally up)
#2

I don’t know if you consider Craig / Sarah in Unnatural as yes which while originally which one you got depended on whether you was male or female they still were both gay. In the newest edits thanks to @Fiogan 's request the player can pick whether the bully is either Craig or Sarah and both will remain gay characters.


#3

I get the feeling you’re referring to gay characters in all ChoiceScript based games rather than just those in the official label. Can’t recall there ever having been a topic about this specific topic, so I think you’re good.

I think the main problem is that in most ChoiceScript games the characters are player-sexual rather than having a fixed gender orientation. It’s not an approach I feel all that comfortable with, so my characters generally have a fixed orientation. I’ve only got one character who’s gay though (at least in my current WiP’s, since bi-sexual characters tend to be more convenient), and the version of that character you get to see depends on the MC’s chosen gender.


#4

The bodyguard in Metahuman Inc (can’t remember the character’s name) is set gay. I remember my female MC getting the polite brushoff :smile:


#5

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic, and have almost decided to have the romance-option characters in my current game have set orientations–one was already ace, and some of them just don’t really sit right with being pan. I want some of them to be gay, or straight, or specifically bi or pan instead of generically bi.

But I also have several romance-options in this game…I don’t know if I’d want to lock NPCs’ orientations in a game where there were, say, two or three romance options, unless romance was a distinct side note rather than really part of the game. That’s not a lot of NPC personality options.

I suppose part of the issue is, as @Cataphrak was pointing out in another thread, most ChoiceScript games thus far are essentially power fantasies on one level or another. Readers tend to want to romance the character of their choice, regardless of how unlikely it is to have everyone you like actually attracted to your gender–never mind you as a person–in reality.


#6

If I get back to my WIP. heh. The NPCs I did create have their preferences, 1,5, and 0 (and one pansexual) on the Kensey scale. Yes the characters gender and names would change (randomly) with the MC’s sexual orientation, but the each NPC was fixed in their preference. So a MC trying to woo the 5, would have a much more difficult task in winning that NPC’s heart than a same sex pairing.

I hope that makes sense…


#7

There’s a trade off authors make when writing these games, and there’s short cuts made in order to be inclusive. This is one of them. It has its good points, it has its bad points.

Personally I’m strongly in favour of making the characters explicitly bi. I don’t like the ability to erase same-sex attractions, if playing a straight character.

I think frequently there’s a case of characters will be attracted to the MC. If there’s a defined gender of people they’ve been in a relationship with, then they’ll also have a past history with women, and any named characters they’ve been in a relationship with will be female.

Also Brett Golightly from Metahuman Inc is gay. I’m not sure if A Study in Steampunk counts since if you’re not playing a gay character yourself, it doesn’t come up, does it?


#8

I think the issue stems down to inclusivity. It’s ultimately easier, less time-consuming, and more likely to reach a wider audience if the ROs are playersexual. Otherwise, you might have people demanding to know why X wasn’t able to be romanced by Y or some such reason. I’m honestly still disgusted by the fact that mods exist to allow Dorian from Dragon Age: Inquisition, a canonically gay character whose family essentially tried to force conversion therapy on him, to be romanced by female characters 'cause he’s so ~cute and charming~.

Honestly, it feels like a lose/lose situation for authors from a commercial perspective. Either you risk commercial success by making characters as they should be, or you pander to the masses. If you can find a way to even them out or work within those restrictions, then kudos to you, but it doesn’t sound like an easy feat.


#9

There’s both Finnur and Tekoa in my game. I had thought perhaps I would make them bi-sexual to increase the range of romantic possibilities for readers but I couldn’t change them. They’ve become their own people and it just isn’t who they are.

So the lesson I learned is that it’s important to develop a character in a certain way in your mind and then adamantly stick to it. It’s not a restriction and it’s not a characteristic, it’s just them. I believe that is one path to achieve great characters and great representation.


#10

Thanks for all the responses. (Also, thanks for mentioning Unnatural and Metahuman Inc, both of which I never got around to playing; I’ll have to correct that.)

This makes sense, yes. If there are only a handful of ROs, making one of them gay (or straight) cuts down the available number quite drastically.

I suppose it does really come down to this, yeah.


#11

Unnatural is getting a proper round of edits courtesy of @Fiogan. It would be worthwhile waiting till they are finished as the end product will be even better. :slight_smile:


#12

That’s a good way to do it. That, or having other gay characters that are not necessarily romance options. That way, gay characters are represented even if the player’s MC is straight.


#13

Now that you mention it, the brother of one of my characters is gay, and he and his husband just adopted their first child. Does that count as appropriate representation of gay characters?


#14

How could it not? That’s great.
Of course it shouldn’t replace gay romance options for the MC though.


#15

I had originally been thinking of doing this, but the original characters ended up being pretty minor, and at the same time, I found myself liking the (at this point, pretty much unwritten) relationship between the two ROs, and so I changed it around.


#16

The 3Games (Hosted Game) has canonically gay and bi characters, though it’s a bit different than the standard COG because you switch between preset characters.


#17

I remember Vendetta, Rise of a Gangster, actually seemed to go with most of the RO’s having set orientations as, gay, bi or straight. I certainly remember the very cute tailor boy being specifically and exclusively gay and I believe there was going to be at least one other gay male RO. It would certainly have been interesting, if potentially frustrating to some players, though “realistic”, if we would also have encountered specifically lesbian only women of the less than lawful persuasion, thus resulting in our always male mc never being able to get anywhere with them. I did remember Adamo being gay correctly, right @Vendetta ?
Of course Vendetta is a game with a set mc gender.

Well, like many people have said, with most of these games being explicitly escapist fantasy it makes some sense that most romanceable characters are mc sexual, although @Havenstone 's XoR seems to have both major, mc sexual (gender-flipping) RO’s and minor RO’s or optional encounters with a set sexuality and preference, for example Calea always seems to be straight and only interested in male helots (for some weird reason).

The most intriguing one I’ve encountered recently is @Moreau’s the Myrmidon and I like how gender and sexually utopian that world seems to be, despite being a clear dystopia in many other respects. (but of course people knew I was going to say that of the game that seems to finally allow me to pursue two very cute guys in a real poly relationship). :wink:


#18

Don’t take away my bi-representation. Choice and hosted is like the only games where bi/(or pan) people aren’t automatically promescious to some degree. :cry:

I like that the MC-sexual LI’s have the effect that we don’t get any ‘this’ is how a bi person is. I like that very much. (I would of course wish that more NPC acknowlegde the bi/pan-ess but I am willing to deal with that instead of being stuck with stereotypes)

From a more practical level I also appreciate that the mc-sexual characters because that means that no plot critical RO is suddenly going to be heterosexual.


#19

Sorry; I never meant to imply that, and it’s probably best to keep the majority of the ROs bi- or MC-sexual, if just to keep the players’ choices open.

I was actually thinking (not for my current WIP) of maybe writing a story where the plot-critical ROs are both gay, and the straight ones are far less significant. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: (And, yes, there would be bi/pan-sexual characters, too.)


Countdown to World's End [update: 21/11]
#20

It’s a different case with the mods that make Alistair romanceable by male characters.

Yeah! I’m all in favour of bi-representation, I, personally, prefer proper bi representation though, as opposed to just bi by default and it’s never talked about or mentioned.

Which isn’t to ignore the fact that some bi people don’t talk about it with their partners. That they will just try and pass. Also it’s a spectrum and not all bi people are the same.

Yeah. So frustrating when that happens. When the same-sex attracted characters are just minor side-characters of absolutely no importance, or very little, and could easily be removed. Whereas the heterosexual romantic options have the whole plot balanced on their shoulders, and if you don’t romance them then you end up missing out.