How Acceptable is it to Force the Player to Play Under a Pre-determined Gender?


#1

I understand that it isn’t the most acceptable thing in the world to be immediately shackled with and that many people feel that a certain gender (not necessarily their own) best identifies and represents their outlook and view in the story.

However, if the role was justified, would people be more accepting of it?

To get into details, the story I’m working on features a Dwarf Princess who due to player determined consequences must (one way or another) become King of her people, role normally held solely by Dwarf men. All the while she is fighting the deep seated prejudices of her people in an otherwise male dominated system, while trying to turn her backwards minded people towards a better future, as outside threats from within and without threaten to wipe her people out. That much of the struggle the heroine will face is largely political, and specific to her being a woman is central to the plot. If it were a man, it wouldn’t present the same kind of struggle or hit the same key notes.

Thoughts?

Edit: Also there is a bit of added humor with her having to periodically shave her beard off, played for laughs and milked for a great deal of humor once her companions and good friends catch on.


Is having gender choice important to you?
Genderlocking in Games
#2

Just wondering but wouldn’t it simply be Queen? There can be a King without a Queen so why is it not possible that there be a Queen without a King? I’ve heard it happened before. Not that I’m being a feminist I’m just curious.


#3

It’s only the official Choice of Games that have the requirement that you allow a choice in regards to gender (or a gender neutral protagonist). Hosted Games aren’t subject to these rules.

We’ve several extremely popular games on the forums with set gender protagonists so that shouldn’t be a problem.

I do disagree with your idea for humour though. Why would she shave off her beard? If she wants to be taken seriously as a Dwarf, then surely she’d leave it. I think mocking people who don’t confirm to gender norms is something you want to steer away from.


#4

@Razgriz Strict wording states that only a King may rule, but there’s no rule stating that the King must be a man. Similarly her right to rule is contested by her two older brothers. It was in fact her Uncle that was next in line after their father, but being a pragmatic sort, with no spouse or children (he prefers the company of men) he passed the crown on to his brothers children. It is in fact his usage of the word children and not sons that even gives the heroine a ticket in the race.

Also the forward thinking Human Empire in the setting is ruled by five Emperors and has no titles such as Empress, Queen, Lady, Madam. Being a brutal Meritocratic society, it’s hierarchy, the noble houses, are awarded duties, titles and even rulership based on well rounded and balanced tests. It doesn’t mean that whoever becomes Emperor isn’t going to a mean spirited sort, but does mean that their abundantly competent and fit to rule.

@FairyGodfeather I was looking more for personal opinions more than the official ruling, but that information is appreciated.

Almost all Dwarf women shave their beards, which don’t grow nearly as full or thick as dwarf men, plus they tend to look quite frizzy. Almost the entire army shaves their beards, given the enemy that they and their Goblin allies fight on a regular basis (and later on) it’s a necessity. Most Nobles also shave their beards, mostly in the same vein of how noble farts smell of daises and such.


#5

If you want to write a story with a locked gender just go ahead and do it. If you want to do it in a humorous way, again go ahead and do it. There’s no divine law stating you have to appease everyone nor should you really try to, it just hampers the writing when you do.

Don’t worry about what other people may or may not like, and stick with your own vision. The story might not appeal to everyone, but YOU will most likely be happier with the finished product in the long run.


#6

Well said.That’s the only way to be happy with your final product. Otherwise it will never feel good enough.


#7

If your protag is gender locked for pragmatic reasons as opposed to prejudice, then most people (and me personally) would have no problem with it. As @FairyGodfeather said, some of the most popular CoGs do so. Sabres of Infinity, for example, always has the protagonist as a man because it’s what they have to be in order to fit the story the author is telling in that particular setting. Conversely, the WIP Guenevere has the protagonist being exclusively female, for obvious reasons.

Cataphrak (author of Sabres of Infinity) said it best, I think: “There’s a difference between having a setting with misogyny and a misogynistic setting.”


#8

Unless the game is really well-written or there’s a very specific view point you’re going for, I tend to ignore games that feature a predetermined gender.
However there are titles such as Sabres of Infinity or Guenevere that shine on their own despite a genderlocked protagonist. I think the key to those settings are making characters that you’re not writing with “this is a male/female and thus I need to write them from a male or female perspective” in mind, but more “this is a person and an established character, so my reader needs to be able to connect to them on a level that is irrelevant to gender”. Part of this also has to do with your audience; are you writing with a particular gender audience in mind, or something broader? What’s the age range you’re looking to write for, and how can you make that audience connect with your protagonist?

I think your idea is great. There’s going to be people out there who simply prefer not to play from a female PoV, but that’s not a big deal. They’re looking for their own kind of niche; that doesn’t mean you have to cater to them. Speaking as a person who tends to prefer being able to select their gender in CoG. :wink:


#9

Lovesick traumatized me.


#10

I feel locked characters can be deeper and have more personality. so if done right can be a very good thing.


#11

If your vision and goal is a specific story, go for it.

You may give up some readers who dislike games with locked gender, though you could equally gain readers who enjoy playing a specific persona.

If you are still concerned about inclusion, you could let the player choose a gender and gender-switch to male- or female-dominated society. For example, it may be interesting to play a male in a female-dominated world.


#12

JimD, I believe Choice of Broadsides does this.


#13

Romance does it too, although, in my opinion, somewhat less well.


#14

I personally think it’s fine to have gender-locked games. For me, if there’s a game that must be from a guy’s perspective and I can’t get into the character as a girl, that’s cool. The guys can enjoy that game. The author has every right to make their game gender-locked or not, and I don’t think it’s all that fair for players to demand otherwise.


#15

I think the idea of a dwarf princess would be really fun, so I say go for it! If you’re that worried about losing people, you may be able to work out some alternate scenes for a male player. Going off what you wrote there, the lady dwarf obviously has a lot of problems to get past in regards to her gender if she wants to be King, but perhaps a male dwarf would have some trouble too, considering he’s the youngest son or something. Or perhaps the male dwarf could help a lady companion take the throne, playing the role of a knight instead of a King-to-be. Something to think about, but again, I think the idea is fun how it is already!


#16

@FairyGodfeather why does COG require one to write for gender options for their label?


#17

One of CoG’s main reasons for existing as a company is to make games for people who don’t usually see their gender and/or orientation represented in protagonists of games. The pleasure of being the hero of the story shouldn’t be overwhelmingly reserved for people who are (or are happy to imagine themselves as) straight males. See the blog discussion here: https://www.choiceofgames.com/2010/01/gender-in-choice-of-the-dragon/


#18

In addition to what Havenstone linked to, Jason had a good quote.

Note that you do have games like Eerie Estate Agent, and a couple of the other games where you don’t actually pick a gender, and so you can just imagine your protagonist as whatever you want. It’s just that when there’s a choice, at the very least that choice should include male and female.


#19

I always say the same thing when this is asked: There are so many games on this site where you do have a choice of gender that I don’t mind a good gender-locked game so long as it is good. If someone is so upset that one game doesn’t have that choice, they should just play a different game, you shouldn’t have to change yours


#20

Absolutely: no one has to change their game to suit any audience feedback of any kind, including about gender. Write for yourself and those who enjoy what you do.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with people giving feedback and making requests of authors either… and I sometimes feel that the “don’t like don’t play” reflex gets trotted out a little too quickly when it comes to feedback on choice of gender, as if the very request were unreasonable.