How do you feel about gender-locked romances?


#1

As the title implies, how do you feel about romanceable characters in games that are not “player-sexual”?

More detailed version, aka the reason I’m asking: I’m running into this issue with this game I’m working on, where the player goes through many “lives” and their sex is predetermined depending on their choices in the previous life (it’s not directly correlated, so it won’t be obvious what causes the player’s in-game biological sex)****.

I want to make the characters have certain sexualities for the fact that I believe making every character “player-sexual” devalues them as individuals and kind of builds a character for romance instead of a romance for a character. I’ve seen many people disagree, though, and I’d consider making all romanceable characters “player-sexual” if there’s enough of a demand for it.

****There will be an opportunity for the player to make their identified gender clear, so it’s possible to be transgender. If the player says that their character identifies as a woman and she is born in a male body, the character will still be able to romance (most) heterosexual male characters so long as she makes her identified gender clear to him. There will be exceptions, with characters who will still find issue with the player character’s assigned sex. The identified gender is static, meaning that while the body will change, the identification will not.

(I also feel the need to mention that I myself am pansexual, so it’s not as though there won’t be bisexual/pansexual characters, but I do think that it’s unrealistic to make everyone flexible)


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#2

(I should also note that it’s possible to identify as nonbinary. The romance logistics of that, I’m still figuring out.)


#3

I’m okay with it. I’m of the opinion that all Romancable NPCs are different so it’d make sense for them to have different sexual orientations.


#4

I have no problem with gender-locked characters, since in my experience they tend to be more developed characters.


#5

I’m not a big fan of player characters being gender locked. I do prefer if NPC’s have fixed preferences though.


#6

Normally, I don’t prefer the romance-option characters to be only available to a specific gender, especially in text games.

It hasn’t happened to me with a choice script game yet, but I’ve played story-heavy RPGs where I really only like one or two characters, as far as romance options went. Then, halfway through the game, I find out those characters are only attracted to a different gender. So after I finish, I go play through the game as that character’s preferred gender. I can usually play the EXACT same game, as far as the player character’s choices and stats go, and little or none of the rest of the game is affected just because my own character is a different gender - except that romance option I wanted.

So for me, locking the NPC’s preferences sometimes makes the world feel MORE fake, since I can do all the exact same things and just say I’m another gender, and suddenly the options are open to me.

That said, I think sometimes games handle genders in a way that is more intrinsic to the story (Queen at Arms would be one example of this). Their characters had definite preferences, and I felt it added to the story rather than just feeling like a hollow assignment.

Your game, since it sounds like part of its plot is the frustration of waking up in another life which you may or may not like as much as your previous one - up to and including what your own body is like - seems to me to be another one of those games where the gender of the MC is in some ways pertinent to the plot.

So, I would say go for preference-specific characters! I think the frustration and tension of dealing with the world through very literally new eyes could take that in some interesting directions.


Sexuality and NPCs
#7

@Fiogan, I’m in your camp. I just don’t see the benefits of fixed gender attraction UNLESS, as you said, playing as a certain gender results in a different story experience, and I haven’t seen anyone here pull that off (yet).


#8

@Fiogan yeah, frustration is definitely supposed to be a part of the game. And if I have my way, you’ll still be able to express your attraction to the other character, it will just be unrequited. I don’t want all attempts at that sort of interaction to be off the table, but I want the romanceable character to have more of a say in their relationships than just accepting whatever PC throws at them. And in the case that the PC has the body of someone that the romanceable character is attracted to, but identifies differently, they can choose to keep quiet about it.

@HornHeadFan That’s something I’m really iffy about. I don’t know how gender would affect the game besides more dialogue options (like revealing your identification if it doesn’t match up) and internal dialogue. And maybe the way you’re treated in your first life, since that’s where you get to choose your biological sex as well.

I feel like not getting what you want is a big part of the story overall, but I don’t want it to take away from the player’s experience. But honestly, there’s no way to end the game with the majority of these romanceable options, since you’re going to have to move on after you die. (That’s not to say that your romances won’t ever be mentioned again. They will, and they will have an emotional impact on the character and hopefully the player. But while the romance can last a lifetime, what is a lifetime to someone who is being reincarnated repeatedly?)


#9

I don’t mind as long as I still get a chance to romance either gender. I like to have a choice of at least two women, but if one of them turns out to be straight (I also play as a woman) or refuses a romance for other reasons (rapport, wrong side of a war, etc) then I can accept that happily as long as they’re not both going to reject me every time.


#10

like to think of it in basic terms, love is love regardless of gender. Thing is some folks having hangups preferences phobias ect… So taken into account perhaps rather than making it ‘impossible’ to romance someone with these hangups perhaps it could become more difficult.

The bigger their issues the harder it can become to do so, and if this is achieved remark upon it within the writing say if a straight boy is finding herself falling for another or vice versa, that can create some very interesting inner turmoil for a storyline.


#11

In my stories, I made all (but one) of the ROs have set genders so that I can concentrate on their character development, but I also make it so that they can potentially be attracted to the MC regardless of their gender. This way, the MC can romance whoever they want.


#12

I’m not really against gender-locked romance, but I’m not a supporter of it either. When I write a character I try to put as much detail as I can into it as if they themselves were the MC and switching their genders for romance reasons kind of irks me, but that’s just me.


#13

Gender locked romance seems to make sense to me. Like it or not humans have preferences based on gender when it comes to romance. Girls usually like guys and vice versa. Not to mention when somebody is gay, they won’t exactly go after men or women in that case.

To me it seems kinda unrealistic when every RO can be romanced by any gender. I mean damn the MC is lucky to run into so many bisexuals (then again I have met 0 in real life throughout my life so maybe that’s why I find it odd.)

But it’s nice to have non gender locked romances too. Since bisexuals do exist so honestly I’d say it would be fine to have most characters romance options gender locked while others are not. Then again it all depends on what you want to write rather than other people want you to write. Shoehorning in stuff because you have to, rather than want to, typically results in lower quality.


#14

I’m for gender-locked romances, because it’s more realistic that way - as Blazerules put it, humans do have preferences based on gender. That said, I don’t mind if the PC/Main character just so happens to be lucky enough to just run into bisexuals (but that shouldn’t be the case in every game). Nor do I mind the author invoking the ‘If It’s You, It’s Okay’-trope either…


#15

#16

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#17

Hmm, I prefer gender locked. Because it not real to meet everyone as bi. An NPC should have a preference like any person, weird to have all characters as bi, not that bad, but as a bi myself it is a little weird to know that the MC can have a free for all access to romance. Still it the author/s go-go if what they want to make characters locked or not.


#18

I, personally, have mixed feelings on this subject. I can argue both sides. That’s probably why we made our game with NPCs that are both fixed gender and MC-determined gender. Within that, some were set to be MC-sexual, yes, but at least one was NOT determined based on the MC’s sexual orientation.

I also agree with the OP in that it seems unrealistic to make everyone “flexible.” BioWare’s Dragon Age series is a great example of a company that explored games where many characters were very much set in their orientation, followed by a story where almost everyone was available to both MC genders. And people complained about both. So, I guess at some point you, as an author, just have to be true to yourself and what works best for your characters and story. There will always be lovers and haters. :blush:

Edit to include: I realize we have strayed a bit off from original question, in that I don’t want to carelessly conflate gender with either sexual orientation or biological sex mean very different things, but it seems difficult to talk about one of those topics without considering the effect (or perceived effect) it has on the others.


#19

I am against gender-locked romances, because seriously, changing my sex just to get the RO I want is simple but immersion-breaking, not to mention the fact that people who complain that games with all bi are not realistic don’t even consider the world the game is set in. Is it really that impossible for everybody you meet to be bi in a world with dragons, elfs and magic? Not to mention, does it actually hurt you if everybody is bi? If it lets the rest of us enjoy our ROs, just leave it be.


#20

@leo
I am in for genderlocked ROs, in general and especially in this case.
If the MC has 9 lives, It means that even with genderlocked ROs they should be able to have multiple successful romances in some lives while probably staying single im others. Besides, it would be interesting to explore the MC’s relation with their soulmate if one or both of them have the “wrong” bodies in this life.
If you’re decide against genderlocked and fixed-preference ROs, it would be cool if their gender and orientation also depended on the MC’s actions in previois lives like the MC’s gender.