How many black writers write for choice of games? Also do any games have a skins color option or anyway to signify that I'm not the default white protagonist?

Before I get started I wanna say im so happy to resdiscover this forum. I’m happy to find a place to discuss some of my fav books and this seems like such a welcoming community like I remember it!

One thing I fucking love about this company and the books they produce is how diverse the works are. I love the option to choose to be LGBT or non binary and how the romance options respect that. But one thing that I remember being lacking is skin color options. I’d love to be able to make a character fully like me.

Like here’s how it is.I, like alot of black people live here in America where since birth we’ve been told our skin color is ugly, We’re told our hair isn’t fit for the classroom or the workplace, [And that when people make products they litterally don’t make them with black people in mind] (The Racial Bias Built Into Photography - The New York Times). All that to say it makes sense when I talk to other black folks online I see alot of us feel like we aren’t the “default” American. That shit is pervasive and so hard to unlearn. We have so consistently seen characters portrayed as white by default, that I usually imagine them as white as well unless specified by the author. White is there beauty standard in America too. This shit goes deep man.

That’s one of the reasons I’d like to find a skin color option within future games or a current game with the option. But as a quick caveat on the subject, the white as default shows up in literature alot so I think it’s best to break down what I mean and how it alienates people. To be clear, the ‘default’ means authors don’t describe the skin of the white main and/or side characters, but immediately describe a black person by their skin. That might seem obvious, but I’m talking directly about the author’s choice, not ours as the reader’s. It’s really apparant when there’s like only one black person in the story.

The solution for me would just be to either mention the white person’s skin more immediately too, or to wait a tiny bit to mention the black characters skin (therefore treating them the same as the white characters, as if their skin is ‘default’ too.) It makes a huge difference to me, it’s always appreciated.

As I read books and see this trope, I feel alienated a little but more disappointed in the author, especially if i’m enjoying their work. But I don’t hold it against them too much because it’s so fucking common that if I took a hard line there wouldn’t be lots of books I like left. Like it’s extremely common and we’re used to it. It might be a subconsious decision, but it’s very noticable for me which way they choose to do it, especially as I’ve gotten older. It takes me out of the reading experience, but when trying to enjoy the book that just gets put to the side unless it have the urge to power through.

So in a very round about way this is how I ask if there’s any current black writers making books for choice? Because I’ve noticed with black writers they are a little more cognizant of this phenomenon and avoid it and some of the stories just feel more authentic. I also love supporting black writers too! So if they are there I’d love to know so I can buy their books today!

This choose your own adventure and interactive story medium is so cool I’m hoping it can help me feel a bit more about seen!

Thank you for any help you can provide and I appreciate any discussion!

Edit: yeah… This wasn’t about blushing. Like it’s deeper than that. Here’s some helpful links.

https://www.writingdiversely.com/post/minimizingmarginalizedidentities

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Black writer here :wave:t5:, hoping to submit to Hosted Game. Sent you a message.

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nooo idea if there are published black writers for CoG or Hosted yet… but I know there are certainly several working on projects with the goal of publishing through Hosted Games at the moment. i’m one of them! hi!

on the other topic you talk about, though, i will say i think CoG and Hosted writers/games have gotten better about avoiding ‘white as default’ language and narrative in recent years. but yeah, i can’t count how many times i’ve had my immersion broken and either burst out laughing or rolled my eyes before muttering, “yeah… black skin don’t do that” :joy: one of several reasons i don’t bother with self-insert characters with interactive fiction.

i feel like there are a lot of games that let you choose skin tone, so many by now it’d be hard to list them all? (without going through my whole game library, anyway–and i’m not the useful list-compiling sort like some lovely users around here) how many of those games incorporate skin color (not speaking about ethnicity here) into the narrative in natural, meaningful, or immersive ways? that i have yet to find.

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Off the top of my head, the only COG game that comes to mind with a for sure option to choose the MC’s race is Guilded Rails (screenshots attached).

Race *choice


I personally can’t recommend the game, and I quit playing before the end. There might be others, but I don’t know

I think it’s a lot more common for HG games and WIPs to include more customization choices (including skin tone) in general. Still, (without having any hard data to back me up) it seems like there’s a community wide propensity to default to eurocentric assumptions (things as simple as writing “you run your fingers through your hair,” for example), even when there are options to specify things like skin tone and hair texture

There have been a lot of discussions within the IF community off of the forum about implicit bias, white washing, and racism, but it’s hard to say how much they have affected the games/writing (so far)

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A few of the other Choice of Games titles with choices about the PC’s race are Choice of the Vampire, Creme de la Creme, Chronicon Apocalyptica, Stronghold, Silverworld, The Superlatives, Eagle’s Heir, and 180 Files: The Aegis Project. Those aren’t necessarily the only ones, but the ones that come to mind for me. (I’m not familiar with the details of every game, and there are a lot of them!) Some of those are appearance choices, some are about your character’s background.

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I’ve seen a few WIP’s with skin colour options, of course i’ve never paid much attention (im white) But at least its there. So i think the community has already largely allowing you to be whatever you wish. Unless of course its protag-locked, where the character is already built for you.

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Aside from the games already mentioned, I know Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven has the option to determine your ethnicity at the beginning. It’s in the form of the protagonist filling out an online dating profile, where you can specify ‘Black/African American’ (and you can also select more than one option, if more than one applies). I know the fantasy WIP Shepherds of Haven also lets you play a character with dark skin. Not sure of the author demographics, though!

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Where exactly is the “default white protagonist” statement coming from? To my knowledge, there are no CoG or Hosted games with a “default white protagonist.” I can think of a game where you can only play as specific pre-made characters, but, as far as I can tell, it is the only one of it’s kind. Other than that one game, there is no CoG or Hosted game that prevents you from playing as a person of whatever skin color you want (aside from maybe fictitious colors). Just because a game doesn’t give you the option to specify skin color does not automatically mean that you play as a certain skin color. It means that you need to fill in the blanks with your imagination. It literally says that at the beginning of EVERY SINGLE GAME. “It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.” The author does not need to fill in every detail. In fact, I’m willing to bet that doing so would ruin the game for a lot of people. Your skin color is whatever you want it to be. That’s the way it’s always been here, and automatically assuming otherwise is, frankly, dangerous.

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If an author is not careful, there can be an implied default, even without saying so explicitly. To take an example, not about skin color, but about implied defaults in general, in my own games, I have written lines saying things about the protagonist’s hair, like someone saying “you have something in your hair.”

This creates a default protagonist who has hair. If you were imagining your protagonist as bald, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, my default has made that a problem. That’s what “default” means in this context of skin color, which I will let those more qualified speak about. I imagined an MC that makes it harder for you to imagine the MC you may want.

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What Gower said.

In terms of skincolor it can be stuff like ‘color draining from your/npc’s face’ or “your/their cheeks go bright pink” etc.

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Because I am very good at precognition, I want to remind people to be careful that what they are writing and have already written is designed to forward the conversation and not attack people in unproductive ways.

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Sure, I get that. I understand that keeping the MC vague enough for the player to fill in the blanks is difficult, but having the player assume that the author isn’t letting them do something seems a bit too presumptive. The author not thinking of something is different from the author not allowing you to do something. That’s part of the reason why I like the WiP side of this community the most. Everyone seems to be very helpful (for the most part) in the creation of these games and authors are usually very open to receiving feedback. It’s nice to see.

Edit: changed hostile to presumptive.

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I think it’s a reasonable point to remind authors to keep in mind their blind spots, and skin color can certainly be one of them. I don’t hear any charge of hostility.

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sorry, what is inherently racist about me pointing out that it breaks immersion when an MC that I’ve chosen to have dark skin turns pink during a flirting scene because of careless writing? what is inherently racist about pointing out it breaks immersion for another character to stroke their hand through my MC’s hair when I chose their hair texture to be kinky? lol what??

did i miss something? who did that? also the issue isn’t about vagueness, it’s about the opposite imo. these are choice games that keep track of variables when we customize our MCs. expecting the narration and text to coincide with the choices we’ve made is very normal. when the writer misses that opportunity by making an implication or comment on specific physical features that don’t apply to the MC we have created, it sticks out. it breaks immersion. simple.

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It was just an observation bud. It was not meant to be an attack or anything. I removed it to prevent further issues.

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I know some questions along these lines emerged during the beta phase of The Parenting Simulator. This is what I said back then, and I’d say I still stand by it.

I will say that someone pointed out that at the beginning I specified blue eyes for the child, which was a bit racially limiting, so I took that bit out.

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Also, thanks OP for reminding me to go through my own game and double check stuff.

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I think if you re-read OP’s post, you would find it to be quite friendly and positive. No one was attacked. They’re looking for information about specific authors and games according to their personal interests as a black person looking for more overt representation, which is neither ‘dangerous’ nor ‘hostile.’ I hope the request doesn’t get derailed, because it’s a perfectly understandable thing to ask.

I just learned something new myself, which I can now fix in my own WIP (what @hotmess.exe said about not having someone run their hand ‘through’ natural hair). I also didn’t have as many game recommendations for OP as I thought I would, because a few of the ones I remembered as having great character customization turned out to not have a skin color choice at all. So I think this is an area where authors can do better. It seems like a lot of the newer games and WIPs do tend to offer more detailed appearance options including skintone, so maybe it’s becoming more common with time.

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I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure these things are universal. They may be less noticeable in some people, but these are biological reactions. Everyone has them.

@silvertree I changed my wording.

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‘Everyone’ doesn’t ‘go bright pink’ when they blush. A better wording for an author could be something like ‘you feel your cheeks get warm.’ These are valuable details to learn, for someone who might not be aware.

I don’t think it’s fair to derail this thread or try to shut down discussion just because race is an uncomfortable topic, but that’s all I’ll say about that. There’s nothing wrong with pointing these things out.

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