I hereby declare

It depends for me, I don’t mind 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person narratives, it really just depends on the story for me. Largely because I never see the MC as “my character” or as “me”, per se. I simply see them regardless of what pronouns are used as simply a character I’m being granted control of and the author allowing me to have some impact on the narrative via the MC as the proxy.

Because really, there are so many occasions where I see a list of choices and I think to myself, “Hell, I wouldn’t have opted for any of these.”, or I make a choice and I’m like, “Wow. That is not what I envisioned for choosing that.” For example to the latter, not to pick on @JimD because I actually really, really like Zombie Exodus (I didn’t buy it straight after playing the demo for nothin’), **spoilerz** there’s a point where fleeing from a zombie horde, the MC can try to seek refuge within a store, but its entrance is boarded up–though you can use various equipment to try to remove the boards from the entrance so the MC can get in. My first choice was using the combat knife I equipped the MC with, because what immediately went through my head was, “By wedging the blade under the board, I can use the knife as a lever to pry off the boards.”, which is something have done in real life, used a knife as a lever to pry up nails or nailed down boards when lacking a small crowbar or hammer. But what wound up happening when I made the selection for the MC to use the combat knife was the MC smacked the boards with the knife, and my immediate reaction was exactly this emote: o.0 And the thing is I encounter things like that several times within CoGs, and there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s only so much an author can put into a CoG and not die from exhaustive tedium. The player/reader isn’t going to have the same exact cohesion and thought process 100% of the time as the author when it comes to choices.

But by proxy it’s because of examples like above that I never see the MCs within a CoG as my personal characters, I still see them in the light of belonging to the authors wholly. Therefore to me it doesn’t matter what perspective the narrative is written from, to me it’s merely the style in which the author chose to write it to best fit their starring character. I see them more as interactive e-books with variables (stats) dispersed within it that can change things up from time to time. I really get that sense when the story is written in 3rd person, and a lot of times prefer it over 2nd person for that very reason. Second person CoGs often feel like I’m reading a DnD campaign adventure book, but as the player I only have a few specific choices dictated by the DM; but to be honest, I don’t mind that either so much depending on how its done. And really, I say the same with 1st person CoGs, too.

Like I often keep preaching over and over again, really it all just boils down to execution.

I vote for 2nd person. Cause,

1st person, “I bravely leaped across the chasm” thats what the AUTHOR would do. Not me. That just makes it feel like I’m just walking behind someone for me. (but life of a wizard made it work pretty good)

3rd person, “billy then bravely leaped across the chasm” I’m not billy. Billy is some guy I float behind and watch Go through obstacles. I would feel disconnected from the story and likely not enjoy it as much

But 2nd person, “you bravely leaped across the chasm” I feel like I am in the story, jumping a chasm that’s filled with spikes and the remains of those who tried before me. THAT is how it should be in my view. You are the MC. A choice must be made and you are the one who makes it

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In ChoiceScript, we recommend second-person text (“You see a knight”) and first-person #options ("#I eat the knight"). That way, the game is a conversation between the narrator and the player/character.

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I think one gets in the mode of 2nd person story telling partially via running RPGs. That’s what a lot of ChoiceOf games remind me of. I don’t think it’s the only possible way of telling a strong interactive story but it’s definitely a default if you come from a tabletop/PbP RPG background…


“You walk to the door and place your hands against the surface. Heat radiates through the metal, and you realize there is a fire raging on the other side. You feel sick at the thought of losing your belongings and vow to find the culprit who set the fire.”

Thank you for articulating that. You’re right, that’s the sort of writing which I dislike too.


Strange you should mention RPGs. I’ve run and played roleplaying games, both online and tabletop extensively. (LARPed too but that’s neither here nor there.)
When I was describing my character’s actions it was always “I stab the bad guy!”

When I was GMing it would be “okay, you manage to succeed! Describe it!” Or whatever really. It’s been a long time since I table-topped so I suppose I did resort to “you” as the GM frequently. As a player though, it was always “I”.


Aha! Just like I game then. With the main text being written as if by a GM, and the choices being chosen by the player. I suppose that mindset does help me see how second person can work.

@FairyGodfeather It’s funny, whether I was a player or DM, I never spoke of characters in 1st or 2nd person, it was always 3rd person. While for LARPing I can see it making sense to describe what you (as your character) are doing in 1st person. But I always played table top RPGs via IRC or the classic sitting around a table with a group of folks at a table or the furniture of living room, and it just felt more natural to me (and the groups I played) to describe what our characters were doing in 3rd person.

Because while we had the saying within out RP group “You are your character’s mistakes.” Our characters were not personally us, they were merely characters we created to explore a setting/world we created, essentially our proxies or conduits or avatars to explore another place. Basically characters of a story still being told, so we described what they did as if it were a book still being written, so like… with say, VtM I had a character named Aedia, I wouldn’t ever say “I walk into Elysium *continues to describe what “I” the character does*”, it’d more along the lines of, “With a gentle press against the door of the old wooden door of the speak easy, Aedia slipped into the establishment making her way to the back rooms of the declared Elysium of the Prince’s domain.”, that way it felt (for us) more like being involved in the creative process itself of the unfolding collaborative narrative. Or in the case when I was DM/ST/GM, I’d be describing what their character is doing in 3rd person as if their character is involved in the ongoing narrative, rather than the player personally.

I know there are a lot of players who like to personalize their characters as though they are their characters, but I just could never understand that perspective. I always liked to view my characters as characters separate from myself set within a narrative, so then as the story unfolds (especially in mediums like CoGs or in IRC (or forum board or any other chat medium)) it feels like being part of a novel being written out in real time.

Tastes vary, no absolute right/wrong way, yadda yadda.

Taking the route @JimD describes, where you do your best to avoid describing the main character’s emotions and thoughts, removes a key barrier to the reader imagining her/himself as the protagonist – which for many people is one of the great pleasures of interactive fiction.

On the other hand, we’ve heard a lot of forum members complain about protagonists who are just a blank – no personality of their own, besides the very limited one that comes explicitly from choices. That makes it hard for such readers to believe or care about the central character in the story. They’d rather have a protagonist with a concrete background and personality – and trying to accomplish that without writing emotions and thoughts would be an impressive feat.

Personally, I don’t find the 1st/2nd/3rd person thing as important as whether the author has committed to one or the other approach. Are they trying to get out of the way and let the reader’s imagination do all the work on the main character’s personality? Or do they have a clear personality in mind, write the story accordingly, and give the reader only choices which are compatible with that personality?

@Havenstone Well then. Why not simply base the emotion felt off of the course of action that the player has taken? If the player chose to save the little girl. Kindhearted soul that couldn’t see an innocent perish or let the girl die. A devious cold blooded person. But then again the player might have an entirely different mind set and motive behind their choices.

*sigh* either way it’s either a win win or a lose lose situation. /:slight_smile:

@JimD ah I see what you mean, I never actually gave it much thought while coding and i’m sure I probably put it in there, but it might mess what a fragil demo it already is up.

But I’ll tend to code the rest without it and see in comparison in the game review which worked best.

@JimD Im glad you brought that up, not being told outright what’s going on just given subtle clues.


Im not sure if anyone has brought this point up yet. I kinda skimmed, but if you tell people what’s happening outright you miss a chance to make the reader think, opposed to just giving a subtle clues, and kinda giving the reader a mini-mystery, and it invests you more if it makes you think things through, its okay to come out and tell the people what it is after you made them think about it but you can still tell them without telling them because people always like to assume things, and if you imply enough and give them enough evidence they will come to the answer without you even telling them.

For example if me and my invisible wife were going somewhere and she asked me did a dress make her look fat and I went silent, she would know from experience I dont like lying to people and I dont like hurting people’s feelings, so she would automatically know why im not answering that question, and im not telling you the answer to the question either but we all know the answer to the question, even though I never said it. Though if my wife reads this I love her and her love handles…

Another example instead of like writing a scene where you go “There is a drunk guy walking up the street.” just go “There is a smelly man fumbling up the street slurring obscenities while holding a bottle of vodka.” did we say he was drunk? nope but the fumbling, slurring, and bottle of vodka suggest that.

Im am a crude gentleman, good sir and I know I got a bit derailed but I feel POV should always be married with immersion, since without a POV there is no immersion, and without immersion their is no reason to even have a POV, so forgive me again, I seen a fellow on youtube post a very interesting video about subtleness/immersion in the genre of horror, or that’s just how I labeled it. I felt what he said could be applied to all aspects of story, if you change around words here and there, though you may need to watch all three.

This sha’ll help if you need more: How being subtle can improve your descriptions

Hey folks. Apologies for bumping this, but at least it’s not an old WIP thread and I feel this topic/thread still has relevance. I didn’t want to create a new thread anyway to discuss what’s on my mind when this one’s perfect.

So, a while ago, I created WIP thread for a story called Vigilante (which isn’t going to be updated for a long time, was shown way too soon, and is being heavily reworked, so please don’t bump it). The expected response came, which was to not have a set protagonist and to allow people to set gender/name. I’ve tried it, but for story heavy works, I don’t think it works and I’m indeed looking at this as an author and a gamer (I very much like roleplaying and adventure games with choices). So, for more story heavy works, I will probably go against the grain and use a first person narrative with set characters where the reader assumes a sort of ‘conscience’ role in telling them what they do (unless I feel second person, gender selection etc. can work for a piece). I also feel much more at home when not using a second person perspective too. For something where it’s a simple dungeon crawl or where you try to make it in a career, meaning something that doesn’t have to rely on a strong story and a generic character can work, I feel the second person is fitting though.

Anyways, I digress. I find that when you write from the second person perspective, you have to try and make the reader feel as though they have full control. As soon as you give an option that they wouldn’t do, it possibly throws them out of the story, and it’s honestly unavoidable. The characters also feel like blank slates and I think that’s one of the reasons that I feel the characters etc. in CoG titles aren’t as fleshed out as I’d like them to be. Granted, people like Havenstone have done a good job of fleshing out characters and giving a good story. With a set character anyway, you don’t have to worry about the player/reader being jolted out of the story and you can design the decisions with the character in mind. It doesn’t mean interactivity is lost either. You can easily give divergent paths while writing a great story.

I also heavily disagree with the notion that if an author writes from the first person perspective, they’re trying to insert themselves into the story and to control it. Logically, if they wanted to do that, they shouldn’t be writing interactive fiction in the first place because they might as well just write one story with no choices (granted, I see a case to be made for more or less single/linear stories that are more literary in nature, with the choices given to make the reader think). To illustrate what I mean and to use Endmaster’s work as a reference point, I can read a portion of his work and the characters you’re meant to inhabit are quite . . . different to me. So, I’ve never really thought of any of the characters I play as in stories/games as ‘me’. There’s nothing wrong with the second person way of writing though, but there’s nothing wrong with other narrative perspectives either. I just feel a stronger story can be written when the ‘player character’ isn’t a blank slate.

One final example are Telltale’s games, The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. The characters you play as are set. Do you think you’re the characters? Does that impact your enjoyment? I think a lot of people, regardless of the answers, will agree that the stories are good and emotionally affecting. And there’s still wriggle room for making choices even if they don’t affect much. When it comes to me and text based stuff, I know that I’d do my best to offer a lot more branching than those games anyway. I don’t have to worry about graphics, after all, or sound. (Nor would I have a deadline to keep to. :wink: )

I haven’t announced my game yet, but that’s mainly because I don’t feel like I have enough content for a demo. But I’ve already started to wonder about the way I am designing my game. Just wanting to add to this whole…fleshed out MC versus MC that you yourself are creating debacle.

Right now I have an outline based on plots in the game, but I haven’t really started adding those physically into the game yet. So what I have worked on is the introduction and profession choices.

I got really bored.

At first it was like, “Oh…you’re an engineer. You do engineering type things. It’s fun. You’ve been doing it for a really long time and everyone values your input when it comes to engineering. How many times can you use engineer in a description? You should have seen your last job interview. Jeesh.”

(That’s kind of an exaggeration by the way)

Anyway I started asking myself what an engineer would do. What would motivate an engineer to be where he or she is at the start of the game. How would this impact the character after the introduction when everything kind of suddenly goes an unexpected route? How effective would an engineer be in the end game?

As I started asking those questions I started seeing “The Engineer” kind of become a character in his or her own right. Suddenly I started thinking about the parents. Maybe goals they have. Do they feel like they have a future where they are going? And prose just seemed to come out of it. So suddenly these professions were sort of like characters in Diablo or any other RPG where the game’s canon seems to explain more about the character than meets the eye. After all the warrior in Diablo really just seemed like some random warrior guy that decided to beat down demons and skeletons and zombies with his sword out of boredom. But if you look into the history of the character you’ll learn a great deal more and see that he actually has a story.

The situation then becomes that the game isn’t about that particular character and there are obviously choices. It would be rather amusing to make one gigantic novel out of ChoiceScript and not allow a single choice. But obviously it wouldn’t be very fun.

When it comes to choices…I’m going to try to have some pretty good ones. Ones that will affect the outcome and NPCs in the game. And so if the player is basing his or her character off what they personally might do in that situation that is fine. Every MC no matter what their profession will be entirely out of their element anyway in the story so it’s understandable that they will be forced to adapt and change. Although there might be rewards for someone who sticks with their background. Not sure.

Every now and then the idea that this isn’t the player’s background comes to mind and that I am developing the various professionals in such a way that it isn’t necessary at all, and probably even a waste. So in order to feel better about my decision I decided to add a completely blank profession that will provide the player with their own skill bonuses and attributes. I might even give them a special “generic” reward towards the end of the game like the other professions.

Oh! And I’m using second person. I kind of like it for storytelling at the moment. I think it’s a little odd writing dialogue in second person, but once you get used to it…well…I think it’s more like you just gotta deal with it. Dialogue that you are writing in for the MC in a choose your own adventure might just always be weird though since it sort of helps you to realize that the player isn’t totally in control of the story.

Someone told me that it seems players prefer the narrator to be speaking directly to them and even being conversational or have an opinion about their choices, so I’m kind of going to be experimenting with that. Maybe. If it gets annoying I’m cutting it out.

@DavidGil Hmm well said and quite interesting. I’ve never actually thought of it from that perspective. Although that does take away the problem of fitting in the MC being part of the story. As all us writers must deal with. Having to come up with yet 40 choices at a time to fit in everyone needs would be impossibly overwhelming. Let alone 5 or so. But a set character. I’ll have to look more into it.

(Forgot I had this thread)

@Brianblack So what your getting at is …it’snot about what your seeing right then and there or whats stated… it’s about what you truly learn around the MC. Thier past, future, prophecy or history. But you do have a point on Diablo and such. It usually always seem that it’s a random person plopped down in some random situation and smacking down whatever comes along. Until several levels alter things fall into place and you understand just why…skyrim keeps coming to mind.