I’m just reiterating all the information here to make sure that anyone who reads this topic understands what is the average consensus on this forum:
While this forum values gender options for both the player character as well as romantic interests, no one here will actually stop you from writing a game that contains neither of those options. We will highly advise that you at least give it a shot though, because some of the greatest skills a writer needs to develop is their imagination and empathy. If you, a normal person with a relatively normal life, can imagine writing about a swashbuckling pirate who sails the seas fighting monsters and hording treasure, or a scientist in a far off space station studying the secrets of a mysterious, unexplored planet, then it only stands to reason that you should at least try to write as another normal human whose only difference is that they don’t share your (the author’s) gender identity or preference, and to do so in a sensitive manner that treats these other groups with respect. The vast majority of humanity is remarkably identical in its experiences and desires, the differences only start popping up when you get granular and start taking into account things like socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, etc. It is then that you are most encouraged to look through our forum and to read through the diversity of experiences and opinion that we have lurking here. If you can’t find a specific answer to your question, ask it! As you can see, everyone here is willing to help in their own way.
If, however, you are still not comfortable or confident—or you simply don’t think it would fit well with your story—then there’s nothing we can do to stop you. Ultimately this game is yours to create, not ours. We can only provide a diversity of opinion, though you will often hear the refrain that the more limited of scope a game is, the less popular it is—at least on the forum—and that part is in fact true. It’s not a conspiracy of any kind, it’s just that people oftentimes prefer to play as someone who resembles themself or someone they can at least identify with, and if a game doesn’t provide that then it only makes sense is not interested in play such a game. This is partly why I will always suggest that a writer still try to write outside of their own immediate experiences, if not now then eventually, as you are simply going to receive more interest in your story when you cast as wide a net as possible.
On the topic of publication, Hosted Games is a separate company from Choice of Games (and both are separate from Heart’s Choice)—its staff overlaps, as does the coding language you are expected to develop your game in (ChoiceScript), but besides that they are legally distinct with each company having its own requirements for publication. Choice of Games is the most strigent as, firstly, you need to be invited to publish for the label. More detailed information can be found on the Choice of Games website but to summarize, you can’t just submit a game to be published, it’s something that you develop with an editor’s oversight to make sure that your game meets all the company’s criteria. This includes (but is not limited to) giving choices for, or leaving unspecified, the player character’s gender or sexuality. Please note that romance options are not a requirement for Choice of Games, but if there are, then you must make the romance options inclusive to all sexualities. These requirements are different from, say, Heart’s Choice where there can in fact be strict gender and sexuality locks because the entire conceit of the company is to write high quality romance-focused games. Though, like Choice of Games, you can’t simply submit a game to Heart’s Choice either, you must be contracted by the company to write for them under the oversight of an editor, etc.
Now all that said, none of those requirements exist for Hosted Games!! None! The goal of Hosted Games is to provide a platform for amateur writers to publish their first, real, professional work. This means that the criteria is set very low so as to be accessible to as wide a variety of people as possible. This means that there’s no requirements on having gender options for either player characters or romance options—there’s also no requirement for romance options. There are very few requirements needed to be published under Hosted Games (the game needs to be in English, be beta tested on the forums, etc—more detailed requirements can be found on the Choice of Games website), so you can submit what you wish so long as it isn’t offensive or violate any other company policies (found in the FAQ).
Okay, this was a lot to write, but I hope I’ve been able to answer your question and to clear up some things regarding Hosted Games. I’ll leave the topic open for a little while longer in case anyone has any questions, but if not—since I believe this discussion has run its couese—this topic will automatically close after a few days with no response.