Indifference, Snark, and Rudeness

I’ve recently been thinking about the different ways in which player characters can interact with NPCs. Variety in choices is essential, since player agency is a core component of a good ChoiceScript game, but one thing about which I’m unsure is the degree to which the PC can be aloof, snide, or even downright mean. Most people would be courteous and reasonable most of the time, but those are two “mosts” already; what about the times when your PC is annoyed, tired, or just not a very friendly person to begin with?

Seeing choices that reflect this would be fantastic, and they’d offer so much in terms of character development! Such choices would allow for the exploration of the grey area in which the majority of people fall, but it can also serve as a foil for a character’s redeeming features, by, say, giving them the chance to apologise for being snappy. I’m fully aware that Choice of Games won’t tolerate anything described as deeply offensive, so while NPCs are allowed to be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., the PC may not be. That’s fine. But how far is the PC allowed to go? How much hostility can players stomach before the mean choice becomes unacceptable? Is there a social event horizon, as it were?

Opinions on this will differ, but that’s exactly why I think such a discussion would be useful. I’m curious to know what the community thinks!

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NPCs aren’t allowed to be racist, sexist, etc. if the game glorifies that or makes it impossible to be challenged.

In a similar manner, you could make your PC sexist or racist or what-have-you, but you’ve have to do it in such a way that it is obvious that they are wrong. Most games allow you to make your PC fantastically racist (by that I mean racist against a fictional race or species), which softens the blow by having no real-world equivalent.

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In my case, my core question is Why? If there is a plot reason for that behaviour if bring something to the table or is just to be edgy.
If there is no plot reason I have zero tolerance as I don’t enjoy that and the games are supposed to provoke a meaningful reaction and or be fun

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As long as the MC’s rudeness doesn’t fall into abusive or discriminatory behavior, there’s really no limit on how mean they can be.

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…if it does, is it challenged by the narrative? Is there no glorification, fetishisation or apologism toward it?

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as much as the story allow it . Cose personally, I don’t think it’s how much should I give the mc ropes to hang themself . But you are not writing in a vaccum, where you get reply choices to pick for lolz .

The reply even the mean ones, should fit with whatever offended or the mc personality is supposed to be .

There are mean reaction born from playing an evil character, a jerk, an asshole . Then there are mean irrational reaction just for the hell of it . Which often are just cringe worthy .

But if you are asking if the mc should be given options to be racist, homophobic…or even a rapist under the banner of ‘‘I’m the most evil of evil…look at my vilainy!’’ . That too fall under the discretion of the writer and the story it self .

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My preference is to never write that type of behavior to begin with, but yes, if it’s there, it needs to be challenged and shown as negative and unacceptable. :grin:

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What if it’s a villain story or one that has evil choices? Is there a need for it to “be challenged and shown as negative and unacceptable”?

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I always like games that show human nature as accurate as possible. And let’s be honest, humans suck. So I’d say there should be no limits as long as it doesn’t become exaggerated.

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So… what is the truth? There are real baby-eating murderers out there, you know. What’s “exaggerated?”

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Even though I’m very happy that most people don’t want to glorify bigotry and hatred, I’m also very uncomfortable with art being censored to ensure people’s opinion is moulded a certain way. I find the concept pretty terrifying.
Also, when writing stories that take place in the real world, like historical pieces for example, I think it would help to be allowed to depict things in a historically accurate manner. Example: 19th century Europe was very racist so a story taking place in London, 1810 should be allowed to depict at least a few racist characters.

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Yeah, but that’s in the publishing guidelines, so when you submit a story to HG or COG, you should know per the law that they’re not going to publish it if you have that content in what you submit. That’s your fault for overlooking their guidelines, not censorship.

Censorship is when the government, a publisher, or someone in control of what you create takes away your rights to produce it as it is. It is not “maybe you shouldn’t produce that kind of thing” or the general public telling you you’ve represented that thing badly and should change it. If they’re not able to legally force you to comply, it’s not censorship.

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Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient”.[2][3][4]Censorship can be conducted by a government,[5] private institutions, and corporations.

Governments[5] and private organizations may engage in censorship. Other groups or institutions may propose and petition for censorship.[6] When an individual such as an author or other creator engages in censorship of their own works or speech, it is referred to as self-censorship . It occurs in a variety of different media, including speech, books, music, films, and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet for a variety of claimed reasons including national security, to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech, to protect children or other vulnerable groups, to promote or restrict political or religious views, and to prevent slander and libel.

Edit: and “art being censored” includes self-censorship… Now, my inbox is open if you wish to discuss this further.

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Exactly as I said - groups can “petition” the publisher or government, not censor by themselves. Thank you for quoting a dictionary at me. An author cannot be “censored” by their readers or fans alone - if they choose to change their work due to pressure, that is self-censorship.

If you submit your racist or sexist story to HG or COG despite them saying they don’t want it, and they turn you down because it was in their right and rules to do so as publisher… that’s not censorship.

If you publish your racist or sexist story and fans tell you you’ve done a bad thing and should change it because it’s horrible, that is also not censorship.

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My opinion is that a villain MC can be well-written and make evil choices that aren’t abusive or discriminatory.

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Sorry my bad, I misread. I thought you two were talking about actions besides those.

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Personally, I love giving these kinds of responses as options; The Parenting Simulator in particular is riddled with chances to be snotty to your kid or others. Not cruel or abusive, but definitely snide. I would love to see stats about how often those choices get selected compared to the less colorful responses.

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This is a feminist, pro-LGBT company. Many, if not most, of the users and authors are feminists, or LGBT, or both. Many of them deal with bigotry on a daily basis. Many of them like these games for the sake of escapism. It’s not that they want to forbid anyone from creating bigoted characters, but sometimes it’s just nice to get away from it completely.

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Any kind of prejudice or abuse needs to be handled in a respectful and sensitive manner, so yes, I agree with you. I apologise if that wasn’t clear in my original post. As for fantastic racism, while it acts as a suitable allegory for other kinds of prejudice, it needs to be treated with just as much respect and sensitivity as any real-world issue. It is still prejudice, which means it would still be highly upsetting to many if treated lightly.

Haha, I personally like edgy individuals! In fact, many of my friends are edgy in some way or another. However, they’re people with depth and histories that have shaped their personalities and behaviour. I’d expect the same of edgy characters, so when it comes to NPCs that are all doom and gloom and woe is me for no reason… yeah, I liberally pour my hate all over them right beside you!

Let me answer your question this way: Would you like to be told how you should act? If a game only presented the player with polite, friendly, and modest answers, it’s taking away the player’s agency. If I was roleplaying as myself, yes, I would go for those kinds of answers, but in this situation, it wouldn’t be because I’m choosing those answers, but rather because the game is prescribing them. Having both polite and less polite options gives good contrast to the choices and makes the player’s experience more personalised.

Yuck, no, that’s not what I’m asking in the slightest! :cold_sweat: Villainy for the sake of villainy is something that’s been dealt with in other topics. No, I rather mean how mean the PC is allowed to be. As in, how much of a jerk. (I’d fully expect the NPCs to call the PC out for their meanness, though!)

I’m quoting this for the sole purpose of saying “YES” emphatically.

I feel that stories about villains are inherently better suited to traditional fiction than interactive fiction if for no other reason than that the majority of people don’t enjoy doing bad things. See, humans hate feeling guilty, and if you’re a villain, there must be people reacting adversely to your actions (else it can be seen as condoning villainy, to answer your question), which means the opportunity to feel guilt exists. Forcing players into that position won’t be appealling to many, but the player should at least be given the choice to pick their motivation.


@Laguz and @sarah1, do you mind if I point something out in each of your arguments? To be clear, this is merely my interpretation of what you’ve said, and I’m in no way trying to say, “You said x, y, and z.”

Sarah, it doesn’t seem to me like Laguz is actually proposing censorship. Since they’ve repeatedly indicated that any of the previously mentioned negative attitudes are allowed in CS games, provided that the game clearly shows these attitudes are wrong, I’d conclude they’re proposing quite the opposite, namely responsible portrayal of injustice.

Similarly, Laguz, I don’t think Sarah is in favour of writing fiction that condones or tolerates racist or sexist attitudes. From what I understand, they’re simply worried about the prospect of “pretending” injustice didn’t exist in certain historical settings, as ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It’s a valid concern, even though I feel not all games or novels need to address injustice, as escapism is certainly a main reason for many to seek out fiction of any kind.

I’m sure everyone here has good intentions, so it might perhaps be worth considering the spirit of someone’s argument, rather than just debating the technical details. In any case, this topic is intended for discussing “non-polite” actions and dialogue options for PCs in CS games; I’d love for you to channel your energy to that instead! :smile:


Seeing stats for those options would be fascinating, honestly. In life, we’re taught (whether by a mentor figure or simply experience) to be the better person and mind our tongue when we’re in frustrating situations, but in games and interactive fiction, we have the chance to indulge our anger or irritation without any lasting consequences. (Mind you, it wouldn’t go amiss to implement those consequences for the PC.) Picking the sassy option can be quite cathartic. :yum:

Well said! It’s why I’m not interested in hearing people’s opinions about bigotry — I’ve checked, and there are already topics on that — and would rather hear their opinions on things like sarcasm and standoffishness. I mean, I’ve seen and read many people express their affection for tsundere and “ice queen/king/monarch” characters who secretly have a heart of gold, but how often do we get to play as such a character? And not a present PC, but one we shape ourselves? I think that is a goldmine waiting to be unearthed, which is why I want to hear others’ thoughts.

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That here was for many years for me essence of interactive fiction. Choice. It’s supposed to offer different approaches and - depending how complex game is - different character builds. If there’s a choice players can’t stomach… it means there are other choices for them. One may see their angered character as sulky or snappy, others may see them getting violent and throwing a punch, so I always like to see when authors don’t self-censor themselves to the point where margin of choices becomes a very narrow one.

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