MC Age in IF

Just something I was wondering about, after reading a comment where someone expressed wanting to read a game with an older MC.

How do you feel about age customization in choicescript? In a story where age customization would exist, how responsive do you feel the story should be to the characters age?

In general, the “expected” age of a protagonist seems to be in the teenager young adult age range. What would you consider the age breakpoint for an “older” protagonist (since I know many people have expressed wanting older MCs)? Where do you think the breakpoints would be for different “life stages” for the lack of a better term (child, young adult, middle aged, elderly, etc)?

Would you be interested in playing a game with a younger than normal MC (think below high school aged)?

Not really going anywhere with this, just curious about the general sentiment of the choicescript community.


Depends on who is writing it, and if they actually understand that people over 35 aren’t half in the grave already. I’ve seen authors here describe 40-year-olds as gray-haired and gray-skinned, being wrinkly. Ummm…nope.

Frankly, I would rather be beaten with a wet noodle for days on end.

I’m going to leave “child” out, because I may piss some people off with the age I would choose for that (including past teenage me).

Young adult: 18-25
Adult (you don’t go right into middle aged!): 25-45
Middle aged: 46-75 (I want people to live to 140 and beat everyone around them with a cane–seriously, I know 75 year olds who could kick most of our asses)
Elderly: 76+


For me personally, I tend to skip books with younger protagonist. I can’t relate, and I’m just a more serious person in general. I’m 32 years old, with a job that has showed me how awful the world and humanity can be some times. And comedy is my least favorite genre. So when there is a story with a younger protagonist, I know some of the time the writing may rely on some tropes I just don’t like. Ex: MC who is shy, timid, inexperienced, or everything is played off like a joke and sarcasm is the default personality. Then generally, the story is a pass for me.

When it comes to older protagonist, there’s no limit there. I wouldn’t have a problem playing an 80 year old with all the wisdom in the world. It’s just more interesting IMO.


I liked Sixth Grade Detective - it’s a really nice, sweet middle-grade mystery.

I have had good feedback about the age choices in Honor Bound, where you can choose to be in mid-late twenties, thirties, or forties. I have various responsive bits, mostly to do with how characters treat the PC - some related to romance especially where there’s a larger gap in age or where they’re similar in age, some related to workplace dynamics and how kids behave with them - and to the PC’s past history. Obviously if they’re older they’ve had more of a life history so when the past comes up, there’s variation that comes both from their life paths and their age bracket. The band of options that I chose is one that is solidly “you are an adult with at least some years of adult life experience, and aren’t anywhere near retirement” but I think it would be a lot more challenging to go a lot younger or older than that in one game as that would need more branching to account for the more different life stages.

This made me laugh so much. Yes yes yes!

I would enjoy playing as a character in their sixties or above for sure.


I wouldn’t be interested in a younger than usual MC; I would not play that game.

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I agree with this. And one thing any writer should remember about writing older characters (i.e., ones that have life experience) is that it’s even more important to give a few personality stats to choose from, since people are shaped not only by their environment, but their experiences as well (this applies to all characters, really). The more experiences you have, the more they shape you. Some MCs could be broken in some way by those experiences, but others would just get more stubborn and stronger (“what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger–I can now bench press an eighteen wheeler”).

Just something to consider.


I am in my early twenties so if the character is a lot older than me I just cannot self insert at all, I prefer playing characters my age or slightly younger xd


I don’t self insert, so I have no problem playing characters that are vastly different from me, in fact sometimes I prefer that. That said, I have to relate to the character in at least some level. I’m in my early 30s, and I have developed a low tolerance for very young protagonists lately. Not trying to be that person but yeah, sometimes I just have to roll my eyes.

I tend to naturally age up characters in my head when I’m playing these games or reading conventional novels, even if their age is explicitly disclosed in the story. It seems almost impossible to escape the eternally teen protagonist.

I won’t say I’d never read stories set in schools or college, but I do feel I have less and less tolerance for those.


It’s best for me if MC was around my age. However, I can play character in their early or even mid 30s, not older. And a character about 18-20, but not younger.

It definitely depends on the story. With children younger than 18, and especially for children younger than 13, you’re not in full control of your life. Your parents or guardians control your conditions to at least some degree. So it’s an interesting challenge to overcome for a player character. Might do best for a Golden Compass type story where the main struggle is against dangerous authority figures.

For stories with older adults, it’s the opposite sort of challenge. With age comes experience, resources, contacts, a certain degree of mastery of your skills, and the challenge becomes how you decide to best use your resources.

First, it’s not a very convenient place from a storytelling perspective. It would be easier to start with a raw beginner or newcomer to a situation to be able to get the reader accustomed to the setting. Second, it can be less dramatic and exciting to play a general moving troops around a map than to play as one of those troops engaged in life-or-death struggles. So the author would have some work ahead of them to devise a good story around such a character. I think Tower Behind the Moon did this really well, and I’m sure there are others.


Unless i can become a chad muscular gramps, i’ll keep being twenties i guess. I think it should affect how the mc will think and act, and how the others will react is enough.

The older should be 50+ since that’s where your body and minds change drastically (at least that’s what i see from my family most of the time)
I think the life stages should be like this:
Children: 4 - 14
Young: 15 - 17
Young adult: 18 - 29
Adult: 30 - 49
Elder: 50 and upper

I don’t mind. Well it’s a fresh one since it’s rare and most author only use it as prologue, i just hope… the mc is not being cringe tho and it’ll probably difficult to write

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Id play younger, id also play something that takes times throughout the whole life. When an age isn’t specified, I tend to assume 20’s, cause thats my age. People with more history and experience being in the upper 20’s, while more naive or inexperienced characters leaning toward the lower 20’s

I’ve been thinking to give some age customization in one of my projects, where it would affect your stats (the younger you are, the less time you’ve had to develop your skills) but it’d be somewhat limited and depend on your chosen background (because you need to be of certain age to be on certain ones). But. It wouldn’t be very specific, because I don’t see a point to make it so. In that project, that is. Doesn’t mean some other project couldn’t benefit from a specific age.

…deep wrinkles, right? Because 35-year-olds totally can have faint ones.

I’d play a game with a child protagonist if it’s written well, no question. I like children’s books, after all.

I’ve seen IF’s before where your MC starts off as a child and then ages up gradually throughout the story…the only one I played that I liked who did that was The Passenger.

Your MC was only very young for a tiny part of the story and then you were mid-twenties. In terms of games/books a lot choose that age (25-30) as it’s considered a good one due to the life stages and romantic perils people go through in their twenties haha.

I couldn’t relate to teenage drama tbh. And high school just brings back bad memories ugh nope.

Basically I prefer playing an MC who’s from 20-40 for personal preference. :slight_smile:


Personally I have to be in a very specific mood to want to play a game where the MC and cast of characters are children or high school students throughout the entire story. And I’ve only ever played demos of such stories, never purchased the actual game.

But I find myself hyped when there is a “Childhood Arc” and we get to see our character grow. Hell, if the writing is halfway decent and the plot is thick and syrupy enough, I’ll throw my money at it right then and there. I love background and growth. Especially if there’s a cast with us.

I would not play an elderly character, nor anybody 45+ unless we’re immortal or if we’re specifically called out for being very hot. Yes it’s shallow, but I’m pretty vain and I find that I push that onto any characters I play as too— be it RPGs, FPS’s or such (I’m the type to mod the absolute crap out of any character customisation even if it breaks the game for immersion lol). So they have to be attractive, and I’ve only met men I’m attracted to over 45 and tend to play as a woman.

I think the best way around this is to give players a choice to choose their own ages that you’re comfortable writing about in their entirety, and making those age choices count.

But that’s a lot of work.


It depends on a number of things: whether or not you’ve taken care of your skin throughout your life, if you protect your skin from the sun, if you smoke, etc. I’m over 50 and have no wrinkles at all, because I’ve always taken care of my skin, and I always stayed out of the sun or wore SPF50 because I’m very pale and burn easily.

By the same token, I have seen 30 year olds that look way older than me, and are already getting that wrinkled leathery look because they worship the sun and don’t know what “moisturize” means…


Obviously, it depends; but I definitely did have some faint lines at the corners of my eyes at 35. I said can, not must. (And I’ve always otherwise looked younger than I am.)

I’ve hardly ever seen IFs where the MC is actually younger and stays that age, they always age up, the majority I’ve read have MC that are in their mid-twenties to their late-thirties, IFs with younger protagonists (teen years) seem rare

I would love to play as a character of any age (except for the elderly). I’ve seen only few games where MC is a child (7-10 maybe), it seems to me that the problem is the limited topics. Something truly global cannot happen to a child, where he himself can make a firm decision and accept the consequences. Therefore, most games where MC is a child or a teenager(7-17) are ridiculous comedies, with stupid jokes.

Seems pretty accurate to me, particularly given retirement age is continually creeping up in the US. It’s at 67, so no, you’re not ready to step into the grave at 40 just because you’re 40 as seems to be the case in so many IFs. I think, though, that a lot of the time it’s a consequence/indication of the age of the authors or the age they were when they first began writing or plotting out the story.

And regarding this, some of those personality stats should be lockable or have the option to be lockable. There are some things that you don’t get over, or that stop changing at a certain point for whatever reason.

I disagree to an extent. People have to start over all the time. New life stages always bring new challenges, but outside of that there could be numerous other issues going on. Having to start an alternate career, having a long term relationship end, having to take over as a parent’s caregiver…these would lead to very different types of stories, but not necessarily less compelling ones. Just because you have experiences with, knowledge of and resources for a certain set of situations doesn’t mean you won’t be confronted with something that is completely alien to all of your prior accumulated bases of behaviour/ability.