Currently writing a story now and am having a bit of trouble in this situation.
Real brief backstory so we are all on the same sheet of music, I’m a straight male writing a story that has a medieval fantasy setting. As this takes place during this time period, heterosexuality is the established norm for virtually all humans with only the non-human creatures openly accepting it, and of them only the various iteration of Elves actively participating in it to a large degree.
While there are characters that are non-binary in the game (most being Angels and the like due to the majority of them not having a corporeal form for the mortal plane) or choose their gender, I haven’t seen a way to establish that as being “ok” for the MC.
While I could include it as just a throw away option, I am trying to have an interactive journey in the story where all included options actually matter.
For example, the character’s gender, skin color, build, and sexuality have already had specific routes that will be open or closed based on what the player chooses, and will have an impact on your party members as well as how the world around you views you overall.
I feel like just having a character that has “they/them” pronouns just to have those pronouns in-game is a bit pandering, especially if its never commented on or brought up ever again. Any help with this vexing situation is most appreciated as how it currently stands it may not be included and I feel that that would be a shame.
I understand that, and for a good while I was thinking about just not including it because of said reason. Still, I do think it kind of leaves things out if a certain number of people aren’t given the option to superimpose themselves onto their character. Like I said, I may not include it, but I wanted to get potential help from all of you to see about avoiding that.
Like I said, if the only thing there is just the fact that its there, then in my opinion that is just superfluous. What’s more, I have every intention of making all other choices matter to the tailoring of the game so that would make the fact that this option has no added traits other than that its there even more glaring.
If you’re really set on your world being European medieval times-based and cis-centered and still have nb in it, then you can make an option for what we actually do in real life if we live in places that don’t accept non-binary identifications (culturally, my country doesn’t, we’re very accepting of trans and queer folks, but nb? talk to people about it and they’ll look at you very weirdly)…
Give the MC an option to identify as one in their head, despite what the rest of the world see them as, despite what pronouns the rest of the world use for them. (For example, “I’m a man”, "I’m a woman’, and “I’m seen as a [gender], but I’ve always thought of myself as neither, and found it odd how people are so stuck on that part of myself.” That way, you can keep them in the closet and still have people react to them in a binary way, if you want. I’m not saying that this is a palatable idea for many nb folks, but it’s a way to do it with less coding hassles.
And if you want it to affect what they do, well…it can affect a lot? Being nb is as integral to us as being a man/woman is to cis people. The sky’s the limit. They can be very confused about what they are, if there are no role models in society. They might think they’re crazy. If the MC tells their party members, it can have as much of an impact as other personal things they tell them. A character in an insular society that never heard of such a thing before might be very puzzled. They might try to figure it out with the MC (trust me, being nb can be really confusing). Or they might, as a number of assholes in the real world do, accuse the MC of being off their rocker and lead to an inner-party dispute about their sanity. However! Since that is not fun for everyone (I enjoy overcoming a well-written asshole, but not all people do) you can have the MC struggling with UNDERSTANDING why people are so insistent on gender and how gender matters. You can have them not UNDERSTANDING how they are seen as their physical gender, not fully. That’s more important to the nb experience than just chafing under gender roles. And there are NB beings in the game, correct? You can have them identify more with beings who are, and have closer rapport with or wish to be like them.
And lastly : if the game is fantasy-ish, consider incorporating elements from culture that aren’t necessarily Popular European Medieval? It’s your world, if there are ELVES in it, there’s no reason why it should need to follow the standard model to the letter. History is more diverse than you think. If THAT is what you want, go for it, but there isn’t just any one way if you truly want nb.
EDIT : Disclosure, while I’ve played nb often in these games, I rarely play as ‘myself’, so a lot of these might be…invalid for people who do prefer to play as themselves to enjoy the story.
I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what your question is. Could you be a bit more specific, please? I mean, I don’t follow the conection between the pronouns stuff and the example you gave about a characters’ gender, skin and etc having impact in the game.
Well to be fair, for the sake of simplicity, I’ve kind of lump summed all individuals that aren’t strictly man/male or woman/female into the non-binary format. Situations like trans and queer are considered the same in only the fact that it would indeed be a foreign concept.
That’s an interesting point. In fact, due to some story-related situations that are very fun as they progress, this has given me an “in-game” reason for why they would be having said non-binary situation. * jots notes down *
This goes to another question I’d love to get your feedback on. In the game there will be a number of “unpalatable” scenarios happening for all characters to experience, some quite offensive and alarming. There will also be a “Free” version of the game that essentially bypasses all of these things and has a much more “idyllic” recounting of the story. I may have the whole “non-binary issue” thrown in there as the aforementioned pandering non-entity that is never mentioned outside the “they/them” pronouns. Do you feel that would be pleasing for you as an NB?
I like it, I like it. Uh huh, uh huh… * makes more notes *
This was actually what I was looking for when I made the topic so much is appreciated
There is actually a NB character that you can have as a party member in this first part of the game. Depending on situations and scenarios, the player will have the option of that member having the “form” of a male or female, but they will not identify as either. What’s more, due to the situation surrounding them, having your character as NB as well would be a fascinating read due to your different origins. This is interesting. Very interesting.
That is fair. As I said before though, while certainly things will be fantastical, there needs to be some level of rooting happening. I’m not a fan of just having jarring inclusions for the sake of having inclusions.
Honestly, these points have been VERY helpful in crafting that side of the story. Your help was very appreciated.
In-game, a female character will have a different experience than a male character while a black skinned character will have a different experience than a white character. A gay character will have different experiences than a straight character. Some of these different experiences will translate to stat alterations while others will be character interactions (one character may not take you seriously if you are a woman while another may only respect you if you are one). Some of these will branch off into different story options that will only happen if your character has that type of interaction with that specific character.
It is a bear of a story concept but something I am eager to do.
Yes, I get this but if you’re going to make different experiences then I take that your question isn’t about wether to put an nb option or not, is the pronouns they/them? Because if it is, using myself as example, my language doesn’t have this pronoun (I mean, it can NEVER be used in singular because it already implies the person’s gender, as “ele” (he), for they would be “eles” (like… “heS”, using an S to say that there is a group of males. The same goes for females but with the word “ela”). So people never call me by my pronouns because it doesn’t exist here. It’s always she or he (at max, they use “that person” to be neutral). Aside from that, not all nb people use neutral pronouns, some are just happy using he or she (in my own case, I use both, since there is no in-between where I live). So if your question is “in this society people wouldn’t use ‘they’”, then I hope it helps.
If your question is about something different for a nb route, then @snowgoose already said plenty things that might help you. It’s probably what used to help with people in medieval age until they were killed or decided to live as something they weren’t.
Once again, maybe it’s the language barrier but I’m not sure if I understand but if I get it right… I enjoy both “free” games where nobody have issues about my mc being nb and “realistic” games where they do get bothered by MC. As everything, from gender to skin colour, sexuality and stuff will have impact in your game, then I surely don’t mind playing as nb even if people treat me bad. I mean, it already happens in real life lol at least in-game I can react in some other way than just being sad.
On a side note, I must say that I rarely play a game where I can be nb but no other characters are nb, as NB. Games as such “you can have 8 romance characters, 4 male and 4 female” and giving no hint of even side-characters that are NB aren’t my thing to play with my real gender. I don’t like to feel I’m the only person on earth that is NB. So I pick a binary choice.
On ANOTHER side note, have you played Heart of the House? For me this is the best game about NB inclusion.
Danke. My ultimate goal is to make my game so immersive it spoils everyone and therefor makes me the best! (I say tongue in cheek)
Now that I’ve recently gotten a hold of the coding side of things, I realized this labor of love better get all the stars or I’m flipping some tables lol jk jk
Well the primary issue was indeed whether or not to include NB MCs. Since I’m a straight man who is pretty much not at all involved or interested personally in anything other than a woman, coming up with ideas for how to organically allow a NB MC (ie. trans, queer, or actually non-binary) to exist was legitimately grating and I was very much considering just not including it. You all have given me some perspective, and for that I thank you.
As for the “they/them” scenario, that is a whole other can of worms I have to consider. I think I may stick with the “they/them” pronouns for ease and simplicity as other characters that fit that specific variation of NB will float between “they/them” and “it”. I doubt very much a person would like to be referred to as an “it” so its easier to just concede the “they/them” variations.
Maybe. Never heard of NB individuals ever outside of the mid-late 2000’s but that is a different topic entirely that I’m not at all interested in getting into.
To be clear, I mean that there will be two separate iterations of the game.
The full-game will be the “Paid” version of the game. In this version, you will have the full game without anything skipped as well as the full experience.
The free version of the game will have a good majority of the game shortened or skipped and will have a different tone overall. One such tonal change would likely be how the world viewed your character. Instead of the varied and nuanced lines you’d see in the paid version, the free version would be a plain and cookie-cutter situation where gender, sexuality, or race would have no bearing save the initial descriptors as well as the pronouns. Its meant to be limiting as its free.
To be clear, there are nb characters. Just none of them are human. Take that for what you will.
I haven’t played that actually. What did you find that stood out as positive NB inclusion?
Well, the easiest thing to do would be to have “people see me as X, but I view myself as Y” and then just have the player count as X for all purposes except narration. I wouldn’t consider that very satisfying but I’ll leave the question of whether it’s better than nothing to others.
Otherwise, you’ll need to decide what impacts being openly nonbinary would have and handle them. There’s an enormous range of options; for instance if angels are nonbinary then nonbinary people could be viewed as closer to the divine (the player character does not have to agree).
i think introducing a nonbinary character would be possible but would take a lot of work. Especially if you have romanitc options and the characters have set sexualities
(snowgoose had some pretty rad ideas tbh)
another good idea.
throws money at the screen gimmie
keep in mind you’re not going to please everyone so the try not to feel like you’re obligated or pressured into adding things (this goes for anything/everything) and burn yourself out
Personally, I’m up for unpalatable scenarios happening. Nothing like adversity to create some great drama and character growth. And…to be honest, there’s plenty of games that LET me play nb. But there are few games that let me DEFINE what being nb means to my character in that setting, with all the challenges that come with it. So yeah…while there are some ways you can do this that can be unpalatable to me (overdoing a theme until it becomes ‘a story of our oppression’, for example, or treating the subject with strawman characters, or not giving you the option to decide what to feel about adversity), I’m pretty down for it.
I do know that some people aren’t up for that shit in their games, though, so…you might want to ask around? Not all people respond to things the same way, so.
Okay, that’s actually very fine with me! As long as you’re sure that’s exactly what you want, I’m glad to be of help.
Now that I read that back…sorry if I sound a tad aggressive? It wasn’t intended, by the way. I’ve had…bad experiences with people who use ‘but my history!’ in medieval-themed games, so the knee jerk reaction was strong with me even if I was intending to be polite.
Maybe NBs are seen as that world’s equivalent of people in the goth phase calling themselves vampires! (/joke)
None of this is REALLY spoiler but I’ll blurry it just in case
Well, the game happens during 1870’s. It starts saying that our uncle (that raises the MC) is understanding and let us pick whatever clothing we like better if we choose to be NB (there’s also the option to be a binary trans). It’s already saying that not everybody is like the uncle.
Then, there’s a Nb character (that’s also a RO) that in my opinion is very interesting. They aren’t the standard “looks male” sort of character people usually make when they think about non-binary character. Loren (their name) has long hair, for example. Their boss call them “they” but there’s a girl in this game that refuses to do so, keeps calling Loren “she” and “girl”. Loren gets sad and begs you to not pay that girl attention and use they/them. At this point, if you’re playing as NB, you get to even say “don’t worry, I get that myself sometimes too”. There’s a scene where you can have Loren to assist you to get dressed and it is said something like “it’s good, since none of you have nothing to say about each others bodies” when playing as NB.
The games isn’t TOO impactant for the MC, it’s more about Loren but as you can see, it is there. Besides that, the game also have a few different scenes if you play as gay or lesbian and it is said that people don’t look well at your assistant because of his skin colour so in my opinion it’s a great game in inclusion of many aspects. Definitly my favourite in NB ones.
This is a piece of the Heart of the House’s author interview:
“On a more personal note, there were certain things I felt strongly about portraying in Heart of the House – like mental health issues and certain elements of gender and sexuality – that are particularly challenging in a Victorian setting. Not because the Victorians were unfamiliar with them, but because the vocabulary was often absent, and social norms were so strict. A panic disorder could be considered an embarrassing but acceptable nervous affliction (if you were fortunate enough to have money and family support) – and at the same time, not meeting society’s ridiculously stringent requirements for gender presentation might well be considered a sign of madness.”
I would recommend either doing a lot of research or not going into it beyond pronoun swaps. I generally expect people would want it done well and carefully.
For pronouns, singular they is more or less standard (some people actually do prefer ‘it’ but mostly ‘it’ is used to refer to things, not people, and the connotation of using ‘it’ is generally that the speaker doesn’t consider the subject a person) but there are also a great many other pronoun sets of varying popularity. You could add an option to go through a series of text boxes to specify pronouns, but that would be annoyingly time-consuming for the player so include ‘they’ as a default option.
Just a random thought, but perhaps a non-binary MC could’ve, for whatever reason, been raised by Angels, or some other genderless species. That way the child would’ve essentially been raised non-binary. It would make sense for the species to refer to the child as “they” rather than “he” or “she”, because that’s most likely how they’d refer to themselves and each other. Then, if the subject of being non-binary ever gets raised in the game, the MC can just explain that, in the culture of it’s adopted species, gender isn’t considered important.
I certainly appreciate the sentiment but like I said I’m not going to “just” do pronoun swaps. As for the research, that’s what you guys are here for!
In all seriousness, while I will work to make the NB experience as detailed as possible, I also have to keep in mind that the number of NB that will play as such may not be high enough to warrant a super detailed research into the inner psyche of a person that is NB outside of opening topics such as this and getting (hopefully) a few NB individuals to give me how they feel and what they feel in most situations.
I agree. Though I may consider doing that for the free version since it won’t matter anyway. For the paid version it similarly won’t matter though that is more to the fact that the player will either masquerade as their predifined gender or deal with individuals that don’t care enough. Depends on how I feel as I write it, I guess. If it adds more story development to have the other characters make an effort to call this male looking character male without messing up the flow of the characters themselves, then I may include it. Otherwise that may be a point of contention between the MC and a potentially egregious character.
Example is a character named Harry who is super kindhearted but just as dumb as bricks. He’s the type to defend your character being called whatever pronoun they want… while accidentally calling them he or she. (“Hey! If she wants to be called “they”, just call her they. It ain’t that hard! There you go, miss.”)
Alas that can’t happen. The primary issue with that, besides that it caters to one type of character gender (would be jarring for male/female characters to have to be called “they”) is that Angels reside on another plane of existence and don’t normally bother with the dealings of Mortals. On rare occasions they do but even in those instances its only to handle a specific thing and then they leave.
Also, story-wise, your character’s upbringing is specific to an area and that has already been mapped out.
It does give me some ideas for other characters though… * makes more notes *
@Nael That kind of reminds me of a scene dealing with the MC and a character they are “raised” by. It happens a little differently though.
Interesting. It feels a bit more in-depth than most other games so, for the sake of thoroughness, I’ll consider looking into it.
That’s no problem. Didn’t feel aggressive to me at least. I know that gender issues are very sensitive which is why I’m talking about this strictly from the perspective of a writer adding content for the reader and not taking or trying to give anything personal. You’re fine.
Which is why I have the free version. While it is shorter and more limited, its meant for people that are sensitive to offensive material. Again, this game will not be appealing for many due to some of the topics included so having an “alternate take” of how it plays, I feel, is warranted.
This makes me happy to hear.
Side question: How large would you say the NB (trans, queer, non-binary) community is? There have been enough things included so far in this topic that I am going to make that part of the game (don’t worry) but I’d feel better knowing I’m not writing for only 2 people lol
Das ist true. I’m writing for me with everyone in mind, if that makes sense. I do appreciate the sentiment though. Makes me feel better about that fact
That’s an interesting point. I was already thinking of included some lines for a homosexual character but there may be some things there for a NB character as well. Very interesting… * jots more notes * You guys are on fire. Much appreciated.
I would say the one reason most of the western world (where the majority of the humans live) doesn’t take to non-cis hetero is because of the standard religious situation. Their argument, despite Angels being varied in gender and appearance, is that Angels are not predefined the same way humans are, therefor their “fluidity” isn’t held to the same scrutiny as humans are. Its understandably bs but they’ve never really thought about it outside that lens.
Do keep in mind that since you’re writing this world you can alter any of its properties as you see fit, so long as it maintains internal consistency in the end product. Obviously there’s limits to how much a society with strong binary gender roles will accept nonbinary people, but you can introduce various specific or partial exceptions for nonbinary people or have a de facto variation where there’s a place for nonbinary people in a group that just doesn’t acknowledge they’re breaching gender roles.
There were a number of women (well, we don’t know how they identified; the accounts are second-hand) who became Byzantine monks, for instance.
What do you mean by this exactly? I imagine gender roles are very different compared to established genders themselves. From my understanding a “gender role” is man=provider / woman=caregiver. While those will be in-game, it will be much more muted in execution. Again, certain characters will have specific reactions to a female character as opposed to a male character but both will be have an engaging and enjoyable playthrough of the game