Non binary representation expectations

Warning: Long post ahead.

I am currently writing a WIP in ChoiceScript.

It currently does not have an any non-binary representation at all right now, and I have not coded non-binary as a gender identity for the MC. I wanted to make more progress on the plot before tackling harder coding challenges. But I feel a bit more code competent now (well, less hopeless, anyway).

My story is Medieval-ish fantasy, with social mores reminiscent of standard medieval gender takes but also VERY different in key ways because of the role of magic in society.

If you’re a non-binary person, what are you looking for in terms of representation? What would satisfy you in a game? I have listed some features below. Some are easier than others. Please suggest others if you can think of features

-Pronouns. Are they/them sufficient?
-To be honest, I find the use of a plural-looking pronoun aesthetically irritating. I feel like I might even make up something like ei/eis/eim just to avoid having to use “they”. But that’s just me lol. It might be jarring for you, the audience. I don’t know.

Other features in rough order of increasing complexity.

  1. I expect the baseline is that you are able to identify as non-binary in your internal dialogue.

  2. Societal recognition. The culture of the setting acknowledges you as non-binary. This can be more complicated, where society doesn’t recognise you as NB but your closest kin/friends do, or wider society does, but your closest kin/friends are part of a subculture that does not, but assume for now all in story characters recognise non binary as a gender identity.

  3. Character/emotional arcs involving gender identity. E.g. “coming out arc” (to be honest, I will probably not implement 3 because I am lazy and gender identity is not a focal theme of my story anyway)

  4. Non-binary characters have separate gender roles and expectations. I feel like in a fully realised world, just as men and women have gender stereotypes (men provide, women take care of the home, men are action oriented, women are peacemakers) a world that acknowledges non-binary people they would have their own stereotypes, roles, expectations, etc. I make no comment on whether these stereotypes are true, only that they exist as cultural assumptions.

  • If I were to implement something like this in my story, maybe non-binary gender stereotypes might be seen as more fervent in religious duties or be seen as more likely to be part of the artistic and creative class. But that’s just an example.
  1. Having other background characters be non binary.
  2. Having significant non-player characters be non-binary. I don’t have any significant non-binary characters at the moment. The draft is probably only 20% done, and no doubt I will need to create other characters at least half-way important to the later plot. Some could be non-binary. I haven’t put much thought into this.
  3. Having non-binary love interests. This is probably hardest, and I honestly don’t have any love interests that are non binary planned (and I already have SEVEN possible love interests arrrrrrgggggggg). All my current love interests are gender-locked. This feature is probably the hardest because writing a fully realised and fleshed out non-binary character involves work, research, and a careful attention to realistic depictions, etc. I’m not gonna lie, thinking about the work involved intimidates me.

What features would you expect as minimum, what would satisfy you, and what would be “above and beyond?” Are there any other story features that would effectively contribute to representation?

I do apologise for if the above list is reductive. In fact, it probably is. But please shoot your thoughts through! For example, would you be satisfied with 1, 2, 4 and 5? Or maybe 1, 2 and 7? Are all of these features necessary? Have I left out something important?

Other notes, probably irrelevant, but may influence the scope of what I can include in the game:


-Currently, the game does allow for you to be trans, within it’s own cultural framework. The founding story of the nation was that the East and West of the continent was at war, then the rulers managed to forge a truce and marry and unite their kingdoms. One of the rulers was male but changed their sex (with magic) to female to facilitate a union with children. This first queen is looked on as someone selfless, brave, and worthy of general admiration.

-Gender is seen as a tool, especially by the upper class. Children of important families might be expected to change their sex to enable male bloodline succession, if the family doesn’t have any sons, for example, or change their sex to enable strategic marriages and alliances. Children for whom this possibility is likely will be raised and taught the etiquette for both genders. This is culturally accepted and seen as a necessary evil and a duty.

-Ironically, the lower classes may see gender-changing usually as a frivolous thing done by the rich or artisans, and not something that touches them in their ordinary lives. Your character starts off as a peasant.

-Gender roles are medieval patriarchal but not quite as strict. Sometimes women can inherit, sometimes not. The East is generally more liberal than the West. Women are less likely to do hard labour and are exempt from conscription. Women do sometimes serve as knights, and can climb the highest ranks of all religious orders. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.

-Same-sex relationships are accepted, and seen as legitimate, but cannot produce children. There is magic that allows you to “adopt” a child/person and give them some of your genetics/bloodline, but these children are implicitly not seen as legitimate as true born children. They’re better than bastards, of course but…

The question of how involved I want the non-binary thing to be depends on how involved gender and indentity is in the story.

To give an example: If the main focus is fighting a dragon, then being able to state I am non-binary once and then it never comes up again would be fine, because the main focus is fighting a dragon and my gender(s) are irrelveant for that. But once we get blodlines (and thus have to grabble with sexuality and by proxy gender) it does need a little more consideration.

Them/they are fine. Though since you have she/he pronouns in it it would be better to also open them up to non-binary people - they are after all, already coded in. If you make your own pronouns you need to have a clear idea of why these prounouns exist, since they are not ours prounouns which means that culturally your fantasy society have a different understanding of gender. That also means non-binary npcs.

If you are not non-binary yourself I would skip a coming out arc - the same for all other sexuality and genders. It would take too much focus in your story as you describe it. (Also, you are never done coming out.). though if you have a coming out for a binary trans character you need one for non-binary too.

Yes, if non-binary people and other transpeople are out in the open, there would definitly be gender stereotypes connected to it.

A non-binary love would be nice, but most don´t include that, honest. That said if you have seven people it means that you already have an unequal number of men and women, so you could change one of them to non-binary if you want to. (Just a suggestion, you absolutely don´t have to. Most authors don´t even bother trying.)


Hi, thanks for your response!!

It has given me lots of food for thought :slight_smile:

They/them is sufficient, although it’s nice to have more options. I know some games allow you to input your own set of pronouns, but I don’t know how difficult that would be to code.

To me, the most important thing (other than internal dialogue) is having other non-binary characters, as it can feel very othering playing the only non-binary character in a world. Other characters being non-binary doesn’t have to be a big thing there’s a lot of in-game discussion about, just having a couple of characters who use they/them pronouns makes me feel more comfortable and included in a game. (In-game discussion is fine, but I would caution against turning their introduction into a “Gender 101” lesson where they immediately begin explaining that they don’t identify as male or female, which I’ve seen writers do before.) I’d say a couple of minor background characters being non-binary would be the minimum, I’d want at least one significant non-player character (preferably a love interest) to be really satisfied.

Re social recognition: Personally, I’d be happy to see a game where society as a whole doesn’t recognise your gender identity, and you’re only Out to close friends, but this will likely put quite a few non-binary people off your game, as a lot of people play video games for the escapism of things like being misgendered in real life. It also seems a big hassle to code and something that would need some sensitivity, if this is your first game, I’d recommend having all characters recognise non-binary as a gender identity. (If you wanted, you could perhaps have a villain or old fashioned set-in-their-ways character refuse to recognise it, but in that case, I’d very much recommend warning players about misgendering at the start of the game.)

Non-binary characters having seperate gender roles, expectations and stereotypes would be really cool to see, if you’re happy to do that, but it’s well above the minimum.


Hmmmm I will definitely think on introducing significant non-binary characters then! Like changing the world so that nonbinary people r “part of the social structure of society” so to speak, makes most intuitive sense to me as a worldbuilder and is paradoxically easier… writing individual non binary characters for me feels harder and I have no idea why lol