On the popularity of ROs and their gender

I am curious, however, why people choose some ROs over others?

Is there a certain kind of character people like? And from what I’ve seen (and read), female ROs do seem to have a large following – but what exactly do people like about the ROs they go after? Is it a chase of being interested in the character and wanting to know more about them?

And why is it that (from my own experience), the only way to get to know a character better is through romance? Frankly, there should be a way to get to know them better without the romance. But I do imagine this does play a role in which ones are more “popular.”

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Because there is limited time and space to write character interaction, if you write a good romance you need a lot of interactions put into that, and in a story you often just get the high lights of the relationship.

When we have non-romantic deep relationship they are often purposefully written to explore a very specific dynamic: Ie. a best friend, a sister or maybe even a student.

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It’s curious you bring up Female ROs being more popular than Male ones when this forum usually seems to skew towards the opposite. There’s like a 95% chance that if a character is gender-flippable they’ll be played (and romanced, because let’s be honest, the IF fanbase lives for romance) as male, and referred as so in forum posts and in asks in Tumblr. IMO Female ROs are the ones truly undervalued, or asked to be made flippable in some cases.

And on the topic of player base, I am a woman… who almost always plays male characters, and romance whoever I think more interesting—those numbers would look pretty much ‘random’ in all games were I to use Steam, so I feel like that argument doesn’t take into account the inherent diversity and versatility of any given player. Plus, even if the majority of fans were straight men (which is not the case), so what? I fail to see how that’s relevant to what’s being discussed TBH.

Moreover, as others have said, the game sample is too small and the data itself comes from Steam. Wouldn’t count that as too reliable of a statistic.

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In those situations, wouldn’t tidbits about other possible ROs be added in? Or could be added in, at any rate? I’ve also noticed many romances seem to be jumped into fairly quickly, before a reader knows the character, and that always came off a bit odd to me. Actually puts me off a character, more often than not, but that’s just me.

Just seems odd that bits and pieces of other main ROs aren’t sprinkled in just to give readers a bit more about them even when romancing the one they’re going after. Especailly if its a type of story where you’re within the same space as all the ROs a good deal of the time.

It’s something to ponder, that’s for sure.

Some dynamics of IF are things I’m working over.

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First of all, saying that you only get to know other characters through romancing them is a misnormer in the first place.

Character-based Hosted often have a lot of character based interaction. You just always get to know most of the characters even if you didn´t romance them. What does happens more often than not is that you get to know more/other if you romance them. That´s because the most economically way to write a romance in an if is as : normal friendship path + romance extra. a+ b is just bigger than just a. It´s pure writing economy. You could theoretically write a completely different romance and friendship path, but that is often not worth the time it takes to write.

Non-character based hosted and many COGs have a high plot concept which just take up more writing place to explain, which mean that often you have to choose which character you interact with. If character A and B is competeting about the limited character interaction space of a plot heavy concept, then naturally the reader are going to be attracted to the character which they instinctively like the most or want to romance. They are simply not going to interact with the other npc as much.

The third is faction-RO, where the NPC are representing factions and you are choosing in part because of what faction you want to support, but that is another can of worms and not that many IF´s does that, though bioware do like that approach.

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You make a good point.

And, yes, Bioware does this. A lot. And I think I’ve read more of the high plot stories and less of the romance-centered ones, which would explain my lack of awareness. I’m rather picky about which games I’ve read.

Though, video games are much the same. Sometimes people go after certain characters and don’t focus much on other ROS in them simply out of forgetfulness or a lack of interest in those characters. I, however, tend to talk to all my companions in any game.

Sometimes the most annoying character turns out to be the one I like the most later on.

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There is also, I think a very big difference in how and IF works and a regular videogame works. If we take an rpg, which is the genre most of us think of when it comes to video game romances, then it very often have a hub-structure where you can interact with the NPC at leasure and which takes place in a space where we have an eternity to act. It also rarely matters if you choose to do the interaction the first, fourht of fifth time you are physically in the hub.

Few text based IF have that hub (I can think of a few, which do.) And if they have a hub there is often a limit on the number of interaction you can do and even if that is true recalling how many interaction and how far along you are on the interaction tree happens even less. Which means that you have one chance for once interaction or else it is goodbye forever to that specific interaction. The reason for this is that these projects is one person projects and the number of variables you have to keep in mind if you don´t can quickly become overwhelming. Non-linarity can quickly ballon and it is much more simple to have a check which say - did x or y happen with only one option for x or y to happen.

If you want an example of where there is a mini-hub then shephards of haven, does do that. There are small intermission, so to speak where you choose between who you hang out with and other activities. But shephard of haven is shaping up to being a big game.

Reminds me of this video on an example of misleading statistics.

Statistics is hard indeed. A double-blind, all-control-variables-monitored experiment on the preference of male/female RO routes would be nice, but alas, researchers need months to prepare for this kind of studies.

Well, it made me want to do achievements for that so I’ll find out how things go for mine! But I will say, that the wlw group is large and vocal in my fanbase too…

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Hmm I don’t think you have a truly accurate sample with only a few games and only on Steam :thinking:
And well, people already gave plenty of reasons for that.

I will add though that I am a cis woman who only plays these on Steam, and I always have male MCs and only romance male ROs (or well, gender swappable set as male). And I have two friends who do the same.

I have seen people say female ROs are more flexible and written in a more interesting way, but it’s subjective. To me the female ROs almost always feel bland and uninteresting (this is solely MY opinion eh! I’m just saying that as a point - this is subjective). Only rarely I think a (not gender-swappable) female RO is actually interesting, though it wouldn’t be enough to make me want to select her. And well, if a RO is gender-swappable, I see no reason to make them female, basically.

Well, the first thing I need is for the RO to be male, though I can make exceptions for NB.
Past that, more often than not, I experience “love at first sight” for one of the ROs, usually the description alone is enough. Sometimes though, getting to know the ROs makes me change my opinion.
As fort that love, well, I like some archetypes that makes one character or the other more likely to be “the one”, and well, I dislike some archetypes too. And physical appeareance also plays a part in that, though more rarely. For example, I would never want to romance a bald character, and I usually hate bearded ones too, though I remember SOME exceptions. So yeah, even if these stories are text only, that still plays a part in my selections.

Also, I’m not a completionist as far as IF type games go, so I only romance the characters I’m interested in, and I veeeeery rarely do more than one romance per game.

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Romance games on mobile (Choices, Chapters, Episode, Lovestruck, Romance Club, etc.) heavily cater to straight women because that’s who their biggest audience is. So that’s another reason why I thought different platforms will have different demographics, but it’s true that we don’t know what COG’s overall playerbase is if you take all platforms into account.

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This is really not enough to go on to draw any sort of conclusion. As has been said before, those stats come from Steam specifically which only tracks which characters were selected on some games. This provides an unrepresentative sample of people who play CoG games because, to my mind, Steam has a more homogenous playe base as far as IF games go. Not to mention the small sample of games selected.

It is interesting to think about though. I think the only way to figure out which ROs are the most popular would be to administer some sort of survey asking participnats what their gender and sexuality is, as well as what gender character they prefer to romance in the games. The most consistent results night come from the forum here, but this would also exclude casual players who are only aware of CoG games from other store fronts. It is entirely likely that results would differ significantly based on what store the sample was drawn from.

Anyway, it would be very difficult to say what ROs are most popular and why without knowing who is selecting them and why, let alone how many actually are.

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i dont see how this is very important to what you choose in a game. it has some effect on choices tho

i dont know how to properly word this

but when i play CoG games i dont necessary make a character that is a straight male just because i am a straight male myself, i can create a character that is straight female.

to me in games like this. it is the story that matter
and sometimes i think that a strong female protagonist is the best choice to that story other times it might be a male protagonist that fits better

hope people dont get this wrong

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True, it doesn’t say what the person chooses to play as at all. But, if we wanted to draw conclusions about the demographics interested in certain ROs, that would be the way to do it. For example, the earlier idea that straight men must be the largest player base because female ROs are more popular on Steam. You wouldn’t be able to claim that unless you actually knew those details about the players, which you can’t get unless you ask.

Not that this should be done necessarily, this was just my take on how it could be done. Does that make sense?

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True i agree with you there :+1: