Polls about COG, HG, and IF games

Its not about “failure”, it’s not like you attack someone you know you have no chance of winning.

More like, there’s an antagonist in game and you hate them so much. After few hours, you find them alone and helpless. Book gives you harm/kill option, they fight back obviously. After a few mins they escape because a police officer came here to take his wallet and we’re distracted for a few seconds. And all this happens because that character is plot important and can’t die at this point.

That’s what I’m frustated at, if they need to survive don’t provide us perfect place to harm/kill them at very first place

I see. So what you’re frustrated about is railroading you into a situation with a bait and switch. Thanks for clarifying.


Voted I put that in my story and that it’s awesome, because if I hadn’t put that as a choice in the story, it wouldn’t have led to a horrible death for the reader and that’s even more awesome.


When you play a game, do you play as a self insert (as best as you can within the story’s confines) or a separate character that exists within the story’s setting?

  • I play as a self insert
  • I play as a character completely separate from myself
  • I play as a character that shares some characteristics with me but is not me
  • I have no preference
  • Other

0 voters


writing characters has always been my strongest trait as a writer and playing interactive fiction as my original characters has helped make me even better at it (in my own opinion anyway). plus, i get easily frustrated playing as a self-insert for the vast majority of IF.

let alone the fact that there are still plenty of games that only have male/female gender options, i don’t like opening myself up to immersion breaks–which this format is riddled with when i play as myself. it’s just easier and more satisfying to play as other (fictional) people since i can potentially learn things about their personality by placing them in settings and situations I would never write. plus, i don’t have to deal with moments like “p sure i selected dark skin but ok, let’s pretend my face turned ‘bright red’ :roll_eyes:” or “yeah, where is the option to stress cry? i need the option to stress cry” or “i am way too much of a noisy [insert political ideology] for this entire scene to even be possible” or “i’m sarcastic, not needlessly mean” or “ok i can tell where this plot is going, so i would never choose any of these things” or–

you get the idea :laughing: the majority of my favorite COG and HG titles I have replayed as so many original characters but had to give up and quit mid-playthrough as a self-insert 'cause i was getting annoyed


A little extracted quote from wikipedia:
A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game ;[1][2] abbreviated RPG ) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making regarding character development.[3] Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.[4]

According to that you play a role, you assume the role of characters, you aren’t supposed to be the character.

Edit: I don’t want to sound like I want to argue about it as I’m questioning it for myself too.


Some people like to play as self inserts rather than play a character, hence why I created the poll. I was interested to see the results.


I should probably clarify that the ‘share some characteristics’ was referring to - in my head - personality traits instead of physical appearance. Whoops. :sweat_smile: I wanted to leave it ambiguous since people would defines characteristics differently, so thanks for the reply. :slight_smile:

I can understand that, but some times I see it difficult because the mc can do some things different as how the reader would. That may be somehow fixable by the writer but to what extent? traits and emotions are wildly mixed differently on each of us, how can you write that so every single player could insert itself on the game and not being put out of the immersion because some thing they wouldn’t accept as some choice/action/trait/whatever that they would not agree on?..

You can’t. Simple as that. You can’t account for every single reaction, even for a triple A game with a big budget behind it.

At some point in the story, the reader has to surrender - for lack of a better word - to the premise of the story. Or else there would be no story. Mass Effect wouldn’t be the same story if BioWare allowed the player to say ‘nope’ and quit at any point in the story.

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Exactly, so even if you say you’ll play as if you would be inserting yourself on the game you are failing to do so because of the lack of choices that wouldn’t adapt to what you would really do, so in essence you are just playing as someone else with a given spectrum of limited choices? or you would just stop playing at the moment you read the options and say, nope, I wouldn’t do any of that, I’m out…

If I’m going to deep just let me know, I don’t want to be annoying. (I have to go, no internet at new home, see you tomorrow)

I personally don’t play as self inserts because of that reason - I have limited options of how to act within the story’s confines - and because I find it interesting to play as someone slightly different. The core is still the same (chaotic neutral, sarcastic, persuasive, etc.) if it’s presented, but I’ll allow the author to lead me on the adventure for one reason or another. And if at some point I don’t agree with a decision that strongly, I stop playing. If it’s a demo, I leave a suggestion about it and go on my merry way.

And no worries. Don’t apologize. It’s a lovely discussion. See you soon and keep safe. :slight_smile:


I voted that I play as a different character with some of my own personality traits, but I think when people say they’re playing as self-inserts, they’re not saying “I’m playing as the mid-twenties female 21st century writer I am, and in this dangerous situation I would prefer to run away, but that’s not always an option.” I think when people say “I play as a self-insert,” they mean they make the decisions they reasonably would if they were the ones in that situation, with their personal justifications, rather than the “character’s”. That doesn’t mean anyone expects an infinite amount of choices presented to them to accommodate their free will and personal preferences; I think it just means they operate according to their individual feelings and preferences, rather than the character’s backstory.


The game presents you with the choice to save a little kid from drowning in a well, or letting him die and being rewarded with money because some noble wanted him dead.

Self-insert: “I will save the child because if I, [first name] [last name], were to see this happening in real life, I would save him.” Alternatively: “I will save the child because if I, [first name] [last name] were to be placed in this exact situation, this is how I as an individual would react, so that’s what my character will do.”

Character completely separate from myself: “I will save the child because I think Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, would save them given their background of saving innocents or watching their sibling drowning in a well. I know Hawke would never stand by after what happened to their sister. I will operate according to their backstory and personality.” Alternatively: “I would personally save the child in real life, but I think Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, wouldn’t, because they desperately need the money because of [x y z story reasons], or because they’re a neutral-evil character, even though I consider myself personally to be lawful-good.”

Obviously this is all from my perspective; everyone’s reasonings are going to be different! But this is how I interpret the divide, so I don’t think the lack of infinite choices necessarily means you’re restricted from playing as a self-insert? I think it’s more about justification and reasoning and intent behind decisions rather than the offered decisions themselves. I hope that makes sense!


Perhaps, but this is also a possibility when playing as something other than a self insert. For example, if I’ve created a character that is very anti working with the government, and for plot reasons that character must work with the government, the same issue pops up.

The issue of railroading and choices is one that affects both self inserts and non self inserts. It’s up to the player to give their character a reason, self insert or not, to stick with the plot.

As for the reason I play self inserts sometimes (usually for my first play through), it’s because I want to see the world react to me, as a person. I want to learn about the world the way I would if it was real, and have it respond to me in the same way. It’s less of an exercise in putting myself in someone else’s shoes and more of an exploration of a setting for me.

And this may just be me, but I think this has helped me grow, even just a little bit, as a person. Maybe it’s because I get so deeply attached to these characters, but I find the consequences of my (or my self insert’s) actions in the game lead to real life reflections for me. I learn more about myself through this way of playing, something I wouldn’t get to do it I wasn’t playing as a self insert.


That also depends on the setting of the story where the players role play the protagonist, this depend on the philosophy on how author present their stories…
Example if the background of the protagonist is an immortal who jump from world to world , take over body and body for self survival from different world, you could not expect all of a sudden this immortal becomes you , and doing what you want to do , simply because when this immortal inherit a human body, it retain its own previous memory and action as a ruthless immortal but not a human being of earth. Hence , the choice has to based on logically what it will do , but at thw same time learn some human emotion

However, if the story take the example from planescape torment , where the immortal lost its memory and start refresh, then it is possible where the player start inserting their own personality via choice , but at the same time recover its lost memory …


See, when I think of ‘self inserts’ that’s literally what I imagine people doing. They’re literally playing as themself IRL. But I didn’t want to make the poll more complicated and leave it open to interpretation about what the terms mean to each voter. :slight_smile:

So, I see disagreement between the situations that you are posing. Some say they’ll stop playing if they don’t agree with the choices/path that the mc takes, some say it’s not a problem to play as a self insert even with the lack of options, and some try to seek for reasons that couple with the presented issue. (I’m not trying to point out any of you individually as I’m sure your opinions are the same as many people may take, I’m trying to see it on a more broad way)
And I even see that “self insert” also have different interpretations.

I guess this could be like the “problem” of genres, as some people won’t play a game if there’s no option to couple with their own, like a gender-locked game to female for example could discourage males to play it. I mean, I bring that analogy because I see it is a recurrent theme around here and widely discussed, maybe easy to understand.

So to what extent this could be a deterrent to people that don’t want to play as something other than themselves? how could you as a writer make them change their mind if you just want to make a character behaves in certain way for whatever reason that it doesn’t couple with the reader’s thoughts to say for example, there’s no choice I could pick, but I’m gonna do it anyways because I want to keep reading the story for x reason. Or you just accept the loss of those who want to self insert themselves but don’t feel like the game is accomplishing that?

Maybe there’s no right answer to that but only shows how if you want to try to get as many people as you want to read your game and feel comfortable with it you have to be wide in the spectrum of choices you present to the player to try to account for the more possible variety of feelings on the player side as possible, again much like the genre theme.

How much of a deterrent a railroaded choice is to continued gameplay depends on the person playing and the choice that was made for them, specifically how they’ll react to that.

For instance, I played Sam Young’s MMM twice and after the second time I stopped. I never picked it up again because of the specific scene he insisted on having in the story. There was nothing to change my mind to pick it back up again and immerse myself into the setting for a third time. At that point, the MC was such a separate person from me that I couldn’t find enjoyment in playing as a separate character.

Other people might stop playing if the MC makes a gesture they wouldn’t do - hands on the hips - or something as innocuous as dressing style for example.

However, this isn’t to say that playing as separate characters isn’t appealing to me. They just have to have something that I can empathize and connect with. Geralt from the Witcher 3 is as different to me as an apple is different to an orange, but I enjoy playing as him and the story he has to offer because of his drive to find and protect Ciri.

I don’t think a writer can change a reader’s mind if they’ve given the reader the expectation that the MC is their character, to a certain point. I think if the author established that the MC is character-locked? Maybe the outcome will be different because the reader knows that they’re playing as a completely separate character?

To address your last paragraph, I would agree that there’s no right answer. Only best guesses. I would also say it depends on what kind of audience the author wants to draw in.

Are they satisfied with a tiny niche crowd that was brought in by the story’s specific merits or would they prefer to have a larger fanbase that will most likely ask for a wide array - and possibly contradictory - possibilities?


The whole personalization of an mc always felt like a three way tug-of-war game to me, between personal behavior, contextual behavior and concession/compromise.

Unless it’s dnd I never really got the whole “but I/this character wouldn’t do this/wanted to do this/felt it would play out differently” and even then it always seems like a balancing act between all definitions.

This is all without getting into the whole distancing from some form of content or another and not wanting to participate in the story. Which is fine, but like it was said:


Yes, to all in general, jajaja, you can’t make Geralt make a gesture like the hand on the hip as you mention (I didn’t play that game though, but I kind of imagine it would break all immersion) to account for, for example, the girls playing that would make that gesture on their life and feel comfortable with it just to make them feel… comfortable? if that’s even possible (maybe this is just a bad and weird example).

So, some games wouldn’t even allow the player to self insert themselves due to the difference in everything basically, like apples and oranges (also deppending on what self insert means to you).

For those of you hobbyist and/or career writers, just for curiosity’s sake:

  • I started writing below 10 yrs old.
  • I started writing at 10 - 20 yrs old.
  • I started writing at 21 - 30 yrs old.
  • I started writing at 31 - 40 yrs old.
  • I started writing at 41 - 50 yrs old.
  • I started writing at 51 - 60 yrs old.
  • I started writing above 60 yrs old.

0 voters