Realism VS Political Correctness

Before I start, let’s make a rule. This is not a discussion for the immature.

Okay. Speaking hypothetically, let’s say we’re in the medieval ages, around the beginning of feudalism. Women are regarded as less than men, whose rule in society is basically to marry…“restrain” masculine desires…and have children who will in turn carry on the family line, and sometimes govern the lord’s affairs in his absence. Normally, in this day in age, women where not heard in court, women did not fight in wars, women did not impose laws, and women did not rule. That’s what the truth is.

Now, in a politically correct tense, women would do all of the things I just listed in which they did not do. They would in fact have a chance to be heard, fight, impose laws, rule, etc…

So, my question. When writing a ChoiceScript game, is it better for one to be a realist, or use political correctness?


I meant the ‘on point’ part to be more directed at you. Immediate jumps to rape (like immediate jumps to Hitler, Godwin’s law and all that) usually derail a conversation into flame wars. While it can be brought up tactfully, and as a fuller part of the conversation, I do not believe that you did so, and instead you brought it up in response to an inflammatory comment by @FairyGodFeather (who I and the other mods have already talked with), thereby furthering the argument, rather and defusing it.

I’d say it’s up to the writer to decide what they want to do. There’s merit to both sides of the coin. If you want to make a realistic game, make one. If you want to make a politically correct game, make one. I all depends on what you want to do.

The fact of the matter is that things happened a certain way in the past, and no matter how much some people might think it was wrong or immoral, that’s what happened. Things are of course a lot better nowdays, but they weren’t like that then. Of course, it wasn’t just straight up black-and-white-no-rights-for-women.

It’s not wrong to do it either way, and neither option should be suppressed or censored.

I prefer realism but its up to you to decide that.

@adjppm1227 First of all, that’s a tyrannical revisionist reading of gender perspectives in history, and secondly it patently wrong with regards to the role of women in politics: Look at Empress Matilda to see a woman who dominated the court, led her own war, imposed her own laws, and ruled as a regent of the Holy Roman Empire and as Queen of England. But that’s a side issue.

And of course realism is better. One need only to note how close the term realism is to realistic.

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I have a friend who knows more about this than me. I’m too sleepy to do a search for better sources so I’m just going to link something they wrote and something they linked to.

Although it basically comes down to do your research. Before you start saying what’s historically accurate and what isn’t do your research. Don’t just look at what popular culture tells you is realistic. Before you start saying what is or is not realistic start researching to find out if your preconceptions are accurate or not.

And if you’re writing a fantasy game, not a historical one, then the whole realism argument goes out of the window. Real life is rarely realistic.


Specifics, specifics, specifics. In what is supposed to be a historical setting, I lean towards realism. If we’re talking about a game set during the Norman Conquest of England, treating the sisters of Harold Godwinson as perfectly equal in potentially inheriting the throne, well that would turn me off to the story. On the other hand, most people get it wrong when they write ‘realistically’, as women contributed much more IRL than in fiction. The world has always been more complex than ‘this person rules this group, no exception’. Which Roman Emperor was it that said his child ruled the world, because his child ruled his wife, and his wife ruled him?

That said, in a fantasy setting, I much prefer, well, fantasy. Beyond the argument of what caused patriarchy to spread as it did through Europe, Asia and Africa (and the Americas) and how likely it would be to become so established on a world with a completely independently developed set of cultures, we have to acknowledge that when an author creates a world, they are, well, creating the world. The cultures that they create come from them, and obey the rules they wish them to obey. Everything can be bent and twisted however they want.

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The question isn’t whether or not the historically accurate role of a female is less important (this is relative/context dependent). The question is whether you should place the character into a historically unrealistic role for political correctness’ sake. The determinants are your purpose and if you can withstand the inevitable outcry of, “Discrimination!” If you’re using the real world and striving for realism, don’t be unrealistic just to appease someone who would ignorantly assume that you share the mindset of a time past, simply because your portrayal of it is accurate.

Noble women holding power, by the way, are circumstantial exceptions, not examples; as are abbesses. Women may have filled important roles to support armies, for example. A noble lady bereft of husband may command. A queen may ride at the head of one. Never, though, would you see a common soldier that’s female, or a male working as camp entertainment.

My answer is “neither.” Both political correctness and realism are generally poor reasons to make design decisions, and both should be sacrificed to the greater goals of “writing a good story” and “having fun.”

That said, extreme political incorrectness and extreme unrealism can damage the fun value. In the specific case of medieval women, I would argue that the view you’re presenting isn’t either fun or entirely realistic; medieval women by and large are there to cement alliances, make babies and look after the castle while milord is off plundering, but there’s also plenty of exceptions, female knights and queens regnant, and the PC is normally supposed to be an exceptional individual anyway.

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@Drazen Okay, so one woman did all the things I said they didn’t do. Excuse me. A vastly large amount of women didn’t do those things. My bad.

And I tend to look towards realism more. :smiley:

@adjppm1227 Oh, there are many more examples which help to disprove the assumption that women were somehow mysteriously absent from high society. Perhaps history shouldn’t be read entirely through the lens of Salic Law, no?

@adjppm1227 I’m curious, do you have citations for the various ‘facts’ you list in your first post.

@FairyGodfeather - eh

I’m not going to research the claims, but off the top of my head for the common lands yes, women didn’t actually have many pathways to a prosperous life outside of marriage, servitude or just being lucky enough to be in the right sort of high nobility family.

Of course, that’s just England/Wales. And no it doesn’t prohibit women being strong characters within a story, nor does it prevent them being extremely competent leaders. Realistically though, with reading and writing barred to the majority of women it is extremely unlikely for most of them to ever be anything more than bottom feeders of society (I will quicken to add, that the same label can be applied to the majority of MEN at that time period…)

Personally, if it’s a historical game or if you’re attempting to be realistic for the era of a world based on our history then yes realism deserves to override political correctness. I’m very much anti-pc in the first place, I don’t see the point of including say ethnic minorities in high roles in a white-dominated nation, UNLESS there’s an extremely good reason for it and likewise for females.

However, if the setting is fantasy as opposed to historical (or is historical-fantasy) then its up to the writer. I, myself, don’t really care either way. Female-dominated sci-fi races or fantasy races seem to be very ‘accepted’ as opposed to male-dominated/exploiting cultures - I find this a bit of hypocrisy…

Really, if someone is going to be offended on a pc issue they’re probably one of those wishy-washy types who we should probably strive to offend on a daily basis…

I apologise if that is forthright, but as a disabled person I have to deal with plenty of ‘pc’ issues directed at me or my ‘type’ of disability and it can be quite infuriating having to deal with these people. I find being politically correct, neglects the unique differences between peoples of all kinds and really identifies people by a label rather than as the person. Hence for fiction works or otherwise, really just write the nation, its culture and its people as the story demands and screw anyone who says you should include token rights and respects for the sake of it.

@RVallant I don’t think the majority of people had a prosperous life outside of servitude or inheritance, and I do think you overestimate the value of reading and writing in that period. But I’m nitpicking, here.

Okay guys, just a friendly reminder at this point: Keep it civil and polite.

May I rephrase? ‘When writing a historically accurate ChoiceScript game set in feudal middle ages Europe, is it better to be realistic or cater to a wider player base?’


‘When writing a fantastic adventure with magic and dragons set in a pseudo-Europe, is it better to cleave toward historical realism regarding gender roles or cater to a wider player base?’

‘Realism’ has its aficionados. There are fewer of them than the fans of ‘fun’, but they’re fiercely dedicated.

I do think it’s interesting that the query is divided along gender lines, with ‘women are regarded as less than men’ rather than ‘people are divided along class lines, and laborers are regarded as less than soldiers’. Because technically, a low class man is much, much less valuable than a high class woman. That’s what the truth is. And women had rather more social mobility than men, too, since they derived their value from the men they were attached to rather than their birth. A clever lowborn woman could get farther than a clever lowborn man.

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@FairyGodfeather Yes. The majority of women in medieval times. You know…pretty much all lowborn women. A large amount of highborn women. Those sorts.

@Chrysoula Oh, I’m away of the highborn woman: lowborn man approach. I mean as a flat line of rank when comparing the two. Highborn to highborn, lowborn to lowborn, etc… And that’s true, but the woman has to be clever…where most people are not. A brutish man could get much farther than a brutish woman. And most people are brutish, either physically or in tense of personality.

I, personally, would say realism. Back then in the medieval ages, women didn’t necessarily have direct power or authority over basically “anything”, in a manner of speaking, assuming this is the average woman’s lifestyle in that point in time. If they were higher up in society, then they woud simply have more opportunities to achieve some sort of power or influence. Generally, though, they didn’t have power the same way men did. High class or no, that’s how it was. There were expectations of a woman, and it basically all came down to “be a good wife, shut up and listen to your husband, bear children, and don’t try anything that will bring attention to yourself or give you a bad reputation”, or at least something along those lines. Women had to be more clever, in my opinion, back then if they wanted to ever have any control over anything because they simply couldn’t outrightly do something the way women can these days (I live in the U.S., so woman aren’t too discriminated against…). It’s true, though, that they really couldn’t do much in terms of politics in that day and age. But like I said, if the woman was a high class one, then she would definitely have more chances and opportunities to be able to have a subtle control over such things. She’d simply just have to know how to play her cards right. Manipulation, in short.
The average-life style woman’s job would be to stay home, clean the home, and raise children. They barely did anything more than that, mostly because the man was the “head of the household” and therefore was “in charge” and, well, because the man was a man.

In terms of gameplay, I still agree more with realism simply because I like the medieval times, despite the vast difference in gender and equality, but I would suggest giving the woman more subtle/indirect options to influence the game as they obviously couldn’t do things the same way as a man could.

And, um, sorry if this post seemed a bit repetitive of what’s already been said…

I think another thing to keep in mind based on this discussion (which I’m assuming you started because you want to get information rather than expound on your own thesis) is that-- just based on this discussion-- there’s a significant percentage of people who like realism but don’t think that you quite grasp what the reality was in this case. So it’s important when discussing ‘realism’ to actually search for what was ‘real’ rather than just relying on what ‘everybody knows’ (since what ‘everybody knows’ often comes from poorly researched fiction and vague extrapolations).

(I can also report anecdotally that it’s extremely distracting and unpleasant to read something presented as ‘historically accurate’ that messes up tons of details.)

Otherwise what we’re really debating is ‘is it better to go with what is commonly accepted, or challenge preconceptions’. In that case, you’re almost certainly going to get more fans if you don’t challenge what most people accept as true. :slight_smile:

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