Sexuality and NPCs

I made a post in the Interest Check Thread about this already, but I thought posting here would give me a wider range of opinions so that I could decide what I want for my game (Forgotten. - v0.112 // A mental health focused mercenary story. Updated: 15th of June), early enough that I don’t have to change anything in current/future characters.

Anyhow, I’ve noted that in a lot of CoGs NPC sexuality is entirely based on the MC’s gender. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that, of course, I’ve always thought that it makes NPCs appear less lifelike; just characters that revolve around the MC. For my story, in particular, I’m considering making my romanceable characters’ sexualities affect gameplay - e.g a gay NPC would not be romanceable if the MC was of the opposite gender.

I think this will add a layer of added depth to the characters, but at the same time, I feel like it could possibly alienate users, as different gender options may lock out romance paths with NPCs. I don’t really mind not making NPC sexuality in-game ‘canon’ (as I already have my characters sexualities in mind), but I think it might be nice to include such a thing if people don’t oppose such a thing. Thoughts?

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@Melancholy - I’m going to leave this thread open, even-though we have other similar threads that are 2 years or so old.

With that said, I see a conflation of gender and preference in your post and I’m not sure which you aim to lock.

I’m going to agree with @Fiogan on a post they wrote two years ago and say that I don’t see the benefits of a fixed gender unless it results in a significantly different story experience.

I’ll repost their original post, for they often says things better than I could.

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I’m sorry, I should have checked to see if there were similar posts answering my question. I appreciate your answer, nonetheless.

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Like I already said, it’s something that not everybody will agree on.

As far as I am currently aware, my occasional interest in men is NOT a cosmic force that turns everyone kind around me kind of gay. Realistically, people have their own preferences and feelings. There is nothing wrong with a heterosexual character being heterosexual. That’s just who they are.

On the flip side, people should be able to make characters they feel comfortable with and be able to express interest in characters they like.

There is not so much a “correct” way of thinking about it, as just personal preference. Whether or not it is or isn’t an acceptable break from reality is something that won’t ever stopped being debated.

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Regarding sexuality, at least, I’ve certainly been a proponent of games having more explicitly gay characters, and making ROs exclusive is certainly a way to do this. Representation is important, and it’s important for the majority, not just the minority, so having gay characters who just disappear when a straight player is playing doesn’t really count. Note that making ROs explicitly bisexual instead of playersexual (i.e. they will mention attraction to or past partners or both genders) is also LGBTQ representation.

On the other hand, I’ve seen far too many games do it badly; generally by making more characters straight than gay, or making the most prominent characters the straight ones… :expressionless: I know that “realistically” there are more straight people in the world than gay, but the medium is inherently unrealistic, since the player’s choices will always be constrained by what the writer has written. So, for the game at least, it makes sense to be “fair” and balance the numbers and importances of the gay and straight romances.

I would also say that generally it probably makes sense to give everyone at least three choices, as long as you have the characters available. If there are only three male characters available, just make them all bi- or playersexual, but if you have more, you can add in explicit sexualities, as long as you keep the numbers more-or-less even.

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See, I don’t personally agree with making characters just so they fill some representation quota. Nobody should be ashamed to be who they are, but I feel like that point is undersold when we create characters for the sole purpose of them being X, without really adding anything to the work.

That’s how we get things like the ethnic scrappy.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EthnicScrappy

We get poor representations wrought with stereotypes that most are perfectly aware are not true, but when we set out to make a portrayal instead of a character as their own character, we end up with things like this.

Humans are individuals, is all my point is.

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That’s not what I was saying…? :confused:

Obviously there would be more to an explicitly gay (or straight, or bi) character than just their sexuality, and they wouldn’t just be added to fill a quota. However, if a game has four straight options and only one gay option, it doesn’t matter how well-constructed their characters are, that’s not a well-balanced game, and that’s the kind of thing I’m trying to avoid here.

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My thoughts have developed some since then, as it was indeed two years ago.

I’ve come to appreciate the importance of diverse representation in NPC’s orientations more, since solid representation is both important and rather lacking. Besides, sometimes it can make the story seem more lifelike (to me) that way. And even in that earlier post of mine, most of what was frustrating to me was the lack of making those orientations clear in the story outside of interactions with a PC. That’s why it still felt like the character was revolving around the PC, rather than genuinely having a sort of personhood of their own.

Especially for a game with a number of romance options, why not have a lesbian NPC who has a romance path that’s only open to female PCs? At the same time, though, it can add so much if that NPC then talks about being attracted to women outside of just female!PC. Former girlfriends, being attracted to X type of woman, whatever suits the story and the character. (I actually even have a couple of characters like that in one of my WiPs, Beastie Watch—Nik is gay, and Muriel is lesbian, and both have possible romance paths with a male or female PC, respectively.)

Also, now that I’m starting to see more friendship paths, I’m more inclined to suggest orientation-locking NPCs and allowing friendship paths with NPCs who aren’t interested in the PC’s gender: that’s actually something Queen at Arms, which I’d mentioned in my previous post, did and very nicely. (Plus, since I’m asexual/aromantic myself, the only reason I ever follow romance paths is to get to see more of the characters—friendship paths for the win, friend writers. :aromantic_flag: :ace_flag: )

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I totally agree with this and strive to put this in my own writing as well. (at least for the project (s) I have going involving Choice Script.

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The fewer option you have, the better it is to just have it all the NPCs be some kind of bi and/or pan and have a flexible gender for the RO. After all that give the most player something they enjoy and minimize the risk that you stereotype.

Also if you have set orientations then you have to deal with the Non-binary MC, which is going to be difficult. It will be very easy to seem like you assume the Non-binary MC’s gender/gender expression even if if you don’t mean to, no matter what you do here.

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I’m of two minds on this. On a personal level, I actually do like writers who are able to include preferences, etc. for each NPC. As others said, it makes the world seem more realistic.

However, there are also some considerations to not doing so, and I can also understand that. First as others have posted is that they may like a particular NPC, and then feel a bit left out if they are defined by a preference that doesn’t include them.

And another consideration is just where you want to put your focus in. Even with smaller CoGs/HGs (around 50,000 words) that is a lot of work. By going with the ‘everyone can be romanced’, that does save the writer some workload, at least with being able to focus on other areas.

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Honestly, I just want people to stop treating bi NPCs as though they’re “player-sexual”. Unless a writer has explicitly referred to an NPC as being that, there’s literally no reason to assume they’re not bi, pan, poly, or any of a dozen other orientations that express attraction to men and women (and enbies of all sorts). And no, characters shouldn’t need to “prove” that they’re “really” bi by perfunctorily mentioning past relationships. Every bi had a first relationship, BTW.

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I still vote for making them all decided randomly at the start of a playthrough. You get to say it’s realistic, you get to have people romance everyone they like and laugh at people who find out halfway through the person they like isn’t into them. Though of course the fact that most likely no one will be in a relationship at least at the start of the game still makes it seem like they’re meant for the player, plus there’s not many poly relationships here are there?

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Yeah, this is an aspect of the games that can be frustrating. There is a game I’m working on where all characters are pansexual, but the game is set in a universe where pansexual is considered the norm, so it makes sense.

In another game I’m working on, I mentioned in the WIP that I was planning on making some characters straight, some gay and some bi (without mentioning which characters were which). As soon as I said that, I started getting people commenting things along the lined of, “Well, so long as my MC (female lesbian) gets to romance Caecilia (the only female character I planned on making 100% straight) then I’m happy.” … Also, “Well, I really hope my MC (a straight male) will get to romance Gerda, (who was going to be a lesbian.)”

I still haven’t decided 100%, but it is a frustrating choice. I do want to make the game realistic, and realistically, not everybody in the world is going to be pansexual. But also, I want my readers to enjoy the game, and of course, a lot of people are going to be disappointed if they don’t get the chance to romance their favourite RO… So… Yeah. :persevere:

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Or do it how you wanted to. Depends on where your priorities are. Are you a people pleaser or do you want it to be how you imagined it?

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True, true. I think I myself might not actually restrict the player from the romanceable choices (heterosexuals make up most of the world, I know, but a group of mercenaries isn’t exactly normal anyhow, so they’d be a unusual lot anyhow) but still make their sexualities a part of the story.

For proper clarification, I have two WIPS that I don’t ever get around to updating currently, but with each using different RO mechanics.

My oldest one, is high fantasy but I kind of wanted romance angles to be portrayed a little more realistically.

My newer one, is more modern and I was planning on using the system of not having the sexuality of other character’s matter for relationships.

I would have to say it’s all about the execution.

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My friend and I struggled with this exact thing when we started writing our game - we wanted to have a diverse game with representation and realism, but we also didn’t want to limit people in creating a story they enjoyed.

We ended up deciding that our ROs would be player-sexual, but with other hints of representation / sexuality - as examples, several of the ROs are bi regardless of the player’s orientation, due to relationships they have / had with other characters, and a number of the background characters are in diverse relationships because that’s a normal part of our world.

It’s not perfect, but it was important to us that people be able to have the romance and story they wanted, so I guess you could say we sacrificed toward that aim.

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Kinda like @Hazel said: why are bisexual and pansexual and queer characters immediately deemed “unrealistic”? Just because they’re available to any gender of MC? People like that exist in real life. They’re not some cheap tactic invented by a writer to please everybody. They’re real and a room being filled with nothing but queer people is also not unrealistic.

And for that matter, the only straight people in my life are my parents (and maybe one of my friends, we haven’t really talked about it and I’m not sure she is but it’s her business anyway so i dont really think about it). I really don’t personally know many straight people, I usually meet a lot of bi, pan, and gay people. We are a lot more common than you might’ve been led to believe.

Another option on the subject of trying to make the story “realistic”, you CAN make a character identify as a specific sexuality and still be available to any gender. Sexuality can be PRETTY fluid. My own feelings flip flop all over the place because some days I’m like, “huh, actually, that girl’s cute… but in what way?” or “actor Eric Dane, specifically as Dr. Mark Sloan, please step on me” and other times, “if anyone even touches me I will set fire to this world myself.” I have tried out many gender identities and sexual orientations before deciding on a noncommittal shrug and a “it be like that sometimes.” (Or saying “I don’t know” twice when my mom asked if i ever thought I’d get married and then asked if I’d marry a boy or a girl) Labels are just labels. You don’t have to decide one at specific point and then stick to it for the rest of your life. The world isn’t actually so black and white, gay or straight. People are complex, feelings are hard to grasp, they don’t need to be reduced to a single word.

My brother’s boyfriend used to say he’s straight, and he IS more inclined towards woman, but as you can see by just whose boyfriend I said he is, that’s not set in stone for who he is “allowed” to fall in love with.

Doing it the way I said does make it more involved, having to create alternatives for an MC whose gender doesn’t match up with what the RO would usually be attracted to, but I honestly would find that more compelling and real than just being like “this character is straight no boys allowed” in a fictional story that you, the author, have full control over. A bigger reason I say that is, making a character one set sexuality but then have them slowly come to realize they are falling for the MC, who might not be a gender they thought they COULD fall for, and having appropriate reactions for that, it drives home a certain message: who you are is important. It’s your personality that draws people in. It’s your character and how you treat people that makes them like you. You’re not reducing the player to just the gender they chose at the start of the game.

There are exceptions for me personally and that has to do with what’s already been said: it’s about execution and balance. Here’s a scenario: I, an MLM, go to play a game only to find there are five female ROs and of the TWO male ROs, one of them is straight. Does that sound exaggerated? It’s not. And it really sounds like gay guys are getting shafted in that situation, and that’s the problem. If there’s a rather small number of ROs, I would suggest not orientation-locking any of them, but if there’s a large number, and thus more options for different kinds of players, then it might be alright.

Like in SOS: The Mortal Coil, of 15 ROs only 4 of them are orientation-locked, which means ELEVEN ROs that can be romanced by anyone. A scenario like that I don’t mind at all, because I got over any disappointment about any character’s sexuality pretty quick, cause hey look at all these others. (It helps that it sorta worked in my favor that my favorite RO also turned out to be the gay guy so maybe I’m a bit biased lolol) Er… not that I’m suggesting having that many ROs cause that sounds like a lesson in madness, but you see what I mean? About having options other than that so it most people won’t end up feeling cheated or anything because suddenly their options are cut in half just because of the gender and sexuality they wanted to play as.

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It’s not that it’s unrealistic but its just that bisexual and pansexual people only represent 2%(maybe more) of the population. So, to a lot of people it seem unrealistic that there’s a room full of bisexual and pansexual people waiting for the MC. (Unless this a lgbt+ event)

i’m lgbt just like you but i just feel like if a person want to make a game with all straight people then its okay. Good games(especially choice games) don’t represent the lI’s sexuality it represents the writing.(I’m sorry if this come out rude.)

My answer to the thread question:
I feel like if isn’t to hard to code then you should add what you want to your game if you do add canon sexuality’s then people will still play it.

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