Should trans/non-binary characters be questioned about their gender?

Of course you can’t ignore the audience completely. They’re loud and opinionated. They’ll praise you one moment and boo you the next.

Which is exactly why you shouldn’t really bother listening to them 90% of the time and just follow your own vision whatever that is.

Now obviously if you genuinely value writing by committee then I guess by all means go for it since its obviously in line with your vision to begin with. (Which is trying to satisfy others)

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@Nathaniel sorry to have gone off at you like this.

Long of the short (i’ll elaborate later pr maybe someone else will)

There are stories out there that, yes, do have a marginalized character. Who seems to be there to suffer and nothing else.
OR to lecture the mc about what it means to be X so the MC grows from it.
These characters are not really there as representation.
They are there for the not marginalized audience to feel sorry for or be inspired by how these characters do not despair despite being at such a disadvantage.

Latter is most common with disabled chars.
Who, e.g. use a wheelchair and the abled mc is in awe about how they are so brave and how they carry on even though they must feel so helpless, and how the mc could never do that etc.

In the case of queer chars you often get it that the queer char will die (sometimes they seem to just drop dead from being queer even wtf) or generally suffer, so the audience can feel sorry for them and act as if they “understand the struggle perfectly now”.

It’s this kind of faux-representation that people hate.

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That’s a remarkably dismissive way to describe people giving opinions on what they’d like to see and how they feel about what they do see when asked for those very same opinions.

Writers being human, and readers being human, we all have some level of obligation to each other at the level of human decency. Saying that something is art does not absolve responsibility for the art.

I don’t take this as saying you can’t write stuff that someone might find offensive, but if it reaches the level of, say, promoting bigotry (which, let’s be clear, is not what Avery Moore was talking about doing) then I can say that, yes, the author promoted bigotry.

In this case, we’re not talking about something at that level. We’re just at a level where people can talk about what they would like to see, how they would feel about what they see, and what they think an interactive fiction should be like. Which is exactly what feedback is all about. Useful feedback is all about helping a work be a better version of what it’s setting out to be—and for a work that isn’t setting out to tackle weighty issues of discrimination as one of its themes, it’s absolutely appropriate for people to say what they think would make it a better version of its goal in terms of how it does or does not depict these things.

It is of course, best to recognize when this feedback is directed toward making a piece into a different sort of piece altogether, but since discrimination is not a fundamental part of this work’s vision in the first place, this feedback is still in line with the stated goals.

Or at least, why share it? If someone writes something just for themself and keeps it to themself, then yeah, they don’t have any responsibility to anyone else for its contents because no one else is involved.

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And I would argue that including something that could even possibly be negative only for nb and trans players and not for cis players is treating them, at best, unfairly and, at worse, maliciously. If I play a cis female MC I don’t have to worry about another character calling her “sir” or “mister.” Why should a trans woman have to worry about that? What message does that send? What message are you trying to sends?

Including small, positive things like NB NPCs bonding with a NB MC over their indentity is one thing. Having a character misgender a NB or trans MC (accidentally or on purpose) is another thing and you really need to put serious thought into the kind of message having that in your game is sending.

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If I thought stories (and art in general) had no power, I’d agree. If I thought the stories we tell didn’t contribute to how people think about themselves and others, I’d agree.

And I still mostly agree. “George R.R. Martin is not working for you,” as Neil Gaiman famously but more colorfully said. I’ve written elsewhere on the forum about how most of the audiences that don’t like Choice of Rebels just weren’t the audiences I was writing for. I have a vision for my work, and at the end of the day, I write what I want.

But because two of the things I want are (a) to write a story that does have power and (b) not to be an asshole, I listen to people when they talk about the ways my stories might affect them. There are lots of easy tweaks and fixes people suggest that don’t detract from my vision, that wouldn’t occur to me on my own, but make reading the story a more powerful experience for many people.

And then I choose to take their advice or not, and I own that choice–like @TSSL said, I take responsibility for my art and its impact. Without feeling the need to shame anyone for disagreeing with me.

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On the note of addresses:

That had been one of my main struggle in my game, till I settled on ‘mair’ (compared to ma’am or sir) for non binary etc chars.

I understood perfectly, but if your setting is discriminatory, then I no longer automatically trust my cis-companions to have my back.

There is a hell of a difference between someone discreetly asking. “Hey what prounouns do you prefer” (that is as a matter of fact a sign of respect) to someone knowing that they can get away with misgendering. If the latter is possible my real life experience bleed over.

And my real life experience is that the I cannot trust even my friend to keep being friends if I knew who they truly was.

You CANNOT include this ‘because realism’, because your inclusion of one or two discriminatory scene and then your friend stand up for you and it is over and done with is not realistic. It is never over and done with.

Real life discrimination of enbies means that you have to lie. Is to lie on your cv, because if you don’t you never get a job. It’s to lie to people that call you friend, because you don’t know how they will react if they knew the truth and 9 times out of 10 you need to be able to work with these people. It is to be alone even amongst your loved ones, because there is this huge part of you which you cannot be honest about. The thing about be part of a ‘passing’ minority is that you are a liar. You lie, lie, LIE, because you have to.

So if your setting is discriminatory I am going to notice that those feelings of mine is not there. in the mc. Affecting ALL their interactions with the rest of the cast. And it become And it becomes unrealistic.

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If it’s done like that then yes, that’s wrong and if I saw something like that on a game on this site I would call it out. but I also feel that in that kind of situation if we could correct or insult the person who misgender the mc or someone else did then it won’t be seen as negative(since there has been games(Video and visual) and movies that have done something similar to that and are well received). Honestly it depends on how the op go about it.

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Reality never did anything for me. I would never want a game to be realistic.

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I did notice one other thing; the poll questions aren’t really neutrally phrased, which could have some effect on the vote results as well. The first two focus on the more positive spin, referring to “includ[ing] some of the struggles,” framed as a bonus, and the second is referring to the “realistic” angle, again putting more attention on the argument for that approach. The third one, by saying “automatically know” is referring more to the argument against that approach, by focusing on what people consider to be a drawback. (I don’t see it as necessarily a drawback, and it wouldn’t even be a necessary component if there were just some bit where someone asks anyone what their preferred pronouns are, but that is how it’s presented.)

One could just as easily write a poll with options like “I would prefer it if the game gave trans and nonbinary characters a worse experience” or “I’d prefer it if trans and nonbinary characters don’t have to deal with discrimination.” That would be prioritizing the arguments for the opposite side. Either wording is favoring some answers over the other. I would suggest some sort of phrasing that would present the options in a more similar light to each other.

Though, really, that said, I do think that the difficulty with this sort of poll is that there’s no way to tell whether the people voting on it are really affected, so I wouldn’t really say that a poll is the best way to tackle this kind of question in the first place.

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I’m on the side of not including that. Personally I feel like subjects like that are best handled by people who actually face it in real life and it’s still difficult to do even then

There are exceptions to that like Love, Simon, like others have cited, and King Falls AM (for including homophobia, since I know very little media that actually does trans characters well) but those were done carefully and from a place of empathy (if not with homophobia/transphobia etc, then with how it feels to be alone or be put on the spot or to have a secret you’d be devastated to have revealed, etc) with input from many different people, including LGBT teens in the case of Love, Simon and even then it’s risky to do. When you include discrimination of any sort, it HAS to serve some sort of purpose to the story beyond “realism”, whether it’s a direct theme of the story or it’s deeply connected to part of a character arc. Inserting it when it has no purpose to the story only brings grief to the people playing your game as an escape and honestly, if you want realism, you’re best off sticking to nonfiction

This is not the end-all be-all method of getting it right, but what those two stories had in common besides having queerness be a central part of the main character’s arcs was that the antagonists who outed or were otherwise homophobic to Simon in Love, Simon and Sammy in KFAM were well established to be awful people long before what happened happened and that both Simon and Sammy were met with compassion by the end, if not immediately after it happens, and the number of characters supporting them far exceeds the ones who don’t. Also the aftermath of Simon getting outed was public, but his reaction was relatively private while the opposite happens in KFAM, so the entire event isn’t made a spectacle. Love, Simon being a romcom and KFAM starting out as a comedy (but gradually grew into a drama) certainly helped because with those genres, it’s pretty safe to assume that the hero will turn out okay in the end. Both also had multiple gay characters so the character facing the brunt of the homophobia isn’t singled out as The Gay Character and neither of them are interactive media so how things play out are set in stone

And even then, no matter how careful it is and how well it’s done, there is still the risk of triggering a portion of your audience/potential audience and those people are completely justified in avoiding your work to avoid in-game discrimination. I love both Love, Simon and KFAM to bits as a gay man and I would not change either of them for the world, but I have to admit that there were times when they were difficult to watch/hear respectively even when I CHOSE to sit through them and consider both characters’ experiences to be very personally important to me. (That said, I feel like the scene in KFAM would have been hard for me to listen to even if I wasn’t gay, with just how emotionally powerful a scene it was.) They are both powerful stories with LGBT elements, but I can still very easily see why other people might want to avoid them. The risk comes even with an LGBT creator or with the best sensitivity readers or most meticulous writing

I started off talking about how stories have succeeded in including discrimination in a sensitive way that also actually adds to the depth of the story, but this is NOT a guide on how to be another exception and write “good” discrimination. I’ve seen a lot of people try to insert it casually for the sake of “realism” but to have it be an actual part of the story and not be just an offhand remark that may at best break immersion for the reader and at worst make you lose a reader would take a lot of work and outside input. Ask yourself whether or not it’s truly important to your story and why when you decide on it

Whether or not a person is okay with it depends on many different factors you have no control in. While I personally would engage in it in a movie or podcast or other noninteractive form of media, I wouldn’t do so in a game

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This post is wrong on so many levels but because it has a grain of truth in it, many would find it hard to argue against.

The truth in this post is that at the end of the day, you as a writer or game designer must decide what feedback to take to heart and what feedback to ignore based on your intent and purpose of writing and designing a game.

The feedback received in this community is different than the feedback received on the whole in the wild. The feedback is more pertinent to the audience being written to and the audience most directly and indirectly affected by your game’s writing and design.

As such, the people providing the feedback are not only providing more relevant data points but often it is up to them to educate and inform the author/designer of the game.

Tackling cultural issues and societal norms in your writing and game design is wielding a power of influencing your audience. How that influence is wielded is very important. People brought up and raised experiencing something as “normal” or “expected” will influence what the society they live in see as normal or expected.

This wielding of cultural influence is the responsibility of the author/designer whether they choose to ignore it or acknowledge it.

A vision and concept should be front and center when writing and designing a game but a game’s concept and design should be open to revision and change to take into account factors that the author’s vision and concept affect, intentionally or unintentionally.

I commend Avery for seeking specific and focused feedback and hope she takes what is given into consideration when executing her vision and conceptualization in her game’s writing and design.

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“Allowing a person to play as a marginalized group” (and I’m trying to use this term with the gravity it should convey) is different for members of such a group and the people who do not belong. For example, it might be easy for someone disconnected from an issue to play through a scene or a game with those issues. For someone who has firsthand experience with those issues, it will probably be more difficult. Of course, there are exceptions, but in the most generalized sense, that is what I often see. It’s the same whether the issue is racism or sexism or another form of discrimination.

The question I’d like to ask is how far is the entirety of your world from reality, and what is the general tone of the game. Most of us don’t play games for the same kind of enjoyment. For example, the enjoyment I gain from playing something like Tally Ho is different from the enjoyment I get from playing something like Choice of Rebels. And I wouldn’t like to go into one game expecting one experience but getting another, especially in the case of gender.

For gender, especially being NB, I wouldn’t like the real-world form of discrimination, mostly in any game, but especially in something lighthearted or fantastical. I would probably expect the discrimination (not enjoy it, just not be surprised by it) if the game is more realistic. But in CS games, I’ve come to expect equality, if not in gameplay, then certainly in gender choice and effect.

People have already mentioned games as escapism, but there’s an additional layer to that especially if you are a member of a group that gets discriminated against constantly. CS games are the only place I’ve actually been able to play as me (even though I don’t, most of the time), and I cannot stress enough how that completely changes everything even if you don’t play as the option.

And for the “realism” part, I would really rather not. :sweat_smile: Realism for one person may be a one-time experience of living in someone else’s shoes, and realism for another may be another endless grind away from an endless grind.

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Then there is other questions when I have a scene where absolutely all are insulting by a group is okay left a group not being insulted even if is clear by settings and all plot they will.

I mean when the plot of a group is they are zealots wrong people that get into terrorism and are main villains. That want bring a bigotry and destroy democracy. I mean they insult cis players whatever the origin and background they are. Should be the people that was assigned as birth different from their gender not being adressed as such?

I am starting doubt I mean is important for player take control and oppose them and say this is my life and my city. Still I suppose I could use the insults that i use for cis people but In my opinion not addressing the clear issue when is blatant obvious the issue is like trivializing the problem. But I don’t want people get anger. Sometimes I thinking trying to including people is worthless as You will be criticized hard for it no matter what you search or ask people from the collective. Minute one will people get angry and saying why you included x. Sometimes like now I am thinking stop searching and read about portrayal and use of terms etc… And just get rid of everything. And only add cis options.

I mean I have open relationships closed relationships homosexual pan bisexual … asexual aro… exclusive open relationships… So I am trying to portray how diverse reality is in terms of relationships.

I’m sorry if that’s what it looked like. That’s not what I was trying to imply at all. Only that not everyone will react to certain scenarios in the same way.

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Honestly, i think you should have put a “NB/TRANS PEOPLE ONLY” on this topic so you could receive reliable feedback. No matter how many nb/trans friends one has, cis people can never know the deep, personal thoughts and feelings that non-cis people have. And, in the end, non-cis people are the ones who are going to be affected the most by this.

Now, i can only speak for myself when i say i hate discrimination of any kind in games. If you make the game easier/more fun to play when the MC is a cis, straight, white male then i personally wouldn’t buy your game even though i am cis myself. You can do whatever you want with your game (it’s your game after all) just like i can do whatever i want with my money and that game review. No hard feelings.

If you put discrimination in a half-witch, half-vampire protagonist that fights with aliens on the moon to protect our dimension from giant marshmallow meteors because of realism then i don’t know what to say to you…

I agree with you, but only if all of them suffer and struggle, not just the NB/trans ones.

Well done to you. That’s great for you. But not everyone is you. Some people don’t get the choice to “not let it bother them”. We are all different and psychological trauma is never universal. If your writing has the potential to give someone a panic attack or anything similar it needs a trigger warning. That’s why trigger warnings exist.

Just because I’m not epileptic doesn’t mean i can make a movie with flashing lights and not give a seizure warning, expecting others to not let it upset them.

I can’t remember which game, but there was one game that asked NB characters if they were more masculine-looking, feminine-looking or completely androgynous and i thought that was cool. But no discrimination.

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A small aside, as a swede so much of this flies over my head since we rarely use gendered titles like Sir and the like. I have such a hard time picturing a scenario where someone would use my pronouns when talking to me? I mean, they use them when talking about me, but then I’m not there so I don’t know which one they’d use. That one time in London someone called me ‘sir’ was a great moment of gender-affirmation, but otherwise it just doesn’t come up in real life at all.

I do understand it is different in english speaking countries since there’s more use of titles, but it’s still weird to me.

That being said, I am much for positive affirmation of trans/nb identities than negatively challenging ones.

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Well, that’s the sort of thing I’m talking about including. Scenes where bigoted people are portrayed negatively.

Well that depends on your definition of “treating them worse”. That’s why I made the poll in the first place, to see what people want. If I were to write the game in the first way, I would be expanding the game for NB and trans players. The game would be slightly longer for them, because there would be scenes written for them that cis players wouldn’t see. I’d be putting in effort to give them a unique experience, and I don’t see that as “treating them worse”.

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I would. Because it would be a uniquely bad experience.

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That is true. At the end of the day, writers should ultimately be writing for themselves. Still, I thought it was important to know because I’d be changing the game to make it unique for trans/NB players and if, collectively, all of the trans/NB players say, “I don’t want to play a game that is written this way” then it’s kind of counter productive.

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