Should you be able to choose anyone's gender other than your own?


#1

So I didn’t find a similar topic sorry if it exists. But the question is should you be able to choose NPC gender as a player. Because I always thought it kind of pulls you out of the story a bit when it asks. Or should it be relegated to a question of sexuality early on though I guess that would only work if they were romanceable. Just wondering if it should be randomized or dealt with in-house so the player isn’t asked. Opinions? Does it bother you?


#2

It depends on the story, I’d say.
Hero Unmasked let’s you pick the gender for the mayor and the reporter Aka the two characters that can become the Big Bad in the end, for example, while not influencing any of the other ROs. Granted, some people might not like the ‘everyone’s bi’ idea.

When it becomes bothersome is when picking a gender/sexuality for an NPC messes with your romantic options. (likewise when picking the MCs sexuality messes with NPCs gender)
No concrete example, but imagine you early one run in a character who you, playing e.g. a cis-guy set as male. Imagine you ‘planned’ (regardless of your own sexuality) to play as bi. But setting the NPC as male turned a couple of ROs male too. Or setting the MC to cis messes with NPCs gender/sexuality too.
This smells of massive railroading in terms of who to romance and I’d say that should be avoided.


#3

It all depends I’m afraid. Mecha Ace, the one game I recall where almost all major NPCs except one were gender flippable does not put that great of an emphasis on gender specific subjects. It gets away with it by wrapping its NPCs around identities that are not gender-based. They’re fighter pilots and techs and kids first and foremost. It gets away with it by carefully dancing around certain nuances of these characters. And of course this is set in a futuristic setting with no recognizable gender discrepancies.

I don’t mind this per se and romance is not a focus of that game but I also realize that the end result is less than could have been achieved had these people been gender-locked. Again this is a matter of nuances and also subject to taste. At the end of the day it’s like asking someone if they prefer Dragon Age: Origins or Skyrim. One has a tight story but you move on rails. The other offers you a lot of freedom but the story is threadbare. The best of both worlds probably lies in the middle.

Which is to say authors should go with what they’re comfortable with. Settings that are more egalitarian with less strictly defined gender roles also offer an easier time flipping genders than settings with more tightly enforced gender roles. But it an author strongly feels about character X being gender Y there’s no need to allow that character to be of any other gender. Without that feeling and if the author feels it’s within their capabilities and the end result is smoothish…

Well it can’t possibly hurt can it now?


#4

I like it when I can choose, and traditionally I will always make those characters female because even if I don’t want to romance them I still feel more comfortable dealing with women over men for anything, even in a fictional universe.


#5

I’m the same, except reversed, I feel more comfortable with male characters than female.


#6

I personally prefer female characters in general, but I prefer male romance options than female ones… so whenever I have to choose the gender of an NPC I usually don’t know what to choose.

Besides, as you say, it kind of pulls you out of the story, I generally prefer to choose how my MC acts or reacts to something rather than choosing things about other characters. It bothers me less when it’s just a consequence of another choice, like sexuality for example.


#7

I would like to choose the gender of npc’s as then I would like to romance whoever I want to and also to picture them as I like.


But… They are practically same… same personality with a different set of pronouns.


For me it’s usually what comes to mind first reading that scene.

For example - if you ( narrator ) say that someone just hit you with a baseball bat.

Subconsciously I would be like. Hah that would be funny situation if it turns out to be a very frail boy just trying to swing his bat.

So its set that person is a guy. ( Even if he isn’t frail. ) weird logic I know but I always think of funny possibilities about everything. initially. :sweat_smile:


#8

Well I don’t really mind. It helps if the story has an excuse or reason for the gender on an NPC being choosable or malleable though. For example: In a project I’m working on, only one character’s gender in choosable based on sexuality. But this character is an AI in a simulation designed to make the people it interacts with comfortable and happy, so it takes the gender you’re most comfortable around.


#9

Switching npc genders around on a second playthrough can make the story feel different (this was fun to do with LH), but it is a bit awkward to have the option the first time in. Sometimes it does make sense, though: the childhood friend choice makes sense, as if all four exist, and it’s asking who you befriended. Mecha Ace is an interesting option.


#10

I have mixed feelings.

But I keep coming back to the question, “If the author does flip the NPCs’ genders (either based on the MC’s orientation or even an explicit choice in the narrative), do the NPCs change in any other way?”

I mean, do they act, dress, speak, etc. exactly the same regardless of their assigned gender for that specific playthrough? Because, that seems to say that the NPCs’ gender means nothing substantively; that it’s just window dressing or a conduit to romance, but that it doesn’t shape their clothing, behavior, speaking patterns, thought process, etc. I don’t think “egalitarian” means “exactly the same.”

I think it’s hard enough to offer a MC that can be played as any gender, but because many readers insert themselves as the MC, it’s an obstacle that can be overcome because the reader “fills in many of the blanks” with their own traits. You don’t have that tool with NPCs; they must stand on their own.


#11

I think that some people don’t like the idea of gender-flipped characters in general because, in an attempt to create a character that could both function as a male and female, the author might have to sacrifice some interesting ideas for character traits and therefore making the character a little vague or even a little bland.

That’s not mean to say that male and female characters cannot fulfill the same roles or have a wide range of personalities but, depending on the story, set and world-building, sometimes it’s expected that men and women would have different backgrounds and upbringings that would make them react different to a same situation.

However, I feel that this is more a hypothetical issue rather than a real one. Most of the time, gender-flipped characters are handled pretty well, and authors are smart to know when does it makes sense to create a gender-flipped character or not.

There are also some creative ways to handle this; like Choice of Broadsides, where you don’t only choose the gender of your MC, but your choice also affects the gender of the other characters and the social norms and gender roles of the world; and one of my favourite examples in Choice of Robots, where Eiji and Elly both fulfill the same role and have similar personalities, but are still different characters with different backgrounds.


#12

As a general summary, I like how genderflipping can result in character who go beyond gender stereotypes a bit, and are defined by who they are in other ways. (It does bother me when genderflipped characters have differences that are too stereotypical :sweat:) However, it can also feel like the characters exist more at the main character’s convenience, rather than independently… like you’re literally choosing their identities for them.

I’d say I generally don’t mind it when reading. (It can get a little funny in the code if the character is continually referred to in one way, though.) I probably wouldn’t make much use of it when writing, however, because I tend more toward the idea of having specifically defined characters who will be the same people no matter what the main character does, and it’s more like you’re bringing your main character among them, rather than crafting a new story around the main character.

On a practical level, I’d say when it comes to romance options, genderflipping is likely to make more sense with a smaller cast, and be less necessary with a larger cast.

I’m the same, in this regard. I like having lots of women in the cast (a useful corrective to all the media out there in which women are apparently a tiny minority :roll_eyes:), but I only like romancing males, so… well, usually I end up selecting for a character to be male if I think there’s any chance I might want to romance them, and female if I’m sure I wouldn’t :sweat_smile:


#13

It depends.

If the main cast is small, then knock yourself out.

If the main cast is of considerable size, however, I would advise against it.

Another thing people pointed out is that you could take it a bit step further and make the personality of the two genders different. Hell, you could even make them two entirely different people (which is the case on a certain WiP that I’m a co-author of). Just keep track of your work and don’t get lost, and you’ll be fine.

As for the whole “gender preference” thing, I really couldn’t care less about a characters gender. All male cast, all female cast, a cast that favours one gender over the other; I’m okay with all of that. As long as the characters are likeable, well written and three dimensional, I’ll like them regardless of their gender.


#14

I’m still waiting for the mandatory “all random” game. :laughing: Though I’d want a cheat code to select them for doing something difficult.

I’d like a choice before you start the game with a brief description.


#15

Frankly, it depends. Many people get annoyed by genderlock for both NPC’s and characters but the choice is up to you. Giving the player more choice is always fun and appreciated but if you ask me, besides the main character and perhaps some of his friends and relatives (to give it a more personal and deep touch) , it’s more an outfit, a bonus than anything.


#16

Depends how much work the author is willing to put into it, Dandy/Daisy from Evertree Inn can genderflip and are indeed slightly different characters for it because they do have most of the male/female nuances, same thing in a somewhat lesser extent, because we can’t get further then snogging them yet would go for Simon/Suzanne from Choice of Rebels. They also change in nuance based upon gender. Then again @Havenstone is known for putting in crazy amounts of work that may not be for every author who wants to complete their work in say a year. :wink:

Still genderflipping can help out on the RO front if you’re working on a project with a limited cast, as even when adding the naunces the amount of extra work required is likely less then it would be for two fleshed out characters.

No surprise, I agree with @shield619 here Lizzy, considering I’m even thinking of making a mod for Choice of Rebels that will put in gender changeable characters in their male form “it’s raining men, hallelujah!” :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Again the best ones, Dandy/Daisy and Simon/Suzanne do change in those aspects based on gender without changing their overall character. They’re still roguish, mischievous flirts or stupidly brave and idealistic blademasters, but the small things like how they dress, talk/flirt and sometimes act is influenced by gender.

Hmm…Evertree was more on the small side with its main cast, on the other hand XoR is George RR Martin-esque with its huge cast that only looks set to grow in future installments. Yet in both the gender flipping characters do work. On the other hand XoR secret likely is that while it is huge in cast it is likely more limited in meaningfully fleshed-out RO’s.


#17

This needs to be a mod for every game. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I guess there can be an all-female one for @Lizzy, too. :thinking:


Myself, I don’t really mind. The only game I’ve really played in which I got to choose the ROs individually was Lost Heir, in which I made the ones I’d want to romance male, and the others female (so, kinda like @TSSL and @MockTurtle). I guess it’s a bit more obtrusive than just asking for your preference early on, and quietly switching the ROs to it, and it doesn’t exactly hide who’s available, but I generally prefer games that make the options clear early on over games that tease an option before killing them off or making them unavailable for other reasons…


#18

I don’t know. I guess some people like being able to choose the gender of a potential love interest, but personally I prefer to see character’s who’s name, gender and personality are already set. I guess I just like seeing really well-developed characters, and being able to choose personal things about another character makes them feel a bit less developed to me. That said, I have seen some gender-flippable characters that work really well.