Where are the aces (asexuals)?


#21

A thanks, for us celibacy includes both concepts. So I was confused about it. Asexuality for us is just the scientific term. It is weird how languages and society works. I bet many arguments on internet about all these themes are caused not by people being racist or real trolls, just don't understand other people came from other cultures with languages that use similar terms with other meanings. I suffered similar arguments not so far ago, nowadays I haven't so many, I want to think is because my English is getting better. Anyway, I apologize if I made someone feel uncomfortable.


#22

I've noticed this myself. I'm asexual and panromantic, so finding games with romance options that somehow suit my sexuality is really difficult. I tend to just try and ignore the sex scenes, or play as characters that don't have the same sexuality as me. Aro/ace is probably easier to cater to, as lots of games now have the option to simply say "I'm not attracted to anyone". I can understand struggling with adding an option of "I'm not attracted to anyone sexually but I'd totally cuddle with you" as there would have to be variations of each romance option on top of the variations that already exist. "Guenevere" managed it beautifully, as have other games, but I imagine it would cause issues.

We do like to be difficult, don't we?


#23

@LacetheDisgrace

I didn't actually think you were saying that you didn't think it was important. I think you had some valid points.

I think, "how do you include asexuality as a viable option in a romance game?" is an important question. (Actual question there people, please feel free to answer/discuss, I've some of my own thoughts on it).

If a lot of the game's motivations are based on romance, then how can you replace that, with the least amount of work and still have as satisfying a game.

In games where you're not explicitly said to have sex, then does it matter?

@JimD Couldn't you could play through Zombie Exodus without romancing anyone? Even if everyone wanted to throw themselves at you, you could be all 'nope'.

@Poison_Mara I think you want the word 'prejudiced' not racist. It's a better catch all term. So "Sorry if I sound prejudiced or something it is not clearly what I am, I just want to understand it "


#24

Word! :slight_smile: Invitations to things can make me nervous, because part of me fears that I've missed that someone's interested in me that way…again. To be fair, I have had a few folks respond great when I "came out", but…I've also had some folks respond very badly, where they seemed personally offended that I wasn't interested in sex or romance. And then there are the ones who have their feelings hurt and think I'm bullshitting to let them off lightly… [sighs]

Thanks! :smiley:

That's a good suggestion. :slight_smile:

Sounds fun. :slight_smile: Hope it works well with your story.

Who said writers were obligated to include it? I'm not seeing that anywhere in the thread.

Whatever a writer includes or doesn't include in a story—or a game—should stem from the story the writer is trying to tell, not because they've convinced themselves that they can't possibly write it (for whatever reason).

My understanding is that most people function with these things:

  • sexual attraction = a desire to have physical intercourse with someone
  • romantic attraction = a desire to have emotional intercourse with someone
  • libido = a desire to have orgasm

Each item has a scale, with multiple options for what's possible.

  • aromantic orientation = you never or rarely have a desire to have emotional intercourse with anyone
  • asexual orientation = you never or rarely have a desire to have physical intercourse with anyone

I don't really know of a word for "not having a libido", but that's possible too—and I don't think it necessarily means there's something physically wrong with you (though I think it more often means there is a health issue).

I myself am an aromantic asexual on the extreme end of the scale, where I have never felt attracted to anyone in a romantic or sexual way. To me, even kissing sounds unappealing and potentially unsanitary.

What's it like? It's… It's life without that drive or interest to have sex or romance with someone. Check the links Mirabella posted. I might have intellectual curiosity, but I don't have any drive or urge to try it, myself. If given the choice between a book of erotica and a book of logic puzzles, I'd take the logic puzzles.

In English, "celibacy" is only a lifestyle choice, usually for religious reasons. I am celibate, but that has nothing to do with my orientation. I live with a friend who is also celibate at this time, but she is heterosexual and wants to marry someday.

Being born with male and female anatomy is called "intersex". It's actually fairly common, with 1 in 2,000 people (or thereabouts) being able to qualify. Many situations are mild or only show on a genetic level. (Example: XY females don't know unless they have genetic testing.) In that situation, one gender tends to predominate, but more rarely, a person is effectively both. English doesn't have a set pronoun for that, despite multiple attempts through the years to create one.

No, it's often real, racist trolls. I say that nicely. I just… I have a lot of firsthand, in-person experience with the kind of jerks that people like assuming was just a misunderstanding.

…Even saying that much is coming close to triggering a panic attack, so I can't be any clearer. Sorry. :frowning:

Ah! A side effect of text's lack of tone. :slight_smile: Got it.

I understand why it rubs you the wrong way. There are folks who follow the process of "Where is this? Why is this hidden? Everyone needs to do it!" …and don't see the logic holes there.

Yay! :smiley:

I did the same thing in some of my writing, before I realized that I was asexual. (Short version: I was raised to believe that enjoying a guy's company = having a crush on him. My family loves redefining things…)

I'm going to enjoy that. :smile:

I don't think it's "difficult" to want some acknowledgement, every so often. But I am admittedly sensitized to that problem, because it has been life-threatening for me.

(Example: I'm highly allergic to strawberries, where even trace amounts in the air from fresh strawberries produces breathing difficulty, and…family put me in multiple situations that set it off, insisted it wasn't that bad, and scolded me for making others feel bad.)


#25

While I don't think asexuality—or anything—will “fit” with every story or game, asexuality is distinct from aromanticism. That is one potential way to incorporate it. You could have an ace of hearts (romantic asexual, interested in the relationship but not the sex), or flip it and have an aromantic X-sexual (interested in the sex, but not the relationship—which seems more accepted, in general, especially for guys).

The main orientation that would be a fish out of water in any "romance" game would be mine: the aro ace (AKA "ace of spades"). But depending on the setup, an aromantic sexual or a romantic asexual might still fit (and this entire discussion is making me want to write one, as if I don't have enough WiPs…) :smiley:

But having sex isn't really the point. Asexual orientation = no sexual attraction. So if a character experiences sexual attraction, that's not an asexual character, even if it's a celibate one.

Asexuals can have sex. Some do it for curiosity or to fit in; some do it because they're romantic and they're seeking to please their partner(s). I'm sure there are other reasons some do it.


#26

"How do you include asexuality as a viable option in a romance game?"

I suppose it could be as easy as - after the MC explains to his/her romance partner that they're not interested in sex - snipping out all the references to sexytimes.

The real problem I think would be to either have the romance partner blindly accept your asexuality (which seems unrealistic given that he or she is at least statistically likely to be sexual) or have the romance partner working to accept your asexuality (or, alternatively, admitting that the two of you are not a match and calling the romance off). It would take a good bit of extra writing to accomplish the latter. The writer must ask themselves if it's worth the additional time and effort to accommodate this (and other) possible scenarios.

It's a strange line to walk: the writer could end up alienating a great deal of the potential audience on one side and on the other side... well, let's be honest, the writer will never finish the story if he or she is too inclusive of the possible scenarios. Even if they were able to finish such an all-inclusive story, the end result would be a mess of pandering tripe as bland as a breakfast of stale cornflakes in water.

"In games where you're not explicitly said to have sex, then does it matter?"

No, I don't think it does. If sex is not integral to the story-line and has been given no importance over the course of the story, then I believe it's perfectly fine to let that part of the relationship develop in the reader's mind. After all, we're all biased, so while I will think "yep then we had loads of sex" others will think "yep and then we cuddled in a hammock on the beach" etc.

However, if sex is integral to the story-line and there is sexual tension between the one character and the MC, then leaving it unaddressed is just bad writing. Guenevere by @jeantown is a game that handles sexual tension and expectations really well. Simple and direct "I'm not into sex" or "I'm not into romance" works for this game because the story does not rely on either (even though it is strongly influenced by both). A story that does rely on a romantic or sexual factor, however, cannot get away with this because the story simply falls apart.


#27

Celibacy is not always a life-style choice. It can be a life-style choice, and that may be for religious reasons, however that's not always the case. There are any number of other reasons that a person may be celibate, which are not of their own choosing. I do think this is an important distinction.

Incidentally, I've got my own answers to those questions, I'm interested in what other people have to say first before I dive in with my own thoughts.


#28

Well neither is an option in some games, both for sexuality and gender. It usually leads to a fill in the blank about what to be called and such (see The Hero of Kendrickstone) Personally I'm not including homosexual relations in my games as so many authors have decided to do. It's going to be straight or none. Although due to the diversity of different species reproduction wise, a biologically asexual organism that literally duplicates itself may be added.


#29

I think a large part of it simply exposure and the ability (or lack there of) to actually learn about asexuals. Asexuals are what, somewhere around one percent of the population is the current estimate? LGB percentage is between five and ten percent depending on where you survey (dropping in places where LGBT rights are lower, funnily enough -_- but neither here nor there for this discussion, other than you can probably put actual numbers in the eight to ten percent range).

That's an indicator of how likely the average writer is to come across such people, and how likely it is to be able to easily compile good information on how asexuals might view a relationship, or how their opinions on any given thing may differ from someone that is hetero- homo- or bi-. For every ten or twelve people any heterosexual person might know, there's probably one LGB they know. For every hundred people one heterosexual (or homo- or bi-) person might know, there's probably one asexual. It's difficult to find information if you're searching for it. Imagine how difficult it is if you're not. Not trying to give it a by, just trying to indicate that even those trying to be inclusive might not have a lot to go on, or have an idea of where to start.

One common thread I notice reading a few things is asexual describing a moment of confusion at sexual attraction. I think this might be a key in understanding for writers, as it feels like the bit obstacle to overcome in lacking a frame of reference. I feel like I just don't have anything to compare to. For me, personally, as, I think, a (relatively) average heterosexual guy, everything is on scale of sexually appealing to sexually repulsive. Trying to imagine something from the perspective of an asexual feels like I'm trying to put NaN on a number line, or perhaps more readily, like I'm trying to imagine a world without curving lines. It feels a lot like the confusion I have when trying to wrap my mind around Prosopagnosia.

I think what I'm saying (beyond just giving my own bit to hopefully inspire more dialog), is perhaps something a little more robust might be helpful. Purely from a writing perspective I feel like I'm left with a lot of interesting ideas and concepts and thoughts, but no where really to go with them, and no solid answers.


#30

I'm not asexual or aromantic myself but I personally find asexual/aromantic characters in fiction fascinating (Mainly because I'd love to be one, things would be so much bloody simpler.) and I've often roleplayed as an asexual/aromantic so a lack of asexual options in games is really annoying for me, personally. I can't even imagine how annoying it must be for an actual asexual who probably wants to roleplay as themselves in CoG games, only to be railroaded into being heterosexual, homosexual or bi-sexual. (Although that last one is occasionally overlooked. Not nearly to the extent of asexual MCs, however.)


#31

I am heterosexual and I don't see EVERYTHING as sexual, you may be a bit overgunning it.


#32

Hence why I specified it as my perspective.


#33

Being Asexual myself, I like having the option but to me it is just one of those things that are nice to have but I don't need it.

I think if you have a good storyline, Having options to be Asexual,Aromantic etc don't really matter.

EDIT: Maybe I should elaborate, I think that if in a game you forced a character to be straight,gay(etc) and you manage to get people to still carry on reading and enjoy the story even if you are not that sexuality, Then it is a job well done. At the end of the day, If the story was enjoyed then I do not think these choices matter too much.


#34

Wow, the thread blew up while I was away. Where do I start...

@Wolfsra Very true smile Ultimately, the most important things are a good plot and engaging characters.

@jeantown Your game does a very good job of allowing realistic ace relationships smile

@Reaperoa It's hard to gather information on a demographic that's so small. With aces, it's even harder since a lot of them might not even know they're ace for a long time. Until recently, I assumed that I was straight but really bad at being straight. And if you ever have a question about writing asexual characters, there are plenty here on the forum to help you, including myself smile

@ballmot We learn something new every day! grinning

@poison_mara That's really interesting about celibacy in Spain. America is a very sexual country. If you say that you choose not to have sex, people think of you as a prude. If you say you just aren't that interested in sex, they think you're a freak. Maybe I should visit Spain...

And for everyone: I'm really happy that so many people on this forum are responding positively to the whole "asexual" thing.


#35

I wanted to bring up something in this thread and see what responses I got. Namely, Psy High.

Psy High simply would not work with an asexual protagonist, because part of the plot is how the protagonist's hormones are shutting off their brain when Tyler/Taylor is around, which expressly takes away agency from the player. I more-or-less forgave the author for that despite my cardinal directive of "do not tell me how I feel," because I understand that the tropes being worked with would not really work if the player did have the agency to say "Taylor is of no interest to me," and because the player wasn't forced to act on their crush (see: Heroes Rise). Regardless, a protagonist who did not have the necessary sexual or romantic interest to be vulnerable to Cupid's fickle arrows would not be reconcilable with that plotline, so either the possibility of asexuality or the decree that you're crushing on them would have to go.

Still, however, the idea reflexively leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I can't be the only one.


#36

@Ramidel

I actually preferred how Black Magic was implemented to Taylor/Tyler. I think part of that was I justify the Black Magic attraction as being some really dubious magic/mind-control/pheromones. Black Magic does use their sex-appeal to manipulate others, it's shown to us at other points in the game too, and not just with us. The other part was that it felt better integrated into the plot. Black Magic's important in Heroes Rise, you need them to gain access to certain things. (Being vague because spoilers.) They also take a key role in the Hero Project, whether that's as love interest, friend or enemy, and that again builds on the past interactions.

With Heroes Rise, you do at least have the option to opt out of a relationship now, even if you can't opt out of that desire.

I think Psy-High could be rewritten to have an asexual protagonist. You definitely can't currently play as asexual though.

Taylor/Tyler's not at all integrated into the plot, the relationship with them goes absolutely nowhere. I hated that forced attraction, especially since they struck me as so dull, but I kind of went along with it, and the pay off for going along with the game constantly telling you Taylor/Tyler is sexy, is that they break up with you at the end. That really, really annoyed me. Of course you're not forced to act on said attraction, but you are forced to feel it.

I disliked how we were forced to choose which of our friends we were attracted to right at the start. It just felt inappropriate to me. They're my friends, they're a couple, why would I want to check either of them out?

I also disliked the emphasis on needing to have a date to the prom, of the very idea of going it alone being something you should be ashamed of.

I know, I grumble about Psy-High, I did actually like the game.


#37

That made sense to me. Psy High just takes an exaggerated-to-the-point-of-parody view of high school's constant popularity contests and pecking order. If it looks shallow, stupid and pointless, that's the point.


#38

I think the "bad taste" element there is not so much what the author chose to do for that individual story vs. what that individual story represents, which is the usual default. Adolescent aces still have hormones…and we have people insisting there's something innately wrong with us or that we're liars if we are honest, so some of us learn to pretend, or assume that others feel no different from what we do, and we're just weird.

(Technically, aces can get what can be called "squishes", which is all the "I love hanging out with this person and enjoy their company!" without any romantic or sexual interest in there.)

Aces are often told that we don't—that we can't—exist. Stories that omit us are indicating that we don't exist in the context of the story. When kind of omission is the norm, then that's further indicating that we don't exist.

Extremes leave a person hypersensitive to further signs of that the extreme might be perpetuating or continuing or returning. It's a normal, comprehensible reaction. I'm afraid the simplest example coming to mind right now is…um…macabre.

I had a similar thought. smile


#39

My WIP has so many options. Including that one. :smile: I am about to upload a revised first day demo that includes more advanced gender coding (e.g. more specific trans identities) but you can already select "I am not interested in dating." This will hide sexual/romantically-oriented options (I've made sure to give players other options to gain the same in-game advantages, e.g. including "friend dates" to raise scores as well as romantic dates.) I am considering having a couple of romance-linked achievements (which are no problem to skip unless you are a hardcore completionist.)

I have also tried to assume that being interested in dating means you are interested in romance AND/OR sex, so should not force someone to respond at either extreme without giving them another option.

@ballmot - @Mirabella said it well, but to sum it up: Asexual is a sexual orientation (about who you are attracted or in this case not attracted to) not gender identity (about who you are.)

Yeah, I don't think everyone should force themselves to include these options… if you are resentful or misinformed about the categories you include, it will turn out badly. It is hard to do well. But important to some of us. :smile:

Ideally, everyone would research people until they understand them. In practice, people get overwhelmed trying to cram in an education about issues they could take years trying to understand from the outside. As long as games are not offensive or totally ignorant about certain categories of people, I think it's okay for that not to be the focus or a playable/main character represented.

The ratios of inclusive-to-non inclusive games will get better as people learn and get comfortable about differences, which playing the games of people who have educated themselves will help… it's slow but I do think it's working.

My answer would be "you don't." All games aren't all things to all people. I have one of five character classes that need romance and/or sex to have a decent shot at survival; they are the only ones who cannot play as asexual. But you could always include asexuals as secondary characters/friends/other NPCs, even if the player character does not make sense as asexual.

Everything you said. Also, celibacy is not the same thing as asexuality.

A lot of people complained about that! I personally was not attracted to Taylor/Tyler, I've always been more about mind, personality, etc. than sheer hormones or physical appearance. I wish it had not been part of the game, although I love the game and respect that the author wanted it that way.


#40

@Sashira I agree entirely about the whole Tyler/Taylor thing. Being told that I had a crush on someone I knew absolutely nothing about didn't really sit well with me. I understand that to add to the cliché high school story vibe Psy High had that something like that had to be included, but in a game genre based on choices taking away the ability to choose didn't really work. Still, I enjoyed the rest of the game and that was the only thing I really had a problem with.

I suppose the issue here really does just come down to how much people actually know about asexuality, if they've even heard of it at all. I've had to explain to several of the people I've "come out" to what it even means to be asexual, as many just assumed that I was talking about the scientific term (the amount of times I have been compared to a plant is unbelievable). Every family member I've told has reacted with that confusion, and only four of the friends I'd told understood what it meant without me telling them. One friend actually turned out to be asexual herself, which was a nice surprise.