Why are there so many HGs genderlocked to male?


Pretty clear by your words that it was.


No my line of thinking is that I don’t foresee the author allowing us to secretly reveal we were a woman all along. Not that it’s impossible to pull a Mulan in universe. Just as the MC as it’s clearly stated in the intro. We have to play a male for the purpose of the plot. I’d be happily surprised if we could be secretly a woman. I’d also be happy surprised if a taco truck pulled up outside my door giving free tacos. Both of those seem to have the same likelihood for the MC again. Not for anyone else.


In hindsight, I realise I haven’t actually stated my views on this topic here:

For the sake of people who don’t want to hunt it down in some other thread:

Power Fantasy is supposed to make you feel comfortable in your character’s body, in their abilities, in their decisions. The player is supposed to feel, to some extent, welcome in that narrative world. Verisimilitude exists for the sake of maintaining a suspension of disbelief, but if that sense of verisimilitude fatally compromises the player’s ability to act as a player character they are comfortable as, then verisimilitude or worldbuilding, or any sense of “reality” real or imagined must give way.

On the other hand, I write a series which is supposed to distinctly make you uncomfortable. You’re supposed to exist in a constant sense of insecurity, your position is never wholly secure, your decisions may have consequences which seem unexpected if not utterly unfair. The story does not bend to your will because you are “the player”. The world (not just the setting, but the narrative framework) has rules which are not designed for the player’s comfort, because that discomfort and that insecurity is intentionally being imposed to set a tone and make a point.

You are “genderlocked”, but you are also “classlocked”, “racelocked”, “positionlocked”, and “moralitylocked”, in positions which can be (and should be, in some cases) just as alien as playing someone of a different gender (although you are doing that anyway: the differences between Tierran conceptions of masculinity and “what it means to be a man” and our own are subtle at times, but omnipresent and may prove oppressive for some).

Note that all of this also applies for games which genderlock your player character as a woman, or non-binary person.


It’s still a well written story. I’m not really uncomfortable playing him. I mean unless you try to force a relationship like Lords of Aswick did in the next book ( and you’d be justified since the MC doesn’t have a younger brother in the infinity series) I do rather well being polite yet common and respecting everyone as equals. I know you might want to try to punish me for being open and respectful in your universe but I’ll cross that firing squad when I come in it.


To be honest i don’t have much interest in male locked unless it’s really good and even then i got better things to buy.
So yeah i don’t care.


It does bear repeating that Sabres of Infinity and Guns of Infinity are setup for the main arc, so a lot of those themes I’ve mentioned haven’t come to the fore yet, though they are there.


But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.


Well I’m sure my suffering will be well written so there’s some consolation.


Come on @Unsurprisinglyinsane, @Cataphrak has stepped in as one of the authors who has written a genderlocked game with an explanation as to why he’s done it, which was a question that was asked many times in this thread. No need to get nasty by making unnecessary comments like that. If you don’t want to read/buy it no one is making you, you can voice your opinion that you prefer non-genderlocked without targeting cataphrak’s work like you have in your last two posts, or at least be constructive about it. Everyone can have a discussion about it, just try to keep it civil otherwise authors will feel like not commenting at all.


Yes, please keep things civil. Respect each other and each of our individual opinions.


Honestly before seeing this thread I never even noticed there were male genderlocked games; most games I’ve played aren’t genderlocked but I think there were definitely a few that were, but I didn’t pay any particular attention to that fact. I sort of always mentally assume protagonists to be male in any generic story—dunno how to explain it, but basically if you say “I know someone who did this and that” and never mention the gender, I assume it’s a male. Especially if the story is an unfortunate one. I mostly play games with a male MC but if the story suits a female MC better or if certain RO are only available to a female MC I’m glad to play a female MC as well. It’s mostly the story that matters to me.

I’m not a game writer or anything but I do write, shorter stories when I was younger and now novels; I used to basically avoid female characters altogether because I just didn’t know how to write them at all. Now I’m able to get more female characters into my stories but they all have very, very strong personalities—I know how to write a generic male character that still has some personality, but any female character that I write without a strong personality just goes flat and unconvincing. It has never crossed my mind once to write a female protagonist because I know I wouldn’t be able to handle that. I feel some game writers might have similar concerns so they genderlock the MC.


I am going to have to argue against this point. I know and understand your reasons for what you do (as you’ve explained several times, including in this very thread), but this specific point is something I disagree with. It’s still not remotely comparable to being forced to play as the opposite gender of what you identify with. A man from the twenty first century being put in the position of a man from the fourteenth century may be very uncomfortable, but there is still a fundamental agreement in gender identity there. You are a man, you know you’re a man, and that’s a much better position to be in than a woman being required to both act as a man and adapt to the rapid change from twenty first to fourteenth century.


It would apply if there would be any games out there with this criteria. But those are still WIPs at best.

Also I agree with @Lotus above. It’s easier to play an MC who lives in a different age, a different world etc. but still identifies the same gender as I do. Actually I don’t think I could play a male character even if the world setting would be the same what we already know.


Point taken.
The markers of performative gender identity doesn’t necessarily make up the whole of gender identity. While “early-modern man” is a distinctly different social construct from “current day man”, there’s still a lot of continuity in roles, self-identity and social expectations, especially when compared to the differences between the constructs of “current day man” and “current day woman” let alone between “early modern man” and “current day woman”.

I really wish there were more, and as I’ve mentioned before I’m planning to write at least one or two myself down the line. I certainly don’t think the bar for the “acceptability” of stories genderlocked for women/NB PCs is as high, if nothing else because we don’t have enough of those kinds of stories as it is both in this medium and everywhere else.


This is from my personal experience:

I used to roleplay on forums a lot because it boosted my writing skills. And english isn’t my native language, so roleplaying helped me get familiar with it. However, a lot of my friends were comfortable with having a female character. So naturally, I had to stick with a male character because I was obsessed with romantic plots. I am a female, but it didn’t matter to me wether or not my character was a female or not. I’m comfortable with entangling into both my male and female characters. At that point I often roleplayed as the male. And it made me more comfortable with writing male characters. Gender shouldn’t decide personality traits. Choose a personality in beforehand. So that writing them makes it easier, because you have a base to start off to.

My advice is to write short stories or roleplays with a MC of your opposite gender. Not only does it make you more comfortable, but you’ll gain perspective. So if you want to expand your writing skills, then you’ll have to experiment with different genders and personalities. You won’t learn anything new if you stick to a certain type of character. Expand your imagination, there are endless of possibilities. If you aren’t comfortable with writing a female/male character, then start doing it. Just a few short stories can boost your skills.


While there are plenty of female-genderlocked IF stories, I’ve personally suggested that I’d like to see more female-genderlocked HGs.

As @Cataphrak has so eloquently noted, there are a lot of stories that can only be told with a particular type of protagonist, particularly if the story is about gendered power relations, and I think that while CoG’s requirement that official CoGs always be gender-and-sexuality-inclusive does wonders for keeping the catalog inclusive, I think it’d be better if we could count on the catalog as a whole to be strongly inclusive without necessarily having every story allow all options.


Personally, I think the CoG catalogue’s insistence on maximum gender-inclusivity is entirely warranted. Given the other design constraints, it’s pretty clear that the “brand” is a level of power fantasy which allows anyone from any group to be comfortable in their character and the world that character inhabits as they do the things they imagine themselves doing.

“Allow all options”, in this case, I think is less restrictive than some of the other design principles (“Start in medias res” and “no deaths until 85% through the story” for instance).


As long as HG exists, it isn’t a very big deal about the CoG limitations, because everyone has the option to ignore them and put their story out as is on the HG label.


Well, for the record, I do almost exclusively play male characters (except dragons? :dragon_face:), though I’d say this is mainly because I feel very starved of stories with gay protagonists, and I really only go for male ROs, so there you go.
But I’m also always leery of male-locked games going in. The only one I’ve bought was Choice by Gaslight: Study in Steampunk, which I liked despite being gender-locked, but I don’t think it needed to be. And this is even though I’d be playing male anyway—I just don’t feel that comfortable with them.

Oh, and I also would rule out buying a heterosexual-male-locked CoG. If it’s a game in which romance or sexual orientation just never come up, that’s fine.

That said, why is this almost always used as a reason to write male characters in male-only situations? Why not spend an equal amount of time writing about female-only historical situations?

If a discriminatory society is going to be your setting, this is all the more reason for the story to really look into the people affected by the discrimination, and have a story about their experience. Yet I usually see “this society is sexist” being used to say “therefore I don’t need to write about women” rather than “therefore I shall write about women.”

(I also still think a matriarchy could be an interesting setting, since there’s no reason that men should always be the ones on top in any fictional society… and that way the people who are hurt the most by sexism in real life wouldn’t be the ones dealing with it in the game…)

I’m not sure what you really mean by useless. Even if a gender choice changes nothing but pronouns, it’s useful in that it allows someone to conceptualize their character as they wish. When you’re used to certain types of characters being effectively ignored, it can be refreshing just to get to see them take center stage. Why should a story with a female MC or a story with a male one be that much about being female or being male? Why couldn’t they be, well, basically the same story?

Not that this is relevant to any actual points, but that description basically sounds like me :laughing:

(Well, except I hope I’m not generic :stuck_out_tongue:)

Agreed; in my experience, the worst female characters are written by people who are trying too hard to write a female character. It’s when someone is trying to capture what they think to be a female perspective, and it just turns into a stream of "boys… also clothes… self-anxiety… I’m very sensitive and subdued… very emotional… hmm, boys…"
I’ve read stories like that.
(Not that insecure boy- and clothes-obsessed women [or men for that matter :grin:] are necessarily bad characters… but… you can kind of tell if someone’s just stringing together “women are like that” rather than having a fuller personality which happens to fit some of those traits :thinking:)

Authors really can use the same techniques to characterize their female characters as they do for their male ones.

As far as the “Strong Female Character” thing, I do think some people interpret that as “we will have one capable female fighter who does lots of action stuff but doesn’t really have any character development and, uh, why would we have any major female background characters, or relationships between women?” That’s… not really what it means :sweat:
(It boggles my mind how many recent movies that are getting more female leads still have overwhelmingly male casts for everyone else… ruins my suspension of disbelief to smithereens, if we wanna talk about realism :roll_eyes:)

I think in most cases the way other characters would interact shouldn’t have that much to do with the main character’s gender :grimacing: only if it’s a sexist setting, or if the other character is a romance option who is specifically gay or heterosexual. Otherwise, why would it be coming up?

Not for people who have a specific gender they want to play as, no.

Yeah, I really enjoy the point about it throwing people off :smiling_imp:
I often feel like the complaints about games being written with a specific gender in mind say more about the complainer’s assumptions than about the game itself.

Yay… self-fulfilling prophecy… :weary: marketers are like “women aren’t buying this, so we’ll market it to men” and then no wonder that more men are buying them… :man_facepalming:t2:

Well, let’s just say, if you feel it shouldn’t matter, then why is it that it disproportionately doesn’t matter in men’s favor? If it truly didn’t matter, we wouldn’t see a huge overrepresentation of male-locked games.

It’s not that people can’t relate to people of a different gender, but why should it unequally be women having to make the effort to relate to a male character rather than men relating to a female one?

Hmm, just thinking about solutions here, if that’s something that comes up more than once or twice, I don’t think it’d be weird to have a height choice. You could even possibly frame it using that scenario itself, like "NPC is very tall. He (towers over me since I’m so short / is still much taller than me even though I’m about average / is about the same height as me.)"
I mean, people tend to disagree about how much appearance customization they like, but I feel like if it’s something you’re making use of like this, it could be worth it :man_shrugging:t2:

(And similarly with the picking up and carrying bit, really.)

Ew, yeah, and this is also extremely aggravating if you have a male MC you want to play as gay :confounded:

More subtly, I’ve also come across plenty of works that describe female characters in terms of attractiveness and male characters in terms of distinctive features, regardless of what the main character’s perspective’s supposed to be, because apparently they think that’s just the way to talk about female looks, while male attractiveness is like an alien concept or something. That’s definitely something I’d counsel avoiding. My general favorite approach is to just describe what characters look like in fairly neutral terms and let the reader decide if that sounds attractive or not. But I think Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven has a good alternative approach, where it has extra descriptors for characters that will only display based on your MC’s sexual orientation.

I haven’t read that game, but… yeah, this is the kind of thing I’d also object to as a gay male :confounded: I’ve definitely run into imbalances elsewhere where, like, other characters would joke about shipping the main character with a female character and suchlike, and everyone would generally just act like they’re assuming you must be into women, which is a little distressingly like real life :disappointed_relieved:

Oh, and one other thought that came to mind… rather than gender-locking, strictly speaking, have there been any situations where it’s made sense for a game to be, say, DFAB-locked, or DMAB-locked, but the main character still gets to pick their own gender identity? Like, taking the scenario people were talking about with all-male armies… it could be interesting to have a game focusing on a DFAB person entering such an army, and focusing on the challenges related to that, but the player still gets to decide if the character really identifies as a man as is getting to present his own identity, or if the character identifies as a woman but is in disguise to be able to join. That kind of thing :thinking:
(I mean, in situations where someone argues for a genderlock, a lot of times I don’t see why it needs to be a lock on gender itself and why the MC couldn’t be trans :thinking:)


This is pretty much the reason I avoid male genderlocked games: I always feel that the game will be far harder to play as a gay guy (who’s looking for romance) than one which has female MCs and thus will spend more time on male ROs. Just once I’d like to see someone writing a male genderlocked game with only male ROs available… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: