Like…I actually played the demo. The MC is 100% female. Wears female clothes and is referred to in female pronouns.
And I read a post by the author stating her intentions with the game:
So, as you see, the game is not genderlocked, just unfinished.
Whoops, I stand corrected.
Still enjoyed playing as a female in the demo though.
Yeah I must admit, sometimes it gets hard to write down here. The cave’s dark and the paper keeps getting wet. Not to mention that webbed hands are not designed for holding pencils properly.
Edit: Whoops, I wasn’t supposed to confirm any rumours about non humans being on this forum was I?
Cosplay isn’t allowed
Seriously though - is that picture of the cave divers yours, it is wonderful.
lol sorry. (Puts the fins away.)
I wish! But no, I was just with the person who took it. He’s an amazing photographer https://www.erezbeatus.com/
I mean, I really don’t think it’s wrong of us to argue in favor of including us in more games, and to make counterarguments against various justifications for these locks. We can certainly say that we think it would be valuable, and that we disagree with most of the stated reasons, and what we would or would not be willing to accept in a game that we’d buy, while acknowledging that, sure, when it comes down to it, an author can write whatever they want. But we have every reason to be vocal of our preferences, especially when those preferences are usually marginalized.
Hmm, looking at Choice of Games’ roster, I’m seeing a significant number of women authors, though I don’t always know the authors’ genders. Could be interesting to do a count, I suppose, but… I’m pretty skeptical that most authors would be men, all else being equal. Just, anecdotally, I feel like I’m pretty constantly surrounded by female authors, and then just looking at books that are out there, there’s pretty huge numbers of women writing… it’s mostly when you get into the really big industry, big money things that things get more imbalanced… and that’s when unequal institutions are at work, so it’s not exactly equal practices…
And in several cases, giant letters are running around
Ya - you pegged that one to a “T” didn’t you, you smart cookie, you.
Active conversation, lots of great posts, lots of confrontation too as one might expect.
I just want to pop in here because Aswick has been mentioned a fair amount, as seems to be tradition whenever genderlocking becomes a discussion.
Lords of Aswick was in concept very much in line with traditional knightly tales of chivalry and whatnot, including the presence of a strong male character in the lead. At the same time I also wanted to deconstruct the historical timeline of those stories, doing away with plate armour for example and detailing a tourney that isn’t just two guys on horses trying to lance each other off the saddle.
At the same time I was definitely very much aware of the fact that I had not had experience writing female characters. I also did not want to write a female character in Aswick either. The story of a woman rising to prominence would have been a completely different kind of tale altogether and would not help deconstruct tales of chivalry. That tale would have had a plot much more similar to what I am writing now in the sequel.
At the same time, I did not want to rule out the possibility of warrior women. The queen of Norwall was a notable warrior before having been married to the King, at which point the ability to march to war was removed from her because of Norwallian traditions. Hence, I kept my options open for sequels that I had already been planning at that stage. I knew already then that I would be opening up the choice for female characters as well, once I had more experience.
I made the decision to genderlock to female in the sequel and use it as a way to unlock the two last titles from genderlocks, if the reader chooses to go that route. And as I’ve said before, it was in part a decision based on the forum activity regarding the lack of female genderlocking and prevalence of male genderlocks that drove me to that decision. I feel like that kind of a choice-based result effecting the following titles in a major way should be a cool thing for anyone who does read it.
Of course, this entire conversation about expanding from male genderlocks is a moot point if you don’t intend to support authors who do vary things up.
By the so far announced dropoff in readership, I don’t expect that choice of switching to female lock to be a good one to me from an economical point of view. So all of you who have mentioned Aswick and said you uninstalled the game right after noticing the genderlock to male, y’all better stand behind those words and install the sequel purely on that merit too!
Keep in mind that I haven’t played your game, so I don’t know the story details exactly, but what you said made me think of something to ask.
I’ve mentioned this earlier in the thread but nobody really commented on it; you say you lacked experience to write female characters, but still went ahead and did this queen warrior, why not the same for the player then? What of other female NPCs that appear in the game? If one says they have little experience in writing female characters, shouldn’t this also count for ALL other female characters in the game, not just the MC?
Be careful assuming this however, because things are not so simple. The fact that this game is one of the sequels, one might not be willing to “start” from it. Like in Saints Row 1 and 2, where only the second gives you gender choice, someone might avoid playing the second at all since they don’t know what happened in the first game and then end up avoiding the entire series because they don’t want to play the first genderlocked game and don’t want to start from a sequel.
What’s worse is that this one also being genderlocked to female may end up having the same effect for those that played the first game, don’t want to play this one and then avoid playing the next sequels that you mentioned aren’t gender locked because they missed what this sequel offered to the series.
There’s a big difference between a character and a POV character, especially when you get to make decisions belonging to the POV character.
There’s a whole different realm of internal dialogue which, even if not present as actual dialogue, still makes an appearance within descriptions of action, of how one regards other people, etc. As a male writer, I am able to assume quite safely how a male character, especially a strong fairly martially-focused male character thinks and behaves in different situations. Inevitably a female, or any other, point of view will be different, the challenges and benefits different.
With other characters I can rely on my experience with other people instead from my own external point of view. I’ve known and know women who are very independent and headstrong, same for more socially girly types who have no interest in that kind of physical or mental strain if they can avoid it. I can pull on those experiences to describe my female characters from the point of view of a man.
Now, obviously that has changed. With Diamant Rose and Golden Eagle especially I’ve found I’m much more in tune with female characters, or at least think I am, which is thanks mostly to getting to write these characters more and getting into their heads as well to a degree. Hence my confidence in jumping to a female POV.
Oh, I’m painfully aware. The stories themselves skip through time a fair amount thanks to their generational nature, so there are already blanks to be filled no matter what between stories. I am hoping that will mitigate the effect, but at the same time I’m confident I’m shooting myself in the foot by doing this.
However, this is how I want to take the story forward and it is my vision for the next titles, so I’m prepared to take a slap in the face for it. Any artist should be, no matter what kind of art they do.
My hope, in part, is that bold moves like this will also maybe spark intrigue as to what happened in between or in the first one, or prod people to take the leap into a title they weren’t quite sure about. Maybe even help appreciate these as the works of literature that they are instead of a game. Yes, it is a game, you make decisions, but it is also to a great degree just an e-book as well.
That actually makes me think of the basis for arguments quite often found in these threads. “Why can’t you just write X kind of character in your story? Realism isn’t an argument, you can do what you want with the world!” Which is obviously a valid argument that authors need to hear in order to break them from their own norms, but I would much rather hear the oppositely posed question: how many otherwise excellent books have you left on the shelf because the protagonist is/isn’t an X?
Quite a few in recent memory, actually. I used to devour as much sci-fi and fantasy books as I could when I was much younger (and pre-Internet days obviously).
Then when I started to become more aware…and we’re talking grade school here…I found out how many women authors took male pseudonyms because they were told people wouldn’t buy their books otherwise. Funny, isn’t it, to be told in school that you can become anything you want and then find out women have to hide who they are because their sex makes them ‘lesser’, especially in the eyes of the gatekeepers. Interesting lesson to figure out in third grade (this would put me around 8)
Those same authors were often told that having the story focus on a female main character was also a good way to kill sales. Hell, Andre Norton would sometimes tell of the hell she went through from other established authors at the time…calling her a pretender, etc. I think Isaac Asimov was among the worst, but his track record and relationships with women isn’t exactly good.
The final straw came when, as a female, I was told I shouldn’t read those same works because ‘only boys read sci-fi/fantasy’. The exact same argument when I got into table top role-playing games, or video games.
Now that the market has actually expanded on various fronts, I do put back books if it basically boils down to generic white male (in his 30s and with a scruffy beard…even book covers can follow the same trends as games). One reason I love David Weber is because of his Honor Harrington series…and got into it because it did buck the normal ‘trends’.
That is the best way to try and do these things. To me, it also shows a willingness on your part, as a writer, not to just sit in one comfortable zone.
And if you decide to not to gender lock your second Aswick game because of the financial risk? That is a legitimate concern. So, if you changed your mind to make it open to everyone, I would understand…and I still would buy it, especially because you would have opened it up.
Yes I can understand that there is the difference of the POV, but to me it doesn’t sound all that different. The other NPCs you may say that you are basing them on others, but you are the one that defines every aspect of them: behavior, aspirations, personality, etc. Essentially, you are writing from their POV but just not presenting their POV for the player to know or dictate.
I’d say that for POV character it’s actually even simpler, since you would just need to present the options to the player, and let them pick the character’s personality and behavior, while for NPCs you have to do it all of it yourself. You are still writing it all, sure, but having the player have a hand in the personality of their character on my view is enough to make him identify with him better without him feeling “this doesn’t feel like a woman”.
From what you mention in the game I assume it is a society where women have less power? Shouldn’t their actions differ based on the reduced status, not because of them being female? It would be similar if you were writing some story about a marginalized group, such as foreigners or dark skinned people during slavery eras; they would have a minority status, but they would still be human in the same way as the majority group, capable of the same personalities and behaviors.
There is also the matter of gender norms etc for behavior and personality, which would be another discussion; I don’t see why you need to link personality and behavior with gender. As we all know from life experience and from the previous posts, people come in all types and personalities; one can have X personality being either male, female or NB.
Can you detail what exactly you felt that changed? What was the experience that you gained and what is the difference that you feel between writing male and female characters now? What do you need to differ between these two groups when writing them? And how much does this difference depend on their minority/majority status in the world the story is set in?
Actually, @Lys has given the perfect example as to how the internal dialogue and approach changes, and how societal expectations have a different effect to everything involved in daily life. I can’t just write a bland nondescript POV that you can fill in, I want to approach subjects which are painful, hard to swallow, and outright offensive. Especially when it comes to the little things.
I don’t have experience with those kinds of things. I probably do some really shitty things to other people without realizing it because I don’t realize what their point of view is.
It’s not the personality that I as a writer impose on the reader or POV character that is the issue. It’s the choices one makes when confronted with something, or the nature of the things that confront the character.
That’s the kind of nuance I lacked and still very much lack, but now I’ve had experience to the degree that I can write a character well enough (I hope) to do some justice to the life of a 13th century woman who purposely and/or inadvertently gets involved with potentially society-changing events.
Speaking as someone who probably have the most right to be “offended” by the remark you quoted, I really don’t see this as a problem. If someone says “I don’t like genderlocked-male games and I don’t buy them”, how is that different from me saying “I don’t like games which take obvious design cues from shounen anime and I don’t buy them” (I don’t, and I don’t)?
The author has made a design choice, and someone in the prospective audience has chosen to react to it. If that audience member chooses to avoid a title which you think they would genuinely enjoy, or find enlightening/educational, that is their loss alone.
While the author may lose that person’s potential custom (and the custom of others), the responsibility for that loss is solely on the shoulders of the author themselves, who can only stick by their design decision, or change it if they feel it was a mistake.
This is actually easier said than done, especially when referring to groups who are neck-deep in kyriarchy like noblewomen in the high medieval period. They are a marginalised group in the sense that there is another group which polices their actions and opinions, and tightly controls what they can and cannot do, but within those tight bounds, that marginalised group often has a great deal of power their own right, possibly, some cases, more than that of their “privileged” counterpart.
The best example I could think of in regards to the aforementioned example is the power of high medieval noblewomen over their husbands’ estates, especially as the chatelaine would often end up in charge of home defence while her husband was away on campaign, at court, or otherwise indisposed. This meant that while she was marginalised in the sense that she was hemmed in within a narrow “encouraged” path (which some women defied anyway), but held an immense amount of pervasive power and prestige within that path.
Honestly, in the case of something like what @Goshman goes for, with a more or less semi-abstracted view of what the Western European high middle ages were (with the serial numbers filed off to protect the guilty) with at least semi-authentic gender roles, I’d rather play a more focused game specifically on the experience of being a chatelaine – of maintaining the estates, and riding herd on the footmen, and grinding the sugar yourself in the middle of the night because none of the cookservants can be trusted with such a valuable substance – than a game where you ignore that particular part of society, or one that spreads itself thin trying to let you be a vicious mailled thug or a vindictive domestic tyrant.
Beta testing can be so very helpful here, too, I think…I know I find it absolutely critical for everything from trying to write romance to trying to write male OR female characters, or a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, or different kinds of neurodiverse characters…. Super helpful to have a large group of people pointing out problematic or awkward sections. I feel really fortunate to have access for the forum community, in part because of betas for all kinds of characters (PC and otherwise).
Speaking as a customer who seeks out different experiences, I would love a game like this because it would be different from the majority of stuff in Hosted Games. Of course, it may not be as commercially viable…but I would love it. Of course, I have admitted in other places that I do seek novelty in IF more now, than the general topics covered.
And for those who still like combat, this would also be a case where the noblewomen sometimes did defend the estates, sometimes even taking part in battle…say from an avaricious neighbor. Of course, political intrigue would be just as much or more fun.
Even if it is a side path, it would be interesting to have the option to “hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats” as Jeanne de Clisson did.
How is a non gendered POV bland? And how does it disable you from exploring such subjects? And if you want players to experience these hard subjects wouldn’t it be even more effective if they were on the receiving end?
With the commonly suggested cross dressing scenario for genderlocked ganes, there is no need for a completely different story. Some specific sections sure, but the main story would likely remain largely the same.
You’re missing the point here.
These outward markers of power and marginalisation are themselves signs of internalised tendencies. If someone is socialised and raised as a young noblewoman, they’re going to think very differently from someone who was raised and socialised to be a knight, even if they don’t want to be. By the time humans reach maturity (which is to say, by the time they reach the point where most of these stories start in earnest), they’ve ceased to be the genderless infant they were at birth, and have had the expectations and internal controls of a defined gender imprinted on them.
That isn’t to say that rebellion against their assignment isn’t possible, or even undesirable, but even if someone cross-dresses (or even fully transitions) and manages to “pass” successfully, the way they think is still going to be different due to the fact that for a good chunk of their life, they were taught to fulfil an entirely different gender role. For games which delve deep into internal expectations, mindsets, and internal dialogue this is an important point, and getting it wrong will feel wrong.