Would Only Using 'They/Them' pronouns count as 'gender-locked'?

A game I’m considering making is an m|m romance, but I’m toying with the idea of having the protagonist referred to by they/them pronouns so that nonbinary and female-identifying players wouldn’t feel gender-locked as a man. Would people still consider that gender-locked, as they can’t choose their preferred pronouns?

The character themself is kind of a preset. I’m planning on making their name customizable, but they have an established background and personality. The story will probably even be in first-person, further taking away the idea that the MC is the player themselves (though they have plenty of say in what the MC does).

Another concern I had is whether making their gender ambiguous somehow takes away from it being a ‘gay’ game. The male ROs can fall for each other, so it’s not as if they’re strictly MC-sexual.

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Maybe I’m missing something, but it sounds like a contradiction, either it’s a m/m game, in which the character is a “he”, or it’s a gender-choice with x/m romances. You can’t have both.

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Yes, I would absolutely consider that genderlocked. To refer to me as “they” is exactly as wrong as referring to me as “he.” I wouldn’t mind playing a genderlocked nonbinary character, but then I wouldn’t mind playing a genderlocked man either. If I didn’t feel comfortable playing a character with a different gender identity, I wouldn’t be willing to play as nonbinary.

Question: would this game be sexually explicit at all? If so, how would you describe the main character’s body?

Question: what does it mean to you for a game to be “gay”? Why is it important to you that this be a “gay game”? What would be lost if the main character could be a woman?

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@quartz I originally envisioned it as a m/m romance, but this is about me considering turning it into an ‘x/m’, as you put it.

Thank you for your insight!

Not explicit, though I might include the choice to take part in sex, then have it happen off-screen or cut to right afterwards. I would avoid any descriptions that would ‘give away’ the character’s sex.

A lot of romance-focused games tend to focus on female characters, especially under Heart’s Choice (though this game won’t be submitted to Heart’s Choice). I enjoy m/m romances and wanted to see more games specifically tailored to that experience, so I’m making one myself. Also, some of my favorite original characters are men-loving-men and I wanted my first story to feature them.

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Well, if that’s the case, go for it! But don’t lock the pronouns to “they”, it’s very confusing. I would suggest you go the classic “pick she/he/they” route.

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In that case, I’d likely rather stick to referring to them as he/him. Thank you for your replies!

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I think you aren’t focus this in a productive story driven way, In my humble opinion the question should be primary Would my story gain both in quality and in convey the message and emotions I want for my story if I genderlocked it?

If the response is yes, go for it. If the response is no. The story will be the same, then the most inclusive would be not genderlocked it.

But this is a question only author can response in their mind. Asking others, by my own experience, will only confuse you.

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Yeah, I get in my own head and overthink things a lot, hence me wanting to ask for outsider opinions. I think I’ve decided to keep it gender-locked as male, regardless of whichever way the common consensus for this topic goes.

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I think you should either stick to gender locked male, or have the gender choice expanded to include female. Otherwise, it’s still kinda gender locked.
And as some unwarranted advice: I would suggest to any author to include gender choice UNLESS the gender of the character is important in some way. For example, is it important to you that the story is a gay romance, or is that just how you originally envision the character?

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Both! It’s as simple as me wanting to see more games centered on m/m romance and deciding to write one myself. Nothing against stories that allow gender and sexuality choice, of course. It’s not even that important to the story, it’s just my preference, as I mainly play gay/bi/pan male characters in other games.

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If you want to go for a m/m romance, I say go for it. Don’t try to disguise it as something it’s not, though. It’s your story, so tell it with the MC you want. Chances are, if you do it the way you want, the story will benefit from it.

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This to me is more a gender-ambiguous/gender-unrevealed game unless somewhere there are other hints or it is outright stated what the MC identifies as specifically. There’s definitely a strong association and correlation between gender and pronouns; it’s not especially common for cis-gendered individuals to be using they for instance although it does happen. However, ultimately no pronoun can define for us someone’s gender, particularly in this case since “they” is frequently used for anyone whose gender and pronouns are unknown for whatever reason. A lot of people would still strongly prefer using their own pronouns though and/or may consider this gender-locked.

That all said, I agree with the above people who’ve suggested if your heart is writing a mlm game you should go ahead and do so without any ambiguity. I’m glad you’ve settled on that as a choice. You shouldn’t have to feel obligated to compromise your vision.

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Just my opinion I do think it is gender locking, I like what another person on here said about just following your vision and what’s important to you. One thing I will say is that what your describing will turn some people away because what people tend to love about the games on here IS the choices from deciding the gender, the looks and the personality even the history of our MC, I may not mind playing a gender lock but the fact that it sounds like I’m not going to have allot of options when it comes to the MC’s personality turns me off allot more and maybe I misinterpreted what you wrote that’s just what it sounds like right now hell it even sounds like you should be writing a book instead of game. :books:

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i do feel like not he/him gender if i keep being referred as they despite i already declared as a man. the fact that characters ignore my identity indeed hurt my feelings