Would you play a game with gender specific ROs but variable PC?

Something I have been thinking a lot about about lately is the idea of games where the reader can select their gender and appearance but the ROs are locked to being a specific gender (and player sexual). I think there’s some solid pros with this approach, in particular that it allows for ROs that feel more legitimate in their character based on their gender, and allows a greater range of character types and personalities which can be shown off in the story.

What do you think? I think this approach might be ideal for some of the HC games in particular (clearly there’s some games there that do have only male or female ROs but those tend to be gender and sexuality specific games typically).


There are definitely games like this. I don’t know the statistics of what’s most common, but there are several variations of whose genders are selectable and what their orientations are. Though I don’t think it’s very common to be able to select ROs’ orientations (I am aware of one in which one character always has the same orientation as you, and yours is selectable).

I personally prefer ROs that are gender customizable, but there’s nothing wrong with set genders. It’s certainly easier to write :joy:! The only thing I’m ever concerned about is making sure there’s a reasonably similar amount of ROs available for a player (for example: 2 male ROs and 6 female ROs feels off)


All of the ROs in Tin Star, which is my “best CSG of all time”, are set-gender while PC is variable. Same with ZESH, which I also adore. However, I am also quite fond of Wayhaven, Evertree, and Fernweh, which have variable ROs. I’d say that it depends on the game.


Yeah, I’m with you on this.

From a writing perspective, I prefer set genders (helps to solidify the character for me, that way, which makes it easier to write).

However, from a playing perspective, I’m to the point where I will probably avoid games with set gendered ROs unless I know up front there’s one that would appeal to me. I mean, if TWC had it set as Nate/Adam and Farah/Morgan, I would’ve quit playing after the first book. With no Mason as the anchoring RO, I don’t have the patience to play the other three paths. At all.

Same with Fernweh–if R was female, I wouldn’t play the game.

That said, there are cases where it works for me–I, the Forgotten One and Tin Star. Breach: The Archangel Job also works. But those three, I think those are the exception, rather than the norm (for one thing, ItFO is so damned good, I’d play it if there were no romance at all, even if I do love Milon for my poor MC).

Most times, it just doesn’t work–the fact that the ROs’ are set genders is exactly why I don’t like The Golden Rose, because the only real romance so far doesn’t work for me (I wish Alessa were male, dammit… I can’t abide Hadrian).

@Snowflower Who’d you romance in ZESH? I had played that before I started diving the code on every single game before playing (or as I play), and my MC never got a LI. I vaguely remember her flirting with someone, but it went nowhere. I haven’t had the desire to go back and play after that. I spent too many hours on that game hoping for something good and getting squat. I suppose I could dive the code, but… meh.


Reilly and Woody are my two favorite guys, though Brody is a close second and it’s worth playing as a guy for Tommy IMO. As for girls, I’m fond of Rachel.

I think you may like Reilly and Lopez (he can be romanced by a female PC with 75 persuasion; he’s bi but prefers men) the best.


most games is already like that, most ro’s are always male though, very rare nb or female (usually it’s something like 6 male and 1 female or gender-select). Most people are pretty ok with this, they just don’t like when it’s the other way around, I guess.


I’m not sure about this… I think this is an exaggeration. Most games (at least the ones I’ve seen) have a pretty even split. There’s usually a majority, but only by one or two. I’ve never seen a majority by 5.


Well… my current character list (which probably will not all be included – I’m in very early brainstorming stages) has 11 men, 5 nonbinary people, and 4 women, so it definitely is not an even split. But I’m also very aware that that’s a problem… I just have no idea how to write women.

I don’t mind predetermined genders and orientations on RO’s as long as my PC is customizable


If games do have a combination of set ROs I will always prefer games as a straight male reader to have enough female ROs, ideally about three to four (more likely means each one isn’t developed enough, two or one probably means that you are stuck with a limited selection of personalities). Large amounts of specific gender ROs are probably better when there’s a Poly option. :sweat_smile:

Life Gives You Lemons appears ideal with six gender selectable interests since the writer has developed each distinctively and who work as male or female as far as I can tell (the use of short stories setting up their backgrounds is a great idea).

I think there’s definitely a need for more female ROs in romance focused games, especially in the HC line. I do find the concept of writing for the opposite sex as geldar states an interesting one since as a male reader I have read a lot of fan fiction by female writers where they clearly struggle with a male perspective, and vice-versa.


Technically I’m nonbinary, but… yeah I am AMAB. But in addition, I like men/masculine people. So… It’s both being AMAB and not having any sexual or romantic interest in women.

This feels like the most common setup - for CoGs anyway. I don’t see anything wrong with it and indeed, I really enjoy playing and writing games like this (although I’ve currently been writing gender-selectable characters, my first game didn’t have that). There are pros and cons to both approaches.


Honestly my preference, since I feel that there’s a greater likelihood for the story to acknowledge gender at all (instead of just swapping pronouns but being totally neutral otherwise). I prefer set orientations for ROs as well for the same reason, so like there can be some comment on the relationship being gay or something. But gender selection is absolutely necessary for me, or at least being locked to female since I absolutely refuse to play as men in anything (you realize just how fucking few games have female/variable protagonists when you have this restriction).

I prefer set genders and set orientations because first, it’s usually easier to write for the author, and second, it just feels more realistic. I’m also not a fan of an even split for that same reason, I like it when it’s tilted one way or another, Even as a straight dude, it does limit me, like in Golden Rose. It just feels more organic that way… An author shouldn’t have to feel like they’re being fair to both sides by making sure the genders are equal, an author should write what they want to write and let it flow. Naturally, what happens happens. in general, set gender are O‘s seemed the most common to me, games, like ZESH, breach, a lot of the less romance, focused games. It’s in games that focus more on the romance and want a wider array of players interested in romance, where more gender selection. Orientation locking is even more rare, there are only a couple examples of that.

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Personally, I prefer ROs to have set genders far more than selectable ones, both as a reader and as a writer. There is something important lost when the character’s gender can just be changed on a whim and they end up feeling less defined as characters, in my experience.


I’m a bisexual male myself so RO with set gender or selectable, doesn’t make much of a different for me.

I’m more interested in their personality over-all. Thought i do prefer if the PC is customizeable.

I’m just not fond of with pre-set PC.


This is the main time where I find acknowledgement of gender more interesting. I like it when non-gender-selectable characters play with or subvert real-life gender roles or presentation in some way. I also love to see characters bonding over shared experiences, such as nonbinary characters chatting about what gender means to them or a game acknowledging that an MC and an RO are both trans women.

I see comments like the below often come up during discussions of this topic:

I’d be interested to see this sort of thing unpacked a bit more, because I don’t think I understand what making an RO “feel more legitimate” means and what it has to do with gender. I’d also be interested to hear what “less defined as characters” vs “more defined as characters” means re gender because I don’t think I understand that either. Is it that gender-selectable characters themselves are harder to get to know for players/writers? That players/writers aren’t sure what the characters look like?


For me, it’s that. I’ve written three games which all had ROs with set genders, and I think I can picture those ROs (both appearance-wise and personality-wise) better than I can picture the ROs from my current WIP (which has four ROs who are all gender-selectable). I couldn’t even tell you what their hair colors are as I’m just that unsure. :sweat_smile:

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I find that curious as well, and not only since most of the time when I write I don’t have a slightest idea of the characters’ genders or apperances until I absolutely need to address it.