As I’ve said in other threads, it’s not even based on actual history. Prior to the Reformation, the Church was mostly fine with homosexuality, generally seeing it as something worthy of chastisement at most. (There were even Brotherhood ceremonies that were often used as a form of gay marriage.) There were definitely exceptions, some of them pretty bad, but they were pretty few and far between. The main problem for gay men would be from social pressure to marry and have children, and that would only really have applied to the eldest son of rich families. The only reason we think the Middle Ages were homophobic is because the post-Reformation Renaissance was actually homophobic, and we see the earlier times through the lens of the later ones.
But more than that, I really don’t want to play a game that turns my sexuality into a difficulty switch.
Ah, that’s really the reason why I prefer playersexual romances. I just don’t care about supposed relatability factor and I don’t want stuff to be relatable, I want it to be interesting.
I don’t need to be represented as a clinically depressed bisexual with bad eyesight, I want an interesting story, interesting romance and interesting character interaction in said romance. Something being supposedly relatable also often falls flat because I’m Russian and I don’t relate to something that’s supposed to be relatable. And honestly, why must relatibility even matter over a good and fun story? Playing as only myself quickly gets boring.
Relatability is not a zero-sum game, not everything will be relatable to everyone and it’s not a matter of blatant self-inserts either - it can take many shapes. And then it might even be “interesting” and “fun” and “good” too. One can exist with the other.
I believe most people are capable of relating to experiences that don’t 100% match their own.
It came up in another thread, but it’s something like just different forms of escapism people enjoy. Like some, presumably you being included here, like it when there just isn’t the bad stuff from reality in games, but some like myself like to be able to react and fight against the bad stuff in the safe environment of a game. So like an ideal where it doesn’t exist in the first place versus a sort of power fantasy where you can fight back against something you really can’t irl (at least not always safely). Personally I love being able to take shit out on misogynistic or homophobic or transphobic characters or like aggressively challenge their views, just as like a sort of release. Can’t really do any of that irl as a socially anxious little weirdo who never leave the house, so spitting in the face of bigotry feels really good to me.
It often feels like it is. I often see the push for relatibility and it feels fairly alien to me. When I get immersed into works of media, I imagine myself in the frameworks of that world. It doesn’t need me to relate to it, it needs me to immerse myself in it.
I think that although these kinds of discussions can end up overlapping, things are moving off topic. Please try to keep to the topic of the thread, which is about gender-locked or gender-selectable romances and whether they appeal.
For reference there are a lot of forum threads about depictions of sexism, homophobia and other discrimination, including:
There are so many discussions about customising the player character and playing as “yourself” that it would be hard to list them all but here are a couple of recent ones:
Finally, the topic of this thread is a fairly well worn subject and it’s worth taking a look at other past discussions such as the one below to see the similarities and differences to discussions happening now:
I haven’t come across many authors talking about, but I’m curious about setups where there’s a mix of selectable or locked genders for romanceable characters, like Wakefield and Jess in the Deathless games, and Reaves in Heart of the House. I would dearly love to hear from authors who do this and learn about the thoughts behind it, mostly because it’s not something I’ve done myself. And for players, does this make a difference in which love interest you go for?
I don’t really know how they do it either. I did have two gender selectable characters in my notes, in an effort to make them more gender balanced. One of them, immediately as soon as I typed in selectable M/F/NB, I was like “No. That’s wrong. This character is definitely male.” Another is still in the notes as selectable male/nonbinary, but that feels off because I know that character is both, not selectably one or the other. Gender balance may really be the only reason they do it?
As a player though, it makes no difference to me. I always select male whenever possible and sometimes don’t even know which characters are selectable.
I might have mentioned it in the past but when I toyed with doing a WW2 French Resistance game I had this idea for an RO that would be an entirely different character based on whether the reader preferred male or female romances - they would be introduced in similar situations but would be otherwise quite different. Not sure how easy that would be to code but I liked the idea at the time. Not sure if anyone has done anything similar before or since.
I feel that would likely be just two different exclusive ROs who just happen to share some traits (or however you’re thinking about it). I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea at all, I just worry it would just functionally end up as two different characters that might as well be their own thing. But, assuming you’re going this way, I do like the idea of exploring a character and how they’d differ if everything but gender was the same (in a world where there’s distinct cultural gender roles, as that would be).
Like for example, a character that’s kinda aggressive and headstrong, so as a man they would be able to release such feelings easily (even encouraged to do so), but as a woman societal pressure would’ve lead them to bottle it up, possibly leading them rebelling and being very progressive, in contrast to the more conservative man who never had issues with society and as such no reason to fight against it. Just an exploration of the idea, at least how I have it in my head.
To add, I don’t believe it has been done before but while I have played almost all WIPs, I haven’t played all, so I totally could’ve missed it.
I would really love to collate data on this! That’s my instinct too. I’m not sure if that’s just based on my assumptions but as far as CoG releases go, last year there were maybe three games with exclusively gender-selectable romances and one of them was mine. I’m not sure about the recent HGs but in HC, Heart of Battle has entirely selectable romances.
As I was reading this thread I was wondering why no one brought up stories like this. My WIP has a mix of set gender and sexuality as well as adaptive sexualities and gender. For the most part it comes down to ‘does it change the character’s (the NPC’s) personal story? Does it change the MC’s story?’. If it does not in either case, I don’t mind having an adaptable RO option. Then there is a bit of me trying to balance options for people. I don’t want more straight then gay or pan options.
There are characters that I feel just would not be right if the gender were to be selected. One of the characters are based on the Celtic god Lugh. Having the character have an option to be female would feel like a disservice to the character; I’m not going for a Fate/Stay Night gender-bending feel to the game. There is another character who later the reader is find out is going through things because of social constraints. It’ll add drama to the character in sequels (if I write them) but will be true the to character. I could not do their story if they were adaptable.
Meanwhile, a lot of my WIP’s other RO are more about the role they play in the story. Once again, if it is not affecting the MC’s or RO’s story then I am fine with making it adaptable.
I’m straight, so I almost always romance female ROs instead of the male ones. The only thing I’d be concerned about regarding optional romances in one with set genders is if there’s an even amount of ROs of both genders and that they’re playersexual so I don’t get forced to change my gender just to romance them. Sometimes a writer might have a specific gender and/or sexuality they want to do with a character for the sake of doing something specific with them and that’s fine, but I prefer not getting locked out of any romances with a character that’s able to interest me just because of my gender. So if a female or male RO is into the same gender as themselves, I usually don’t romance them. I’m someone who generally prefers playing as male. Anyway, regarding male ROs, if they’re able to interest me enough I may still romance them as a male (Like Gabriel from the Breach series, he needs the love) but I prefer female ROs, so depending on if they manage to catch my interest and if there’s as many females to romance as males and if you can just go for anyone regardless of your own gender, I don’t care if their genders were already set.