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Eiphel

Boy's World / Girl's World - Avoid Gender Binary

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When people talk about avoiding the gender binary, they are talking about avoiding things that reinforce stereotypes (by upholding them as ideals or mocking non conformers) . They're not talking about never having characters in the game that conform to those stereotypes. Do you see the difference?

Can you see the difference between a scene where a girl plays with dolls because the girl has tried the alternatives and prefers playing with dolls, and a scene where a girl is playing with dolls because the creator is trying to enforce gender bias?

Without specific state of intent from the artist, no you cannot.

You (not you personally) are the one assigning a political statement to the scene for your own purpose, through your own biases.

If playing with dolls was considered taboo, the media will jump on this and say that so-and-so game promotes Doll Playing, despite the creator featuring Doll Playing in a negative light. Because it is taken out of context, people will perceive this false information as "fact," and thus the people who want to hate video games will continue to hate video games.

For a clear example, you can take a look at Portal 2. What was controversial about Portal 2? GLaDOS, the villain, insults the main character, Chell, by implying that she is adopted. Later on, GLaDOS retracts her statement by yelling at Wheatley that she is NOT adopted: "She's not even adopted, you idiot!" The media jumped on the bandwagon, publishing Portal 2, a rated E +10 game, discriminates against people who are adopted by insulting them and the main character.

I do not expect everyone to realize the full context of every video game, nor have a their own opinion on video games they have not experienced, but it is something that you just have to realize as a creator. You cannot satisfy everyone, and people will fill in gaps that you've left with their own interpretations and potentially blow your intentions out of proportion.

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When people talk about avoiding the gender binary, they are talking about avoiding things that reinforce stereotypes (by upholding them as ideals or mocking non conformers) . They're not talking about never having characters in the game that conform to those stereotypes. Do you see the difference?

Can you see the difference between a scene where a girl plays with dolls because the girl has tried the alternatives and prefers playing with dolls, and a scene where a girl is playing with dolls because the creator is trying to enforce gender bias?

Without specific state of intent from the artist, no you cannot.

You (not you personally) are the one assigning a political statement to the scene for your own purpose, through your own biases.

If playing with dolls was considered taboo, the media will jump on this and say that so-and-so game promotes Doll Playing, despite the creator featuring Doll Playing in a negative light. Because it is taken out of context, people will perceive this false information as "fact," and thus the people who want to hate video games will continue to hate video games.

For a clear example, you can take a look at Portal 2. What was controversial about Portal 2? GLaDOS, the villain, insults the main character, Chell, by implying that she is adopted. Later on, GLaDOS retracts her statement by yelling at Wheatley that she is NOT adopted: "She's not even adopted, you idiot!" The media jumped on the bandwagon, publishing Portal 2, a rated E +10 game, discriminates against people who are adopted by insulting them and the main character.

I do not expect everyone to realize the full context of every video game, nor have a their own opinion on video games they have not experienced, but it is something that you just have to realize as a creator. You cannot satisfy everyone, and people will fill in gaps that you've left with their own interpretations and potentially blow your intentions out of proportion.

(briefly, again I think there's often a slight confusion between the content (doll-playing) and the context (which in ck64's example was irrelevant, because it was devoid of context), and I think it's this confusion that is at the root of a lot of disagreement)

I think the take away from that is really that there's no simple answers, and it's a process, and sometimes it's not clear cut. I remember the Portal 2 example you're talking about, and I can kind of see it both ways. On the one hand, I always thought that the target of the joke was GladOS, who is clearly becoming desperate in her attempts to make Chell feel bad. At no point is the player encouraged to think 'yeah, haha, being adopted is bad', they're more likely to think 'woah, GladOS, that's sorta messed up' which I -think- was the intent. But Some other people didn't see it that way. In creative works not everything is signposted clearly, and so some things will take things one way even if the author meant it another way and so on.

But I do think that the author doesn't get a free pass JUST because their heart is in the right place. I'm sure nobody at Valve hates adopted people or wants to see them mocked - but perhaps they weren't clear enough in their construction of that joke, since clearly a few adopted people were offended (not every adopted person, but some). So there are a few ways that they can possibly respond to the criticism:

1) Totally ignore the concerns of anyone offended. This is the approach many people advocate (usually citing the fact that the creator obviously didn't mean it in the way it's being taken), but I don't know, to me it just seems like a good way to create bad-feeling.

2) Be really really over careful, don't even mention adopted people ever again for fear of offence. A lot of people think this is the only alternative to 1), and the natural consequence of paying any attention to people who are offended by something.

But, I think there's:

3) Learn from it. Acknowledge that the joke didn't work for some people, think about how that might be avoided if you did it again, without shying away from the subject matter.

For example, if I were a writer on Portal 2, I would think perhaps the reason a few people reacted badly is that they kinda like GladOS as a character. Sure, she's always been total crazybutt, but in a way that we kinda love. Despite ourselves, we're sort of on her side. But in Portal 2, she starts getting really personal, in a way that I think is deliberately supposed to make us feel uncomfortable. She's become deranged, moreso than in the first game, and it's during the second act that she starts to get some perspective back and the whole segment where she was flinging a load of personal attacks makes a bit more sense.

So I might think 'well, most people got the joke, but if I did it again, I might think about really driving home that GladOS has become unreasonable, even moreso than at the end of Portal 1.' And take that as a lesson to improve the writing in such a way that the 'adopted' gag doesn't feel so much like a shot out of the blue, as it did for some people.

Honestly, I'm not adopted and I wasn't offended by the adopted gag, so I'm not really in a position to say whether they got it right or wrong, but I do think there are lessons that it's possible to learn, no matter what the intent behind the gag was.

...

And so to bring it back to the topic at hand, I think people need to be a bit less defensive in general about their work and acknowledge that once it's out in the wild it may be reacted to in ways you did or didn't intend, and in all cases it's possible to learn things. I know there are things I could have done better in my games (like the example I keep bringing up of having more women in them) but I'm still fairly confident I'm not a terrible person. I'm not going to destroy my creative soul by taking a serious look at all the varieties of ways one might react to my work.

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Why can't a video game be a video game and not a political statement?

I know the first thing I think when I load up Battlefield 3 is, "Gosh why aren't there any women around, gee this game must only be for men!"

:roll:

Seconded. Sick of self-entitled people who think the games industry exists to cater to their social agendas. It doesn't, and you're annoying.

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Look, the intention of this thread is pretty clear and it’s hounding the video game sector for quite a while now. Being “sensitive” to certain issues doesn’t necessarily make the game or its characters better like you say. It might in effect hamper it or in extreme cases give it the “Captain Planet/Burger King Kids Club” syndrome.

A prime example for someone taking this whole “sensitivity” thing too seriously to the point that the work he does is obviously suffering for instance is this guy:

http://www.gearboxsoftware.com/community/articles/1077

http://www.heyash.com/in-defense-of-arbitrary-diversity/

He even outright admits that it doesn’t add anything, is completely arbitrary, and is possibly even harmful to the game but he’ll do it anyway because he believes “it will make the world better”:

I’ve been told once or twice that the bisexual or gay characters I wrote for Borderlands 2 were arbitrary and forced. This is one hundred percent true. I did not have any particular stories to tell about human sexuality — I just randomly chose a few characters and decided that they weren’t heterosexual. I had no “reason” to do so other than the belief that a cast of sexually diverse characters is better than a sexually homogenous one.

Did it hurt the story? Maybe. Maybe it feels arbitrary that certain female characters mention their wives, or that certain male characters just happen to have several occasions to mention their boyfriends. I’d like to think that I knew this might have been a problem when I wrote the characters in the first place — that by making the cast more diverse and drawing attention to it, I’d be making the story worse.

On the upside, though — and this is going to sound tremendously arrogant, but stick with me for a few more paragraphs – while arbitrarily diverse casts might make the story worse, they make world better. Not the in-fiction world, either; I mean, you know, the world. The actual one. The one you and I are in. Real life.

You are trying to inject a specific political message into entertainment where there is no need for it, where it hampers and effectively hinders the creative process.

There are all kinds of people getting “offended” about all manner of things nowadays; it is the Internet after all. From apparently the use of the word “Orient”: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-09-02-whore-of-the-orient-branded-a-disgrace-to-chinese-culture to the depiction of Russian troops in strategy games: http://www.shacknews.com/article/80362/company-of-heroes-2-one-giant-offensive-stereotype-say-critics to games dealing with colonialism being accused of wilfully recreating mass genocide: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=da&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http://politiken.dk/kultur/tvogradio/ECE2038288/dansk-computerspil-beskyldes-for-at-genskabe-folkemord-i-latinamerika/ to characters in video games being too “gender binary” (this phrase is newspeak anyway and you will largely find references to it in places like Tumblr and other questionable sources) for representing about 97% of the population of planet earth.

Video games seem to have become the projection of choice for people discontent with any part of society as an outlet valve for their specific frustrations.

Yet I remember characters in games like DOTT being rather stereotypical: http://ashleyangell.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Day_Of_the_Tentacle_by_Avirambo1.jpg and there being a lot of jokes in it and in previous games like Monkey Island about or at the expense of characters with certain disabilities or bodily proportions. Today they might even have left out the indigenous people of the island entirely because someone somewhere might believe that they aren’t sensitive enough since nowadays somebody on the Internet automatically can’t take a joke without taking “offense” at the same time and trying to escalate it by crying bloody murder at the imaginary implications that the creator has made a specific statement about a whole group of people or an entire nation. Some developers therefor feel the need to tip-toe around or outright enable the politically correctness police.

If this doesn’t allow for games like the aforementioned because as you put it “a joke didn’t work for some people” or they misinterpreted some part of the game as “offensive” and feel the need for it to be removed so the work caters to their specific whims and views leading to developers henceforth staying away from any and all jokes or representations of characters that “might not work for someone” I very much have a problem with that.

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He even outright admits that it doesn’t add anything, is completely arbitrary, and is possibly even harmful to the game but he’ll do it anyway because he believes “it will make the world better”:

I’ve been told once or twice that the bisexual or gay characters I wrote for Borderlands 2 were arbitrary and forced. This is one hundred percent true. I did not have any particular stories to tell about human sexuality — I just randomly chose a few characters and decided that they weren’t heterosexual. I had no “reason” to do so other than the belief that a cast of sexually diverse characters is better than a sexually homogenous one.

Did it hurt the story? Maybe. Maybe it feels arbitrary that certain female characters mention their wives, or that certain male characters just happen to have several occasions to mention their boyfriends. I’d like to think that I knew this might have been a problem when I wrote the characters in the first place — that by making the cast more diverse and drawing attention to it, I’d be making the story worse.

On the upside, though — and this is going to sound tremendously arrogant, but stick with me for a few more paragraphs – while arbitrarily diverse casts might make the story worse, they make world better. Not the in-fiction world, either; I mean, you know, the world. The actual one. The one you and I are in. Real life.

I think he's actually wrong, and he does himself a disservice here. I don't think it makes the story worse at all. The way I see it, it's kind of weird that there aren't more examples of characters in fiction that are (for example) gay, just... y'know, just because they are and no other particular reason. Whenever there are gay characters, it's almost always because them being gay is some big story focus for them. It's somehow important to the plot.

But that's weird, because in life, sometimes people are just gay and it doesn't really have anything else to do with what's going on with them or the world around them. So why is it that every character in fiction is straight unless they have a specific story reason to be gay? Isn't that sort of ... weird? No, I think that he's absolutely right to do it, and the fact that people accuse him of being 'arbitrary' is just a symptom of the fact that it's so unusual to see gay characters in fiction unless there's a specific reason for them to be. I mean... lots of people are gay, so why do they need to justify their inclusion in a story? It's weird that nobody questions when a character is arbitrarily left handed or red headed or whatever, but as soon as they're arbitrarily gay (or insert your favourite minority here) it's 'pandering'.

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By the way, I'm glad you mentioned DOTT and Monkey Island, 2 games that hold up rather well even by today's standards.

DOTT - Not saying there aren't stereotypes (and also not saying the use of stereotypes is a blanket bad thing) but for a cast of 3 main characters it's one of the most diverse we have. Three main characters, 2 male 1 female. 2 of the characters are pretty dumb (one female and one male) and one of them is pretty smart. But the dumb female isn't a stereotypical bimbo, she's more spaced out and weird, and not drawn at ALL in a sexualised way as many female characters were, even at that time. Meanwhile the smart guy is a stereotypical nerd, but he's not made fun of for his nerdish ways any more than the other two characters are for being dumb, so the irreverence of the humour never crosses the line into insulting. And in particular, despite Laverne being kinda a crazy spaced out med student, the joke is always on the tentacles for their complete inability to see through her rather obvious tricks. Anyway, suffice to say, I don't know if DOTT is perfect as it's been a while since I played it - but the cast of characters lead characters is diverse in a way that few games have done as well.

Monkey Island - Here's a story about a guy that falls in love with the female governor of an Island, she gets kidnapped while he's busy becoming a pirate, and then he goes off to save her only to find that she had a perfectly good plan that didn't need him, and he shows up to spoil it. Sure, he puts it right in the final puzzle of the game, but throughout the whole story some of the most capable, knowledgeable and helpful characters in the game (the Swordmaster, Elaine being major examples) are female, and they're not in typically female roles - governor of an island, and master at swordplay. Nobody accused them of going out of their way to do that. They just DID.

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I could swear I left Checkhov's gun laying around here somewhere...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun

Edit: Double Fine's link tags don't want to include the apostrophe in the url.

Chekhov's gun is a dramatic principle requiring that every element in a narrative be necessary and irreplaceable, and that everything else be removed.Stated by Anton Chekhov, "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."

Variations on the statement include:

* "One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev (pseudonym of A. S. Gruzinsky), 1 November 1889.

* "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there." From Gurlyand's Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 1904, No. 28, 11 July, p. 521.

If it isn't a big deal, then it isn't part of the story that needs to be told.

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I could swear I left Checkhov's gun laying around here somewhere...

Ah, there it is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun

I see what you're trying to do there, you're using the broad literary rule that everything in a story should be there for a reason to imply that if a gay character is gay for no reason that's bad storytelling.

But it doesn't really work. Because while it's a good rule of thumb for thinking about what's important in a story, it doesn't really extend to the minutiae about a character. After all, the fact a character is straight isn't always relevant to the story, is it? So why should a character who is gay only exist if their gayness is relevant to the story? Is it because straight is 'default'. Straight unless proven gay? I say that's just narrow minded. Why should a gay person in a story have to be Chekov's gay, explain to me how it detracts from a story to have, say a man in the story who lives with his boyfriend, but this isn't a major point in the plot. Again, sometimes people are just gay. It's just a bit of colour. It doesn't always have to be supremely relevant.

As valuable as Chekhov's gun is in illustrating economy of storytelling, etc, it's not the be all and end all. Nobody's breaking any big rule by deciding a character is gay or red headed or black or white or female or male or straight for any other reason than that they just feel like it.

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I could swear I left Checkhov's gun laying around here somewhere...

Ah, there it is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun

I see what you're trying to do there, you're using the broad literary rule that everything in a story should be there for a reason to imply that if a gay character is gay for no reason that's bad storytelling.

But it doesn't really work. Because while it's a good rule of thumb for thinking about what's important in a story, it doesn't really extend to the minutiae about a character. After all, the fact a character is straight isn't always relevant to the story, is it? So why should a character who is gay only exist if their gayness is relevant to the story? Is it because straight is 'default'. Straight unless proven gay? I say that's just narrow minded. Why should a gay person in a story have to be Chekov's gay, explain to me how it detracts from a story to have, say a man in the story who lives with his boyfriend, but this isn't a major point in the plot.

As valuable as Chekhov's gun is in illustrating economy of storytelling, etc, it's not the be all and end all. Nobody's breaking any big rule by deciding a character is gay or red headed or black or white or female or male or straight for any other reason than that they just feel like it.

Clearly you don't see what I am "trying" to do, because you are completely missing the point. The point isn't that its bad storytelling to include because you feel like it. The point is there is no point in anyone knowing that they are unless it is relevant to the story. Its like JK Rowling and Dumbledore. She felt Dumbledore was gay. That was how she saw the character in her head. Guess what? This was never blatantly revealed in the story because it was completely irrelevant. Nobody cares who the head of Hogwarts fancies in his free time. That is not his purpose in the story. You ask why it has to be a big deal when someone is gay in a story, and I'm telling you it doesn't. The consequence of that is that there is absolutely no point in mentioning it if they are.

What is bad storytelling to include elements that you have nothing to say about, and the games industry doesn't need token characters just for the sake of pushing people's social agendas. For you to put "pandering" in quotes in response to another user is not quite appropriate, because it is pandering and blatantly so.

If people spent as much time as they do grumbling about misrepresentation in games as they did developing their own games, there wouldn't be much misrepresentation to talk about. That isn't what the entitled vocal minorities of the world want, though. They want big names to push their social agendas for them, and it is a big ugly wart on the butt of the games industry.

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I could swear I left Checkhov's gun laying around here somewhere...

Ah, there it is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun

I see what you're trying to do there, you're using the broad literary rule that everything in a story should be there for a reason to imply that if a gay character is gay for no reason that's bad storytelling.

But it doesn't really work. Because while it's a good rule of thumb for thinking about what's important in a story, it doesn't really extend to the minutiae about a character. After all, the fact a character is straight isn't always relevant to the story, is it? So why should a character who is gay only exist if their gayness is relevant to the story? Is it because straight is 'default'. Straight unless proven gay? I say that's just narrow minded. Why should a gay person in a story have to be Chekov's gay, explain to me how it detracts from a story to have, say a man in the story who lives with his boyfriend, but this isn't a major point in the plot.

As valuable as Chekhov's gun is in illustrating economy of storytelling, etc, it's not the be all and end all. Nobody's breaking any big rule by deciding a character is gay or red headed or black or white or female or male or straight for any other reason than that they just feel like it.

Clearly you don't see what I am "trying" to do, because you are completely missing the point. The point isn't that its bad storytelling to include because you feel like it. The point is there is no point in anyone knowing that they are unless it is relevant to the story. Its like JK Rowling and Dumbledore. She felt Dumbledore was gay. That was how she saw the character in her head. Guess what? This was never blatantly revealed in the story because it was completely irrelevant. Nobody cares who the head of Hogwarts fancies in his free time. That is not his purpose in the story. You ask why it has to be a big deal when someone is gay in a story, and I'm telling you it doesn't. The consequence of that is that there is absolutely no point in mentioning it if they are.

What is bad storytelling to include elements that you have nothing to say about, and the games industry doesn't need token characters just for the sake of pushing people's social agendas. For you to put "pandering" in quotes in response to another user is not quite appropriate, because it is pandering and blatantly so.

If people spent as much time as they do grumbling about misrepresentation in games as they did developing their own games, there wouldn't be much misrepresentation to talk about. That isn't what the entitled vocal minorities of the world want, though. They want big names to push their social agendas for them, and it is a big ugly wart on the butt of the games industry.

No, but what if it became relevant, but only peripherally - that's my point.

So, for example, what if there's a character. You've got a reason to go around his house. He lives with his boyfriend, who's also there, watching TV. He's not in the story, it just so happens that there's a guy in the story who has a boyfriend. Maybe you say hi, or maybe he's entirely background. In the same way that loved ones of straight people sometimes are in things for no big reason. Is that 'pandering'? Pushing an agenda? Because that's all that guy who someone quoted earlier was talking about. If you really do think that's pandering or agenda pushing then... basically I think you need to grow up a bit.

I'll ask you again, why is it okay to include gay people ONLY if

a) their gayness is relevant to the plot

b) their gayness is invisible?

Why not some people who are just gay and that fact is evident, but as important as the fact they have brown hair, a blue shirt or any number of other incidental details?

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No, but what if it became relevant, but only peripherally - that's my point.

So, for example, what if there's a character. You've got a reason to go around his house. He lives with his boyfriend, who's also there, watching TV. He's not in the story, it just so happens that there's a guy in the story who has a boyfriend. Maybe you say hi, or maybe he's entirely background. In the same way that loved ones of straight people sometimes are in things for no big reason.

I see nothing wrong with that and that in and of itself and that is not what I am complaining about, as long as it is relevant to whatever experience the writers/developers/creators/whathaveyou are trying to make. The above scenario may not be appropriate in a game where you rarely even see people in their houses and for whatever reason you go into the only house in the game that has a couple that happens to be gay serving no purpose to the greater story or world whatsoever other than to have a token gay couple somewhere in the game. Even in an example as simple as yours example the context matters, and its not like that is exclusive to . When you put anything in a story or a game, it should be relevant to the experience.

Is that 'pandering'? Pushing an agenda? Because that's all that guy who you quoted was talking about. If you really do think that's pandering or agenda pushing then... basically I think you need to grow up a bit.

I've not played Borderlands 2. The impression I was getting from the poster and the developer is that we are talking about a character that is out of place and forced, because for the issue to be both be brought up enough for the creator take the time to respond and then for the creator to agree leads me to the obvious conclusion that he was pandering and blatantly so.

-------

Edit: In response to your edit I'll just redirect you to Checkhov's gun for your first point.

For your second point I never implied it was only okay to include gay people if their gayness is invisible. That is your own biased assumption. I don't think I need to tell you that you can in fact tell a story about a gay person that is relevant to a plot. When this happens their gayness becomes a big deal, because then you have a romance subplot. Romance subplots are inherently a big deal, and if you are going to tell one you should have something relevant to say.

If you are confused as to why physical traits are automatically relevant, they are important to visualizing a character especially in a visual medium such as video games. Knowing who they fancy is not necessarily, though it can be if that is the story you are telling.

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Here's the thing with the whole Dumbledore/Visibility issue: the story implicitly tells us that, among others, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Molly and Arthur Weasley, Hagrid, Draco, Madame Maxime, Cho Chang, Snape, and Victor Krum, are straight, or straight presenting. It doesn't have a single instance of a gay-presenting person. Not one. And their straightness wasn't vital to the story, but it was there. Right there where you could notice without someone having to shout "they're straight! It's for a plot point!" at your face.

So when you say it isn't relevant, you're coming from a place where straightness is so normal it's invisible, where a person has to be gay for a reason. No one questioned the people in Borderlands 2 who had straight romances, who mentioned their significant others of the opposite gender. I know because there isn't a giant outcry over the multitudes of arbitrary straight pairing out there, yet the moment Dragon Age 3 decides to star a group of bisexuals it's a PC stunt. It's only pandering when they fall out of what we assume the norm is. It's only pandering when we include people who aren't straight, white, cis, able-bodied men/occasionally women. Because it's not like those people exist as a majority of the population, right? Or, you know, as a systematically excluded part of the media we consume.

If someone is a POC or WOC or a trans*person and they're fine with not being represented in media, that's their deal, but they don't get to delegitimize the complaints of others who want to see themselves represented respectfully because of that. And as Surplus Gamer has mentioned over and fricking over again, the OP didn't even ask for anything more than that the creators be aware of what gender stereotypes might have gone into the game and how that could be perceived by their audience.

I was, and am, worried about that too. There's this idea in video games and movies that if a woman waves a sword around and doesn't do stereotypically 'girly' things, that she's somehow escaped the sexist trappings of her position. Oftentimes, it's false, and for more than the fact that that isn't feminist, it's macho, to quote Natalie Portman. The fact that the girl escapes from her stereotypical fate doesn't mean I'm not worried that she's doing it just to rebel against 'stupid girly rules', that her agency won't be taken into consideration, and that playing her will leave me hurt in a way I can't fully explain. And it's tricky because she is a WOC, so there are different stereotypes and assumptions about her that the creators can easily fall into. Though I'm not qualified or comfortable stepping into that part of the discussion, I can point to some posts that discuss those sort of tropes and their damage more fully.

From what I've seen so far, the FemProtag whose name I forget right now is aware of her situation. She doesn't rebel and break away from the sacrifice because that's what someone believes 'strong female characters' (I loathe that phrase so much) are supposed to do. She knows that doing so puts her family in danger, and she, presumably makes a choice for justifiable reasons, even if she regrets it, and has to live with it. So though we can't say anything about the story until the game comes out, I won't hold back on the criticism if there are parts that disrespect women, or play into old and tired tropes which limit their potential. If we don't point out people's messed-up representations, they'll continue thinking they're doing fine messing up. And it's so very easy to mess up. We're conditioned by society to believe certain things about women, about POC, about anyone who isn't Straight White Male with a Little Stubble, and we have to fight against those every time we create a story. I'll raise as many concerns as need be if it means I won't walk away from this game feeling like less of a person just for being female.

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Here's the thing with the whole Dumbledore/Visibility issue: the story implicitly tells us that, among others, Harry, Hermione, Ron, Molly and Arthur Weasley, Hagrid, Draco, Madame Maxime, Cho Chang, Snape, and Victor Krum, are straight, or straight presenting. It doesn't have a single instance of a gay-presenting person. Not one. And their straightness wasn't vital to the story, but it was there. Right there where you could notice without someone having to shout "they're straight! It's for a plot point!" at your face.

So when you say it isn't relevant, you're coming from a place where straightness is so normal it's invisible, where a person has to be gay for a reason. No one questioned the people in Borderlands 2 who had straight romances, who mentioned their significant others of the opposite gender. I know because there isn't a giant outcry over the multitudes of arbitrary straight pairing out there, yet the moment Dragon Age 3 decides to star a group of bisexuals it's a PC stunt. It's only pandering when they fall out of what we assume the norm is. It's only pandering when we include people who aren't straight, white, cis, able-bodied men/occasionally women. Because it's not like those people exist as a majority of the population, right? Or, you know, as a systematically excluded part of the media we consume.

Oh yes, here comes the "You're in the majority so your point of view doesn't matter!" rhetoric. Go throw it on the ground.

First off, of course people base their stories on cultural norms. There is nothing wrong with that AT ALL. People draw inspiration from the world they know. That is why its called the norm. The norm is normal. The norm is the average. The norm is the standard. That is not a "systematic exclusion," as you put it. That is just life. If you aren't happy with the norm, great! Neither am I in various ways. That doesn't mean you are entitled to game developers making games that suit your social agenda and tell stories that fit awkwardly at best for the sake of pandering to a vocal minority. If you have a story to tell about , I'd be happy to point you in the direction of Kickstarter and Game Maker along with some sweet programming tutorials. You're on your own to use Google for tips on how to assemble your team. In the mean time, stop acting like it is up to others to change the norm for you.

Anyway, I don't know if you were following but we were talking about gay characters whose gayness isn't made a big deal of. In this sense Dumbledore is a perfect example of that. Some of his family issues and history allude to his gayness, but they never threw up a big red flag that says "Guess what? He is gay!" It was not relevant to do so in the story J.K. Rowling was trying to tell. If she did, it would be a big deal just like all those other non-vital but still relevant romance subplots that fans like to go nuts over. What we weren't talking about "gaypresentation" In Harry Potter or any of this activist jargon you are throwing around. Speaking to that, it is not J.K. Rowlings responsibility to represent anyone more than she did.

If someone is a POC or WOC or a trans*person and they're fine with not being represented in media, that's their deal, but they don't get to delegitimize the complaints of others who want to see themselves represented respectfully because of that. And as Surplus Gamer has mentioned over and fricking over again, the OP didn't even ask for anything more than that the creators be aware of what gender stereotypes might have gone into the game and how that could be perceived by their audience.
You have that backwards. Your issues are your deal, and that doesn't delegitimize the perspectives of people who are perfectly fine with the way things are currently handled. But naturally this has to become a push for the social agendas of vocal minorities again. And my eyes roll again.
was, and am, worried about that too. There's this idea in video games and movies that if a woman waves a sword around and doesn't do stereotypically 'girly' things, that she's somehow escaped the sexist trappings of her position. Oftentimes, it's false, and for more than the fact that that isn't feminist, it's macho, to quote Natalie Portman. The fact that the girl escapes from her stereotypical fate doesn't mean I'm not worried that she's doing it just to rebel against 'stupid girly rules', that her agency won't be taken into consideration, and that playing her will leave me hurt in a way I can't fully explain. And it's tricky because she is a WOC, so there are different stereotypes and assumptions about her that the creators can easily fall into. Though I'm not qualified or comfortable stepping into that part of the discussion, I can point to some posts that discuss those sort of tropes and their damage more fully.
Because heaven forbid your apparently scandalous views on one of the two main protagonists of Broken Age offends someone other than the majority. To Hell with the other protagonist. He is a white male.
From what I've seen so far, the FemProtag whose name I forget right now is aware of her situation. She doesn't rebel and break away from the sacrifice because that's what someone believes 'strong female characters' (I loathe that phrase so much) are supposed to do. She knows that doing so puts her family in danger, and she, presumably makes a choice for justifiable reasons, even if she regrets it, and has to live with it. So though we can't say anything about the story until the game comes out, I won't hold back on the criticism if there are parts that disrespect women, or play into old and tired tropes which limit their potential. If we don't point out people's messed-up representations, they'll continue thinking they're doing fine messing up. And it's so very easy to mess up. We're conditioned by society to believe certain things about women, about POC, about anyone who isn't Straight White Male with a Little Stubble, and we have to fight against those every time we create a story. I'll raise as many concerns as need be if it means I won't walk away from this game feeling like less of a person just for being female.
Ugh, that is so typical. The character is just a "FemProtag" WOC to you. Screw anything else about the character, she is just her gender and her skin color, and anything that is said about her is said about everyone of that demographic. Never mind the delivery, the story, or the overall message. If at any point she even so much as symbolically doesn't fit your ideal for female gender roles, it's time to raise Hell. Definitely no points for effort no matter how this goes. Any inadequacy you feel from some perceived injustice is clearly the developer's fault and has nothing to do with your own insecurities.

Also, your prejudice towards white males with a little stubble is showing, as is your self-entitlement.

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I liked this discussion more when it was just people telling me how right I am. :(

No, I kid, discussion is always a good thing. Except sometimes when maybe it's not because everyone's repeating the same points and insulting each other, but that's still better than gunfights, right? Right. Unless the gunfight's in a game, because that can sometimes be a good time.

Anyway, this actually is a pretty interesting discussion, even if it didn't end with everyone acknowledging how amazingly right I am about everything, all the time. As we're all backers here, we all have high hopes for Vella and Shay: that they'll be unique, relatable, funny, not annoying, awesome, not too awesome, interesting, and capable of freely roaming around an entire solar system of hand-painted environments, playing golf, practicing yoga, and investing in stocks between their many adventures apart. True, we may not get all our wishes, but surely it's reasonable to hope and to gently voice some of those hopes?

Clearly, our collective hopes may not all be aligned together, with some of us hoping that these characters will be too complex to describe with a single link to TV tropes, some of us hoping that Double Fine will do whatever it wants unless it just wants to do what backers want in which case it really shouldn't do that because backers are a bunch of vocal dorks, and some of us hoping for other things entirely, like Shay and Vella secretly being metaphors for relativistic time dilation and the second law of thermodynamics, respectively.

There are reasons to hope for all these things. Less time spent on TV tropes is more time spent on games. Without the unbridled freedom granted by no oversight whatsoever, George Lucas could never have created Jar Jar Binks. If MASSIVE CHALICE can have metaphorical time demons, Broken Age must go one further to prevent its upstart younger sibling from having all the fun. There's really no need for anyone to ever be upset as the wise and benevolent DF gods will grant all our hopes making this the best of all possible worlds...

Except that this isn't really about DF anymore. It has become a discussion of whose hopes are more worthwhile, whether it is immoral to force artists to adapt their work to change society or whether it's immoral not to adapt one's work when it has the potential to change society. No one is happy with this framing of the discussion. Why should we consider anything but the creative product itself? How could we not consider the impact of the creative product when discussing its quality?

"It's about the game," we all mutter, "why don't these other %#$@&! get that?"

--

I wanted to end on that note, but I feel compelled to add that in the hypothetical scenario where some backers do get their wish that the games industry never includes a social agenda in their games and never draws attention to the minority-ness of any characters (unless making some point in a social agenda), what we end up with is games that have nothing to say, games that are repetitions of the same themes, the same familiar archetypes. You could say that's a failure of imagination and that there's plenty of stories that could be told about straight white males, which is true, but it's an even greater failure of imagination to believe that having visible minorities in a game or giving female characters agency and non-stereotypical traits will ruin it.

We all have our own ideas about what's best for the game, but if you're worried that "vocal minorities" will sway the opinion of developers, what you're basically saying is that you won't be able to enjoy the game unless minorities are explicitly not represented well in it. You can try and hide that behind the "devs should do whatever they want" idea, but we all know that the devs will do whatever they think is best for the game, so this discussion is really about whether we as a community value diversity in characters.

[Multiple edits because it's late and I can't order put in words the right.]

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We all have our own ideas about what's best for the game, but if you're worried that "vocal minorities" will sway the opinion of developers, what you're basically saying is that you won't be able to enjoy the game unless minorities are explicitly not represented well in it. You can try and hide that behind the "devs should do whatever they want" idea, but we all know that the devs will do whatever they think is best for the game, so this discussion is really about whether we as a community value diversity in characters.

[Multiple edits because it's late and I can't order put in words the right.]

This is one hell of a strawman argument. Nobody ever said they don't want minorities to appear in the game or that the game can't be enjoyed unless they are "explicitly not represented." This is a cheap attempt at discrediting the opposing view instead of actually addressing it.

The premise of this thread is just: "I have this social issue which affects me, and it would be so unfortunate if this game didn't make a point to validate my worldview."

The part that certain posters keep ignoring is that I myself am part of a minority too so don't make this about the whole overused "white male" rhetoric. The game has no responsibility to validate MY worldview or that of the OP, period. This entire discussion is neither here nor there.

People need to learn to be objective and not take for granted that their own worldview is unquestionably the superior one, hyperbolically "expressing concern" and fear of "exclusion" about the possibility that this game doesn't "take the opportunity to be better" by validating the OP's worldview. This thread is rife with claims that boil down to "considering me would make this game objectively better! Otherwise I'd feel excluded."

Absolutely shameless.

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It's great when threads devolve into complaining about other people's concerns. How dare they have opinions on things, right?

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Let me show you how this thread would have gone if people weren't so uptight about anything relating to the words gender, sexuality, or race.

OP: I'm worried the game's characters will be defined too narrowly by their gender.

Second poster: You have nothing to be concerned about. Tim's a good writer.

/thread

Instead, we got three full pages of people complaining that someone dared to be concerned about something in the game that they helped fund.

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It's great when threads devolve into complaining about other people's concerns. How dare they have opinions on things, right?

Is this some kind of meta-humor? I can't tell. Hint: You're complaining about alleged complaints about other people's concerns.

Let me show you how this thread would have gone if people weren’t so uptight about anything relating to the words gender, sexuality, or race.

OP: I’m worried the game’s characters will be defined too narrowly by their gender.

Second poster: You have nothing to be concerned about. Tim’s a good writer.

/thread

Instead, we got three full pages of people complaining that someone dared to be concerned about something in the game that they helped fund.

Why not address the points which you disagree with instead of meta-commentary on the thread? It seems only SurplusGamer has the integrity to actually debate them instead of spewing generic rebuttals.

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It's great when threads devolve into complaining about other people's concerns. How dare they have opinions on things, right?

Is this some kind of meta-humor? I can't tell. Hint: You're complaining about alleged complaints about other people's concerns.

Yeah, and it's equally as dumb as what you're doing.

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We all have our own ideas about what's best for the game, but if you're worried that "vocal minorities" will sway the opinion of developers, what you're basically saying is that you won't be able to enjoy the game unless minorities are explicitly not represented well in it. You can try and hide that behind the "devs should do whatever they want" idea, but we all know that the devs will do whatever they think is best for the game, so this discussion is really about whether we as a community value diversity in characters.

[Multiple edits because it's late and I can't order put in words the right.]

This is one hell of a strawman argument. Nobody ever said they don't want minorities to appear in the game or that the game can't be enjoyed unless they are "explicitly not represented." This is a cheap attempt at discrediting the opposing view instead of actually addressing it.

I can see how it would come across like that, and I admit that it weakens my post. I only wanted to point out that wanting people to stop requesting minorities in the game implies a desire not to make the game as requested by others. It's a very contrarian position because instead of considering how the game can be made better there's this worry that something that other people want is not a good thing to want.

Anyway, what view in particular did you want me to address? My post was a response to the growing hostility in the thread (e.g. "your prejudice towards white males with a little stubble is showing, as is your self-entitlement").

The premise of this thread is just: "I have this social issue which affects me, and it would be so unfortunate if this game didn't make a point to validate my worldview."

Here you are arguing against your own strawman. Has anyone asked for their worldview to be validated? What worldview would that be, exactly? There are a number of reasons why people might want social issues discussed. I just think it will make for a better game for everyone and I'm willing to argue that position (although, to be clear, I don't expect this particular discussion to impact Broken Age one way or another). If it were true that making the game more inclusive for some people meant making it less awesome for others, then I'd reconsider based on the specifics of the potential awesomeness distributions.

The part that certain posters keep ignoring is that I myself am part of a minority too so don't make this about the whole overused "white male" rhetoric. The game has no responsibility to validate MY worldview or that of the OP, period. This entire discussion is neither here nor there.

I was ignoring it because I don't care. Do you know what my ethnicity or gender is? Does it matter? The white male rhetoric is indeed overused, but I used the term in response to previous comments.

People need to learn to be objective and not take for granted that their own worldview is unquestionably the superior one, hyperbolically "expressing concern" and fear of "exclusion" about the possibility that this game doesn't "take the opportunity to be better" by validating the OP's worldview. This thread is rife with claims that boil down to "considering me would make this game objectively better! Otherwise I'd feel excluded."

What is hyperbolic about expressing concerns, trying to prevent exclusion, and striving to be better? You keep coming back to this idea of validating a worldview, but as I've said, that is a misrepresentation of the comments in this thread. Are you contesting the claim that considering more people could make a game objectively better? If so, then why?

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It's great when threads devolve into complaining about other people's concerns. How dare they have opinions on things, right?

Is this some kind of meta-humor? I can't tell. Hint: You're complaining about alleged complaints about other people's concerns.

Yeah, and it's equally as dumb as what you're doing.

but what about hermaphrodites? is the game going to offend them as well?

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I wanted to end on that note, but I feel compelled to add that in the hypothetical scenario where some backers do get their wish that the games industry never includes a social agenda in their games and never draws attention to the minority-ness of any characters (unless making some point in a social agenda), what we end up with is games that have nothing to say, games that are repetitions of the same themes, the same familiar archetypes. You could say that's a failure of imagination and that there's plenty of stories that could be told about straight white males, which is true, but it's an even greater failure of imagination to believe that having visible minorities in a game or giving female characters agency and non-stereotypical traits will ruin it.

We all have our own ideas about what's best for the game, but if you're worried that "vocal minorities" will sway the opinion of developers, what you're basically saying is that you won't be able to enjoy the game unless minorities are explicitly not represented well in it. You can try and hide that behind the "devs should do whatever they want" idea, but we all know that the devs will do whatever they think is best for the game, so this discussion is really about whether we as a community value diversity in characters.

I don’t think that people have a problem with “representing minorities” as such as long as the developers desire it that way and it doesn’t look like they went off a checklist of everything that they need to include or have to explicitly leave out of their game for the sake of making every minority happy. It can and does work as long as a character shows depth and is well-built and conceived and as long as the entire cast doesn’t represent a cavalcade of minorities just for the sake of it, which literally comes off as shouting “look at how progressive we are, look, look at us, we included all these groups in our game!” and isn’t conducive to making any work “better” at all:

BKkidsclubgang.png

You can’t “force” diversity, if you try you are only going to make it worse and also likely damage your work, someone in another one of these arguments put it rather well:

One really good example is the difference in how gay characters are handled in two Agatha Christie TV adaptations: the Miss Marple series from the mid-80s to early 90s compared some of the more recent series of Poirot.

In at least two Miss Marple stories, there are obviously gay characters: The Moving Finger has a gay antiques dealer, and A Murder Is Announced has a middle-aged lesbian couple. It's never explicitly said in either book or adaptation that they're gay, but it's pretty heavily implied. And, in both the characters are pretty believable. The guy in The Moving Finger is a bit smarmy and effeminate, but he isn't totally odious. The couple in A Murder Is Announced is some of the more amusing characters, and when one of them gets murdered and the other becomes extremely upset, you'd probably feel for the surviving one, especially when she learns who the murderer was. This doesn't even go into the fact this series had a black doctor, and quite a few black supporting characters in A Caribbean Mystery that all worked very well.

Compare that to the gay characters in the Cards on the Table and Five Little Pigs adaptations. Both have characters changed to be gay, which is a bit annoying, but in either case could have worked (the characters were changed in logical ways)... except the writing in the newer Poirot series has none of the subtlety or charm or attention to detail that the original series had, and the writing and acting quality have taken a huge downturn (even by David Suchet, which is really unfortunate as he basically *is* Poirot).

Unsurprisingly, minority characters written by good writers who put them in as normal people with actual backgrounds that go beyond "female/black/gay/disabled" tend to turn out better than people shoe-horning in minority characters in place for reasons of fulfilling diversity quotas.

Neither do I have anything against well-written female characters. In fact The Blackwell Series, Emerald City Confidential and Dreamfall are some of my favorite recent adventure games.

Heck there are even some Adventure games that embrace the “gay” and that is completely fine too: http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/6/4400922/my-ex-boyfriend-the-space-tyrant-the-gayest-game-ever-made

But these games were meant that way and come off as organic, they didn’t run it off a checklist and they didn’t feel forced or compelled to include something through pressure by certain groups.

What I have a problem with is when people act out their insecurities by saying that some game or work is “broken” or “misses opportunities” because it doesn’t include some sort of character or defies their expectations that it has to include it (e.g. compare with OP). The latest GTA game is a perfect example considered horrible by a certain crowd for not having a female protagonist as if this was some sort of rule or supposed social expectation for any game nowadays and not a choice by the developer in how they tell their stories.

As for the other discussion as to why some type of character is considered “the norm”?

First it isn’t really, any one character (or enemy, although mostly briefly) you meet in a game that doesn’t make a big deal out of their sexual preference could be anything you want to imagine. Stamping “gay” or “straight” onto a characters face upon just meeting them either literally or figuratively isn’t (and shouldn’t be) considered usual procedure.

And second, because statistically speaking from the characters that do make a deal out of it, in regards to population (and in regards to the audience likely playing the games) these are some rather small groups of people identifying as such:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/americans-have-no-idea-how-few-gay-people-there-are/257753/

http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf

For instance says fewer than 2% for either bisexual or gay and 0.3% trans. Most of the rest do fall into the, as you call it, “gender binary” camp (although this would also mostly apply to the first two groups, since they just have different sexual preferences and not a different "gender").

There are games representing diversity where it isn’t conspicuous and it comes across as entirely natural. Take The Walking Dead by Telltale for example, it has what is probably one of the most “diverse” casts that exists and doesn’t seem arbitrary or forced and isn’t being particularly preachy about it either since it is just groups of survivors forming out of necessity and coming in conflict with some of their core beliefs.

Then there are games like the ones done by BioWare which defy categorization and require new words like “player-sexual” since apparently the number of bisexual characters in those universes are closer to 60-80%.

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What I have a problem with is when people act out their insecurities by saying that some game or work is “broken” or “misses opportunities” because it doesn’t include some sort of character or defies their expectations that it has to include it (e.g. compare with OP). The latest GTA game is a perfect example considered horrible by a certain crowd for not having a female protagonist as if this was some sort of rule or supposed social expectation for any game nowadays and not a choice by the developer in how they tell their stories.

Sort of off topic but, I think your reading is this is likely off. I think those that were hoping for a female GTA protagonist have less to do with "sort of rule for any game nowadays" and more that the game series has had, to varying degrees, a complex history with female characters, and that this would have been a compelling time to unleash such a character.

Smiles

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Okay, so I've calmed down from yesterday. Sorry for being so harsh. I just get really angry about things like these. It seems like people can have any concerns they want about the game on here and the conversation will remain relatively civil, but once you use the word gender you're accused of "pushing an agenda" and told that you're "getting in the way of the creative process" or "have no right to complain". I don't get it. I just hate to see the concerns of someone who helped fund the game being delegitimized, because of something she never even did.

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I can see how it would come across like that, and I admit that it weakens my post. I only wanted to point out that wanting people to stop requesting minorities in the game implies a desire not to make the game as requested by others. It's a very contrarian position because instead of considering how the game can be made better there's this worry that something that other people want is not a good thing to want.

Anyway, what view in particular did you want me to address? My post was a response to the growing hostility in the thread (e.g. "your prejudice towards white males with a little stubble is showing, as is your self-entitlement").

Fair enough, I wasn't aware it was a reaction to that. There's definitely some hostility in the thread - some of which I concede came from me.

Here you are arguing against your own strawman. Has anyone asked for their worldview to be validated? What worldview would that be, exactly? There are a number of reasons why people might want social issues discussed. I just think it will make for a better game for everyone and I'm willing to argue that position (although, to be clear, I don't expect this particular discussion to impact Broken Age one way or another). If it were true that making the game more inclusive for some people meant making it less awesome for others, then I'd reconsider based on the specifics of the potential awesomeness distributions.

I don't think it's a strawman, in that the OP's request takes for granted that her worldview is the only valid one, and any other view is bad. She explicitly states that a traditional representation would be straight-up invalid and damaging to society. The OP took a hardline, absolutist and exclusive position which says "traditional=bad" and "OP's nontraditional view=good and takes this as objective fact.

Instead of saying, perhaps, that she hopes her own view might be represented somewhere in the game, she instead makes claims that any gender portrayal other than the one she promotes must be wrong. To top it off, the tone of the request and subsequent posts in favor of the OP is preachy e.g. "Don't miss this opportunity to show that traditional gender roles are bad, it would be sad otherwise, and also it would objectively make the game better and richer;" "the game developers are responsible for the cultural and societal footprint of their work! It would be a shame if it sent a 'bad' message!"

The OP volunteers her definition of bad as absolute truth, of course. That a boy be portrayed boyishly is being presented as irrefutably bad by OP.

This is downright zealotous behavior. I feel like some people in the thread are very far gone into the rhetoric and, condescendingly, don't even bother debating genuinely.

The white male rhetoric is indeed overused, but I used the term in response to previous comments.

Fair enough. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that, going by the OP's logic, I too should feel "excluded" as I'm not represented in any media (I can't even think of one instance in any media).

But the reality is that nobody is excluded. There is no intent, subconscious or otherwise, to exclude anyone. Proponents of the OP seem to want to take steps against alleged subconscious exclusion. This borders on witch hunt territory.

What is hyperbolic about expressing concerns, trying to prevent exclusion, and striving to be better? You keep coming back to this idea of validating a worldview, but as I've said, that is a misrepresentation of the comments in this thread. Are you contesting the claim that considering more people could make a game objectively better? If so, then why?

I am saying that nobody can say "this is better." There are a myriad of possible outcomes. Maybe it would work great, or maybe it would come off forced and hurt the game. I don't claim to know.

The OP and her proponents presume to know, and I take issue with that (as well as her presumption of guilt lest the game prove otherwise).

PS- Why must the game consider its cultural footprint? Why not just let it simply and organically be one of many data points which make up culture? Culture is emergent that way, even though some people seem to want to engineer it.

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I don't know that the OP or we do presume to know.

BUT, I do know that I think the idea of the concerns of minorities being used as something that waters down the creative process is something of a myth, for a few reasons.

I think that in the end creators will make what they want to make, and they won't be swayed by something that really goes against what they're trying to make.

The obvious question is - so why even ask? And I think the reason is what I've always said it was, that just because a creator doesn't mean or wouldn't mean to do something that some people might find narrow minded or prejudiced doesn't mean they might not do it accidentally, and I've definitely seen positive examples of people seeing how something they've done might be interpreted negatively, and making small changes to fix that perception. Usually they're happy to do so, it doesn't water down whatever they were trying to do, and I've seen no examples of it actually making it worse. That's a big part of what I mean when I say that taking this sort of stuff into consideration can make a work better.

Example: I started a post musing about whether it would be possible to have same sex couples in Massive Chalice. This started a discussion that actually wasn't mainly about social justice, but was about the mechanics, and what such a thing might mean for it. As a result of that discussion, Brad Muir and the design team on the game are now thinking about different things that any couple can produce apart from children, and it's actually going into the design process. The conversation might have turned out differently. They might have said 'no, our design just only works if the couples are having kids, and also because of budget we just can't see a way of broadening this which would be in scope' and I might have been disappointed by that outcome, but I would have accepted it was for reasons that would be for the best for the game. Sure, the discussion may have begun in a place that was me talking about an issue that affected me, but very quickly progressed to being a discussion about game design, and led to cool things being in the game design that otherwise might never have come up. All just from listening to another perspective.

The point is, there's simply no harm in bringing it up. Double Fine are professionals and they're not going to make any decisions about the game that aren't the decisions they want to make, as long as it's within budget. It is true that sometimes people make things which are obviously and painfully attempting to moralise about equality in a way that sticks out. However, whenever I see an example of that, it's more one of the symptoms of bigger problems that the work has (usually the problem is that the writing is awful).

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I don't know that the OP or we do presume to know.

BUT, I do know that I think the idea of the concerns of minorities being used as something that waters down the creative process is something of a myth, for a few reasons.

I think that in the end creators will make what they want to make, and they won't be swayed by something that really goes against what they're trying to make.

The obvious question is - so why even ask? And I think the reason is what I've always said it was, that just because a creator doesn't mean or wouldn't mean to do something that some people might find narrow minded or prejudiced doesn't mean they might not do it accidentally, and I've definitely seen positive examples of people seeing how something they've done might be interpreted negatively, and making small changes to fix that perception. Usually they're happy to do so, it doesn't water down whatever they were trying to do, and I've seen no examples of it actually making it worse. That's a big part of what I mean when I say that taking this sort of stuff into consideration can make a work better.

Example: I started a post musing about whether it would be possible to have same sex couples in Massive Chalice. This started a discussion that actually wasn't mainly about social justice, but was about the mechanics, and what such a thing might mean for it. As a result of that discussion, Brad Muir and the design team on the game are now thinking about different things that any couple can produce apart from children, and it's actually going into the design process. The conversation might have turned out differently. They might have said 'no, our design just only works if the couples are having kids, and also because of budget we just can't see a way of broadening this which would be in scope' and I might have been disappointed by that outcome, but I would have accepted it was for reasons that would be for the best for the game. Sure, the discussion may have begun in a place that was me talking about an issue that affected me, but very quickly progressed to being a discussion about game design, and led to cool things being in the game design that otherwise might never have come up. All just from listening to another perspective.

The point is, there's simply no harm in bringing it up. Double Fine are professionals and they're not going to make any decisions about the game that aren't the decisions they want to make, as long as it's within budget. It is true that sometimes people make things which are obviously and painfully attempting to moralise about equality in a way that sticks out. However, whenever I see an example of that, it's more one of the symptoms of bigger problems that the work has (usually the problem is that the writing is awful).

In your example, you made a tempered suggestion, while this thread is entirely one-sided in its premise.

The bolded part is the opposite attitude of the OP of this thread, who assumes that the view opposing hers would be bad and damaging to society in the most tragic of ways, whereas you are actually open minded in your example and clear in your intent to serve the game and not yourself.

It's a key difference. I am sure that nobody reacted to your suggestion in the same way that people reacted to this thread.

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In your example, you made a tempered suggestion, while this thread is entirely one-sided in its premise.

The bolded part is the opposite attitude of the OP of this thread, who assumes that the view opposing hers would be bad and damaging to society in the most tragic of ways, whereas you are actually open minded in your example and clear in your intent to serve the game and not yourself.

I simply disagree, I think you are reading a whole lot more into the OP than what is actually there. In terms of what she thinks would be damaging to society - yes, she thinks a simplistic binary view of gender is damaging (and I broadly agree). But in terms of what she was actually asking for - that the writers do what is best for the character and world, without putting too much emphasis on binary gender values when making those character decisions, I don't think what she's asking comes across as very unreasonable at all - it seems like she, like me, is concerned about writing good characters, and she is of the opinion that not being simplistic about gender could be a part of that. Sure, it's an opinion, but there's nothing selfish in the manner in which it's asked.

It's a key difference. I am sure that nobody reacted to your suggestion in the same way that people reacted to this thread.

Sadly not. There was a productive discussion for about one or two pages before it began to get derailed by people making EXACTLY the same points as are being made here. Reading things into my original post which not only weren't there, but I was specifically careful to avoid.

I didn't mince words in my post, but I made it perfectly clear that my concern was that maybe they just really hadn't thought that maybe it could be cool to have same sex couples in the game (and had a suggestion or two of how it could work in a way that was helpful rather than hurtful to the game). And when Brad replied his reply was two things mainly:

a) I just hadn't even thought about it, but now I have - so thanks.

b) Your suggestion has given me lots of ideas about how the couples gameplay could be richer than we'd previously envisioned it.

It was totally win-win, but people still made a point to accuse me of having motives that I just didn't have. Maybe I wasn't clear enough, maybe I didn't put things well enough, but goodness me I tried to say what I was saying as clearly as possible, but still I couldn't escape pages and pages of the same points being made over and over.

And in the end it didn't matter, because Double Fine are, like professionals, making the game they want to make.

I think it's really damaging to second guess the motives of people in this way. In the end, we all want a great game.

(by the way an example of where you read things that were never written is, Boredom, when you said: "The OP volunteers her definition of bad as absolute truth, of course. That a boy be portrayed boyishly is being presented as irrefutably bad by OP." Never said, never implied, completely missing the point, I am afraid. You may disagree with some of the finer points but even with an extremely uncharitable reading of the OP, she never once implies that it's bad for a boy to be boyish or a girl to be girlish. Her concern was rather that the writers wouldn't assume that the boy's world could only contain boyish things, and vice versa.

To use her words: "I really hope that ‘This feels girly’ and ‘This feels boyish’ are not in any way criteria for what is a good fit for either world. Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world..." Which just isn't the same thing as saying 'if the boy is boyish that's bad'. While you may well disagree whether gender is a good starting point for making decisions about the characters and their worlds (personally I think it can provide pointers but as a sole criteria it is rather crude), let's not pretend that she was saying something she wasn't.

I can sort of see where you might have got it from. She does after all say: "I really hope that ‘This feels girly’ and ‘This feels boyish’ are not in any way criteria..." etc which maybe sounds a little strident, but the important thing is that she doesn't say that she hopes that the boy and girl and portrayed too boyish/girlishly. She just says she hopes that gender isn't used like a gate that defines what their character and their worlds are allowed to be like, and at least when I read it that seems to come through pretty clear.)

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In light of what Surplus Gamer is clarifying, I too think I came on a little strong with my beliefs, which weren't aimed at the thread so much as the general attitude of the gaming industry towards female characters, as exemplified by the recent news around GTA, Assasin's Creed, etc. - but not toward this studio specifically. Sometimes you feel attacked on all sides by the same arguments again and again, and you end up putting unnecessary force into your argument when you do find an outlet. Which I think can be said for both sides of the debate here.

To clarify for my part, I was more worried about Vesta because I know Tim can write male main characters with sensitivity, as shown by his previous games I've played. But it's harder to write female characters without falling into tropes, especially unconsciously, because male is the default. Women aren't considered the same neutral ground, especially since apparently we're still considered a minority despite being 45% of the gaming population. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that women are protagonists in about 24 out of 669 current video game titles, I dunno. Men have their stereotypes as well, especially in gaming where they're shoehorned into a limited number of personalities, mostly because that's the easiest way to fit them into the gameplay of FPS and other action-y titles, but in general men are a blank space where creators are free to explore the nuances of humanity, and Tim has that sort of creative space. The media is gradually changing to include women in that space on a broader scale as well, but it's not there yet, and so I worry.

On the other hand that worry isn't relevant to the OP's request, which is simply not to give either of the character's traits or plots because they are 'traditional boy traits and Shay is a boy' or 'traditonal girl traits because Vesta is a girl'. Vesta can still have girl traits and Shay boy traits, but what I believe they was trying to ask was that, for example, Shay not enjoy fighting because everyone knows, of course, that all boys love to fight, but rather have a personality that is defined by the needs of the plot and their character arc. So if he likes being dirty because he's been raised in a strict environment where that wasn't allowed and it's a way to take control, that's fine. Which is, you know, a legitimate creative concern - not that lack of diversity isn't a legitimate creative concern - or to use a phrase that's popped up in this thread, a desire that the creators not shoehorn the characters into doing something simply because it's a gender stereotype, but consider the story first and foremost. Seem logical enough.

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