Female protagonist or Male Protagonist?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by HarmonyGames, May 1, 2017.

?

Topic.

  1. Male

    12 vote(s)
    34.3%
  2. Female

    23 vote(s)
    65.7%
  1. RetroBoy

    RetroBoy Veteran Veteran

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    I think you're going to struggle and I'm not saying that to be a jerk. For Example (Refer to attachment), this is the draft class write-up I did for one of the classes in my game while balancing things. I had a very clear image of things in my head and I wrote it all out in detail.

    Afterwards I realized that while it helped me during development, I couldn't really use this description because my game is meant to appeal to a younger audience. So, I'm going to have to rewrite an entire (simpler) description.

    I've got it easy because "making simpler" is easier than the opposite. If my game was more mature or graphic and the description was essentially "Mercs mash monsters!" than that isn't going to capture the imagination of my target audience. So, what you write and how you write are just as important as what you think but so is who you're writing too.

    I've heard a lot of people over the years claim "You write for yourself" but you'll notice that most of these people struggle to get by or are already on the top and trying to keep their crown. When you write you need to write for your consumer(s). The people you are making your product for. Its not enough to write a scene you're happy with, you need to write a scene that excites them and they want to be a part of or tell others about.

    That is the real key to success. So while what you're saying is noble and I understand it in principle, its one of those things that are a bit too idealistic for my liking. World experience and 14 years of being a Freelance Writer/Editor has given me a very different perspective.
     

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  2. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I didn't explain my thoughts properly, but luckily you pointed out what I was trying to say. You already knew what game you were making. Now, afterwards, you make changes to bring this to your target audience. I understand that you can know a large concept won't appeal to the audience and you can avoid those (my example of how FFX-2 alienated it's players), and you can look at things once you know your game, and then change things to help push it in the right direction. But those are 'outside' making the game.
    As for 'making it for yourself', a large part I see when people 'pander' or focus on a target audience, they aren't making it for themselves and they aren't making something they love, so the game becomes work and suffers instead of fun and something they want others to be as excited as them about.

    Aside, I'm an absolute idealist. The more I see of cynicism and 'realists', the more I know it's never something I could live with. I'm also the kind of person who hasn't lost faith in humanity by working in customer service.
     
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  3. Titris Thrawns

    Titris Thrawns It's a trap! ...Or is it? Veteran

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    My opinion to the OP: I agree with the majority of posters saying that the gender/sex only matters if your narrative dictates a specific one or your marketing team has influence over your art. I prefer player choice, as it gives the player control of the Role in the playing part of the game. Onto the fun discussion that has cropped up!

    Dirty to who? :kaoeh: That's a half-rhetorical question, because who it affects will change how we interpret the data on gamers, gaming and how to make informed decisions as developers. To be upfront, I agree with the sentiment of your argument, which I take to be, go where the data shows us. Where I take issue, is that this data is taken as sacrosanct and absolute truth. Gender roles help us identify how we define what is masculine and feminine and assign 'values' to them. In your quote, you appear to say the roles of war, strength, expendable are 'biological truths' of the male sex. The science shows human men, on average, have bigger upper body strength compared to women, but the war and expendable parts do not follow from biology. Cultural values inform that part. The importance is to delineate between the human animal biological sex differences versus the cultural/social values associated with masculine/feminine & male/female. Ye olde nature versus nurture as it were. The danger of conflating the two can lead us to weird biological determinism arguments that force men to be protectors instead of nurturers and women to be baby factories instead of what they will.

    As @Sharm points out, marketing data is inherently biased, if we use it for explaining the why of demographic habits. A study may have numbers that indicate males consume more of specific gaming media, but survey data does not inform us why (Also, they didn't ask me, so it's automatically disqualified! :kaopride:). Legos is an excellent example. In the 80's they were marketed as a gender neutral toy to be used for creative play. We see a shift from the neutral to Zack the Lego maniac marketing targeted at boys. Today we see specific Legos for a female audience based on their 'targeted marketing research'. The key takeaway is, marketing can change over time and with changing attitudes in the industry and culture. Marketing research and materials give us a reflection of the targeted demographic and buying habits, not some sort of universal static truth about how male/females operate. Using marketing data to argue that a pattern MUST be continued is illogical for people seeking to shift the demographic of consumers. It works if the priority is selling a product to the current consuming demographic, thus making marketing recursive as well as reflective. If you only market games to males, then only males will consume games, which creates marketing research on how to maximize sales to the same said males. Marketing data can also be used to explore questions pertaining to why the demographic patterns exist. Just like how we have investigated why women have not pursued STEM degrees and created programs to support women who do wish to break into these fields. If we collected data on job patterns and observed men were the majority in X field, would we conclude that we should only push for men in those fields? (Yeah, that was full rhetorical, M'bad). Just because data shows a male dominate audience, does not mean gaming is now 'owned' by them and is immutable. I don't believe that is anyone's main argument here, but an underlying bias of interpreting the data. It's very poignant in the ideological schism arguments I've seen since Anita Sarkesian, Gamergate and all that death of gamer identity rot. As discussed, depending on how the data is sliced, it can be used as a ideological cudgel instead of informing our decisions.

    Which leads me back to masculine versus feminine ideology. We assign subjective value to these words like "Femininity (a love for beauty, a gentle heart, empathy, patience, perseverance)". I would argue perseverance is also a masculine trait, as how else would a hero remain focused when the going gets tough to save the world? Do we view this perseverance as feminine, masculine or heroic? The judgement is subjective and can change depending on the eye of the beholder and context. All humans, regardless of sex/gender, can exhibit, value or pursue traits associated with masculinity/femininity. Our value judgments will reflect personal bias and values. As pointed out in the Bayoneta example, how we judge the 'Fem-dom' reflects our personal values of powerful women literally using sexuality for violence. Do we call male characters male-dom or is the hyper-sexualized male used and valued differently when they appear in games? Do the Devil May Cry games have cut scenes designed for the titillation of a presumed female viewer or are they used to show Dante's power and skill to a male demographic? @kirbwarrior FFX-2 example is another good showing of how gamers respond to a game with mixed marketing/demographics. Was it for teen females or the usual teen male demographic of the FF franchise? Were the male gamers that enjoyed the dress sphere grid 'pervy' or enjoying the 'stereotypical female associated play' of dress up? Why do some people lump those two groups together and devalue them compared to the 'norm'? Was any data actually collected on demographics or are we basing this on anecdotal evidence and sale figures to draw conclusions? Questioning what makes something feminine or masculine can help inform us why certain demographics act in certain patterns.

    How does any of this affect our design decisions? I second @RetroBoy in regards to knowing our target demographic. If it is for creative expression, write our heart out:kaojoy:! If we are writing for others or intend to go commercial, it is imperative to be informed. There is nothing 'wrong' if we decide to favor or target a specific demographic, but it is better to be braced for potential criticism than be caught flat-footed. If we just want easy market success, we could just default to the ole 'Sex sells' tactic :kaoswt:. Marketing data is a tool to assist us in making informed decisions. Regardless of personal ideology, the knowledge and demographic bias will inform our works. The more we are aware of where the knowledge and bias stems from, the better armed we are when we work.

    Huh... I guess that's a long version of why I prefer player choice for gender? Can't have your PC actions be criticized on a gender spectrum when they secretly are a sexless lego!
     
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  4. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    These are all good points you've made, I want to address a select few;
    To me, that's heroic. There are many traits that I've heard addressed to gender when it seems it would more accurate. to address them to 'heroic' or 'good'. Yes, there may be different gender sides to it, but preserving is basically genderless.
    FFV and FFTactics both had class changing and appearance changing. With a little more foreknowledge, FFX-2 could have been made without alienation. Sadly, I don't know exactly how it would have to change.
    Western RPGs get away with this because "The character is the player" instead of JRPGs "The player becomes the character" that's seen in traditional storytelling. Mind, neither has the 'second-person' perspective of Choose-your-own-adventure books...
    EDIT: There are jrpgs that have gotten away with it, such as Dragon Quest 3 with it's silent protagonist and lack of meaningful gender roles of the party.
     
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  5. RetroBoy

    RetroBoy Veteran Veteran

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    Great a Chiss... dayum Imperial blue-skins...

    @Titris Thrawns joking aside I agree with you and I disagree with you. For example, your assertion that war is cultural ignores the fact that war can be observed in all our closest relatives from Baboons to Chimpanzees. Even smaller primates. I agree that culture can dictate how often war is waged but I think that is more of a result of who is willing to fight who and not whether or not men want to actually fight. I think you will find that most healthy males (of most mammalian species) fight. It is a basic part of our biology. We are inherently violent, to think otherwise is to be caught up in ideology. The problem is not with whether we fight or even who we fight, but how. Men are designed to conquer. Its why we are both higher and lower on the intelligence bell curve than women. Our thinkers are great thinkers and our idiots never needed a brain in their head to be successful anyway. This is one of those uncomfortable truth's about humanity. While overall, women are more intelligent on average because they do not need to be geniuses and cannot typically afford to be idiots.

    And I am in fact arguing that a lot of this has to do with biological trends. Now, I am not saying "Women can't be smart" or "men are always smarter" but I am saying that if we can observe the same behavior in primates (who do not have human culture or perspective) than certain trends PROBABLY are not cultural.

    As for lego being gender neutral, I can't speak to that but I was once at a birthday party where my friends little sister cried and threw a tantrum because someone brought her lego as a gift. Of course, this is anecdotal and I don't expect it to change your mind, but I've never really considered Lego a "gender neutral toy" its always been a boy's toy that sometimes girls will use. In fact, I am almost certain that during the... Late 90s...? Lego released these new little lego guys that didn't look like lego guys that were specifically made for girls to try to appeal to a more female audience. They had rounder edges and such because statistics show, boys like squares, girls like circles. lol

    Finally, regarding perseverance. What you just witnessed is a perfect example of what I mean. I used the word perseverance. In context it represented a woman's ability to put up with significantly more grief than men. Generally women deal with crying children better, they are more patient with the short-comings of their partner and they are usually more monogamous. And so, I used the word perseverance. I didn't mean that men could not preserve but "putting up" with things is something strong women are well-known for. While men are more known for overcoming. Again, this does not mean women cannot overcome things (many have, Joan of Arc, etc.) but that is not what you think when you think of great women.

    Men (and women) admire other women for different reasons they admire men. Beauty is a very big part of it. Men are shown to be sexist pigs obsessed with appearance but all too often this is a female trait. It is women who run fashion magazines. It is women who run the beauty industry, etc. They want to be beautiful or they want to tear down other beautiful women. This too can be observed in female chimps (no, they're not running fashion magazines) but the more attractive a female the more she will be tended by the other females and the more the men will protect her.

    Which brings me full circle. Men are hardwired to fight and protect. So generally when we see women being harmed it gives you that twinge of anger in your stomach. I'm sure you know the one. The idea of violent video games where women are being beaten is rarely appealing. Again, even "Hooker Killing Sprees" in GTA games can quickly lose their charm because of the violence against women.

    Women on the other hand, they are problem solvers and caregivers. They are chemically and biologically wired to be better at these things than we are. They pick up on social ques easier, etc. So the things they're going to enjoy are going to typically be different to us or enjoyed for very different reason.

    This is another anecdotal story but to put things in perspective. When the Twilight series was written I was living with a friend. His fiance read the Twilight Books "to see what all the hype was about" and would rant and rave endlessly about how horrible they were. She'd become angry over it. However, when the movies came out she did a complete 180 on her stance because Ed was "hot." She still thought the content was garbage but now she liked it, she even started to like the books and started to defend them -- something which shocked all of us -- because she'd been so vehemently against them. We asked if she had just always liked the books and just been afraid to say or something, but she said "No" and that seeing the movie had changed how she felt about it.

    So we got ALL the girls together and asked the same thing and then afterwards we had a guys night down at the park where we talked this out and as far as we could tell from their responses "Being hot" is enough of an excuse for a film to be good to most women. Even if its otherwise garbage a "hot" actor or actress will allow them to enjoy the product.

    Again, this is not a universal truth but it is mirrored well against our like for "strong" men.

    Many action films are horrible. The acting is terrible. They're brain-dead. They're dull. However, many of us enjoy these films because we like seeing strong men. The story content is not as important as how badass the guy is. Its the same phenomena but a different trigger.

    I'm not saying that its a universal law and there are not exceptions (there are exceptions to everything) but its something to be considered when you're writing a story or creating a game. I think why your product is being consumed and what men and women want from it is very important. I think many of the differences in men and women ARE in fact biological and chemical; largely pertaining to the chemical rewards the brain gives us for certain things.

    I don't think that culture informs our preferences nearly as much as our basic instincts and our habits. I think that people who ignore basic human instinct or lack the self-awareness to identify it are largely to blame for a lot of the modern tumult in society (but that is another topic all together). As far as games are concerned, like you said, we need to chase the demographic we're going for.

    That said, I don't agree that preferences really change all that much. I think that culture can make them more accepted or taboo. For example, getting a massage from a roided-up muscle man who is sexually attracted to you would probably make a lot of heterosexual men uncomfortable. However, it would not mean the massage was any less effective. A certain food might look absolutely disgusting but still have a nice taste. These are a matter of taboo.

    I happen to think that much of the "we must have strong female heroes" in everything is because it has become taboo for us to admit that we like seeing roided-up muscle men kicking ass in spandex. Everything has been so sexualized that even brotherly love is now called "bromance" and deep friendships (something very masculine) are alluded to have underlying sexual connotations. This too, is because it has become taboo, because certain basic biological and social factors are being conditioned out of us because they do not adhere to the ideologies of certain demographics.

    Its a really heavy topic. The problem is when people like Anita (since you mentioned her) try to weave a narrative and exert creative control or censorship. Its a problem when we have to say "Boys and Girls are the same" instead of "Boys and Girls are different, lets celebrate that." A lot of this is about "honest" acceptance. Rather than trying to fit people into boxes and force them to consume things they don't enjoy we need to celebrate our differences and understand them.


    And if you're wondering "What does this have to do with anything?" just do me a favour and think on it for an hour or two before replying. Just honestly take a quite moment, get yourself a coffee and think "What could he mean?", "Why would this be a problem?" and how does this tie to "Biological behavior?"
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
    #45
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  6. Tuomo L

    Tuomo L Oldbie Veteran

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    I really have no idea what you're on about Retro. Women do play videogames. It's silly and outdated to think otherwise or try and claim that as false. I've played with numerous women online over the years in numerous games, not just Farmville. You can write all the walls of text you want but that will not change the fact that women are actually part of gaming industry as both consumer and developers.


    As for the OP, I have no idea about the story of your game nor setting so I can't say. There's nothing unusual for female protagonist though, I speak from experience.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
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  7. AnnTenna

    AnnTenna Villager Member

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    Of course, women all over the world play games.
    Every year, more and more women are playing.
    I voted for the woman, because it looks more beautiful. :yswt:
     
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  8. Tuomo L

    Tuomo L Oldbie Veteran

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    I like your reason. :)
     
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  9. RetroBoy

    RetroBoy Veteran Veteran

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    Where did I say women don't play video games?
     
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  10. Tuomo L

    Tuomo L Oldbie Veteran

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    You're the one who argued about the 40% already on first page.
     
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  11. RetroBoy

    RetroBoy Veteran Veteran

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    Its actually close to 30% according to wikipedia (I provided a screenshot, albeit from wikipedia). I never claimed 0% of women played video games. That was never my point.
     
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  12. Tuomo L

    Tuomo L Oldbie Veteran

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    I honestly don't even understand what your point is because it's literally burried under walls of text about cultural stuff and legos and everything else that it's really making me scratch my head.


    Though I'll just say that Legos have even entire lines dedicated for girls, like their Diney Princesses line.
     
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  13. RetroBoy

    RetroBoy Veteran Veteran

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    Which is kind of my point. If you're not interested in discussing my points because you don't want to read them, that is totally okay. But its not really fair to argue against them without really understanding what I am saying.
     
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  14. Caitlin

    Caitlin \(=^o^=)/ Kitten shall rule the world!!! Veteran

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    Girls play video games and legos WAS a gender neutral toy, since its beginning, but people have made them into a boy's toy. When the creator of legos made them for both girls and boys. Girls are playing more and more games, 48% play games, but apparently only a small amount of them identify themselves as gamers (6%). As for the main character, for me, it depends on the story and many times I have two main characters or if there is a group, there is no main character. It various for story to story, actually. Funny thing, did you know that PINK used to be a mainly color? It's why so many bathroom were painted PINK with all those pink accessories. It's funny how a bit of knowledge changes everything, isn't it?

    But then again, I disagree with the idea of how people are taking character and treating gender like something you can change on the fly. I don't treat my characters that way, because person X's life is going to be way different than Y person from class, race, gender, where you live and even your parent's lifestyle is going to affect you. You just can't randomly change those things, so I don't and I won't tell other people that they have to do this. This is just something "I" believe in and something that I do. I can only speak for myself.
     
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  15. Seacliff

    Seacliff RPG Maker Mastermind Veteran

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    Unless your game is a social commentary on gender politics, should it mater?
    Having a female protagonist does not have to mean the game is targeting to a female demographic anyways. I don't hear many people mentioning how in FFV, the 3 out of 4 members of your party is female for roughly half the game.
     
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  16. Guiguimu

    Guiguimu The best revenge is massive success Veteran

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    30%, 40%, 50%... Numbers that don't actually matter. A lot of girls play games that were made thinking about boys, if you want to put it like that, and not all of them appear in statistics. Dark Souls, Burnout, Grand Theft Auto, Watch Dogs, you name it, and I probably have played it or watched someone play.
    And I loved to play with legos, pirate ships, Action Figures, barbies, cars, tea party sets, everything when I was a little girl.
    I don't like a movie just because the main guy was hot (like, I hate twilight).

    Regarding the question:
    I don't really care if it is male or female... The story matters the most.
    But if you are having that much trouble... Why don't you let the player chose? It's a little more work, but it's worth it. Go with what your heart tells you! If you want female do female, if you prefer male go for male.
    Anyway, I voted for female because we need more leading girls out there! XD
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
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  17. RionFish

    RionFish Villager Member

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    Woah, dude, no. Unless you got 3.75 billion women together (half the world population) and asked all of them, you did NOT ask ALL of the women. In fact I'd argue that anything less than 200,000 is a poor sample size for any sort of question that is meant to be a statistical example of a gender's views. It would also need to be spread out geographically because upbringing REALLY MATTERS as far as a person's social beliefs go. I live in an extremely liberal part of the US and let me tell ya, every single woman I know minus one hates the Twilight films and thinks they're garbage, same with the 50 Shades of Grey stuff, regardless of how attractive they view the actors.

    No two people are identical in their thought patterns. It's impossible. We as humans aren't a set of traits that nature gave us, we're a very, very basic personality ('quiet'. 'vocal', 'needy', 'curious', 'happy', etc., or some combination), some hormones, and many, many, many experiences that we alone happen to have experienced. No one will ever be exactly like me, because to be so, they would not only have to have lived through EVERY event in my life in exactly the same way I did, but they'd also have to have processed each of those events in the same way I did. No one else has a high-stress-causing hangup about being embarrassed in public because they almost got on the wrong school bus when they were six on that particular street going to that particular school. No one has the same guilt I have about refusing to talk to their grandfather on the phone that last time ten years ago, four days before he died. And still avoids talking on the phone, even knowing it will one day happen again with someone else, a thought that plays through my mind every time I don't pick up.

    we as a species are very, very much affected by the experiences we go through, and the younger you are the more it changes you. If the people in a girl's life only let her play with dolls, and the society and marketing around her is telling her action figures are for boys and she's not supposed to play with them, more likely than not she's going to grow up to be much more interested in dolls, and dress-up, and care giving. And if everything around her told her to play with action figures instead, she'd probably be playing with those.. Girls don't play with dolls because nature tells them to, they do it because society tells them to.

    The world around us matters and, the attitudes and beliefs of our parents, siblings, authority figures, and friends also matter. We are very susceptible to outward pressures.

    If there was a massive shift in the gaming industry to market all of their games toward girls instead of boys, fifteen years later you'd likely see many more young girls playing games than young boys. But it will never happen because 'that's not what the marketing research says'. It's a catch 22. You ignore women as a demographic and then say 'well girls don't play RPGs', of course they don't because they're being told that the games aren't for them to play.

    Incidentally, my 66-year-old mother plays games and was addicted to Road Rash when I was seven. My sister's been playing games since she was six (I was four) and quite a few of my old PS1 and PS2 RPGs are her leftovers. She plays Overwatch now. And that's common amongst the women in my life.

    All of that aside, demographics shouldn't matter when it comes to the gender of the main character. So long as you're not making a stereotype and remembering that people come in all shapes, colors, and sizes as far as personality goes.

    When I choose the gender of a main character it depends on the kind of game I'm playing. For MMORPGs I choose male because it's a representation of myself (unless I'm RPing then it depends on the character idea in my head). For farming sims or other games that only have straight marriage options, as a gay dude I usually go for female characters. My main in the Mass Effect games has been male, for Andromeda too, because again, it's a situation where I tend to put myself in the position of Shepherd/Ryder, even though so far I've exclusively romanced female characters. My first choice of a character to play the first time I picked up Saga Frontier was Asellus because her color palette was closest to my favorite colors and I thought her story line sounded interesting. In Tales of Xillia I chose to play as Milla instead of Jude because her power was cooler. The reason someone chooses their main character has a lot more to do with their personality rather than their gender.

    So long as the character you've written is interesting and fits the story, his, her, their, its, whatever's gender shouldn't matter. But hell, I'm still waiting to see a game from a big company that lets you play as a gender other than male or female.
     
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  18. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    One game I've been working on, the main character isn't either gender, but comes across female. Only through romance actions (i.e. optional content) will you find this out. Is this something players would want?
    This is blatantly untrue. Yes, "nurture" does affect us, but the way you described things makes it sound like there basically isn't an actual person, only someone created by outside effects. There is a you behind all of the external and internal pressures, behind your perceptions and emotions, behind all the knowledge and beliefs. It's what makes us three-dimensional.
     
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  19. RionFish

    RionFish Villager Member

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    @kirbwarrior That's certainly a game I would want, although I can't speak for everyone.

    My apologies, I'm not saying there's not an individual person, a 'you', but the you who is inside was created BY the outside pressures in your life. I mean, it's very true that this is all my opinion, not fact I've looked up or done experiments or whatever with, but there's no way I can believe that the person you are right now isn't a completely different person than the you you would be if, half your lifetime ago, you had moved and stayed in a completely different place than you actually did. Maybe not 100% different, but you would have different tastes for some things, maybe some different beliefs, different hang ups and fears. Your personality is formed as you grow up, that's YOU. Your brainwaves. Your individuality. In essence I believe you think the way you think because various things happened to you over your life, not because you were born to think them.
     
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  20. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I know this is almost boiling down to "nature vs nurture", and I'm not even saying that personal experiences don't affect us, especially on surface effects such as tastes and fears, but there is a person being affected by these outside pressures, not a person created by them. I don't think a person created that way wouldn't be able to have introspection

    Aside, part of the reason I'm arguing this is I've met people who seem to exist according to the rules you have stated and they challenge my assumption that every human being is a three-dimensional individual. They instead seem to be "real life npcs". And note, I never think of someone I just met on the street but people I've gotten to know over years and just don't seem to be able to do completely human things like introspection or even hold a thought without speaking it.

    (I'm glad! I really like this protagonist.)
     
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    Guiguimu and Shugo like this.

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