Message from discussion PC gender in IF
From: Ulrich Schreitmueller <ulrich.schreitmuel...@student.uni-tuebingen.de>
Subject: Re: PC gender in IF
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 03:05:56 +0200
Organization: No organization. Bad sign.
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"W. Top Changwatchai" wrote:
> As I understand it, the reviewer objected to the PC, a "hard-boiled"
> detective, being a female, especially as no advance notice was given. (In
> fact, the only indication of gender is a single pronoun buried in the last
> paragraph. Presumably substituting "his" for "her" would have excited no
I didn't see it as "objecting", but I might have to reread the comments...
> While every gender choice I made in my entry was deliberate, I certainly
> hadn't meant to shock anybody by the PC's gender (much less the gender of
> the deputy mayor (!)), especially since having a female PC is certainly
> nothing new in IF. (Nor is having a tough female detective in modern
> fiction, or in real life for that matter.)
Absolutely. Take "Plundered Hearts" for instance. Or, to broaden the field of
games, look at Lara Croft. Or even "Leather Goddesses of Phobos", where you
could choose your gender at the beginning.
> Is it necessary for such a character to be female only if "female-ness" is
> demanded by the plot or premise? A while back it was discussed here whether
> a character could happen to be homosexual without this fact being a major
> plot point. Gender seems to be less problematic, since it's usually *more*
> awkward to obscure a character's gender than otherwise.
While I haven't played a game that had a homosexual lead character before, I was
rather impressed at the portrayal of the lead character's gay co-worker in
"Phantasmagoria 2" - even if the whole thing fell a bit flat towards the end.
> Or is there more of a dissonance simply because there's a strong
> indentification between the player with the PC, and that players prefer to
> feel that they are playing themselves, at least gender-wise?
Instead of waxing eloquent here, I'll just guide you to an essay I wrote a while
It deals with how gender is represented in different game genres, and how people
do or do not identify with differently-gendered lead characters (I didn't know
Duke Nukem was so popular with some women, for example. Personally, I hated the
> Regardless of my own clumsy attempts at prose, do readers in general require
> being gradually introduced to such concepts (like wading into a cold river),
> say with references to purses and lipstick, or by genre conventions (being a
> worried wife, or a damsel in distress)? I hope not, and I certainly
> wouldn't write that way.
Well, seeing as my own PrologueComp entry puts you in the role of an elderly
woman, I certainly don't have problems with it, but I can only speak for myself
Generally, I like to know who I am in the game. Male, female, black, white,
animal, mineral, vegetable, I don't care as long as the character is interesting
Of course there are situations when part of the fun might consist in having your
initial assumptions undermined since most people, when faced with a blank, still
automatically tend to assume "male".
(Interesting variations on this theme might be the PrologueComp entry "Trouble
in Paradise", the maze scene in "Photopia", or even that one video by the
Prodigy, you know the one I'm talking about.)