Nudity in IF

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Magnus Olsson

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Apr 5, 2001, 4:09:36 PM4/5/01
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The discussion of "Heroine's Mantle" over in r.g.i-f made me wonder a
little: what do people think of puzzles involving the PC having to
undress?

I'm not speaking of games with sexual content, or of gratuitous
nudity-enforcing puzzles, but of things that fit organically into the
game, such as the following scenario:

The (female) PC encounters a deep, swift river that she must
cross. The only way to cross it is by swimming. Her clothes would
weigh her down, so she has to take them off to avoid drowning. This
means she'll have to spend some time (almos) naked on the other
side. The PC isn't Tracy Valencia, so she'll want either to get her
clothes across the river or find some new ones before proceeding.

Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
in any way questionable?

If not, where would you draw the line?

(As you may guess, I have a very concrete reason for asking this.)

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

ems...@mindspring.com

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Apr 5, 2001, 4:37:11 PM4/5/01
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Magnus Olsson <m...@pobox.com> wrote:
> The discussion of "Heroine's Mantle" over in r.g.i-f made me wonder a
> little: what do people think of puzzles involving the PC having to
> undress?

The *fact* that the heroine had to undress in Heroine's Mantle didn't
bother me as such; it was more something about the overall tone of the
game. This came in the context of a lot of other stuff that portrayed
women and sexuality in a light that made me uncomfortable.

Perhaps the most telling question is whether the narrative feels
voyeuristic. In Heroine's Mantle I felt as though some of the passages
were designed not to be played by a woman or to replicate the actual
experience of being a woman, but to be played by a man who would be
titillated in some degree by this fantasy of being a woman. There was a
quality to the description that made me feel as though I the player were
being invited to ogle the player character along with all the other
sexual scenery.

I have, however, played other games in which clothes were removed and
replaced (whether the PC was male or female) in which I was not at all
bothered, since the act was described straightforwardly and from a
natural first-person point of view, and replicated the way I might
actually feel about changing clothes. There's no exterior
objectification of the PC's body here, just an ordinary action involving
not having clothes on.

(FWIW, it's possible to strip the (female) PC of Metamorphoses naked if
you want, and I've never heard anyone comment on this being
inappropriate. Granted, there's no one much around to see her in this
state, but on the other hand, some of the passages that bugged me in
Heroine's Mantle were solitary too. [Also also, one can see my SPAG
article for more on this, but in describing the problem I may be
sounding more offended than I actually was. My reaction was at the
level of, 'oh, brother, how teenage-boy' a lot of the time, and not at
the level of 'let me print a transcript of this so I can burn it
ritually at the next meeting of NOW.'])

Anyway. I think it's really more a matter of how material is portrayed
than of how much. That which subverts the story, overrides the natural
behavior of the characters, and distorts viewpoints in order to provide
some kind of vicarious sexual thrill is on the road to being
pornographic, though it's a long road with many increments. An honest
story, even a disturbing one with a fair amount of graphic content, as
long as it doesn't turn its female characters into shapely dolls,
usually doesn't offend me as much. It may *upset* me, but a lot of good
art is upsetting. As for a PC taking a little swim in the natural
course of the story-- big deal.

ES

Gunther Schmidl

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Apr 5, 2001, 5:46:33 PM4/5/01
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> If not, where would you draw the line?

The sheer amounts of nudity I've gotten away with in my games makes me think
nobody really gives a damn :-)

-- Gunther

Tom Waddington

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Apr 5, 2001, 6:49:54 PM4/5/01
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Hello Magnus,

> The (female) PC encounters a deep, swift river that she must
> cross. The only way to cross it is by swimming. Her clothes would
> weigh her down, so she has to take them off to avoid drowning. This
> means she'll have to spend some time (almos) naked on the other
> side. The PC isn't Tracy Valencia, so she'll want either to get her
> clothes across the river or find some new ones before proceeding.

First question: does the gender of the PC make any difference? I don't
think it should, but I can't help notice how you've stressed that this
is a female PC.

Secondly, does the PC have a strong character or are they a mere
playing piece? There was a discussion of r.g.i-f recently about games
forcing the player to do things they don't want to, or don't feel are
in character. People get surprisingly passionate about this issue. I
would say that if you have any doubt as to how people are going to
react, include an alternative solution to the river-crossing problem
that doesn't involve any nudity.

If the PC is a very specific character then their personality could
answer the question for you. A well-to-do Victorian lady would
probably never even consider stripping off and swimming across a
river. A pragmatic Xena-type character on the other hand might well do
so without a second thought.

There are plenty of ways the above example could be made more
interesting than a simple locked door situation (which is what it
amounts to, after all). Possible embellishments include: devising a
way to get your clothes across the river while keeping them dry;
stealing clothes from a charcoal burner's washing line; building a
fire to dry clothes that were soaked during the crossing, and so on.

One that turns up fairly often in literature (which may or may not be
a recommendation, depending on your point of view) is the naked
hero(ine) hiding behind a bush whilst being teased by the Romantic
Interest who just so happens to be on the clothes side of the bush.
Carefully handled, perhaps with a conversation system similar to that
in Emily Short's Pytho's Mask, such a set-piece could be funny,
entertaining and serve to significantly advance the plot.

> Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
> in any way questionable?

The example you've given seems completely acceptable to me.

> If not, where would you draw the line?

The one `completely unacceptable' situation I can think of, which
tends to turn up in `Generic Teenage Schoolboy's Text Adventure'
games, features a female character and a puzzle with only one
possible solution that requires sex or nudity; one particularly bad
taste example I remember playing years ago opened with you playing a
female spy in a jail cell.

The only way out of the cell was to have (clumsily written and overly
graphic) sex with the guard and steal his keys when he fell asleep.
Any attempt to avoid this course of events resulted in instant death.
You couldn't, for example, lead him on and then karate kick him across
the room when he opened the door before rabbit chopping him into
unconsciousness, it was either that solution or no game. I decided on
the latter rather rapidly.

Three guidelines I would try to abide by are:

1) Keep it tasteful.
2) If the PC has a personality, only allow it if it's in character.
3) If the PC has no personality, offer an alternative solution.

Be seeing you,
--
Tom Waddington

Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 5, 2001, 6:08:22 PM4/5/01
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:9aije0$uq$1...@news.lth.se...

>
> Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
> in any way questionable?

It's going to be considered as some combination of what you as the author
intended and what the audience is squeamish about. I think worrying about
what the audience thinks is absolutely silly. Who the heck are you writing
IF for, Reader's Digest? Even Reader's Digest is pretty racey lately. Do
whatever you want to do man. Heck, make it pornographic, that would be fun.
Make a vagina problem or something.

> If not, where would you draw the line?

You don't. Make her rape Jewish boys in gas chambers if that's what you
feel like. My point is, you're the author and you're responsible for what
you write. It's not up to the IF community to decide this sort of thing for
you. Do you want to write about sex? Hot, steaming sex? Twisted,
exploitative, politically incorrect sex? Fine. Go write about it. You
don't need anybody's permission or conjecture. (Well, at least not in the
USA under the First Amendment. YMMV elsewhere.) Just be aware that whatever
you write, if you circulate your work that's what you'll be known for. That
could make some people very angry with you, depending on what you write
about. Things like the First Amendment may protect your work, but nothing
protects you from being hated by some people. Or even worse: loved and
lionized by people you'd rather not be loved by.

Anyways, I think "nudity" in and of itself is such a tame subject that I
wonder why you had a question about it. Get on with the wet T-shirt contest
in the babbling brook, woo hoo!


--
Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA


Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 5, 2001, 6:18:00 PM4/5/01
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<ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:9ail1n$qdj$1...@news.panix.com...

>
> The *fact* that the heroine had to undress in Heroine's Mantle didn't
> bother me as such; it was more something about the overall tone of the
> game. This came in the context of a lot of other stuff that portrayed
> women and sexuality in a light that made me uncomfortable.

Literature is allowed to make people feel uncomfortable. For that matter,
so is smut.

> There was a
> quality to the description that made me feel as though I the player were
> being invited to ogle the player character along with all the other
> sexual scenery.

Oooh, how deliciously non-PC!

> (FWIW, it's possible to strip the (female) PC of Metamorphoses naked if
> you want, and I've never heard anyone comment on this being
> inappropriate.

We always have to ask, inappropriate "to whom."

> Anyway. I think it's really more a matter of how material is portrayed
> than of how much. That which subverts the story, overrides the natural
> behavior of the characters, and distorts viewpoints in order to provide
> some kind of vicarious sexual thrill is on the road to being
> pornographic, though it's a long road with many increments. An honest
> story, even a disturbing one with a fair amount of graphic content, as
> long as it doesn't turn its female characters into shapely dolls,
> usually doesn't offend me as much.

Really. And what if reality is that a lot of men *do* view women as
"shapely dolls?" Well I guess you're not going to handle a story about The
Truth very well. Those evolutionary instincts are a bitch, ain't they?
Really sucks when you want to politically disempower some man because of the
way he's looking at you, but you can't help that he's, well... hot.

Run down to the video store and rent "Eyes Wide Shut" before bothering to
challenge my basic point.

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 5, 2001, 6:24:49 PM4/5/01
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In article <q16z6.5585$Kr1.5...@newsread1.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote:
>
>"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
>news:9aije0$uq$1...@news.lth.se...
>>
>> Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
>> in any way questionable?
>
>It's going to be considered as some combination of what you as the author
>intended and what the audience is squeamish about. I think worrying about
>what the audience thinks is absolutely silly. Who the heck are you writing
>IF for, Reader's Digest? Even Reader's Digest is pretty racey lately. Do
>whatever you want to do man. Heck, make it pornographic, that would be fun.
>Make a vagina problem or something.

It's not so much worrying that the audience may dislike what I write
(not for a non-commercial game) but more that I don't want to alienate
the audience. And I don't want to send the wrong message. I don't have
a problem with writing an erotic game - but if I don't want *this*
game to be erotic, I don't want to give the impression that I write to
titillate.

A parallel would be that if I was writing a tragedy, I wouldn't want
to be flippant.

>It's not up to the IF community to decide this sort of thing for
>you.

No, definitely not, but I'm interested in having an idea of what makes
the audience react in certain ways.

>Anyways, I think "nudity" in and of itself is such a tame subject that I
>wonder why you had a question about it.

Nudity itself is a tame subject. And (as I wrote in my comment about
"Heroine's Mantle" on r.g.i-f) things like female characters losing their
clothes are genre conventions in pulp action stories.

But it's the way that nudity is used that's important. Sorry if that
wasn't clear from my post.

Gunther Schmidl

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Apr 5, 2001, 6:41:09 PM4/5/01
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You know what?

Just shut the fuck up.

*plonk*

Neil Cerutti

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Apr 5, 2001, 6:53:26 PM4/5/01
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Brandon J. Van Every posted:

><ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
>news:9ail1n$qdj$1...@news.panix.com...
>> Anyway. I think it's really more a matter of how material is
>> portrayed than of how much. That which subverts the story,
>> overrides the natural behavior of the characters, and distorts
>> viewpoints in order to provide some kind of vicarious sexual
>> thrill is on the road to being pornographic, though it's a
>> long road with many increments. An honest story, even a
>> disturbing one with a fair amount of graphic content, as long
>> as it doesn't turn its female characters into shapely dolls,
>> usually doesn't offend me as much.
>
>Really. And what if reality is that a lot of men *do* view
>women as "shapely dolls?"

Should I include a NAMBLA member in my game just because some men
are pedophiles?

What is your point regarding game design?

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>

Neil Cerutti

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Apr 5, 2001, 6:55:54 PM4/5/01
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Tom Waddington posted:

>Secondly, does the PC have a strong character or are they a mere
>playing piece? There was a discussion of r.g.i-f recently about
>games forcing the player to do things they don't want to, or
>don't feel are in character. People get surprisingly passionate
>about this issue. I would say that if you have any doubt as to
>how people are going to react, include an alternative solution
>to the river-crossing problem that doesn't involve any nudity.
>
>If the PC is a very specific character then their personality
>could answer the question for you. A well-to-do Victorian lady
>would probably never even consider stripping off and swimming
>across a river. A pragmatic Xena-type character on the other
>hand might well do so without a second thought.

But if the well-to-do Victorian lady was forced to do so, it
might well be more dramatic.

--
Neil Cerutti <cer...@together.net>

The Iconoplast

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Apr 5, 2001, 8:10:19 PM4/5/01
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> It's not so much worrying that the audience may dislike what I write
> (not for a non-commercial game) but more that I don't want to alienate
> the audience. And I don't want to send the wrong message. I don't have
> a problem with writing an erotic game - but if I don't want *this*
> game to be erotic, I don't want to give the impression that I write to
> titillate.

If that's the major concern, be sure to ask your beta testers (make sure you
have men and women testing) what they think about the particular passage.

> No, definitely not, but I'm interested in having an idea of what makes
> the audience react in certain ways.

In that case, release some anonymously written short stories just playing
around with conventions.

-Adam


ems...@mindspring.com

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Apr 5, 2001, 9:50:07 PM4/5/01
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Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@3dprogrammer.com> wrote:

> <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
> news:9ail1n$qdj$1...@news.panix.com...
>>
>> The *fact* that the heroine had to undress in Heroine's Mantle didn't
>> bother me as such; it was more something about the overall tone of the
>> game. This came in the context of a lot of other stuff that portrayed
>> women and sexuality in a light that made me uncomfortable.

> Literature is allowed to make people feel uncomfortable. For that matter,
> so is smut.

As I understood it, however, Magnus was asking for information about
what would make people uncomfortable. I was answering his question, not
writing a comprehensive essay on the Purpose of Literature or the Nature
of Gender Relations; nor was anything I said meant to be proscriptive
about what should be written.

Had you read further on, you might have noted that I grant literature
the privilege of being uncomfortable. I have written my share of
material that disturbed other people; that was intended to disturb them;
and that would not have succeeded else.

And there may be also be a use for smut. It is nonetheless a valuable
skill (little relevance though it may have to you) to be able to
calibrate one's writing so that one knows whether it is likely to be
regarded as art or as verbal self-gratification.

>> Anyway. I think it's really more a matter of how material is portrayed
>> than of how much. That which subverts the story, overrides the natural
>> behavior of the characters, and distorts viewpoints in order to provide
>> some kind of vicarious sexual thrill is on the road to being
>> pornographic, though it's a long road with many increments. An honest
>> story, even a disturbing one with a fair amount of graphic content, as
>> long as it doesn't turn its female characters into shapely dolls,
>> usually doesn't offend me as much.

> Really. And what if reality is that a lot of men *do* view women as
> "shapely dolls?" Well I guess you're not going to handle a story about The
> Truth very well. Those evolutionary instincts are a bitch, ain't they?
> Really sucks when you want to politically disempower some man because of the
> way he's looking at you, but you can't help that he's, well... hot.

I find this curious, Mr. Van Every. I was answering the question Magnus
put, and in terms that (I thought) made it clear I was speaking of my
own personal experience; you react as though it had been a feminist
tract designed to undercut your manhood.

Allow me to reassure you. I have no desire to police your production or
consumption of any kind of work, artistic, smutty, or other, in any
medium, be it written, filmed, or frosted onto an erotic cake. I claim
no special superiority, either for myself or for my gender as a whole,
regarding the use of such works. I have, on the whole, very little to
say at all about the inherent Virtue or Vice of art or fantasy,
especially not in such general terms, and my only strong desire is to
avoid censorship. In that regard, if in no other, we are perhaps more
in sympathy than you would suppose.

What interested me, and continues to interest me, is this: how does the
author take into account the ethos of the reader? How does he select
the use he desires his work to be put to, and how does he communicate
that to the audience?

The fact is that if something appears to me to be pornographic, and I am
not interested in pornography (not interested at all, not interested at
the moment, not interested in this type), I am more likely to set the
work aside than to seek its further merits. In identifying itself as an
item for use rather than for reception (to fall back for a moment on CS
Lewis' Experiment in Criticism), it is actively discouraging me from
trying to see it in another light. But this turns tautologically on my
existing definition of pornography, since the presence of sexual content
alone is not (at least in my opinion) the determining factor.

[ Tangent: it is possible for a piece of smut to be sexist and
misogynist without having anything interesting to say *about* sexism and
misogyny, other than bringing to light the (already evident) fact that
people like the author exist in the world.]

I think the deeper issue here -- though I admit I didn't think of it in
quite these terms until I read your post -- is that there is an implicit
relationship between author and reader, a kind of contract, if you will,
in any piece of writing. Somewhere among all the other things an author
needs to do, he must also find a way to tell the reader what their
mutual relationship is, what the intended purpose of the work might be,
and so on. Insult or provocation; shared titillation; respect or
condescension; mannered distance, peevish correction-- the choice of
tone not only affects how the content of the writing is understood, but
makes a piece of writing active -- equivalent to what certain kinds of
theory call a Speech Act -- and becomes, in its way, a thing that the
writer does to the reader. It may fail, just as a blow to the face or
a kiss to the lips may miss its mark, but it's still an attempt of
some sort.

The lower the level on which the author wishes to reach his audience,
the more likely he is to succeed. Whoever produces smut speaks, as you
say, to the most basic, the most animal, and the most universal of
impulses; there are variations in fetish and fantasy, but the audience
response sought is universal, and anyone with the inclination to listen
will hear essentially the same thing. And as testified by the wealth
and turnover of the pornography industry, they will seek the same thing
elsewhere tomorrow.

Correspondingly, there are far more subtle and complex -- and more
distinct and memorable -- arguments that may be addressed to the
thinking mind and feeling heart of a person, provided that you do
violence neither to that person's logical sense nor to his deepest
emotions. This is the sort of offense to which I was referring: if the
author of a work -- the *author*, mind you, not the
narrator-as-character -- seems to be fundamentally incompetent to speak
to my condition, then I reserve the right to disregard her.

Even if your desire is to give offense, I would argue, it helps if you
have at least some idea of to whom you are speaking. Indeed, it is then
especially important, since you are in that case likely to be given only
a single hearing. How disappointing it would be to solicit righteous
outrage in vain.

ES

Arcum Dagsson

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Apr 5, 2001, 11:24:07 PM4/5/01
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Personally, I'd say, make replacing your clothing be an optional puzzle, and
handle nudity on the part of the player with tact. A normal person who is cought
outside without clothing will try to avoid other people, will be embarrassed,
and certainly won't stand around playing with their breasts, etc...

Properly written, it could add to the mood, though, and given a certain amount
of modesty, could add extra puzzles. You can get away with it, but I wouldn't
cast the PC as a nymphomanic, and would put in responses designed not to let the
player get away with such...

--
--Arcum Dagsson
"You say there's a horse in your bathroom, and all you can do is stand
there naming Beatles songs?"

OKB -- not okblacke

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Apr 5, 2001, 11:46:38 PM4/5/01
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m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>The (female) PC encounters a deep, swift river that she must
>cross. The only way to cross it is by swimming. Her clothes would
>weigh her down, so she has to take them off to avoid drowning. This
>means she'll have to spend some time (almos) naked on the other
>side. The PC isn't Tracy Valencia, so she'll want either to get her
>clothes across the river or find some new ones before proceeding.
>
>Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
>in any way questionable?

I'd certainly raise my eyebrows and think to myself, "hmm, that's
interesting," but I wouldn't be offended.

Here's an interesting situation I just came up with. (This perhaps
stretches the boundaries of "games without sexual content", but perhaps not. I
guess the question of those boundaries is what's being asked here, in any
case.) Let's say this female PC is accompanied by a male friend (an NPC).
They have known each other for a long time, and their relationship has never
been anything other than entirely platonic.

How would this affect your (you==the player) thinking on whether
undressing would be acceptable? Would it make a difference whether the NPC
also had to undress or not? What about if the male was the PC and the female
was the NPC? Or if the male was gay, or a eunuch?

Some of these questions may themselves be offensive to readers, if they
responded affirmatively to Magnus's question, and if so I apologize. My intent
is to explore how much of the question is related to sexuality and how much is
related to mere nudity, and what (if any) connection people draw between the
two.

--OKB (Bren...@aol.com) -- no relation to okblacke

"Do not follow where the path may lead;
go, instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
--Author Unknown

Adam J. Thornton

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Apr 6, 2001, 12:08:20 AM4/6/01
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In article <9ail1n$qdj$1...@news.panix.com>, <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>(FWIW, it's possible to strip the (female) PC of Metamorphoses naked if
>you want, and I've never heard anyone comment on this being
>inappropriate.

I was too busy salivating.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"My eyes say their prayers to her / Sailors ring her bell / Like a moth
mistakes a light bulb / For the moon and goes to hell." -- Tom Waits

Adam J. Thornton

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Apr 6, 2001, 12:17:10 AM4/6/01
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In article <q16z6.5585$Kr1.5...@newsread1.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,
Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote:
>rape Jewish boys in gas chambers

Zarf: bonus points if you can pull off an XYZZY award from a game with
this scene in it. Extra bonus points if it's a dungeon crawl treasure
hunt.

Joshua E Millard

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Apr 6, 2001, 12:25:34 AM4/6/01
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Gunther Schmidl (gsch...@xxx.gmx.at) uttered:

>You know what?
>
>Just shut the fuck up.
>
>*plonk*

Yeah! Eat killfile, invisible person!

--
+---+ With great effort, you move the boulder. ################
|..$| # Josh Millard #
|.@'.##########################################################
|<d.| # pu...@wpi.edu # www.wpi.edu/~pulp - music, words, etc #
+---+ ########################################################

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 6, 2001, 1:51:17 AM4/6/01
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In article <9ajgfu$ikf$2...@bigboote.WPI.EDU>,

Joshua E Millard <pu...@WPI.EDU> wrote:
>Gunther Schmidl (gsch...@xxx.gmx.at) uttered:
>>You know what?
>>
>>Just shut the fuck up.
>>
>>*plonk*
>
>Yeah! Eat killfile, invisible person!

I'm puzzled - whom did he just *plonk*?

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 6, 2001, 3:45:27 AM4/6/01
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In article <uYNFt4ivAHA.296@cpmsnbbsa09>,

The Iconoplast <Adam_Bar...@Msn.com> wrote:
>> It's not so much worrying that the audience may dislike what I write
>> (not for a non-commercial game) but more that I don't want to alienate
>> the audience. And I don't want to send the wrong message. I don't have
>> a problem with writing an erotic game - but if I don't want *this*
>> game to be erotic, I don't want to give the impression that I write to
>> titillate.
>
>If that's the major concern, be sure to ask your beta testers (make sure you
>have men and women testing) what they think about the particular passage.

Of course; but if I reach that stage and get a negative reaction,
major rewriting may be necessary. (It's not just a case of a river
having to be crossed.)

>> No, definitely not, but I'm interested in having an idea of what makes
>> the audience react in certain ways.
>
>In that case, release some anonymously written short stories just playing
>around with conventions.

I don't think that will work - the media are too different. What I'm
after is the reaction to not just reading about a person doing certain
things, but to actually having to play that person. (This is true, of
course, for all kinds of controversial actions.)

Jake Wildstrom

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Apr 6, 2001, 4:17:19 AM4/6/01
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In article <98651061...@lilznntp.liwest.at>,

Maybe we should assume all characters are nude unless clothing is
explicitly mentioned. It's an interesting visual for a lot of
games. Particularly hack-and-slash dungeon-type things.

+--First Church of Briantology--Order of the Holy Quaternion--+
| A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into |
| theorems. -Paul Erdos |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+
| Jake Wildstrom |
+-------------------------------------------------------------+

Alex Schroeder

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Apr 6, 2001, 4:46:27 AM4/6/01
to
ems...@mindspring.com writes:

> (FWIW, it's possible to strip the (female) PC of Metamorphoses naked if
> you want, and I've never heard anyone comment on this being
> inappropriate. Granted, there's no one much around to see her in this

That's how I solved one of the puzzles, and eventhough I did try to
look at myself before continuing, I didn't bother too much. For a
short moment I wondered wether I'd actually meet somebody in the
course of the game, but soon forgot about that, too. So getting back
to the OP's question: Undressing and swimming through a river is no
problem at all. The prospect of meeting other people while naked
could be interesting. And I share Emily's point of view that I'd put
a game aside if it started to turn pornographic because I am just not
interested in that kind of interactive fiction.

Alex.
--
http://www.geocities.com/kensanata/
Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love.
-- Turkish proverb

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 6, 2001, 5:01:34 AM4/6/01
to
In article <3acd7b8f$0$1910$b45e...@senator-bedfellow.mit.edu>,

Jake Wildstrom <wil...@mit.edu> wrote:
>Maybe we should assume all characters are nude unless clothing is
>explicitly mentioned. It's an interesting visual for a lot of
>games. Particularly hack-and-slash dungeon-type things.

Nethack actually does seem to make that assumption: if you take off
your armour, some of the messages you get refer to nudity. I guess
this is an aspect of the DevTeam's humour. Personally I think it
would be very uncomfortable to wear armour without any soft clothing
underneath :-).

Richard Bos

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:10:44 AM4/6/01
to
ne...@localhost.localdomain (Neil Cerutti) wrote:

> Tom Waddington posted:


> >If the PC is a very specific character then their personality
> >could answer the question for you. A well-to-do Victorian lady
> >would probably never even consider stripping off and swimming
> >across a river. A pragmatic Xena-type character on the other
> >hand might well do so without a second thought.
>
> But if the well-to-do Victorian lady was forced to do so, it
> might well be more dramatic.

Some Victorian ladies would probably have chosen death before such
blatant dishonour. Some players might choose this option, too, when
forced to put a Victorian character in that position: end game before
breaking character.

Richard

Richard Bos

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:10:45 AM4/6/01
to
m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

> In article <3acd7b8f$0$1910$b45e...@senator-bedfellow.mit.edu>,
> Jake Wildstrom <wil...@mit.edu> wrote:
> >Maybe we should assume all characters are nude unless clothing is
> >explicitly mentioned. It's an interesting visual for a lot of
> >games. Particularly hack-and-slash dungeon-type things.
>
> Nethack actually does seem to make that assumption: if you take off
> your armour, some of the messages you get refer to nudity. I guess
> this is an aspect of the DevTeam's humour. Personally I think it
> would be very uncomfortable to wear armour without any soft clothing
> underneath :-).

That's what Hawaiian shirts are for, right?

Richard

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 6, 2001, 7:31:11 AM4/6/01
to
In article <Yam2NN.AmigaOS.138586AD.64DF62DC@CastleGormenghast>,

Tom Waddington <t...@waddie.org.uk> wrote:
>First question: does the gender of the PC make any difference? I don't
>think it should, but I can't help notice how you've stressed that this
>is a female PC.

It does make a difference, simply because I'm male. No, I'm not going
to bring up the "men can't write about female protagonists" debate
again, but I think it's obvious that there can be problems.

>1) Keep it tasteful.

Oh, definitely.

>2) If the PC has a personality, only allow it if it's in character.

But the PC may have no choice in the matter - what if she *has* to
cross the river?

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 6, 2001, 7:49:21 AM4/6/01
to
(Mild spoilers for "Metamorhoses" below)


In article <9ail1n$qdj$1...@news.panix.com>, <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>(FWIW, it's possible to strip the (female) PC of Metamorphoses naked if
>you want, and I've never heard anyone comment on this being
>inappropriate. Granted, there's no one much around to see her in this
>state, but on the other hand, some of the passages that bugged me in
>Heroine's Mantle were solitary too.

I only started playing "Metamorphoses" this week and haven't got very
far yet (only up to the furnace and the menagerie with stuffed
animals), but I did notice that. I'm the kind of player who tries to
manipulate everything in my inventory in all possible ways, and this
includes taking off and putting on clothes.

The nudity didn't strike me as having anything to do with sexuality,
probably because of the PC's reaction - she doesn't seem to care if
she's dressed or not; it's the mission that's important. But the
message you get when looking in the mirror while unclad is, well,
touching. I think it says a lot about the protagonist and her attitude
to life and to herself.

Also there's the fact that she's apparently not wearing anything under
the coarse dress - again, this doesn't send any sexual signals as it
might in our world - but rather one of, well, spartanity, not caring
much for comfort. Either she or her mysterious master doesn't treat
her very well.

Branko Collin

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Apr 6, 2001, 8:35:25 AM4/6/01
to
On 5 Apr 2001 20:09:36 GMT, m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>The discussion of "Heroine's Mantle" over in r.g.i-f made me wonder a
>little: what do people think of puzzles involving the PC having to
>undress?

How about you replace 'nudity' with 'greenness' and 'to undress' with
'to bake a cake' and 'the female PC' with 'the tennis playing PC'.

I have read the entire thread and still do not see the problem. How
could nudity possibly be offensive? I feel that only things that were
meant to be offensive actually can be offensive.

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

J.D. Berry

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Apr 6, 2001, 8:51:22 AM4/6/01
to
>===== Original Message From m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) =====

>(Mild spoilers for "Metamorhoses" below)
>
>The nudity didn't strike me as having anything to do with sexuality,
>probably because of the PC's reaction - she doesn't seem to care if
>she's dressed or not; it's the mission that's important. But the
>message you get when looking in the mirror while unclad is, well,
>touching. I think it says a lot about the protagonist and her attitude
>to life and to herself.
>
>Also there's the fact that she's apparently not wearing anything under
>the coarse dress - again, this doesn't send any sexual signals as it
>might in our world - but rather one of, well, spartanity, not caring
>much for comfort. Either she or her mysterious master doesn't treat
>her very well.

Interesting, delayed reactions. This didn't hit me at the time I played
Meta,
but I experienced the same effect as Magnus describes above when I was
playing. Hmmm... an impact without conscious awareness. Then again, I
usually need Cliff's notes to tell me the literary significance of anything
I
read.

Jim

Aris Katsaris

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Apr 6, 2001, 9:39:08 AM4/6/01
to

Magnus Olsson <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:9ak9dv$jqm$1...@news.lth.se...

> In article <Yam2NN.AmigaOS.138586AD.64DF62DC@CastleGormenghast>,
> Tom Waddington <t...@waddie.org.uk> wrote:
> >2) If the PC has a personality, only allow it if it's in character.
>
> But the PC may have no choice in the matter - what if she *has* to
> cross the river?

Obviously most people would indeed choose nudity over death, therefore
it would be in character for most PCs. Your specific PC (a Victorian for
example, as others have said) may be an exception.

Aris Katsaris

John Colagioia

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Apr 6, 2001, 9:43:27 AM4/6/01
to
Magnus Olsson wrote:

> Of course; but if I reach that stage and get a negative reaction,
> major rewriting may be necessary. (It's not just a case of a river
> having to be crossed.)

Well, depending on the point, perhaps you want a small amount of offensiveness.
It would be far better to make the player feel mildly uncomfortable than, for
example, to simply print out, "you feel rather uncomfortable standing here
without pants."

In fact, to use the same example as Ms. Short, I actually thought that was part
of the point of Heroine's Mantle at the beginning, coercing the player into
empathizing with the heroine's plight. That didn't last long, of course. But it
could have, if carried through consistently.

Personally, I don't care what hoops I have to jump through in a game as long as
it's done with a reasonable (a loaded and subjective term which is based on an
unwritten writer-author contract) amount of taste and respect, has some way of
avoiding the issue (including failure or death, incidentally--but I shouldn't
have to choose to quit to avoid a distasteful situation), and not make the player
feel like it's "just another puzzle," except with potentially-offensive text.

Whether or not that helps, though, I don't really know.


Magnus Olsson

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Apr 6, 2001, 10:46:06 AM4/6/01
to
In article <3ACDC7FE...@csi.com>,

John Colagioia <JCola...@csi.com> wrote:
>Magnus Olsson wrote:
>
>> Of course; but if I reach that stage and get a negative reaction,
>> major rewriting may be necessary. (It's not just a case of a river
>> having to be crossed.)
>
>Well, depending on the point, perhaps you want a small amount of offensiveness.
>It would be far better to make the player feel mildly uncomfortable than, for
>example, to simply print out, "you feel rather uncomfortable standing here
>without pants."

Yes, I do intend to use the enforced nudity to make the player
uncomfortable (because it's in character for PC to be uncomfortable in
the situation).

But I want the player to be uncomfortable for the right reason -
because the situation is unpleasant, not because she feels the author
is a jerk :-).

>In fact, to use the same example as Ms. Short, I actually thought that was part
>of the point of Heroine's Mantle at the beginning, coercing the player into
>empathizing with the heroine's plight. That didn't last long, of
>course. But it
>could have, if carried through consistently.

The scene with Mistletoe in the restroom could have been very
effective in that regard if it had been done a bit more
sensitively. As it was, it was more icky than cathartic.

Magnus Olsson

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Apr 6, 2001, 10:57:18 AM4/6/01
to
In article <3acdb7c1...@news.xs4all.nl>,

Branko Collin <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote:
>On 5 Apr 2001 20:09:36 GMT, m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>
>>The discussion of "Heroine's Mantle" over in r.g.i-f made me wonder a
>>little: what do people think of puzzles involving the PC having to
>>undress?
>
>How about you replace 'nudity' with 'greenness' and 'to undress' with
>'to bake a cake' and 'the female PC' with 'the tennis playing PC'.
>
>I have read the entire thread and still do not see the problem. How
>could nudity possibly be offensive?

Obviously many people do think nudity, in itself, is offensive.

But my concern is not with those people. My concern is that I'll not
only have a female character in the game who takes her clothes off,
but I'll actually be making the player *play* that character.

And if that's insensitively done, I'm afraid some players will be
offended - for example if they feel that the PC is being objectified,
or made to do titillating things to provide thrills for male players.

>I feel that only things that were
>meant to be offensive actually can be offensive.

I'm afraid I can't agree with you.

Adam J. Thornton

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Apr 6, 2001, 10:54:33 AM4/6/01
to
In article <m2ae5u8...@snail.nowhere.ch>,

Alex Schroeder <kens...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>ems...@mindspring.com writes:
>> (FWIW, it's possible to strip the (female) PC of Metamorphoses naked if
>> you want, and I've never heard anyone comment on this being
>> inappropriate. Granted, there's no one much around to see her in this
>That's how I solved one of the puzzles,

Spoiler space


If it's the same one I solved, you can give up your dress or your
mother's ring. I found parting with the dress a great deal less
traumatic. However, one of the many wonderful things about this game is
the way the choices you make about puzzle solutions inform the
descriptions you get of various items. It's a marvelous job of
characterization-through-action: what you character does determines who
she is, and (and this is the cool part) who she *has been*. Emily
somehow manages to pull that off, which is a pretty neat trick.

Ross Presser

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Apr 6, 2001, 10:35:45 AM4/6/01
to
ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) wrote:

>In article <q16z6.5585$Kr1.5...@newsread1.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,
>Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote:
>>rape Jewish boys in gas chambers
>
>Zarf: bonus points if you can pull off an XYZZY award from a game with
>this scene in it. Extra bonus points if it's a dungeon crawl treasure
>hunt.
>
>Adam

With dragons?

--
Ross Presser * ross_p...@imtek.com
"A free-range shoggoth is a happy shoggoth, and a happy shoggoth is
generally less inclined to eat all of you at once." - Tim Morgan

Daryl McCullough

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Apr 6, 2001, 10:55:04 AM4/6/01
to
wil...@mit.edu says...

>
>In article <98651061...@lilznntp.liwest.at>,
>Gunther Schmidl <gsch...@xxx.gmx.at> wrote:
>>> If not, where would you draw the line?
>>
>>The sheer amounts of nudity I've gotten away with in my games makes me think
>>nobody really gives a damn :-)
>
>Maybe we should assume all characters are nude unless clothing is
>explicitly mentioned. It's an interesting visual for a lot of
>games. Particularly hack-and-slash dungeon-type things.

To find out if the player character is nude, just type "remove clothes".
If the response is "You can't see any such thing." then he/she must be
nude.

So, "Spider and Web" takes place in the nude, as does "Balances" and
the original "Adventure".

[Of course, using the same logic, most player characters don't have
any body parts to cover with clothes, anyway.]

--
Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

Daryl McCullough

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Apr 6, 2001, 11:04:03 AM4/6/01
to
m...@pobox.com says...

>
>In article <9ajgfu$ikf$2...@bigboote.WPI.EDU>,
>Joshua E Millard <pu...@WPI.EDU> wrote:
>>Gunther Schmidl (gsch...@xxx.gmx.at) uttered:
>>>You know what?
>>>
>>>Just shut the fuck up.
>>>
>>>*plonk*
>>
>>Yeah! Eat killfile, invisible person!
>
>I'm puzzled - whom did he just *plonk*?

I assumed it was Brandon.

I don't use killfiles, personally. I read news using a web browser
that displays the subjects and authors of messages (about 50 or so
at a time). I just read the ones I'm interested in.

Sam Kabo Ashwell

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Apr 6, 2001, 2:05:51 PM4/6/01
to
Nudity per se isn't a problem. What annoys me is when a game takes on a
soft-porn quality but refuses to admit that it *is* anything to do with sex:
make all the female characters run around naked giving each other massages,
but then pretend not to understand >FUCK, for example. It's on a par with
otherwise respectable broadsheets publishing photographs of celebrity
cleavage on no pretext at all, just because it sells, while assuming a tone
that it's really nothing to do with that. If you want non-sexual nudity,
put it in: personally I think that's a totally seperate issue. If you want
sexual content in your game, put it in- but for christ's sake be HONEST
about it. What you *shouldn't* do is slap in this kind of guilty voyeurism,
which pretends sex doesn't exist, while nonetheless drooling slightly. (I
need to analyse this properly and in greater length some time).

Matthew T. Russotto

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Apr 6, 2001, 3:11:45 PM4/6/01
to
In article <3acd7b8f$0$1910$b45e...@senator-bedfellow.mit.edu>,
Jake Wildstrom <wil...@mit.edu> wrote:
}In article <98651061...@lilznntp.liwest.at>,
}Gunther Schmidl <gsch...@xxx.gmx.at> wrote:
}>> If not, where would you draw the line?
}>
}>The sheer amounts of nudity I've gotten away with in my games makes me think
}>nobody really gives a damn :-)
}
}Maybe we should assume all characters are nude unless clothing is
}explicitly mentioned. It's an interesting visual for a lot of
}games. Particularly hack-and-slash dungeon-type things.

You'll never solve +=3 that way!

Not from Zork

> KILL TROLL
With what?
> WITH SWORD
You don't have a sword.


OHHH. Well, despite your obvious interest in the troll, that still
won't make a decent weapon. And you don't REALLY want it near that
axe, do you?


--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 6, 2001, 3:45:27 PM4/6/01
to

"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:9airbh$35g$1...@news.lth.se...
> In article <q16z6.5585$Kr1.5...@newsread1.prod.itd.earthlink.net>,

>
> It's not so much worrying that the audience may dislike what I write
> (not for a non-commercial game) but more that I don't want to alienate
> the audience.

Who is "the audience?" What demographic are you trying to serve? I
alienate a particular audience all the time: stupid people, who think canned
Hollywood script conventions are great. There's a lot of people out there
that I couldn't give a rat's ass if they don't understand what I'm writing
about. That's not the same thing as being inaccessible. That's
acknowledging that realistically, a lot of people are bland and don't
appreciate what you personally think is interesting, funny, or creative.

So, let's say you wanted to write about sex. Why would you worry about
people who don't want to read things about sex? They're irrelevant.
They're no fun.

> And I don't want to send the wrong message.

Who's defining the right and wrong? You? If so, define what you want to
define and then send it. Someone else? Well, that gets back to whether you
are trying to please some demographic or not.

> I don't have
> a problem with writing an erotic game - but if I don't want *this*
> game to be erotic, I don't want to give the impression that I write to
> titillate.

Ah, ok, that's a different issue then. Let me ask you this: what *purpose*
does having the woman coming out of the river nude serve? How does this
thing tell your story? How does it further the aims of your story? If it
doesn't, then it shouldn't be there. Doesn't matter how great you think it
is as an isolated piece of writing. "Kill your babies" is a phrase I ran
across somewhere recently. Or if you must save it, save it for a work in
which it fits.

> A parallel would be that if I was writing a tragedy, I wouldn't want to be
flippant.

Yep. And if you already undestand this, you don't have any questions. The
line to draw is simple: chop out what is not relevant to telling your story.
Has nothing to do with taste or morality.


--
Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA


Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 6, 2001, 3:51:37 PM4/6/01
to

"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:9ajs6n$gml$1...@news.lth.se...
> In article <uYNFt4ivAHA.296@cpmsnbbsa09>,

>
> Of course; but if I reach that stage and get a negative reaction,
> major rewriting may be necessary. (It's not just a case of a river
> having to be crossed.)

"Writing is rewriting."

On the other hand, Hollwood film studios do "test audience" stuff, to pander
to what audiences like or don't like. It can be a useful feedback tool, so
long as you remember you're the guy in charge. But when you start worrying
about the ad execs and the bean counters and the profit margins and whether
a bunch of squirrel-headed Average Americans like your work or not, you
might as well turn your work over to a chop shop to begin with. Why are you
bothering? To perfect a process of profit? Since you're writing for a IF
crowd I'd be shocked if that was your objective.

> I don't think that will work - the media are too different. What I'm
> after is the reaction to not just reading about a person doing certain
> things, but to actually having to play that person. (This is true, of
> course, for all kinds of controversial actions.)

Then why set boundaries? Perform your experiments. Don't be afraid of the
potential results. Fear is not experiment.

My first attempt at writing, "The Game Of Mallor," was titled that way for a
reason. I wanted to see if I could psychologically wreck at least 1 player,
to make them feel angry and uncomfortable about what they were experiencing,
yet still come back for more because they couldn't put it down. As it
turned out, I don't think I succeeded in that goal. I'd have a better
chance of succeeding at it now. But in trying that experiment, I learned
that it's actually more personally rewarding to me that the players have a
good time.

Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 6, 2001, 4:26:48 PM4/6/01
to

"Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
news:9akkre$nc6$1...@news.lth.se...

>
> But I want the player to be uncomfortable for the right reason -
> because the situation is unpleasant, not because she feels the author
> is a jerk :-).

You can't win that game for an arbitrary audience. What if I'm an
exhibitionist? What if even though I wouldn't walk around naked in the real
world, I'm enough of a closet exhibitionist that parading around nude in a
game turns me on? What if I really don't care? What if I'm used to beaches
where everyone goes topless and a bikini = string over the clitoris? What
if I spent my free time on nude beaches or in nudist colonies?

All you can do is posit a certain kind of person that's going to read your
work, and try to manipulate that kind of person. And I think you're going
to have to exaggerate, because it's only a work of fiction and not Real
Life. People do all kinds of things in movies that you simply can't do in
real life, and the audience doesn't bat an eyelash.

Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 6, 2001, 4:30:27 PM4/6/01
to

"Daryl McCullough" <da...@cogentex.com> wrote in message
news:9aklt...@edrn.newsguy.com...

>
> I assumed it was Brandon.

Me too, although that's only a circumstantial guess. Some people can't
handle the taboo subjects no matter how they are framed.

Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 6, 2001, 4:40:51 PM4/6/01
to

"Neil Cerutti" <ne...@localhost.localdomain> wrote in message
news:slrn9cpucu...@localhost.localdomain...
> Brandon J. Van Every posted:
> >
> >Really. And what if reality is that a lot of men *do* view
> >women as "shapely dolls?"
>
> Should I include a NAMBLA member in my game just because some men
> are pedophiles?
>
> What is your point regarding game design?

My point is that making a game about NAMBLA members isn't cosmically wrong.
It's your authorial perogative. If the audience squirms in their chairs
when it's time to crack the little boy's anus wide open and stick your
pee-pee in it, that's their problem. Subject to your local laws of course -
don't take on any legal entanglements you don't really want. The game
design point is the players don't have to like it. Unless, of course, your
goal is to get everyone to play it, at some kind of common denominator
marketing level.

Actually, it would be funny to make a game like that, thinking you'd get big
sales to the NAMBLA members, then have the title tank because they think
it's derogatory and misrepresentative of their practices! Piss everyone off
despite your best intents, end up poor. Notoriety with lawsuits attached.
What a bitter existence! Ah, you'll have to settle for your First Amendment
protections, the right to be a kook with a small audience.

Gabe McKean

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Apr 6, 2001, 4:55:06 PM4/6/01
to
Brandon J. Van Every wrote in message ...

>Me too, although that's only a circumstantial guess. Some people can't
>handle the taboo subjects no matter how they are framed.

Gunther has never struck me as being someone who shies away from taboo. Try
playing some of his games sometime. "Only After Dark" and "And the Waves
Choke the Wind" would be good choices to illustrate my point.

I don't think the subject matter was the problem, but rather the way you
'framed' it, as you put it.


Billy Harris

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Apr 6, 2001, 5:09:55 PM4/6/01
to
In article <9aije0$uq$1...@news.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@pobox.com>
wrote:

> The discussion of "Heroine's Mantle" over in r.g.i-f made me wonder a
> little: what do people think of puzzles involving the PC having to
> undress?

<snip>
> Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
> in any way questionable?

Well, if "clothing" appears in the initial inventory description, I'll
take it off right away just to see what happens. And leave it off if
the game allows. But then I like pornographic games.

Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 6, 2001, 5:39:59 PM4/6/01
to

<ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
news:9aj7cf$2pe$1...@news.panix.com...
> Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@3dprogrammer.com> wrote:
>
> As I understood it, however, Magnus was asking for information about
> what would make people uncomfortable. I was answering his question, not
> writing a comprehensive essay on the Purpose of Literature or the Nature
> of Gender Relations; nor was anything I said meant to be proscriptive
> about what should be written.

Well, I also understood his question to be about whether he *should* make
people uncomfortable. My basic point is if he wants to, he should.

> And there may be also be a use for smut. It is nonetheless a valuable
> skill (little relevance though it may have to you) to be able to
> calibrate one's writing so that one knows whether it is likely to be
> regarded as art or as verbal self-gratification.

What the heck is the difference? To hearken to this debate in the visual
arts, have you seen "Ilonia's Asshole?" (sp?) It is, well, a photograph of
Ilonia's asshole. How about the Robert Maplethorpe photo with a whip shoved
up a black man's butt? If literature hasn't caught up with the absurdity of
this debate, if it hasn't recognized the fundamentally political process of
it, well then it's just behind the times.

> I find this curious, Mr. Van Every. I was answering the question Magnus
> put, and in terms that (I thought) made it clear I was speaking of my
> own personal experience; you react as though it had been a feminist
> tract designed to undercut your manhood.

Yeah, well, so as a reader you get offended by certain things. My pointed
question is why?

> What interested me, and continues to interest me, is this: how does the
> author take into account the ethos of the reader?

I say, he doesn't, and shouldn't. Unless he wants to (1) maniuplate the
audience, in which case he has to posit an ethos that he can manipulate. In
this case, what he posits is guaranteed to be wrong for at least somebody,
and likely a lot of people, because humans tend to fill out a spectrum of
subtly interleaved opinions. (2) ensure acceptance of his work amongst some
demographic. In this case he can be "right" if he does sufficient market
research and test grouping. Of course, his work is going to become more
bland the more he prioritizes demographic acceptance over authorial vision.
Reaction from a crowd can only improve your work so much. At some point,
the feedback becomes insipid. If you go to its logical conclusion I suppose
you end up with Jerry Springer.

> How does he select the use he desires his work to be put to,

His authorial perogative. What kind of an asshole he is, to whom.

> and how does he communicate that to the audience?

He writes. It is far too complicated to specify all the possible ways in
which he can write.

> The fact is that if something appears to me to be pornographic, and I am
> not interested in pornography (not interested at all, not interested at
> the moment, not interested in this type), I am more likely to set the
> work aside than to seek its further merits.

Nothing wrong with that. But why should the author have sought your
attention in the first place?

I'm criticizing the perceived need of an author to be "nice" to get others
to read their work. Nice isn't the only way to go! How about being a
deliberate troublemaker, like Andy Kauphman? How about telling the Truth?
The Truth gets lotsa lotsa people reeeeeaaaallly upset. I think people who
can't handle the Truth are weak, and deserve no pity. It's not that I would
seek to annoy them, it's that they're annoying themselves with their
inability to face the Truth.

For instance, a Truth: people like to fuck. A lot. People attempt to
control their self-images of how they fuck. They have enormous layerings of
social and religious concepts to govern the fucking, to make it "acceptable"
or "comfortable" or whatever. But basically, the animal that is programmed
into the human nervous system, likes to fuck. IMHO self-delusion about this
fundamental Truth is a lot of intellectual garbage. In my own work, I would
never prioritize someone else's uncomfortability with this Truth. They can
face the Truth, or suffer their own delusions of Ego.

Of course, it should also be noted that I'm an atheist, which has a huuuuge
impact on what the world view is in the first place. Intellectually I
understand how some God-fearing folk take great umbrage at my portrayal of
the Truth. After all, their Truth is that man acts according to God's plan!
Or should. Oh well, agree to disagree.

As for Feminism: one uncomfortable aspect of the Truth about fucking, is
that we are attracted to things which subvert our Ego and political agendas.
Fucking is like this leverage that the natural world holds over you,
regardless of what you politically want. The amount of leverage varies from
person to person. Some people really are true and consistent within their
own persons. They aren't lying to themselves about their sexual Egos. But
statistically and systemically, the PC gender roles that Feminism tries to
ascribe to men and women are idealizations. They are not real, they do not
take into account the ancient aspects of fucking. Although I am for the
basic tenets of Feminism, like equal opportunity, equal pay for equal work
and so on, I have come to realize that women marshal political ammunition
for their own purposes, same as men do. There's nothing special about them
for being women. The world doesn't somehow become improved by trying to fit
it to the idealized Feminist endgame. It's still political, and everybody's
just bitching and moaning about their slice of the pie.

Whew, that was quite the rambling diversion through the funhouse mirrors!

> [ Tangent: it is possible for a piece of smut to be sexist and
> misogynist without having anything interesting to say *about* sexism and
> misogyny, other than bringing to light the (already evident) fact that
> people like the author exist in the world.]

Yep. So what?

> I think the deeper issue here -- though I admit I didn't think of it in
> quite these terms until I read your post -- is that there is an implicit
> relationship between author and reader, a kind of contract, if you will,
> in any piece of writing.

I say, screw the contract. There's no cradle-to-grave contract in the
workplace anymore, so why should there be in literature?

> Somewhere among all the other things an author
> needs to do, he must also find a way to tell the reader what their
> mutual relationship is, what the intended purpose of the work might be,
> and so on. Insult or provocation; shared titillation; respect or
> condescension; mannered distance, peevish correction-- the choice of
> tone not only affects how the content of the writing is understood, but
> makes a piece of writing active -- equivalent to what certain kinds of
> theory call a Speech Act -- and becomes, in its way, a thing that the
> writer does to the reader. It may fail, just as a blow to the face or
> a kiss to the lips may miss its mark, but it's still an attempt of
> some sort.

This contract IMO is only a thing to be ignored or maniuplated. As an
author, one can recognize that readers believe there is a contract, or that
there should be one. That is to say, the vast majority of readers are so
egocentric that they think a work of authorship should be primarily about
what *they* want to hear. *They* want their self-images to be sustained and
gratified. *They* want to be tossed and tussled in exactly the ways that
they like to be tossed and tussled. Horror is ok as long as I feel good at
the end, whew what a ride.

> Correspondingly, there are far more subtle and complex -- and more
> distinct and memorable -- arguments that may be addressed to the
> thinking mind and feeling heart of a person, provided that you do
> violence neither to that person's logical sense nor to his deepest
> emotions. This is the sort of offense to which I was referring: if the
> author of a work -- the *author*, mind you, not the
> narrator-as-character -- seems to be fundamentally incompetent to speak
> to my condition, then I reserve the right to disregard her.

Which is fine. But again, why should that author have bothered to consider
you in the first place?

Let me invert this: a theory of Thanklessness. Let's say the author really
is very "nice." He makes his most genuine and sincere effort to touch the
minds and souls of a certain class of readers. But the message is rather
subtle and complicated. Because it's rather subtle and complicated, the
opinions of the readers differ from those of the author. The thankless
readers roast the author on minor points that were major to them. A lot of
bitching and moaning about how the book wasn't this, the book wasn't that,
coulda woulda shoulda. The "nice" author throws up his hands and cries.
What did I do wrong? What did I do wrong?

IMO, the only thing he did wrong was worry about what the reaction was going
to be in the first place. Who *cares* whether readers are "reserving their
precious rights?"

> Even if your desire is to give offense, I would argue, it helps if you
> have at least some idea of to whom you are speaking.

To whom you are speaking is a fabrication. It is a product of your world
view. Your world view was what you were writing about anyways, so it's
redundant to worry about whom you're speaking to.

> Indeed, it is then
> especially important, since you are in that case likely to be given only
> a single hearing. How disappointing it would be to solicit righteous
> outrage in vain.

Well, some people don't know how to be relevant, but froth and fume anyways.
They seem to enjoy hearing their own heads roar well enough.

I am saying that the relation between author and audience isn't as relevant
as it's often made out to be. There has to be something at stake on the
table. Like how much money the book is going to make. Or if a law is going
to be overturned and set codes of public behavior for the next 50 years.
Without something at stake, this is only so many angels dancing on the head
of a pin.

Tom Waddington

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:42:39 PM4/6/01
to
Hello Neil,

>> could answer the question for you. A well-to-do Victorian lady
>> would probably never even consider stripping off and swimming
>> across a river. A pragmatic Xena-type character on the other
>> hand might well do so without a second thought.

> But if the well-to-do Victorian lady was forced to do so, it
> might well be more dramatic.

Oh absolutely. You have to be sure that you really want to be
dramatic though, that it actually adds to your plot. It might fit with
a story about a Victorian lady losing her inhibitions (in an
open ended exploration-of-Victorian-society sort of way, not a `hunt
the taboo' adventure: `Right, that's public nudity out of the way, now
to hit the opium dens and swear in church').

If the PC is a save-the-world-no-matter-what-it-takes type, having to
undress to cross the river wouldn't count as a puzzle on its own. It
would take a lot more work to make it an interesting problem.

Be seeing you,
--
Tom Waddington

Tom Waddington

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:42:42 PM4/6/01
to
Hello Magnus,

>> First question: does the gender of the PC make any difference? I
>> don't think it should, but I can't help notice how you've stressed
>> that this is a female PC.

> It does make a difference, simply because I'm male. No, I'm not
> going to bring up the "men can't write about female protagonists"
> debate again, but I think it's obvious that there can be problems.

If I can't bring that up, then I can't answer. The question isn't
of character nudity, but female nudity written by men. There are
issues there but nothing, I think, that cannot be transcended by a
talented writer.

>> 2) If the PC has a personality, only allow it if it's in character.

> But the PC may have no choice in the matter - what if she *has* to
> cross the river?

What purpose, other than being an obstacle, does the river/nudity
serve in the story? If there is something to be learned or experienced
from being naked, then it can be in character; change and development
are a part of every convincing protagonist.

If, on the other hand, it is merely an obstacle, I would prefer either
alternative solutions to getting across or leaving it out altogether.
Or extending it into something a little more interesting. Or...well,
it's your story. :)

Howard Sherman

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Apr 6, 2001, 5:48:07 PM4/6/01
to
I don't find it at all offensive. The nudity is necessary, not
gratuitous.

Magnus Olsson wrote:

> The discussion of "Heroine's Mantle" over in r.g.i-f made me wonder a
> little: what do people think of puzzles involving the PC having to
> undress?
>

> I'm not speaking of games with sexual content, or of gratuitous
> nudity-enforcing puzzles, but of things that fit organically into the
> game, such as the following scenario:
>
> The (female) PC encounters a deep, swift river that she must
> cross. The only way to cross it is by swimming. Her clothes would
> weigh her down, so she has to take them off to avoid drowning. This
> means she'll have to spend some time (almos) naked on the other
> side. The PC isn't Tracy Valencia, so she'll want either to get her
> clothes across the river or find some new ones before proceeding.


>
> Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
> in any way questionable?
>

> If not, where would you draw the line?
>

> (As you may guess, I have a very concrete reason for asking this.)

Fillmore

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Apr 6, 2001, 5:45:23 PM4/6/01
to

Brandon J. Van Every wrote in message ...
>
>"Daryl McCullough" <da...@cogentex.com> wrote in message
>news:9aklt...@edrn.newsguy.com...
>>
>> I assumed it was Brandon.
>
>Me too, although that's only a circumstantial guess. Some people can't
>handle the taboo subjects no matter how they are framed.


From what I know about Gunther, I very much doubt that he gives a toss about
the taboo content of what you say. Indeed, I get the feeling that, rather
than being unhappy with the conversation as such, he just thinks your
viewpoints are, on the whole, moronic, and not worth wasting his time with.

--
Fillmore

Duncan Stevens

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:24:47 PM4/6/01
to
"Brandon J. Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:PIqz6.8317$VF3.7...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> <ems...@mindspring.com> wrote in message
> news:9aj7cf$2pe$1...@news.panix.com...
> > Brandon J. Van Every <vane...@3dprogrammer.com> wrote:
> >
> > As I understood it, however, Magnus was asking for information about
> > what would make people uncomfortable. I was answering his question, not
> > writing a comprehensive essay on the Purpose of Literature or the Nature
> > of Gender Relations; nor was anything I said meant to be proscriptive
> > about what should be written.
>
> Well, I also understood his question to be about whether he *should* make
> people uncomfortable. My basic point is if he wants to, he should.

I'm guessing you're just being deliberately obtuse now. (That implies that
you weren't before, of course, but now it's much more obvious.)

Magnus isn't interested in offending people. He's interested in (a) writing
a specific game and (b)*not* offending people. If he says what he wants to
say by including nudity but annoys/offends people in the process, he'll feel
(justifiably) that he hasn't done what he set out to do. In his mind, if
that happens, he's just as far from achieving what he wanted to achieve by
writing the game as if he'd written some totally unrelated game, or sat
around twiddling his thumbs for several months. So he posted to ask what
people's reactions would be. It's actually not any different from posting to
ask whether, say, the IF community knows what to do with gzipped and tarred
files before uploading one to the archive. If he didn't bother, uploaded
one, and then learned that no one had ever heard of gzip or tar, no one
would play and appreciate his game. Likewise, if he didn't bother to ask and
the consensus were that nudity is out, the larger point of the game would go
unappreciated as everyone deleted the game file in a huff. If nudity were
central to what he was trying to say, of course, presumably he wouldn't ask.

You're free to think that Magnus is a dweeb for caring. (Sorry, Magnus.) You
may think so privately or e-mail him to tell him so. But kindly get out of
the thread discussing whether people find nudity offensive, unless you have
something to say on that subject.

--Duncan


Duncan Stevens

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:30:32 PM4/6/01
to

"Brandon J. Van Every" <vane...@3DProgrammer.com> wrote in message
news:cEpz6.8115$VF3.7...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net...

>
> "Magnus Olsson" <m...@pobox.com> wrote in message
> news:9akkre$nc6$1...@news.lth.se...
> >
> > But I want the player to be uncomfortable for the right reason -
> > because the situation is unpleasant, not because she feels the author
> > is a jerk :-).
>
> You can't win that game for an arbitrary audience. What if I'm an
> exhibitionist? What if even though I wouldn't walk around naked in the
real
> world, I'm enough of a closet exhibitionist that parading around nude in a
> game turns me on? What if I really don't care? What if I'm used to
beaches
> where everyone goes topless and a bikini = string over the clitoris? What
> if I spent my free time on nude beaches or in nudist colonies?

Then you respond and say you don't care, and Magnus notes your opinion,
along with the opinion of others, and decides whether to include nudity in
his game on that base. He's not hypothesizing his audience--it's right here.
He's asking it a question and getting a bunch of responses. Sure, not
everyone who plays the game reads this newsgroup or will respond to the
question, but Magnus's apparently sensible guess is that enough will do both
that he can get a fair sampling of opinion.

But my guess is that you're just posting so that you can write "clitoris."
Hooray for you.

--Duncan


Branko Collin

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:46:48 PM4/6/01
to
On 6 Apr 2001 14:57:18 GMT, m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>In article <3acdb7c1...@news.xs4all.nl>,
>Branko Collin <col...@xs4all.nl> wrote:
>>On 5 Apr 2001 20:09:36 GMT, m...@pobox.com (Magnus Olsson) wrote:
>>
>>>The discussion of "Heroine's Mantle" over in r.g.i-f made me wonder a
>>>little: what do people think of puzzles involving the PC having to
>>>undress?
>>
>>How about you replace 'nudity' with 'greenness' and 'to undress' with
>>'to bake a cake' and 'the female PC' with 'the tennis playing PC'.
>>
>>I have read the entire thread and still do not see the problem. How
>>could nudity possibly be offensive?
>
>Obviously many people do think nudity, in itself, is offensive.
>
>But my concern is not with those people. My concern is that I'll not
>only have a female character in the game who takes her clothes off,
>but I'll actually be making the player *play* that character.
>
>And if that's insensitively done, I'm afraid some players will be
>offended - for example if they feel that the PC is being objectified,
>or made to do titillating things to provide thrills for male players.

I read somewhere else one of your more recent answers, in which you
say that you have a hard time putting yourself in the shoes of a
woman. Why don't you ask a woman to help you with that part of your
game?

I still feel this has nothing to do with nudity.

>>I feel that only things that were
>>meant to be offensive actually can be offensive.
>
>I'm afraid I can't agree with you.

I hope I have not offended you. ;-)

--
branko collin
col...@xs4all.nl

Tom Waddington

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Apr 6, 2001, 7:42:08 PM4/6/01
to
Hello Brandon,

>> And I don't want to send the wrong message.

> Who's defining the right and wrong? You? If so, define what you want
> to define and then send it. Someone else? Well, that gets back to
> whether you are trying to please some demographic or not.

If I understand your point correctly (and it isn't easy, swamped as it
is in reams of attention-seeking repugnance), you believe that a
creator should never compromise his or her work for the sake of
pleasing an audience. But if that creator has something to say, and
wants that message to reach as many people as possible, why should
they not couch it in terms acceptable to the audience?

Have you considered the possibility that Magnus might already have
decided on the tone for the game as a whole and is attempting to get
an idea of how people would react to the problem, better to judge
whether or not including it would be out of place? Wouldn't including
the puzzle without any thought to if it might seem out of place to the
audience risk the compromise that you are so vehemently opposed to?

Daniel Barkalow

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Apr 6, 2001, 6:55:54 PM4/6/01
to
On 6 Apr 2001, Magnus Olsson wrote:

> Yes, I do intend to use the enforced nudity to make the player
> uncomfortable (because it's in character for PC to be uncomfortable in
> the situation).
>
> But I want the player to be uncomfortable for the right reason -
> because the situation is unpleasant, not because she feels the author
> is a jerk :-).

Part of that might be to have all other possibilities sensibly
excluded; if the character is in a situation where the only sensible thing
to do would, in fact, be to strip and transport the clothes separately,
that feels a lot better than if the player can come up with alternatives
which just aren't implemented.

If the character is too modest to actually get herself seen without her
clothes, no matter what the player tries (either out of suspecting the
clothes to be unnecessary or out of trying to be seen) and this is the
extent of the implementation of nudity, I wouldn't expect players to be
upset at the author over it.

I think the tone of the text is, for this purpose, more important than
this particular event: "It looks like you're not going to get to the other
side with dry clothes if you wear them, and nobody seems to be around, so,
glancing around to make sure one last time, you remove your clothes and
roll them into a ball ... That's the way you're going, but you're not
about to go anywhere less secluded without your clothes on ..." would
probably not offend anyone except perhaps the Victorian lady; having the
character undress with lots of description or be able to (or have
to) actually run into other people while undressed might make the player
think you're trying to write porn.

For me, if the game only uses nudity to keep the character away from
populated areas, the character's clothes shouldn't be further
implemented. Since the standard library's player character seems to lack
clothes or anything particular to cover with them, I think it seems
suggestive if the player starts out explicitly wearing clothes, rather
than having the topic simply not mentioned. I.e., I would find it most
natural if the clothes were only a game object when not worn, and the
character description only mention the lack of clothes and not the fact
that you're wearing them at other times.

-Iabervon
*This .sig unintentionally changed*

ems...@mindspring.com

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Apr 6, 2001, 7:12:12 PM4/6/01
to
Tom Waddington <t...@waddie.org.uk> wrote:
> If the PC is a save-the-world-no-matter-what-it-takes type, having to
> undress to cross the river wouldn't count as a puzzle on its own. It
> would take a lot more work to make it an interesting problem.

I'm not sure the point is to have the removal be a puzzle; just that
it's part of the story.

ES

Martin Julian DeMello

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Apr 6, 2001, 7:33:22 PM4/6/01
to
Magnus Olsson <m...@pobox.com> wrote:

> The (female) PC encounters a deep, swift river that she must
> cross. The only way to cross it is by swimming. Her clothes would
> weigh her down, so she has to take them off to avoid drowning. This
> means she'll have to spend some time (almos) naked on the other
> side. The PC isn't Tracy Valencia, so she'll want either to get her
> clothes across the river or find some new ones before proceeding.

> Do you think this would be considered offensive, or off-colour, or
> in any way questionable?

Altogether unoffensive. OTOH, coming from a culture with a rather strong
nudity taboo, I'd be *conscious* of being naked on the other side, and
would expect that to affect future game responses; that is, I'd expect the
PC to be similarly and, if the situation seems to call for it, explicitly
conscious of her nudity. And if not, I'd require the game setting to
convince me that this is a world where being unclothed is unremarkable.

--
Martin DeMello

Brandon J. Van Every

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Apr 6, 2001, 7:52:25 PM4/6/01
to

"OKB -- not okblacke" <bren...@aol.comRemove> wrote in message
news:20010405234638...@ng-mb1.aol.com...
>
> Here's an interesting situation I just came up with. (This perhaps
> stretches the boundaries of "games without sexual content", but perhaps
not. I
> guess the question of those boundaries is what's being asked here, in any
> case.) Let's say this female PC is accompanied by a male friend (an NPC).
> They have known each other for a long time, and their relationship has
never
> been anything other than entirely platonic.
>
> How would this affect your (you==the player) thinking on whether
> undressing would be acceptable? Would it make a difference whether the
NPC
> also had to undress or not? What about if the male was the PC and the
female
> was the NPC? Or if the male was gay, or a eunuch?

Shoot, man, at the risk of boring you with the sordid details of my life,
let's talk about reality. I've had a girlfriend, who became an
ex-girlfriend, who held the hippie-istic opinion that it should be no big
deal for uninvolved people of opposite sex (or applicable sexual attraction,
since she was bi) to sleep together naked in the same bed without doing
anything and that's "platonic." Know what I observed about her? She's
incredibly self-delusory, passive, and irresponsible about simply wanting to
have the hell screwed out of her. So she invents this faits accompli
situation, where the guy in the sack is going to be the one of making the
"tough decision" of taking her. I'm not talking about some guy I was
jealous of. As her ex-boyfriend, I was that guy once. And it seemed she
was going through that same pattern with other guys at the time. I
confronted her with the truth of it at one point. Don't know if it helped
her grow any.

My point is, how can you even begin to question these things in a vacuum?
Why are you worrying about how the player thinks? You don't even know who
the audience really is! If that ex-girlfriend of mine picked up your work,
you wouldn't know what made her tick. *She* doesn't even know what makes her
tick.

I propose that writing does not have to be an exercise where you imagine /
fabricate the sensibilities of some audience and then set about working
around, pleasing, or "respecting" that audience. Writing can be an exercise
in confronting Truth and pushing the reader towards self-discovery, however
ugly that self-discovery may be.

Branko Collin

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Apr 6, 2001, 7:59:05 PM4/6/01
to