A Question of Gender

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Andrew Plotkin

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Jan 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/28/97
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Kathleen Fischer (kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov) wrote:
> I'm trying to decide if I want the user to be able to select their
> gender (all right, hold the wise-crack remarks... this is an honest
> question!)

> I have a "nice" way of doing it that fits in well with my plot and
> happens VERY early in the game (first or second room). However, I'm
> trying to decide if I want to do it or not.

> For those that have, was it hard to do (beyond the obvious of give
> player female (I'm using Inform)). Was it worth it?

I haven't done it, but I'd expect it to be easy enough. However many
places you have where the game would print a different message, that's
how many "if player has female..." statements you have to write.

I don't expect there would be very many, since you say there aren't many
places where it comes up. (Er, I assume that's what you meant to type
below.)

> If I don't make the user pick then I will most likely go with a subtle
> female character, just because it seems there are so few out there
> (female characters... not females!) I say subtle because there will
> probably be very places where the issue even comes up... maybe the odd
> pronoun or clothing selection. Given that, would I be better off with
> the traditional angrogynous adventurer?

Angrogynous? Yeah, I know women who get into moods like that... ah, sorry.
Slipped out. :)

There's nothing wrong with a subtly female character. I'd make sure that
the subtle hints are visible right from the beginning, though. (The first
or second room, as you said.) I think I'd object to a character who was
androgynous for the first half of the game and *then* turned out to be
female.

(If a character was androgynous for the first half of the game and then
turned out to be male, I'd probably object, but only after it was pointed
out to me. :)

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

Kathleen Fischer

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Jan 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/28/97
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I'm trying to decide if I want the user to be able to select their
gender (all right, hold the wise-crack remarks... this is an honest
question!)

I have a "nice" way of doing it that fits in well with my plot and
happens VERY early in the game (first or second room). However, I'm
trying to decide if I want to do it or not.

For those that have, was it hard to do (beyond the obvious of give
player female (I'm using Inform)). Was it worth it?

If I don't make the user pick then I will most likely go with a subtle


female character, just because it seems there are so few out there
(female characters... not females!) I say subtle because there will
probably be very places where the issue even comes up... maybe the odd
pronoun or clothing selection. Given that, would I be better off with
the traditional angrogynous adventurer?

Many thanks,
Kathleen (who spend 3 days coding a lovely little train and just last
night decided to scrap it in favor another mode of transportation...
sigh)

--
*******************************************************************
* Kathleen M. Fischer
* kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov
** "Don't stop to stomp ants while the elephants are stampeding" **

Matthew T. Russotto

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Jan 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/28/97
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In article <5cli1p$k...@koala.scott.net>,
Joe and Bonnie Aultman <aul...@koala.scott.net> wrote:

}Kathleen Fischer (kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov) wrote:
}
}>> I have a "nice" way of doing it that fits in well with my plot and
}>> happens VERY early in the game (first or second room). However, I'm
}>> trying to decide if I want to do it or not.
}
}Is this similar to LGOP, where you pick your gender by going into one
}bathroom or the other when you feel an "urge?" Perhaps you'll have us
}get out of the shower and choose a towel? =)

}
}>> If I don't make the user pick then I will most likely go with a subtle
}>> female character, just because it seems there are so few out there
}>> (female characters... not females!) I say subtle because there will
}>> probably be very places where the issue even comes up... maybe the odd
}>> pronoun or clothing selection. Given that, would I be better off with
}>> the traditional angrogynous adventurer?
}
}Speaking from a player's POV, I'd say unless there would be some significant
}(if not major) differences in the prose (if not the plot) playing as one
}gender vs. the other, then giving me the choice would just be a distraction.
}I'd play it both ways and complain that there was no real difference.
}
}If you don't give me the choice, then whether you use a non-specified gender
}is your stylistic choice. But yes, as Andrew said in his post (which I
}included, but then snipped entirely), let me know early if I'm a female.
}
}<TONGUE-IN-CHEEK>
}Have me wake up in a frilly canopy bed in a pink and white bedroom, with my
}Barbie doll collection on the dresser. In the corner should be a bike with
}no bar between the seat and the handlebars. That should just about establish
}that I'm a girl. Just to make sure, though, don't forget to have me crawling
}with cooties.
}</TONGUE-IN-CHEEK>

Then, a few turns later, while you're still stumbling around ala Hitchhikers:

A gorgeous redhead walks into the room, "Oh, you're up, Joe. You
know, we don't ordinarily allow employees to sleep in the specialty
rooms here at my House, but we also don't usually allow them to be
knocked over the head, and this was the only room available in a
pinch. What are you looking for, Joe? THAT'S still there..."
Suddenly you remember-- you were investigating certain crimes at Lady
Sally's place... and the gorgeous redhead is Lady Sally herself.

(sorry, couldn't resist)
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Gord Jeoffroy

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Jan 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/28/97
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On Tue, 28 Jan 1997 08:34:02 -0800, Kathleen Fischer
<kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:

>I have a "nice" way of doing it that fits in well with my plot and
>happens VERY early in the game (first or second room). However, I'm
>trying to decide if I want to do it or not.

You probably already know about this, but the Infocom game Leather
Goddesses of Phobos did this by requiring the player to use a tavern
washroom in the first few moves of the game. The player's gender was
decided by whether the player went to the ladies or the gents. It's a
good idea if you want your game played at least twice -- there are
lots of gender-curious people out there.

As to how to handle the programming....

--Gord, amateur Inform coder...

Joe and Bonnie Aultman

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Jan 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/28/97
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Kathleen Fischer (kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov) wrote:

>> I have a "nice" way of doing it that fits in well with my plot and
>> happens VERY early in the game (first or second room). However, I'm
>> trying to decide if I want to do it or not.

Is this similar to LGOP, where you pick your gender by going into one


bathroom or the other when you feel an "urge?" Perhaps you'll have us
get out of the shower and choose a towel? =)

>> If I don't make the user pick then I will most likely go with a subtle
>> female character, just because it seems there are so few out there
>> (female characters... not females!) I say subtle because there will
>> probably be very places where the issue even comes up... maybe the odd
>> pronoun or clothing selection. Given that, would I be better off with
>> the traditional angrogynous adventurer?

Speaking from a player's POV, I'd say unless there would be some significant
(if not major) differences in the prose (if not the plot) playing as one
gender vs. the other, then giving me the choice would just be a distraction.
I'd play it both ways and complain that there was no real difference.

If you don't give me the choice, then whether you use a non-specified gender
is your stylistic choice. But yes, as Andrew said in his post (which I
included, but then snipped entirely), let me know early if I'm a female.

<TONGUE-IN-CHEEK>
Have me wake up in a frilly canopy bed in a pink and white bedroom, with my
Barbie doll collection on the dresser. In the corner should be a bike with
no bar between the seat and the handlebars. That should just about establish
that I'm a girl. Just to make sure, though, don't forget to have me crawling
with cooties.
</TONGUE-IN-CHEEK>

Generally, as Andrew implied, your audience will assume the player character
to be male, or it will "feel" male, unless you establish that the situation
is otherwise. I tried to get into theorizing about the causes of this
phenomenon not too long ago. If you saw that, you'll recall it got kind of
messy, so I'll hold off on getting that going again. =)

That is all,

Joe

Dan Shiovitz

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Jan 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/29/97
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In article <5cli1p$k...@koala.scott.net>,
Joe and Bonnie Aultman <aul...@koala.scott.net> wrote:
[..]

>Generally, as Andrew implied, your audience will assume the player character
>to be male, or it will "feel" male, unless you establish that the situation
>is otherwise. I tried to get into theorizing about the causes of this
>phenomenon not too long ago. If you saw that, you'll recall it got kind of
>messy, so I'll hold off on getting that going again. =)

I was playing "Everyone loves a parade" and it surprised the heck out
of me when I tried to take the apple from the pool table.
I think, in general, if the character is significant as a character
and not just as an extension of the player, then the character should
have a gender, and it should be made clear which it is early on.
If not, then it doesn't really matter, but it's still good to let the
player know soon.

>Joe
--
dan shiovitz scy...@u.washington.edu sh...@cs.washington.edu
slightly lost author/programmer in a world of more creative or more
sensible people ... remember to speak up for freedom because no one else
will do it for you: use it or lose it ... carpe diem -- be proactive.
my web site: http://weber.u.washington.edu/~scythe/home.html some ok stuff.

Will Grzanich

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Jan 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/29/97
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, erky...@netcom.com says...

[snippy]

>There's nothing wrong with a subtly female character. I'd make sure that
>the subtle hints are visible right from the beginning, though. (The
first
>or second room, as you said.) I think I'd object to a character who was
>androgynous for the first half of the game and *then* turned out to be
>female.
>
>(If a character was androgynous for the first half of the game and then
>turned out to be male, I'd probably object, but only after it was
pointed
>out to me. :)

Not a big "Metroid" fan, then. =)

-Will
--
"All you need is love."
-John Lennon


Jay Goemmer

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Jan 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/30/97
to kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov

Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
>I'm trying to decide if I want the user to be able to select their
>gender (all right, hold the wise-crack remarks... this is an honest
>question!)
>
>I have a "nice" way of doing it that fits in well with my plot and
>happens VERY early in the game (first or second room). However, I'm
>trying to decide if I want to do it or not.
>
> [snip]

>
>If I don't make the user pick then I will most likely go with a subtle
>female character, just because it seems there are so few out there
>(female characters... not females!)

Since human personalities are fairly complex, and each of us has
a mixture of both "masculine" and "feminine" qualities (the quotation
marks are for the "Politically Correct"), I'm sure that concentrating
on the character's awareness of their surroundings, etc., would be a
good way to carry it off. I think you could focus on similar areas
that are traditionally perceived as belonging to our "feminine" sides
without saying outright, "You [the player] are female." --On occasion,
I wrestle with the whole idea of making a game enjoyable and appropriate
for all human (and other) beings, instead of taking the path of least
resistance. (I can't admit to actually succeeding, but at least I
consider it.)

I have to agree that supplying gender-appropriate attire would be a
bit of a sticky wicket. Perhaps someone else would like to comment on
this further.


>Many thanks,
>Kathleen (who spend 3 days coding a lovely little train and just last
>night decided to scrap it in favor another mode of transportation...
>sigh)

Welcome to "The Wonderful World of IF Authorship!" ;->

--Jay Goemmer


Andrew Plotkin

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Jan 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/30/97
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Jay Goemmer (jgoe...@micron.net) wrote:
> Since human personalities are fairly complex, and each of us has
> a mixture of both "masculine" and "feminine" qualities (the quotation
> marks are for the "Politically Correct"),

I don't know what "Politically Correct" means.

> I'm sure that concentrating
> on the character's awareness of their surroundings, etc., would be a
> good way to carry it off. I think you could focus on similar areas
> that are traditionally perceived as belonging to our "feminine" sides
> without saying outright, "You [the player] are female."

Uh, since we all have such qualities, doesn't that mean that this *won't*
give any clue which gender the player is?

Kenneth Albanowski

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Jan 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/30/97
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In article <5cpdva$jd6$1...@news01a.micron.net>,

Jay Goemmer <jgoe...@micron.net> wrote:
>Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
>>I'm trying to decide if I want the user to be able to select their
>>gender (all right, hold the wise-crack remarks... this is an honest
>>question!)
>
> Since human personalities are fairly complex, and each of us has
>a mixture of both "masculine" and "feminine" qualities (the quotation
>marks are for the "Politically Correct"), I'm sure that concentrating
>on the character's awareness of their surroundings, etc., would be a
>good way to carry it off.

This sounds like a good approach, but perhaps could go farther then Jay was
thinking. LGOP had the relatively subtle bathroom choice. CosmoServe has the
explicit choice of (virtual!) body and orientation.

Might not it be possible to continue the idea of subtle choices and let the
player build up their visible persona? Instead of segregating into male and
female, have a series of properties, some boolean, others perhaps with more
flexibility. Obvious factors would be choice of clothing, choice (or lack
of) make-up, choice of bathroom (or, if we're being fancy, what they do in
the bathroom), choice of gender-stereotype (do they pick up the truck or the
doll first), choice of sexual orientation (given appropriate circumstances),
choice of sexual activity in general (do they read a tech book, or flirt?),
other choices like preferred reading material, etc.

Of course, great ingenuity would be needed, first of all to elicit the
information from the player, second of all to deal with the problem of
information that hasn't been collected yet (either do it all at the
beginning of the game, or the persona will have to be androgynous or in some
more complex Heisenburg-like undecided state) and third of all to deal with
all the possibilities of NPC interaction. If one wasn't careful, one might
have to deal with some, well, "uncommon" personas, unless there are limiting
factors on the choices.

I doubt any current I-F really needs or is up to dealing with all potential
in this, but I also have no doubt that some future work will do something
quite like this. The technique seems too powerful to ignore.
--
Kenneth Albanowski (kja...@kjahds.com)


Matthew Daly

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Jan 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/30/97
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In article <5cqgvp$l...@kjahds.com> kja...@kjahds.com (Kenneth Albanowski) writes:
>
>Might not it be possible to continue the idea of subtle choices and let the
>player build up their visible persona? Instead of segregating into male and
>female, have a series of properties, some boolean, others perhaps with more
>flexibility. Obvious factors would be choice of clothing, choice (or lack
>of) make-up, choice of bathroom (or, if we're being fancy, what they do in
>the bathroom), choice of gender-stereotype (do they pick up the truck or the
>doll first), choice of sexual orientation (given appropriate circumstances),
>choice of sexual activity in general (do they read a tech book, or flirt?),
>other choices like preferred reading material, etc.

While LGOP's way of making you choose gender gets high marks from me,
I wouldn't want to go too far with it. The main word is "subtle",
which LGOP's choice wasn't by any stretch of the imagination.

For instance, if I were playing a female character, I wouldn't the makeup
choice to be subtle. For instance, maybe it would say:

--------------

> OPEN FRONT DOOR

You're going out into the world without make-up. Is this what you
really want to do???

> YES

Okay, you go, grrl!!!

--------------

This choice would cast me as a radical feminist instead of a sex
kitten. This will be important when I have to get my car fixed:
one puzzle will force me to find the key for the toolbox, while
the other will force me to flirt with the guy at the shop until
he actually fixes the problem without overcharging me. (grinning,
ducking).

The alternative, where the choice were not stated as blatantly, would
leave me in the position of not knowing that there was a choice (in
all likelihood), which reduces to me missing a good portion of the
excellent work that you no doubt put into the project.

Indeed, as a rough draft, I would aim you more toward a BZ model, where
the character's attributes are explicitly stated at the beginning of
the story, so you can know precisely why the game is responding to you
the way it is.

>I doubt any current I-F really needs or is up to dealing with all potential
>in this, but I also have no doubt that some future work will do something
>quite like this. The technique seems too powerful to ignore.

The capability of I-F to accurately model the diversity of players
who would play it is a powerful future direction that a branch of
the genre might take. The manner in which that happens, whether
explicit or a part of the game (or perhaps through an init file that
you could take from one game to the next?) is more up for grabs.

-Matthew
--
Matthew Daly I feel that if a person has problems communicating
mwd...@kodak.com the very least he can do is to shut up - Tom Lehrer

My opinions are not necessarily those of my employer, of course.

Laurel Halbany

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Jan 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM1/31/97
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erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:

>Jay Goemmer (jgoe...@micron.net) wrote:
>> Since human personalities are fairly complex, and each of us has
>> a mixture of both "masculine" and "feminine" qualities (the quotation
>> marks are for the "Politically Correct"),
>

>I don't know what "Politically Correct" means.

I am progressive.
You are liberal.
S/he is politically correct.


----------------------------------------------------------
Laurel Halbany
myt...@agora.rdrop.com
http://www.rdrop.com/users/mythago/

Nulldogma

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Feb 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/1/97
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> This choice would cast me as a radical feminist instead of a sex
> kitten. This will be important when I have to get my car fixed:
> one puzzle will force me to find the key for the toolbox, while
> the other will force me to flirt with the guy at the shop until
> he actually fixes the problem without overcharging me. (grinning,
> ducking).

Except that, as my lipstick lesbian friend used to say of her
cropped-haired, makeupless girlfriend, "She's the one who cooks dinner,
and I'm the one who carries the piano up the stairs."

I don't like puzzles based on stereotypes. Not that you can't ever *use*
stereotypes -- just that I don't like puzzles that punish you if you don't
act like one.

(Well, unless it's satire, I guess. Actually, I can think of a couple of
exceptions to this rule. I just thought it was a can of worms worth
pointing out.)

Neil

---------------------------------------------------------
Neil deMause ne...@echonyc.com
http://www.echonyc.com/~wham/neild.html
---------------------------------------------------------

Matthew Daly

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Feb 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/2/97
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In article <19970201144...@ladder01.news.aol.com> null...@aol.com (Nulldogma) writes:
>
>I don't like puzzles based on stereotypes. Not that you can't ever *use*
>stereotypes -- just that I don't like puzzles that punish you if you don't
>act like one.
>
>(Well, unless it's satire, I guess. Actually, I can think of a couple of
>exceptions to this rule. I just thought it was a can of worms worth
>pointing out.)

It's a tough call. The only case I can think of where this really comes
up is Maniac Mansion. That game allowed you to choose 3 of 7 (or 6?)
characters who all had different stereotypical characterizations -- the
jock, the punk rocker, the nerd, etc. I don't think there were any
surprises about what the different people were able to do, and it was
something that worked to great effect there, IMHO.

In contrast, the gender choice in LGOP was only to point out that
Infocom could change all the gender references throughout the game
on the fly. <yawn> I was more impressed with the Naughty/Nice mode.
*grin*

What's the axiom that says that if all choices are the same, then there
is no choice? That's important to me. You could enter your sex,
race, and blood type in the beginning of Enchanter to point out that
the person who destroyed Krill isn't necessarily a white male, but
why is that better than a sexless racess typeless game where you can
believe that it is YOU who defeat Krill?

Gareth Rees

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Feb 2, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/2/97
to Kathleen Fischer

Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
> I'm trying to decide if I want the user to be able to select their
> gender.

Your decision should be based on the kind of game you are writing. If
your game is of the type "anyone can come along and play themself" (like
"Ballyhoo" or "Leather Goddesses of Phobos") then by all means go ahead
and let the player choose their sex, since it doesn't make any
difference to the game and will likely provide some amusement.

But if the protagonist is a particular character with background and
personality (like "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" or
"Christminster"), then you had better choose their sex yourself. In
most circumstances people behave differently to men and women, so
choosing the protagonist's sex allows you to attempt to add
verisimilitude.

--
Gareth Rees

Laurel Halbany

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Feb 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/3/97
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da...@PPD.Kodak.COM (Matthew Daly) wrote:

>While LGOP's way of making you choose gender gets high marks from me,
>I wouldn't want to go too far with it. The main word is "subtle",
>which LGOP's choice wasn't by any stretch of the imagination.

Well, neither was anything else in LGOP...

>This choice would cast me as a radical feminist instead of a sex
>kitten.

I would duck too, if I wrote a game with this simplistic an approach.
Maybe you don't feel like wearing makeup today. Maybe you're Cindy
Crawford and don't need to bother. Maybe you're having a great hair
day. Perhaps you got up five minutes *after* you were supposed to be
at work...

>The capability of I-F to accurately model the diversity of players
>who would play it is a powerful future direction that a branch of
>the genre might take. The manner in which that happens, whether
>explicit or a part of the game (or perhaps through an init file that
>you could take from one game to the next?) is more up for grabs.

This is true, but it's not helpful when "modeling the diversity of
players" means writing a main character who has something in common
with me (gender, in this case) but whose other characteristics are all
two-dimensional stereotypes that stem from the "diverse"
characteristic. i.e., it doesn't excite me to play a game with a
female character if she's going to be a cardboard model of what
somebody thinks a woman acts like.

Matthew Daly

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Feb 3, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/3/97
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In article <32f2e4b...@hermes.rdrop.com> myt...@agora.rdrop.com (Laurel Halbany) writes:
>da...@PPD.Kodak.COM (Matthew Daly) wrote:

[snipping out all of my example, which I don't want taken out of
context :-)]

>>The capability of I-F to accurately model the diversity of players
>>who would play it is a powerful future direction that a branch of
>>the genre might take. The manner in which that happens, whether
>>explicit or a part of the game (or perhaps through an init file that
>>you could take from one game to the next?) is more up for grabs.
>
>This is true, but it's not helpful when "modeling the diversity of
>players" means writing a main character who has something in common
>with me (gender, in this case) but whose other characteristics are all
>two-dimensional stereotypes that stem from the "diverse"
>characteristic. i.e., it doesn't excite me to play a game with a
>female character if she's going to be a cardboard model of what
>somebody thinks a woman acts like.

I agree. For instance, I was surprised when King's Quest IV came
out, advertised as the first adventure game with a female protagonist.
Among other distasteful things in that game, one was brought to
capture a unicorn for an evil fairy in order to (indirectly) save
your father's life. I don't know if that's really something that
females would be prone to do, but it was interesting that it was
the first time that I can recall a King's Quest game having that
level of moral relativism. (And, yes, you can release the unicorn
later, but you had no way of knowing that at the time.)

So, if the main character were female instead of neuter, how would
a well-written game look different?

Jason B Dyer

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Feb 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/5/97
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Matthew Daly (da...@PPD.Kodak.COM) wrote:
: It's a tough call. The only case I can think of where this really comes

: up is Maniac Mansion. That game allowed you to choose 3 of 7 (or 6?)
: characters who all had different stereotypical characterizations -- the
: jock, the punk rocker, the nerd, etc. I don't think there were any
: surprises about what the different people were able to do, and it was
: something that worked to great effect there, IMHO.

The surfer dude could fix the phone. I don't remember that being in the
stereotype.

Jason Dyer
jd...@u.arizona.edu

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Feb 5, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/5/97
to

Eh? I always used the nerd to fix the phone. I never did find a use
for the surfer dude. I kind of figured he was the one character without
any special skills at all.

Incedentally, does anyone know all the endings? The packaging said
that there were five, and I only found four, all dependent on the
skills of the characters you pick at the beginning:
Calling the meteor police (the nerd)
Getting Green Tentacle a recording contract (either musician)
Getting Ed to storm the lab (the photographer)
Getting the meteor a book contract (the writer)
So either the surfer has some skill that allows the fifth ending,
or they counted "the house blows up" as an ending.

--
Carl Muckenhoupt | Text Adventures are not dead!
b...@tiac.net | Read rec.[arts|games].int-fiction to see
http://www.tiac.net/users/baf | what you're missing!

Mary K. Kuhner

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Feb 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/6/97
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In article <5d55in$a...@kodak.rdcs.Kodak.COM> da...@PPD.Kodak.COM (Matthew Daly) writes:
>So, if the main character were female instead of neuter, how would
>a well-written game look different?

"Female" is not some kind of trans-universe, trans-genre constant, so
there is no answer to this question. It depends. What society, if any,
forms the background to the game? What role has she held within that
society? What does it expect of her, and how will that color peoples'
dealings with her? What does she expect of herself, and how will that
color her actions and perceptions?

In _Christminster_ the main character's gender establishes a set of
limits for her, some internal (when men bluster at her, she backs down)
and some external ("No women allowed"). But these are societal, not
biological; in a different setting they'd be inappropriate.

My own feeling is that the biological differences, with the possible
exception of size, are not worth bothering with outside a porn game.
My sense of the character as female doesn't need bolstering by
reminders of her physical makeup. (In fact, I found being told
Christabel was physically weak made me think of her as a wimp; I'd
assumed she was about as strong as I am, and being explicitly told
made her seem weaker than that.)

However, NPC reactions should take gender into account, in whatever
ways the society would naturally produce. This can be done with a
very light touch--I do *not* need a game full of gender putdowns
just to make the point that my character is female. The best thing is
to listen to men and women talking, if your game has a near-present
setting, or to try to imagine it for other settings. Try to put
yourself into your character's shoes, too. How does she expect
people to treat her? What are her big concerns? Whose approval does
she need or want?

If the character's not seen in a societal context, honestly, there
is not going to be much need to distinguish female from male or neuter.
(Just get the pronouns right....) And attempts to do so will turn into
annoying stereotypes *very* easily. (I shudder to think about what a
"feminine" Zork Adventurer would be like.) If there is a societal
context, that's what determines how you have to handle gender.
The character may well not accept her society's views on gender, but
she will, none the less, exist in their context--perhaps as a rebel,
but rebels have definite characteristics of their own.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Kathleen Fischer

unread,
Feb 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/6/97
to

Mary K. Kuhner wrote:
>
> In article <5d55in$a...@kodak.rdcs.Kodak.COM> da...@PPD.Kodak.COM (Matthew Daly) writes:
> >So, if the main character were female instead of neuter, how would
> >a well-written game look different?
>
> "Female" is not some kind of trans-universe, trans-genre constant, so
> there is no answer to this question. It depends. What society, if any,
> forms the background to the game? What role has she held within that
> society? What does it expect of her, and how will that color peoples'
> dealings with her? What does she expect of herself, and how will that
> color her actions and perceptions?

<snip>

> ... How does she expect


> people to treat her? What are her big concerns? Whose approval does
> she need or want?

<stereotype mode ON>

I think those last three points are, themselves, rather female. The
male stereotype doesn't seem to address those issues as often. Men, at
least the ones I know, don't openly discuss such things as often as
women do, for whatever reason. This isn't to say that men DON'T seek
approval and worry how the world will perceive them, only that women
seem to make a bigger deal out of it! :)

IMHO, YMMV, etc etc etc ... don't flame me... etc etc etc

<stereotype mode OFF>

Kathleen (has animate female)

game update (topic related, after all, I started this thread!): Well, I
have decided to make the character female. When I finish <ok, I'll wait
'till ya'll stop laughing your heads off... there... are we ready to
continue?>, when I finish, if I can't see that it made any difference,
I'll change her back to neuter. After reading everyones input the tie
breaker ended up going to the person who said (sorry, I can't recall who
said this and I don't have it on hand so this isn't even an attempt at a
direct quote, only how I enterpreted it...) that if he is allowed to
select his gender he will except something substantually different if
goes back and replays the game and selects the opposite gender. I think
he's right, and I don't want to spend my energies implementing a whole
'nother perspective. :)

Joe and Bonnie Aultman

unread,
Feb 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/6/97
to

In article <32FA17...@greenhouse.llnl.gov>,
Kathleen Fischer <kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:

>game update (topic related, after all, I started this thread!): Well, I
>have decided to make the character female. When I finish <ok, I'll wait
>'till ya'll stop laughing your heads off... there... are we ready to
>continue?>, when I finish, if I can't see that it made any difference,
>I'll change her back to neuter. After reading everyones input the tie
>breaker ended up going to the person who said (sorry, I can't recall who
>said this and I don't have it on hand so this isn't even an attempt at a
>direct quote, only how I enterpreted it...) that if he is allowed to
>select his gender he will except something substantually different if
>goes back and replays the game and selects the opposite gender. I think
>he's right, and I don't want to spend my energies implementing a whole
>'nother perspective. :)

Hi. That was me, I think. You interpreted my statement correctly, but
I think you've now applied it to a different question than the one I
was answering. What I said was in response to your considering giving
the player a choice of which gender character to play. In a netshell,
if you give me a choice, please make that choice relevant.

I didn't say anything about whether to use a gender neutral or female
specific character, though. I can't say which would be best for you
or your game, but I think it comes down to whether you want to create
a role for the player to take on, or present a "this could be you"
atmosphere that a fair number of Infocom's titles did.

I'm guessing, but it sounds like you want to make her female, and that
you'd enjoy the process more if she were female. I think you should do
it, then. Don't even worry about changing it to gender neutral if you
find it doesn't make much difference.

I predict that: (A) I'd enjoy it more in the original form.
(B) It'll make enough of a difference, anyway.

That is all,

Joe

Laurel Halbany

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Feb 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/7/97
to

da...@PPD.Kodak.COM (Matthew Daly) wrote:

>So, if the main character were female instead of neuter, how would
>a well-written game look different?

It depends. (You knew I was going to say that.)

For example, "Christminster" would look much different if Malcolm was
rescuing his sister, rather than the other way around. But Christabel
was not a fainting, helpless girl; she was a Determined Young Lady
with a good deal of complexity and resourcefulness (well, for an IF
character, anyway).

Also, it seems as though an awful lot of games really mean "assumed
male" instead of "neuter."

Carter Taps Linn

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Feb 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/8/97
to

On 5 Feb 97 21:02:42 GMT, b...@max.tiac.net (Carl Muckenhoupt) wrote:
>Eh? I always used the nerd to fix the phone. I never did find a use
>for the surfer dude. I kind of figured he was the one character without
>any special skills at all.

According to the manual (of the NES version by Jaelco) the Surfer Dude
(Jeff) fixed phones over the summer. That was his 'big deal'. The
nerd (Bernard) could do it too. And it was 6 characters, chosing 2
(Razor, Syd, Bernard, Michael, Jeff, and Maria(?)). You had to take
Mr. Average, Dave, since the Cheerleader (Sandy) was HIS girlfriend.

>Incedentally, does anyone know all the endings? The packaging said
>that there were five, and I only found four, all dependent on the
>skills of the characters you pick at the beginning:
>Calling the meteor police (the nerd)
>Getting Green Tentacle a recording contract (either musician)
>Getting Ed to storm the lab (the photographer)
>Getting the meteor a book contract (the writer)
>So either the surfer has some skill that allows the fifth ending,
>or they counted "the house blows up" as an ending.

The fifth ending was a trick. Take Bernard and Maria(?). Get Meteor
the contract, then call the police on him. Before the police get
there, give him the contract. The police will show up while Meteor's
on the talk show.

BTW. Number 6 was killing all the kids (the pool or radioactive steam
in the microwave). Blowing up the house didn't count.

Carter "Taps" Linn.
---------------------
I spent way too much time on that game.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
to

In article <32f96a33...@hermes.rdrop.com>,

Laurel Halbany <myt...@agora.rdrop.com> wrote:
>Also, it seems as though an awful lot of games really mean "assumed
>male" instead of "neuter."

Indeed. Think about it: what would a truly gender-neutral character look
like? The only answer I can think of would be: not human.

Of course, in a game where there is no characterization of the player
at all, talking about the palyer character's gender is a
no-question. But most games tend to make _some_ assumptions about the
PC (== player character, not any other acronym). Even Zork and
Colossal Cave do.

As soon as you have any characterization at all of the PC, making the
PC truly neuter would only work if the PC is a robot or an alien.


--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)

Neil deMause

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Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
to

Magnus Olsson (m...@bartlet.df.lth.se) wrote:
: In article <32f96a33...@hermes.rdrop.com>,

: Laurel Halbany <myt...@agora.rdrop.com> wrote:
: >Also, it seems as though an awful lot of games really mean "assumed
: >male" instead of "neuter."

: Indeed. Think about it: what would a truly gender-neutral character look
: like? The only answer I can think of would be: not human.

We've been over this before, but: There's a difference between a *neuter*
character and one who's *non-gender-specific*. You simply don't have to
determine a character's gender in order to give them detail, any more
than you have to determine their race, ethnic origin, hair color or shoe
size. They're nice details to have, *if you choose to include them*, but
they're not *necessary* to imagining a real person.

Yeah, it's tricky to write, especially if you want to avoid the "assumed
male" thing. But it's not impossible.

Neil

Mary K. Kuhner

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Feb 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/9/97
to

ne...@echonyc.com (Neil deMause) writes:

>We've been over this before, but: There's a difference between a *neuter*
>character and one who's *non-gender-specific*. You simply don't have to
>determine a character's gender in order to give them detail, any more
>than you have to determine their race, ethnic origin, hair color or shoe
>size. They're nice details to have, *if you choose to include them*, but
>they're not *necessary* to imagining a real person.

>Yeah, it's tricky to write, especially if you want to avoid the "assumed
>male" thing. But it's not impossible.

For a lengthy example in fiction, see Melissa Scott's novel _The Kindly
Ones_ (a science-fiction political intrigue story). The protagonist is
a reasonably well-drawn character with lots of detail, and his/her
gender is never specificed. Most readers make one assumption or the
other and stick with it, of course, but both assumptions seem to work.

Your readers/players will almost certainly *give* the character a gender
if you don't, but that's okay. (The assumption seems to be that they'll
give the character their own gender, but I haven't found that to be the
case personally; neither with _The Kindly Ones_, nor with _Jigsaw_.)

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.wshington.edu

Matthew Daly

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Feb 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/10/97
to

In article <5dk25d$4...@bartlet.df.lth.se> m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
>In article <32f96a33...@hermes.rdrop.com>,
>Laurel Halbany <myt...@agora.rdrop.com> wrote:
>>Also, it seems as though an awful lot of games really mean "assumed
>>male" instead of "neuter."
>
>Indeed. Think about it: what would a truly gender-neutral character look
>like? The only answer I can think of would be: not human.

I think that we're suffering from a lack of common definitions in
this debate. When I think of a "neuter" character, I'm not thinking
of someone with no genetalia, just someone with genetalia that you
can't see. I don't know that the protagonist in Zork is male any more
than I know if he's white or right-handed -- maybe I assume those
things when I form a picture in my mind, but if I were to play it being
a left-handed Asian woman, it would play in exactly the same way, as
long as I could form the same motivation for running around an
underground cavern taking things that don't belong to me. :-)

>Of course, in a game where there is no characterization of the player
>at all, talking about the palyer character's gender is a
>no-question. But most games tend to make _some_ assumptions about the
>PC (== player character, not any other acronym). Even Zork and
>Colossal Cave do.

I'm curious as to what assumptions you think are there. I mean, in
Colossal Cave you can perform an "amazing" feats of strength (you know
the one I mean), but that isn't a realistic thing for either a man
or a woman to do. And Zork I forces you to take on some swordplay,
but I could envision Xena going through that trilogy without any
difficulty.

>As soon as you have any characterization at all of the PC, making the
>PC truly neuter would only work if the PC is a robot or an alien.

But the PC *is* a robot -- I'm sitting at the keyboard typing, and
the PC does exactly what I tell it to do. (Someone wrote a great
transcript of a paranoid schitzophrenic saying "There is the voice
again, telling me to GET ALL. I don't want to, and yet I must....")
I don't know how you get around that constraint in a realistic fashion.

Joe and Bonnie Aultman

unread,
Feb 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/11/97
to

In article <5dktur$h...@echo2.echonyc.com>,

Neil deMause <ne...@echonyc.com> wrote:
>
>We've been over this before, but: There's a difference between a *neuter*
>character and one who's *non-gender-specific*.

I must admit I don't quite grasp this statement. Within the context of
I-F player characters, what are the distinguishing differences between
"neuter" and "non-gender-specific?" How can a neuter character be
gender-specific, and vice versa? How can a non-gender-specific character
not be neuter, and vive versa? What are some examples that would make
a character one and not the the other?

Am I defining these terms differently? I can only think of them as
interchangable concepts in this context. What am I missing?

That is all,

Joe

Laurel Halbany

unread,
Feb 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/11/97
to

>ne...@echonyc.com (Neil deMause) writes:
>
>>We've been over this before, but: There's a difference between a *neuter*
>>character and one who's *non-gender-specific*. You simply don't have to
>>determine a character's gender in order to give them detail, any more
>>than you have to determine their race, ethnic origin, hair color or shoe
>>size. They're nice details to have, *if you choose to include them*, but
>>they're not *necessary* to imagining a real person.

Depends on the amount of detail you're giving the character, and what
sort of game it is. This isn't just true for gender, obviously; race
could be very important in, say, a pre-Emancipation game set in the
US, and ethnic origin might be crucial in a game set in WWII Europe.

Laurel Halbany

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Feb 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/11/97
to

m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote:

>Indeed. Think about it: what would a truly gender-neutral character look
>like? The only answer I can think of would be: not human.
>

>Of course, in a game where there is no characterization of the player
>at all, talking about the palyer character's gender is a
>no-question. But most games tend to make _some_ assumptions about the
>PC (== player character, not any other acronym). Even Zork and
>Colossal Cave do.
>

>As soon as you have any characterization at all of the PC, making the
>PC truly neuter would only work if the PC is a robot or an alien.

Sure. My qualm was not with a human PC having a gender (although it'd
be nifty to see a Varley-style game with constantly shifting gender,
or an intersexed PC), but the assumption that the default PC's gender
needn't be specified because, if it were *really* necessarily, we'd
just assume male. i.e., being female is a special case that needs to
be pointed out.

Will Grzanich

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Feb 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/12/97
to

In article <5dqeir$5...@koala.scott.net>, aul...@koala.scott.net says...

>
>In article <5dktur$h...@echo2.echonyc.com>,
>Neil deMause <ne...@echonyc.com> wrote:
>>
>>We've been over this before, but: There's a difference between a
*neuter*
>>character and one who's *non-gender-specific*.
>
>I must admit I don't quite grasp this statement. Within the context of
>I-F player characters, what are the distinguishing differences between
>"neuter" and "non-gender-specific?" How can a neuter character be
>gender-specific, and vice versa? How can a non-gender-specific
character
>not be neuter, and vive versa? What are some examples that would make
>a character one and not the the other?
>
>Am I defining these terms differently? I can only think of them as
>interchangable concepts in this context. What am I missing?
>
>That is all,
>
>Joe

As far as I understand it, a "neuter" character is a character who *has
no gender*; a robot or some sort of asexual creature would fall under
this category. A character who is "non-gender-specific" would be the
typical Zorker--the character *could be* either male or female...we don't
know which, but we can be reasonably certain that it is one of the two.

Hope I've cleared it up (and that I know what I'm saying).

-Will
--
"All you need is love." | Check out my piece-o'-crap web page at
-John Lennon | http://www.cen.uiuc.edu/~grzanich!
| FDA approved!!


Neil deMause

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Feb 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/14/97
to

Will Grzanich (grza...@uiuc.edu) wrote:
: In article <5dqeir$5...@koala.scott.net>, aul...@koala.scott.net says...
: >
: >I must admit I don't quite grasp this statement. Within the context of

: >I-F player characters, what are the distinguishing differences between
: >"neuter" and "non-gender-specific?" How can a neuter character be
: >gender-specific, and vice versa? How can a non-gender-specific
: character
: >not be neuter, and vive versa? What are some examples that would make
: >a character one and not the the other?
: >

: As far as I understand it, a "neuter" character is a character who *has

: no gender*; a robot or some sort of asexual creature would fall under
: this category. A character who is "non-gender-specific" would be the
: typical Zorker--the character *could be* either male or female...we don't
: know which, but we can be reasonably certain that it is one of the two.

Right. The computer in Star Trek is neuter. (Though lately it speaks with
Majel Barrett's voice, which confuses things.) My accountant is, to you,
non-gender-specific -- unless you know my accountant.

Neil

Matthew T. Russotto

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Feb 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/14/97
to

In article <5e0dgq$m...@echo2.echonyc.com>,
Neil deMause <ne...@echonyc.com> wrote:

}Right. The computer in Star Trek is neuter. (Though lately it speaks with
}Majel Barrett's voice, which confuses things.)

Lately? It's always spoken with Majel Barett's voice... well, at
least for most of TOS.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Neil deMause

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Feb 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/14/97
to

Matthew T. Russotto (russ...@wanda.vf.pond.com) wrote:
: In article <5e0dgq$m...@echo2.echonyc.com>,
: Neil deMause <ne...@echonyc.com> wrote:

: }Right. The computer in Star Trek is neuter. (Though lately it speaks with
: }Majel Barrett's voice, which confuses things.)
: Lately? It's always spoken with Majel Barett's voice... well, at
: least for most of TOS.

Yeah, but during TOS it sounded like Majel Barrett talking through a
vocoder from a bathroom at the bottom of a well. (I.e., believably
neuter.) Now it just sounds like her.

Speaking of Star Trek, I always wondered whether that planet full of
androgynous people from TNG were neuter (unlikely, given that they
procreated) or just non-gender-specific. I'm guessing the latter,
especially given that Riker got it on with one -- but then, was he
surprised on discovering his/her physical gender? One wonders.

Neil

Will Grzanich

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Feb 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/14/97
to

In article <5e25ui$1...@echo2.echonyc.com>, ne...@echonyc.com says...

Don't know for sure, but I sort of thought they were sort of
hermaphroditic--that they, when mating, would choose one person to be the
"male" and one to be the "female" and that would be that for the process.
"Non-gender specific" implies that the character *is* either male or
female, but it is unclear which. I think "neuter" would be a more
accurate term, since the race in question really had no gender.

Just a thought.

Matthew Daly

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Feb 14, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/14/97
to

In article <5e0dgq$m...@echo2.echonyc.com> ne...@echonyc.com (Neil deMause) writes:
>
>Right. The computer in Star Trek is neuter. (Though lately it speaks with
>Majel Barrett's voice, which confuses things.)

Lately? AFAIK, the Enterprise computer always spoke with Majel
Barrett's voice, even in the original series (i.e. "Working".)

>My accountant is, to you,
>non-gender-specific -- unless you know my accountant.

I think that your accountant is of a gender that is not known to me. If
you wrote a story about a day in the life of an accountant where nothing
other than accoutnancy was dealt with, then that character would be
non-gender-specific.

It seems to me that Big Bird from Sesame Street is non-gender-specific, as
we will never have any way of knowing what BB's gender is, although it
is probably one or the other.

Given all that, I would claim that the adventurer in Zork is
non-gender-specific, unless there were some pronouns like "he" used
in Enchanter. OTOH, the adventurer in Zork Zero is known to be male
in a couple of places, although that fact is never really factored
into the plot.

they got purple; purple's a fruit

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Feb 19, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/19/97
to

And behold, Matthew Daly <da...@PPD.Kodak.COM> did spake, speaking:

> In article <5e0dgq$m...@echo2.echonyc.com> ne...@echonyc.com (Neil deMause) writes:
>
> >My accountant is, to you,
> >non-gender-specific -- unless you know my accountant.
>
> I think that your accountant is of a gender that is not known to me. If
> you wrote a story about a day in the life of an accountant where nothing
> other than accoutnancy was dealt with, then that character would be
> non-gender-specific.

Right. As of this posting, Neil's accountant is just of an indeterminate
gender. If Neil wrote a story in which you did nothing but manipulate
spreadsheets (and abused the Z-machine like no other), his accountant would
still be of an indeterminate gender, but at least it wouldn't mean much. I
think I've forgotten the point I was trying to make as I visualize Excel
written in Inform.

>
> It seems to me that Big Bird from Sesame Street is non-gender-specific, as
> we will never have any way of knowing what BB's gender is, although it
> is probably one or the other.

Actually, Big Bird is referred to with male pronouns in the show. That's
definite. Those Martians, on the other hand, who go around saying
"yipyipyipyip uh huh, uh huh", are non-gender-specific. At least I hope so.

>
> Given all that, I would claim that the adventurer in Zork is
> non-gender-specific, unless there were some pronouns like "he" used
> in Enchanter. OTOH, the adventurer in Zork Zero is known to be male
> in a couple of places, although that fact is never really factored
> into the plot.

I can't remember any gender-specific pronouns used towards the player in
Zork, though I'm wondering if it's assumed that the "Adventurer" rank is
masculine. I would hope not, for "Adventuress" is rather unwieldy.


- spatch, who gleefully points out that pick up the phone booth and die
is decidedly gender-neutral, yay fun whee -

--
spa...@error.net, chief engineer (toot toot!) Spatula Labs, error.net/~spatula

"Pez is cheap; smiles are priceless." - C. L. McCoy
mstie#43790


Chris Lang

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Feb 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/20/97
to

Given all that, I would claim that the adventurer in Zork is
>non-gender-specific, unless there were some pronouns like "he" used
>in Enchanter.
Actually, Zork 3 does sort of 'break radio silence' on this point. Try
time-travelling to 777's Royal Museum or Jewel Room and see what gender
pronoun is used when referring to your character.
The ending twist of the game also hints that your character is a male,
but I won't go into specifics to avoid spoiling it for those who (for
some reason) haven't played it yet. Suffice to say, it has to do with the
fact that the dungeon master is also a male (though in truth, it would
make little difference if the dungeon master were a female just as it
would make little difference if Zork I's thief were female; read back
issues of XYZZY News and the 'Gender in Interactive Fiction' articles for
further analysises).

Chris Lang


William R Sherman

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
to

In article <slrn5glav4....@underground.error.net>, spa...@underground.error.net (they got purple; purple's a fruit) writes:
> And behold, Matthew Daly <da...@PPD.Kodak.COM> did spake, speaking:
> > In article <5e0dgq$m...@echo2.echonyc.com> ne...@echonyc.com (Neil deMause) writes:
> >
> > It seems to me that Big Bird from Sesame Street is non-gender-specific, as
> > we will never have any way of knowing what BB's gender is, although it
> > is probably one or the other.
>
> Actually, Big Bird is referred to with male pronouns in the show. That's
> definite. Those Martians, on the other hand, who go around saying
> "yipyipyipyip uh huh, uh huh", are non-gender-specific. At least I hope so.

Well, unless you can infer gender from their names:
Bob & Joe

But they were only refered to by their names once AFAIK, and who
knows the naming conventions of Mars, it can be hard enough on
earth, even Bob & Joe could be female nicknames.

Bill

/*************************************************************************/
/* Bill Sherman (wshe...@ncsa.uiuc.edu) */
/* National Center for Supercomputing Applications */
/* University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign */
/* Og - "You want to do mankind a real service? Tell funnier jokes" */
/* Spinner - "but facts don't always reveal the truth" */
/* Robin - "Yeah, but I always figure that's the writers' fault" */
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Jason Compton

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
to

William R Sherman (wshe...@ncsa.uiuc.edu) wrote:
: Well, unless you can infer gender from their names:

: Bob & Joe
:
: But they were only refered to by their names once AFAIK, and who
: knows the naming conventions of Mars, it can be hard enough on
: earth, even Bob & Joe could be female nicknames.

Well, "Jo" can indicate a woman. And "Bob" can be short for "Bobbi". And
so the saga continues...

--
Jason Compton jcom...@xnet.com
Editor-in-Chief, Amiga Report Magazine (847) 741-0689 FAX
AR on Aminet - docs/mags/ar???.lha WWW - http://www.cucug.org/ar/
The path is clear... ...though no eyes can see.
There is always a choice. Alternative Computing Now!

Chris Lang

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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Given all that, I would claim that the adventurer in Zork is
>> non-gender-specific, unless there were some pronouns like "he" used
>> in Enchanter. OTOH, the adventurer in Zork Zero is known to be male
>> in a couple of places, although that fact is never really factored
>> into the plot.
>
>I can't remember any gender-specific pronouns used towards the player
in
>Zork, though I'm wondering if it's assumed that the "Adventurer" rank
is
>masculine. I would hope not, for "Adventuress" is rather unwieldy.

There is no hint of the Zork trilogy adventurer's gender in Zorks 1
and 2. The only female NPC in any of the Zork trilogy games is Zork II's
princess, who treats the player's character (PC) in a gender-neutral way
(and completely ignores any attempt at romance).
Zork III, however, does imply that the player character is in fact a
male. Try time-travelling to certain places in the Royal Museum in 777
and see what gender pronoun is used by a certain ruler when referring to
your character.
The twist at the ending also implies that the PC is a male, though I
won't give it away for those who haven't finished the game. Suffice to
say, if certain lines are to be taken literally, said twist depends on
the PC being the same sex as the dungeon master, which is, in this case,
male.

Chris Lang


they got purple; purple's a fruit

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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And behold, William R Sherman <wshe...@ncsa.uiuc.edu> did spake, speaking:
> In article <slrn5glav4....@underground.error.net>, spa...@underground.err
> èb @èb @(they got purple; purple's a fruit) writ
> > And behold, Matthew Daly <da...@PPD.Kodak.COM> did spake, speaking:
> > > In article <5e0dgq$m...@echo2.echonyc.com> ne...@echonyc.com (Neil deMause) writ
> Àb @Àb @8
> > >
> > > It seems to me that Big Bird from Sesame Street is non-gender-specific, as
> > > we will never have any way of knowing what BB's gender is, although it
> > > is probably one or the other.
> >
> > Actually, Big Bird is referred to with male pronouns in the show. That's
> > definite. Those Martians, on the other hand, who go around saying
> > "yipyipyipyip uh huh, uh huh", are non-gender-specific. At least I hope so.
>
> Well, unless you can infer gender from their names:
> Bob & Joe
>
> But they were only refered to by their names once AFAIK, and who
> knows the naming conventions of Mars, it can be hard enough on
> earth, even Bob & Joe could be female nicknames.
>

Or ever maybe Martian obscenities. Man, Sesame Street was definitely more
subversive than I thought.

- spatch, "aw, Belgium, man, Belgium!" -

--
derSpatchel resides at http://error.net/~spatula, among other places.
"But Basketball is a peaceful planet! We have no weapons!"
PUTPBAD 2: 94% IQ DROPPED: 12%
mstie#43790


Mark J Musante

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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Jason Compton (jcom...@typhoon.xnet.com) wrote:
> William R Sherman (wshe...@ncsa.uiuc.edu) wrote:
> : Well, unless you can infer gender from their names:

> : Bob & Joe
> :
> : But they were only refered to by their names once AFAIK, and who
> : knows the naming conventions of Mars, it can be hard enough on
> : earth, even Bob & Joe could be female nicknames.
>
> Well, "Jo" can indicate a woman. And "Bob" can be short for "Bobbi". And
> so the saga continues...

Argh. You beat me to it.

- Mark
(who knows someone named Bobbi Jo)

David Adrien Tanguay

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
to

they got purple; purple's a fruit wrote:
> I can't remember any gender-specific pronouns used towards the player in
> Zork, though I'm wondering if it's assumed that the "Adventurer" rank is
> masculine. I would hope not, for "Adventuress" is rather unwieldy.

"-er" is genderless. "-or" has masculine gender, with "-ress" being the
matching feminine gender. So "doctor" properly refers to a man, but by the
time there was such a thing as a recognised medical woman, Latin was
sufficiently dead that hardly anybody noticed that she should be called a
"doctress".

And, in formal speech, people don't have gender -- they have sex, which
can be either male or female. Well, except for those people somewhere
inbetween. Enough rambling...
--
David Tanguay d...@Thinkage.on.ca http://www.thinkage.on.ca/~dat/
Thinkage, Ltd. Kitchener, Ontario, Canada [43.24N 80.29W]

Chris Lang

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
to

But they were only refered to by their names once AFAIK, and who
>> knows the naming conventions of Mars, it can be hard enough on
>> earth, even Bob & Joe could be female nicknames.
>>
>
>Or ever maybe Martian obscenities. Man, Sesame Street was definitely
more
>subversive than I thought.
Actually, Sesame Street isn't all that subversive (unless you're a
right-wing radical who thinks Bert and Ernie are gay and Oscar the Grouch
represents the homeless). If you really want subversive, try Barney and
Friends. For more information on the evils of Barney, check the newsgroup
alt.barney.dinosaur.die.die.die. and read the FAQ's. While there's also
plenty of ranting and raving (mostly against the Purple Demon), there are
also insightful articles on why Barney is a bad influence on children,
and why it suffers by comparison with older shows like Sesame Street.
But this is getting COMPLETELY off the subject, unless Barney or
Sesame Street parodies have been done as interactive fiction. We were
discussing gender as it relates to interactive fiction. Date back to
2/20/97 to see my reply
regarding the gender of the Zork trilogy's PC. (player character).
And for more on gender in interactive fiction, one might want to visit
the XYZZY news Web site, and look in back issues for the two-part article
'Gender in Interactive Fiction'. It's must reading for anyone who has
thought about the subject.

Chris Lang
Interactive Fiction Fan Since 1983

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