Is there a place for sex in IF?

21 views
Skip to first unread message

chi...@fred.aurora.edu

unread,
Aug 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/21/96
to

Im working on a game that, while not pornographic, would certainly
be PG-13 or R rated. Im also attempting to stay away from the
cheesy(admittedly it was inspired cheese ;) ) type descriptions of
LGOP. Is there much interest in this sort of thing, or am I basically
doing this for myself?

Chidder


Matthew Daly

unread,
Aug 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/21/96
to

I don't see why not. The other model in I-F is Softporn Adventure
which was the all-text precursor to Leisure Suit Larry in the Land
of the Lounge Lizards. (I think that the puzzles were all the same
and the only difference was that LSL1 was graphic where SA was
text.)

Given that the medium has abandoned treasure hunts in favor of more
diverse goals as the purpose of most games, I don't see where seducing
a MOTAS would be surprising. Whether or not it is in poor taste is
all up to you, of course.

-Matthew, scripting a game for 1997.

--
Matthew Daly I don't buy everything I read ... I haven't
da...@ppd.kodak.com even read everything I've bought.

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

mab...@pipeline.com

unread,
Aug 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/22/96
to


>Im working on a game that, while not pornographic, would certainly
>be PG-13 or R rated. Im also attempting to stay away from the
>cheesy(admittedly it was inspired cheese ;) ) type descriptions of
>LGOP. Is there much interest in this sort of thing, or am I basically
>doing this for myself?
>

>Chidder


Yes, I agree with Daly; sounds interesting. I think it might work better as
a narrative addition (IF needs more narrative playfulness, don't you
think?) than as the, y'know, amusing-but-somewhat-tiresome Leisure Suit
Larry fuck-and-get-a-point game philosophy.

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

[upon entering film mogul D.B. Darling's enormous fish-shaped water-filled
room]

"Max," he boomed, "obnoxiously happy to see you. Come on over."
"You want I should walk on water?" I queried.
"Ixnay on the isecrackway," Leon growled. "Just smile and swim."
-Maria Kalman

Susan

unread,
Aug 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/22/96
to

>>I'm working on a game that, while not pornographic, would certainly
>>be PG-13 or R rated. I'm also attempting to stay away from the
>>cheesy(admittedly it was inspired cheese ;) ) type descriptions of
>>LGOP. Is there much interest in this sort of thing, or am I basically
>>doing this for myself?

>Yes, I agree with Daly; sounds interesting. I think it might work better as


>a narrative addition (IF needs more narrative playfulness, don't you
>think?) than as the, y'know, amusing-but-somewhat-tiresome Leisure Suit
>Larry fuck-and-get-a-point game philosophy.

Woo-Hoo! Sex! Have you played Meretzky's Spellcasting series?
But Steve is good (humorous) at it. Will you be wet or dry? Give it
a try.

* Susan * <Sus...@ix.netcom.com>

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Aug 22, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/22/96
to

>>I'm working on a game that, while not pornographic, would certainly
>>be PG-13 or R rated. I'm also attempting to stay away from the
>>cheesy(admittedly it was inspired cheese ;) ) type descriptions of
>>LGOP. Is there much interest in this sort of thing, or am I basically
>>doing this for myself?

Every other artistic medium in the universe has accepted that sex can be
part of a story, without being pornography. I think IF can cope.

(Not that there's anything wrong with pornography either. :)

Go for it.

--Z

(PS: Yeah, every medium. I have the examples for Saturday-morning-style
cartoons and comic books ready. And puppetry. And Claymation....)
--

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

Brad O`Donnell

unread,
Aug 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/23/96
to

Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> (PS: Yeah, every medium. I have the examples for Saturday-morning-style
> cartoons and comic books ready. And puppetry. And Claymation....)
> --

Must be canadian Claymation...
Brad O'Donnell

Michael C. Martin

unread,
Aug 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/23/96
to

chi...@fred.aurora.edu wrote:
>
> Im working on a game that, while not pornographic, would certainly
> be PG-13 or R rated. Im also attempting to stay away from the

> cheesy(admittedly it was inspired cheese ;) ) type descriptions of
> LGOP. Is there much interest in this sort of thing, or am I basically
> doing this for myself?
>
> Chidder

I think there is a place in IF for anything which is new and refreshing,
and done in somewhat good taste. Part of what makes IF exciting is all
the new tricks and ideas the authors come up with for their games.
Tastefully done sex in IF would be pretty nifty if done right! You'd
probably also want to somehow get the sex of the player and accomodate
for both a male and female (how about homosexual???) player.

Mike

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Aug 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/24/96
to

Czech, actually. I was thinking of Jan Svankmeyer's "Darkness, Light,
Darkness." Not exactly sex, but as close as I could think of quickly.

--Z

Nulldogma

unread,
Aug 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/24/96
to

> I think there is a place in IF for anything which is new and refreshing,
> and done in somewhat good taste. Part of what makes IF exciting is all
> the new tricks and ideas the authors come up with for their games.
> Tastefully done sex in IF would be pretty nifty if done right! You'd
> probably also want to somehow get the sex of the player and accomodate
> for both a male and female (how about homosexual???) player.

Or make the gender and orientation of the main character (as opposed to
the player) clear at the beginning. Hopefully, players of other
genders/orientations won't be turned off by this ... no pun intended.

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

Industrial Strength

unread,
Aug 24, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/24/96
to

Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) enlightened us with:

> Every other artistic medium in the universe has accepted that sex can be
> part of a story, without being pornography. I think IF can cope.

[snip]

> (PS: Yeah, every medium. I have the examples for Saturday-morning-style
> cartoons and comic books ready. And puppetry. And Claymation....)

MPEG! MPEG!


--Liza, thinking of ways to, erm, further the appeal of the i-f CD.

--
ge...@retina.net http://fovea.retina.net/~gecko/
MSTie #69957 A maze of twisty little web pages, all alike.


Cardinal Teulbachs

unread,
Aug 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/25/96
to

erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:

>Every other artistic medium in the universe has accepted that sex can be
>part of a story, without being pornography.

Yes, and every other artistic medium has turned to shit, too. Animals
have no understanding of art.

>I think IF can cope.

Whatever that means.

>(Not that there's anything wrong with pornography either. :)

And who would dare to suggest otherwise?

>Go for it.

Why is this person even seeking corporate approval? He has the
compiler, he has his story--such as it may be--to tell; why is he not
simply writing it?

>(PS: Yeah, every medium. I have the examples for Saturday-morning-style
>cartoons and comic books ready. And puppetry. And Claymation....)

Juvenalia abounds. It's fairly amusing that what is touted as a matter
of "sophistication" and "mature thinking" has such as these to aspire
to.

--Cardinal T

I mean, what the hell kind of villain thwarts the hero's
progress with soup cans in the kitchen pantry?
--Russ Bryan

Cardinal, I follow up your post in the hopes that some
day I too will be quoted in your sig.
--Matthew Amster-Burton

Hey! This isn't what I said! What'd you do with my
quote?
--Bonni Mierzejewska


Greg Ewing

unread,
Aug 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/26/96
to

Sex is a part of life, so I don't see why there
shouldn't be just as much of a place for it in
fiction of any sort as there is for anything
else.

Greg

bout...@razor.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Aug 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/27/96
to

But how would you implement it?

Seems to me there's two ways you could go about this. First, as somebody noted,
the 'additional material' way - at certain points of the game you are given an
lengthy prose description of whatever - a la Legend Lives. Which is fine, but
not really that groundbreaking.

Second, and possibly more twistedly, you could code the physical body into
numerous objects and have them interact in interesting ways, defining a number
of strange new verbs in the process. Kind of puts a new meaning to 'containers'
and 'supporters'. Obviously, certain sequences of object manipulation would be
more successful than others (man, does that sound clinical) but that's life.

I'd do it myself, but for some strange reason, I have never been able to write
even a simple sex scene (not even in my novel, which was almost totally about
related subjects) without lampooning the subject mercilessly. The closest I got
was a list of brand names culled from an issue of cosmopolitan, which, when
read aloud, sounded almost like a beast with two backs.

-Giles

Den of Iniquity

unread,
Aug 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/27/96
to

I sometimes wonder if there's a place for sex in life...

--
Den (the Casanova of Asexuality)

Is there a place for a discussion of pornography vs erotica in IF newsgroup?
;)

chi...@fred.aurora.edu

unread,
Aug 27, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/27/96
to

Been looking over the previous responses to my posts and I want to ask
another question:

Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
Gender? I enjoyed Christminister, and was able to identify with the
character well, even though she was female.

In SHOPPING, the game I am writing, while your gender isnt stated, the
point of the game is to get your girlfriend out of the dressing room
after waiting for her for an hour. Sounds simple, but Itll take you
through uncharted reasons of time and space, into dreamland, to meet
several famous fictional characters. Youll discover why Sheers
salespeople are always so cheerful, and what Veronica(Victoria's older
and kinkier)'s secret really is...

If I get enough feedback, in release two Ill make it so you can choose
your gender, but for at least the first release that the way it is
(mainly cause till I learn inform I dont think I have the talent to
implement it)

Chidder


Carl Muckenhoupt

unread,
Aug 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/28/96
to

chi...@fred.aurora.edu writes:

>Been looking over the previous responses to my posts and I want to ask
>another question:

> Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
>Gender? I enjoyed Christminister, and was able to identify with the
>character well, even though she was female.

I've always wondered about this question. It seems to get asked
whenever someone writes a game with a female protagonist. (Not
when someone writes a game with an explicitly male protagonist,
but that's the start of a whole different debate...)

The answer is, pretty consistently, no, it doesn't bother us in the
least. Why should it? We're always playing games with characters
that are things we're not. I'm not an adventurer or a spaceman.
I'm not the Valley King's greatest warrior or a member of the
Meldrew family. I'm not even a Harvard student, and they actually
exist. And yet I've played and enjoyed games about all these things.
So why shouldn't I enjoy a game about a woman?

I think the question is largely based on a misconception: that
adventure games are fundamentally based on wish-fulfillment - that
they are escapist fantasies that let us be the people we want to be.
By implication, then, for a man to enjoy playing a female character
is for that man to enjoy fantasizing about being a woman. This
makes people uncomfortable in a way that a man fantasizing about
being a spaceman does not. However, it is also completely wrong.
Let me see if I can explain why.

Basically, there are two kinds of protagonist: those with traits,
and those without. Colossal Cave, Zork, and most of Scott Adams'
games have the latter sort. There really isn't a character at all -
there's just a command line through which the player interacts with
the simulated environment. Clearly, in this case, it is impossible
to fantasize about being the protagonist, because there is no
protagonist to fantasize about (although it is still possible to
fantasize about being in the world of the game.)

In games where the protagonist has traits, on the other hand,
there is a clear separation between the player and the character,
despite the second-person text. When I play "The Path to Fortune",
for example, I don't really feel like I am Aerin. I identify with
him, but no more than I would if he were the main character in a
novel. He is not a mere tool by which I enter his world. He bears
traits that make him a part of that world - a part over which I
exert direct control, to be sure, but still fundamentally in a
different world than myself. Thus, he is not me. It doesn't take
much to establish this separation, either - the moment a game
mentions my skill at plumbing, or describes a location called "Your
House" that doesn't look like my house at all, it's clear that this
character called "you" is someone other than me. Even if I happen to
possess the traits of the protagonist - say, the game mentions my skill
at programming and contains a location that describes my house pretty
well - the effect is the same. The hero is a fictional character that,
coincidentally, happens to share some traits with me.

The analogy of the novel is rather telling, in fact. When has the sex
of the protagonist of a novel prevented anyone from enjoying it?

Incedentally, you may wonder how a game like Jigsaw fits into this
analysis. Individual response seems to vary. By concealing the name
and sex of the protagonist, it allows one to project oneself into the
fiction. However, for my part, I found that the small amount of
pre-game histroy we got was enough to establish White in my mind as a
part of his world. (The invitation clearly established that he had
been around before the start of the game.)

--
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!

Jon Conrad

unread,
Aug 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/28/96
to

<chi...@fred.aurora.edu> wrote:

> Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
>Gender?

Not at all. I'd like to see even more games get away from the "Default
= Male" philosophy.

But: After gazillions of these games, I am getting a bit tired of
playing someone of a different orientation (protagonists in IF are
invariably straight, I'm not). Granted, in the majority of games this
never comes up, and that's fine. But even LGOP assumed that once your
gender was established, so was your gender-of-interest. JIGSAW looked
promising, and I was getting into that angle of it, but one episode near
the end did establish that you and Black are of different genders.

I'm not trying to reform every IF story in existence, but it would be
nice to encounter a scenario someday that allowed for same-sex
interest.

Jon Alan Conrad

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Aug 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/28/96
to

Cardinal Teulbachs (card...@earthlink.net) wrote:
> erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:
> >Every other artistic medium in the universe has accepted that sex can be
> >part of a story, without being pornography.
>
> Yes, and every other artistic medium has turned to shit, too. Animals
> have no understanding of art.

Let me guess. There's a Hockey Puck of Grump being passed around this
newsgroup. This week, you've got it.

Pbththtpb.

> >(PS: Yeah, every medium. I have the examples for Saturday-morning-style
> >cartoons and comic books ready. And puppetry. And Claymation....)

> Juvenalia abounds. It's fairly amusing that what is touted as a matter
> of "sophistication" and "mature thinking" has such as these to aspire
> to.

Yeah, whatever. Go watch some Svankmeyer.

Damien P. Neil

unread,
Aug 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/28/96
to

In article <501d8d$s...@copland.udel.edu>,

Jon Conrad <con...@copland.udel.edu> wrote:
><chi...@fred.aurora.edu> wrote:
>> Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
>>Gender?
>
>Not at all. I'd like to see even more games get away from the "Default
>= Male" philosophy.

Actually, I find it quite enjoyable to play games with female protagonists.
_Plundered Hearts_ was very fun, and I entertained myself through much of
_Curses_ by picturing the protagonist as my grandmother when she was in
her 30s. (Her personality fit into the game quite well.)

>I'm not trying to reform every IF story in existence, but it would be
>nice to encounter a scenario someday that allowed for same-sex
>interest.

Write something! :> I'd certainly love to see it.

- Damien

Dan Shiovitz

unread,
Aug 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/29/96
to

In article <baf.84...@max.tiac.net>,

Carl Muckenhoupt <b...@max.tiac.net> wrote:
>chi...@fred.aurora.edu writes:
>
>>Been looking over the previous responses to my posts and I want to ask
>>another question:
>
>> Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
>>Gender? I enjoyed Christminister, and was able to identify with the
>>character well, even though she was female.
[..]

>Basically, there are two kinds of protagonist: those with traits,
>and those without. Colossal Cave, Zork, and most of Scott Adams'
>games have the latter sort. There really isn't a character at all -
>there's just a command line through which the player interacts with
>the simulated environment. Clearly, in this case, it is impossible
[..]

>In games where the protagonist has traits, on the other hand,
>there is a clear separation between the player and the character,
>despite the second-person text. When I play "The Path to Fortune",
>for example, I don't really feel like I am Aerin. I identify with
>him, but no more than I would if he were the main character in a
[..]

This was a good article and I agreed with most of it, but I must
disagree that it's a binary division between the two types of
protagonists. At least for me, it's more of a spectrum. Clearly,
things like Zork and Adventure are at one end, where the main character
is completely nebulous. I haven't really seen any games at the other
end, probably because we just don't have the technology to make a
totally "real person" in the game. Everything else falls somewhere in
the middle, like Aerin, who has various friends, a job, a love interest,
etc, but not any real personality besides what the player gives him.

I don't know about anyone else, but I think when a game causes an
emotional reaction from me, it's not because I feel the consequences
directly, but because I feel bad for making the main chacter do it
(for instance the boy and the pipe in _So Far_), or because I feel bad
that this thing happened to the main character. This suggests that the
best way to make the game more real and moving to the player is not to
increase their identification with the protagonist (by asking for their
gender or the like), but to emphasize the protagonist's reality by
not only having those traits preset, but having them be defined and making
a difference in the world.

Well, this isn't completely true, I guess. One of the things that struck
me about _So Far_ was the incredible loneliness of certain areas (the
autumn world, the silent world). I don't think I was feeling "gee, the
protagonist is a really lonely guy, wandering around all these empty
places", I was feeling "gee, this is really lonely here".

Am I resonating with anyone here? (Actually, I get the sinking feeling
I'm just restating the obvious about characters .. oh well.)

>Carl Muckenhoupt | Text Adventures are not dead!

>http://www.tiac.net/users/baf | what you're missing!

--
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.


Russell Wain Glasser

unread,
Aug 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/29/96
to

>> Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
>>Gender? I enjoyed Christminister, and was able to identify with the
>>character well, even though she was female.
...

>The answer is, pretty consistently, no, it doesn't bother us in the
>least. Why should it? We're always playing games with characters
>that are things we're not. I'm not an adventurer or a spaceman.
>I'm not the Valley King's greatest warrior or a member of the
>Meldrew family. I'm not even a Harvard student, and they actually
>exist. And yet I've played and enjoyed games about all these things.
>So why shouldn't I enjoy a game about a woman?

Carl, couldn't agree with you more. When you come right down to
it, playing a game is not really about "being" in the situation, any
more than reading a good book or watching a movie is. What makes the
interaction fun is that you can PROJECT yourself into the title
character just enough to control their actions. You don't have to
really believe that you ARE a beautiful woman lusting after a pirate
ship captain, or a famous detective. Nevertheless, I always take
vicarious pleasure from a novel when the main character is triumphant;
and that is only heightened by the interactive aspect of adventure
games.
I think a good case study is Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie, "Total
Recall". The premise of the movie (well, one of them anyway) is this:
"Yes, it would be fun to take a vacation in an exotic land. But it
would be even MORE fun to take a vacation in an exotic land and become
a different person. You will no longer be the same boring construction
worker that you are in real life, but an exciting and glamorous secret
agent." I think that's what all adventures strive to accomplish:
making you assume an identity which is NOT yourself.
The best games are those which are good at immersing you in the
environment of a totally far-out character who has nothing to do with
you. Like A Mind Forever Voyaging, which IMHO is the greatest text
adventure ever. The reason I enjoyed it so much was because I could so
easily slip into the identity of someone who was so very unlike me. I
could really feel like I had become PRISM, but at the same time, PRISM
had his (its) own identity, its own family and history and upbringing,
and all of these shaped the experience of the story just as much as my
own actions did.
Actually, I like a game which establishes your identity more than
one which plunks you in a situation with no explanation. One of the
few things I disliked about Myst was the total lack of orientation or
motivation regarding who you are and how you got there.
We don't take things out of context in real life. Everything we do
is shaped by our past experiences and our personal desires. And since
everyone has different experiences, a game which only mirrors the
player as the main character has the fundamental shortcoming of not
seeing the player's background. By giving the player a different
character to project instead, you build motivation and draw them into
the story more easily.

Russell

Mike Phillips

unread,
Aug 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/29/96
to

On 28 Aug 1996 14:19:47 -0400, Damien P. Neil <ne...@vccsouth-09.its.rpi.edu> wrote:
>In article <501d8d$s...@copland.udel.edu>,
>Jon Conrad <con...@copland.udel.edu> wrote:
>><chi...@fred.aurora.edu> wrote:
>>> Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
>>>Gender?
>>
>>Not at all. I'd like to see even more games get away from the "Default
>>= Male" philosophy.
>
>Actually, I find it quite enjoyable to play games with female protagonists.
>_Plundered Hearts_ was very fun, and I entertained myself through much of
>_Curses_ by picturing the protagonist as my grandmother when she was in
>her 30s. (Her personality fit into the game quite well.)

I didn't stretch my imagination much in Curses, just played myself
(around whom it worked quite well, right until stuff started getting
accomplished, which proved it *was* fantasy :-) )

I finally had the chance to play through Plundered Hearts and enjoyed
it tremendously :-) Maybe someone can write another one ;-) (Not me,
I can't write like that!)

I also really enjoyed Christminster, both because Christabel was interesting
to play, and it was a nifty story.

This is not to say I didn't enjoy other games, nor that either PH or
Christminster were enjoyable only for their gender decisions, but
it contributed to their appeal (IMO). In a poorly-done game along those
lines, I suspect it would backfire.

Mike Phillips, mi...@lawlib.wm.edu

aul...@koala.scott.net

unread,
Aug 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/29/96
to

In article <501d8d$s...@copland.udel.edu>,

>(protagonists in IF are invariably straight...

How is it you've determined this, given your own words...

>Granted, in the majority of games this never comes up, and that's fine.

If it never comes up, it seems to me that in, say, Enchanter, you can
be any combination of gender and orientation. At least in Suspended?

Of course, Sherlock and Plundered Hearts don't leave you much choice.

That is all,

Joe


Neil K. Guy

unread,
Aug 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/30/96
to

aul...@koala.scott.net wrote:

: If it never comes up, it seems to me that in, say, Enchanter, you can


: be any combination of gender and orientation. At least in Suspended?

I'd say that the vast majority of games I've looked at assume a male
character, or a male voice. They may not specifically say outright that
you're a boy or a girl, but they're written from a pretty male
perspective. Given that they're nearly all written by men I feel that's
hardly surprising. But, as a lot of feminists argue, much literature
assumes that male characteristics are "neutral" but that female
characteristics are "other". Likewise they assume heterosexuality is
neutral.

- Neil K.


Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Aug 30, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/30/96
to

Jon Conrad (con...@copland.udel.edu) wrote:
> But: After gazillions of these games, I am getting a bit tired of
> playing someone of a different orientation (protagonists in IF are
> invariably straight, I'm not). Granted, in the majority of games this
> never comes up, and that's fine. But even LGOP assumed that once your
> gender was established, so was your gender-of-interest. JIGSAW looked
> promising, and I was getting into that angle of it, but one episode near
> the end did establish that you and Black are of different genders.

I'm curious which episode you meant. I went all the way through Jigsaw
and never got jarred out of the "ambiguous" mode. I never saw anything
which specified either gender, separately or relative to each other.

(Except for a couple of parser bugs, which may have been fixed by now.)

Dylan O'Donnell

unread,
Aug 31, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/31/96
to

[keeping quotation as Jigsaw quasi-spoiler buffer]

erky...@netcom.com (Andrew Plotkin) wrote:

>Jon Conrad (con...@copland.udel.edu) wrote:
>> But: After gazillions of these games, I am getting a bit tired of
>> playing someone of a different orientation (protagonists in IF are
>> invariably straight, I'm not). Granted, in the majority of games this
>> never comes up, and that's fine. But even LGOP assumed that once your
>> gender was established, so was your gender-of-interest. JIGSAW looked
>> promising, and I was getting into that angle of it, but one episode near
>> the end did establish that you and Black are of different genders.
>
>I'm curious which episode you meant. I went all the way through Jigsaw
>and never got jarred out of the "ambiguous" mode. I never saw anything
>which specified either gender, separately or relative to each other.

I seem to remember that in the Suez chapter, you had a passport showing you and
Black as a honeymoon couple (though which was which wasn't specified). The 1950s
weren't particularly liberal on this kind of thing.

Hmm. Maybe I should go back and replay Jigsaw, to check. What a hardship :-)

--
Dylan O'Donnell (dyl...@demon.net)
Demon Internet Ltd, Southend slave deck annexe
http://www.vy.com/psmith.html
Aka Psmith (elsewhere). Badger? *urf*

Laurel Halbany

unread,
Sep 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/2/96
to

Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:

>Is there a place for a discussion of pornography vs erotica in IF newsgroup?
>;)

Sure. I read erotica. You read sexually explicit material. S/he reads
pornography. :*

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


Laurel Halbany

unread,
Sep 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/2/96
to

chi...@fred.aurora.edu wrote:

> If I get enough feedback, in release two Ill make it so you can choose
>your gender, but for at least the first release that the way it is
>(mainly cause till I learn inform I dont think I have the talent to
>implement it)

Well, if you're a male you probably can't just walk back into the
dressing rooms.

JlB1925

unread,
Sep 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/2/96
to

>Hmmm... Perhaps not only the player's gender but that
>of all characters in the game should be user-selectable...
Well, I'd love a game that allowed me to play God...
---
Liam Burke
I do not in any way represent Punahou Academy, its employees or its giant
flying wombats, and anything I may say or do that directly contradicts
this is merely the product of one of my many warped minds.

Greg Ewing

unread,
Sep 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/3/96
to

chi...@fred.aurora.edu wrote:
>
> Does it really bother people to play a character of the opposite
> Gender?

Usually in IF I don't think of myself as playing the role
of another person, but as being there myself. If the player
character's gender were specified as different from mine,
I would have to modify this attitude somewhat, but I
don't think it would be impossible.

In traditional fiction, I don't have any trouble sympathising
with a main character of the other gender, so I'm sure I
would be able to do the same in IF. I'd just have to think
of my role as more that of a scriptwriter or active
observer than a direct participant.

So I don't think there's anything wrong with fixing the
main character's gender. Just make it clear at the outset,
so the player doesn't have to switch gears part way through.
(Could be embarrassing if you suddenly discovered you had
a lover of the opposite gender to the one you were
imagining :-)

It occurs to me that this might be a good place for the
idea of non-first-person prose that was discussed a while
ago, e.g the prompt would be "What should Mary do next?"
and the responses would be "Mary opens her handbag"
instead of "You open your handbag" etc.

But that could be a lot of work to implement, and might
annoy some players who would prefer the usual first-person
viewpoint. Probably it should be an option - even more
work! Don't bother with it unless you're feeling
particularly innovative.

Greg

Greg Ewing

unread,
Sep 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/3/96
to

Jon Conrad wrote:
>
> I'm not trying to reform every IF story in existence, but it would be
> nice to encounter a scenario someday that allowed for same-sex
> interest.

Hmmm... Perhaps not only the player's gender but that


of all characters in the game should be user-selectable...

> look

George is here, looking appraisingly at Alexandria.
Robin is fuming jealously.

> set gender of George to female

Georgina is here, looking appraisingly at Robin.
Alexandria is fuming jealously.

> set preference of Georgina to female

Georgina is here, looking appraisingly at Alexandria.
Robin is shaking his head in bewilderment.

Greg

Den of Iniquity

unread,
Sep 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/3/96
to

On Mon, 2 Sep 1996, Laurel Halbany wrote:

> Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> >Is there a place for a discussion of pornography vs erotica in IF newsgroup?
> >;)
>
> Sure. I read erotica. You read sexually explicit material. S/he reads

> pornography. :* ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Whatever gave you that idea? Lies. Scurrilous rumours. No foundation in
real fact! O:-)

--
Iniquity? (Currently reading The War of the Worlds by HG Wells. Forget ID4.)

John Ruschmeyer

unread,
Sep 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/3/96
to

In article <50es1s$e...@hermes.rdrop.com>,

Laurel Halbany <myt...@agora.rdrop.com> wrote:
>chi...@fred.aurora.edu wrote:
>
>> If I get enough feedback, in release two Ill make it so you can choose
>>your gender, but for at least the first release that the way it is
>>(mainly cause till I learn inform I dont think I have the talent to
>>implement it)
>
>Well, if you're a male you probably can't just walk back into the
>dressing rooms.

True... though it does lead to some possible directions for the puzzles:

- Bribing/luring/incapacitating the guard
- Transvestitism
- Accessing the fitting room via an attached stockroom or
restocking area (and the problems involved in accessing it)

Each of which has someinteresting sexual/erotic possibilities. For example,
if you require the player to get past the guard via transvestitism, do you
make him "passable" enough that he has to fend off advances by the guard?

In the stockroom scenario, do you allow voyeurism? What sort of detail
do you go into? (A personal preference here- if you go into detail about
various other customers, please avoid childish Al Bundy-like references
to fat ladies squeezing into girdles. (Not that some of us don't like a
good description of an ample woman, if done tastefully. :-))

<<<John>>>
--
John Ruschmeyer jrus...@csc.com
Computer Sciences Corp.
Eatontown, NJ 07724 908-542-8383

Matthew Daly

unread,
Sep 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/3/96
to

myt...@agora.rdrop.com (Laurel Halbany) writes:
>chi...@fred.aurora.edu wrote:
>
>> If I get enough feedback, in release two Ill make it so you can choose
>>your gender, but for at least the first release that the way it is
>>(mainly cause till I learn inform I dont think I have the talent to
>>implement it)
>
>Well, if you're a male you probably can't just walk back into the
>dressing rooms.

And if you're a woman you can't look at your watch and "tsk" loudly
to get her to hurry up... Oh yes, lots of potential here.

ObSheesh: Just a joke, 'kay?

-Matthew
--
Matthew Daly I don't buy everything I read ... I haven't
da...@ppd.kodak.com even read everything I've bought.

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

aul...@koala.scott.net

unread,
Sep 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/3/96
to

Once at a literary conference I heard a presentation about how movies and
television never have real, convincing, true female characters. Women are
always potrayed as characters that are defined by their relationships (or
lack of them) to men.

I asked the presenter how this idea applied to TV shows, movies, or plays
that have NO male characters. Her answer was defensive and unhelpful, but
I later was able to supply my own answer. Take "Steel Magnolias" for lack
of a better example to wit. I mean the play. The women are defined by their
relationships to the implied offstage male characters.

(Stick around, I'm gonna tie this in to IF in a minute.)

For several weeks I looked for a counterexample (i.e. an independent
female character) without success. I've decided that it is true. The
arts and media have no real female characters. I've also decided that
the reason why is not really problem with the creators (as the presenter
at the conference believed) but with society. Society is sexist, and we
DON'T KNOW HOW to make or perceive a real, true, independent female character.

So the answer is not that the characters of an all woman cast are defined
by the implied male characters. The answer is that ALL female characters are
defined by how they relate to the men IN THE AUDIENCE, or more generally,
the men in society. The women in the audience perceive the same definitions
because the men have been defining things for so long, they can impose those
definitions -- or the habit of using them -- onto them.

(Hold on, IF tie in coming really soon!)

Now, so no-one gets too confused about what I'm saying, let me explain a
few things. I am a feminist. I am also sexist -- because society teaches
me to be in a million subtle and subliminal ways. I believe the above
statements about female characters to be true not because we choose to
define the characters this way (and certainly not that the women CHOOSE to
let the men define them), but becuase we have been doing it this way for
several thousand years, and so far we have not LEARNED TO PERCEIVE women
on the screen or stage as independent characters. Since a vicious cycle
is in play here (how can you make an independent character if noone can
perceive one, and the reverse) I don't know a solution except to wait,
be aware of the problem, and try personally to break the habits of
perception.

(IF tie in now)

Now, applying this to above statement and subject, I find that I'm not
sure if the problem lies in the author or the audience. That is, does the
game assume it will have a male player, or does the player assume that
the game is written in a male voice? Do we impose the "male characteristics"
onto the neutral? Are we, as an IF audience, at this point in time and
society, capable of seeing things in a way that is not tainted by the male-
dominant expectations we learn from our environment?

My inclination is to say -- "both, player assumes, yes, no."
All on very deep, low, nearly inaccessible levels.

If you feel excluded or ignored by games that were designed to be gender
and orientation neutral, perhaps you should look inside and find out if
there is something there preventing you from PERCIEVING the game as
being inclusive the way it was intended to be. What could have been
written differently to make the game more neutral anyway? Is there any
way to meet the criteria?

Please -- if nothing else -- remember that I am not placing fault on
any one person, so don't get mad at me for suggesting the problem may
lie in the receiver as well as the maker. I think this is a VERY deep issue
that goes as far down as the basic workings of our brains. I also find
it fascinating.

That is all,

Joe


chi...@fred.aurora.edu

unread,
Sep 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/3/96
to

> chi...@fred.aurora.edu wrote:
>
> > If I get enough feedback, in release two Ill make it so you can choose
> >your gender, but for at least the first release that the way it is
> >(mainly cause till I learn inform I dont think I have the talent to
> >implement it)
>
> Well, if you're a male you probably can't just walk back into the
> dressing rooms.
>
Yup you cant... thats the first puzzle...but by no means the last.

Chidder


Matthew Daly

unread,
Sep 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/4/96
to

In article <50g17g$a...@newsbf02.news.aol.com> jlb...@aol.com (JlB1925) writes:
>Well, I'd love a game that allowed me to play God...

Try Inform. :-)

Jon Conrad

unread,
Sep 4, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/4/96
to

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Jon Conrad (con...@copland.udel.edu) wrote:

[in connection with other than hetero as a default assumption in IF]


>> JIGSAW looked
>> promising, and I was getting into that angle of it, but one episode near
>> the end did establish that you and Black are of different genders.

>I'm curious which episode you meant. I went all the way through Jigsaw
>and never got jarred out of the "ambiguous" mode. I never saw anything
>which specified either gender, separately or relative to each other.

SPOILER ALERT:


In the Egypt chapter, in the barge:

An old black board-bound British passport. While it is, naturally,
Property of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and is to be
returned to her Secretary of State at the earliest opportunity, it is
more specifically the passport of Mr and Mrs J. P. Swithin. Mr Swithin
gives his occupation as "engineer".

The photographs are very poor indeed, but bear a passing resemblance to
Black and yourself.

---

To me (and my friend who was playing independently), this implied
different sexes for Black and me. If we're traveling, or intended to
pass, as husband and wife (neither of us in disguise), that seemed to
settle it. If the passport would have identified our bodies in the
event of an "accident," then the medical examination would have had to
match too.

Jon Alan Conrad

bout...@razor.wcc.govt.nz

unread,
Sep 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/5/96
to

In article <50es1q$e...@hermes.rdrop.com>, myt...@agora.rdrop.com (Laurel Halbany) writes:
>Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:
>
>>Is there a place for a discussion of pornography vs erotica in IF newsgroup?
>>;)
>
>Sure. I read erotica. You read sexually explicit material. S/he reads
>pornography. :*

Under the cicumstances, I'm more than a little concerned about that last
emoticon.

-Giles

Steven Howard

unread,
Sep 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/5/96
to

>Once at a literary conference I heard a presentation about how movies and
>television never have real, convincing, true female characters. Women are
>always potrayed as characters that are defined by their relationships (or
>lack of them) to men.
>
>I asked the presenter how this idea applied to TV shows, movies, or plays
>that have NO male characters. Her answer was defensive and unhelpful, but
>I later was able to supply my own answer. Take "Steel Magnolias" for lack
>of a better example to wit. I mean the play. The women are defined by their
>relationships to the implied offstage male characters.

This is an interesting assertion, but it's not falsifiable. The only conceivable
counterexample would be a female character who has no relationship with any
male character NOR a lack of such a relationship. Clearly, this is a
contradiction.

This also means you can't find a male counterexample, either. All male
characters are defined by their relationships (or lack thereof) to (possibly
implied) women. Characters of either gender are defined in part by their
relationships to other characters. Sure, Ophelia is defined by her
relationship with Hamlet, but no more than Hamlet is defined by his
relationship with Gertrude.

========
Steven Howard
bl...@ibm.net

What's a nice word for "euphemism"?

Laurel Halbany

unread,
Sep 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/5/96
to

dyl...@demon.net (Dylan O'Donnell) wrote:

>I seem to remember that in the Suez chapter, you had a passport showing you and
>Black as a honeymoon couple (though which was which wasn't specified). The 1950s
>weren't particularly liberal on this kind of thing.

If you could fake being married at all, you could certainly fake being
an opposite-sex couple...

aul...@koala.scott.net

unread,
Sep 5, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/5/96
to

In article <50lbvn$1c...@news-s01.ny.us.ibm.net>,

Steven Howard <bl...@ibm.net> wrote:
>In <50i1ro$n...@koala.scott.net>, aul...@koala.scott.net writes:

[original material deleted]

>This is an interesting assertioni, but it's not falsifiable. The only conceivable


>counterexample would be a female character who has no relationship with any
>male character NOR a lack of such a relationship. Clearly, this is a
>contradiction.

Wrong. You misunderstand my point. The counterexample is a female character
that exists on her own and is NOT DEFINED by her relationships with men (in
the show or in society). The point is that this has never been achieved.

A parallel concept illustrates why shows that try to depict a non-sexist
society (e.g. Star Trek) inevitably fail. We are an inherently sexist
society, and we have no concept of how a true non-sexist society would
function. You can't blame those shows for their failure any more than you
can blame a director or writer or actor for failing to create an
independent female character. We'll have to change our basic thinking
patterns before these things are even possible.

>This also means you can't find a male counterexample, either. All male
>characters are defined by their relationships (or lack thereof) to (possibly
>implied) women. Characters of either gender are defined in part by their
>relationships to other characters. Sure, Ophelia is defined by her
>relationship with Hamlet, but no more than Hamlet is defined by his
>relationship with Gertrude.

No counterexample is needed for a man. Thousands and thousands of male
characters exist independent of the female characters. Hamlet's character
is IN NO WAY defined by his relationship to Gertrude (or Ophelia). It's
ironic that the example you gave is one I likely would have chosen to
illustrate MY point. Perhaps we misunderstand each other's idea of what
defining a character means. I hope this clears up my meaning: Many, many
male characters exist, period. Female characters exist only in relationship
to some man somewhere.

I have learned since my original posting that this concept has surfaced in
feminist literature and has been called the "male gaze." The camera -- or
eye in live performance -- is not "neutral" as it should be, but instead
is "male" and casts its "male gaze" on the female characters. This is true
even if the people in control of the camera -- or eye -- are women! Quite
a dilemma for anyone trying to write, direct, or play a real woman.

To reiterate the last post, and keep this thread tied to IF, I'd like to
restate my previous thoughts with my new terminology. I think that we
apply a "male gaze" to IF, and that's why the characters we play, unless
stated otherwise, "feel" male. To tie this way back to the origin of this
branch of the thread, I also think we apply a "straight gaze" and the
characters feel straight, even when no reference is made to the character's
orientation.

Now THAT'S a long way to go to make a point, no?

That is all,

Joe


Donald Scott Macron

unread,
Sep 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/6/96
to

aul...@koala.scott.net wrote:

: No counterexample is needed for a man. Thousands and thousands of male


: characters exist independent of the female characters. Hamlet's character
: is IN NO WAY defined by his relationship to Gertrude (or Ophelia). It's
: ironic that the example you gave is one I likely would have chosen to
: illustrate MY point. Perhaps we misunderstand each other's idea of what
: defining a character means. I hope this clears up my meaning: Many, many
: male characters exist, period. Female characters exist only in relationship
: to some man somewhere.

This is the most sexist, baseless line of tripe I have ever encountered
on a NG, bar none. Congratulations. Perhaps (I hope) this is a troll.


Dan Shiovitz

unread,
Sep 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/6/96
to

In article <50ni8u$i...@koala.scott.net>, <aul...@koala.scott.net> wrote:
>In article <50lbvn$1c...@news-s01.ny.us.ibm.net>,
>Steven Howard <bl...@ibm.net> wrote:
>>In <50i1ro$n...@koala.scott.net>, aul...@koala.scott.net writes:
>[original material deleted]
>>This is an interesting assertioni, but it's not falsifiable. The only conceivable
>>counterexample would be a female character who has no relationship with any
>>male character NOR a lack of such a relationship. Clearly, this is a
>>contradiction.
>
>Wrong. You misunderstand my point. The counterexample is a female character
>that exists on her own and is NOT DEFINED by her relationships with men (in
>the show or in society). The point is that this has never been achieved.

That is, one that has no relationships with men? As there are very few
books, let alone movies, that have all-female worlds (not just casts), I
doubt you'll find any. But then, I doubt you'd find very many for males
either.

[..]


>>This also means you can't find a male counterexample, either. All male
>>characters are defined by their relationships (or lack thereof) to (possibly
>>implied) women. Characters of either gender are defined in part by their
>>relationships to other characters. Sure, Ophelia is defined by her
>>relationship with Hamlet, but no more than Hamlet is defined by his
>>relationship with Gertrude.
>

>No counterexample is needed for a man. Thousands and thousands of male
>characters exist independent of the female characters. Hamlet's character
>is IN NO WAY defined by his relationship to Gertrude (or Ophelia). It's

I think if you choose to misunderstand (either willfully or out of
ignorance) a character like Hamlet, then it's no wonder you think he
exists independantly. It would be entirely possible to argue that
his mother's remarriage is *central* to his character, thoughts, and
behavior at the opening of the play.

[..]


>I have learned since my original posting that this concept has surfaced in
>feminist literature and has been called the "male gaze." The camera -- or
>eye in live performance -- is not "neutral" as it should be, but instead
>is "male" and casts its "male gaze" on the female characters. This is true
>even if the people in control of the camera -- or eye -- are women! Quite
>a dilemma for anyone trying to write, direct, or play a real woman.

Yes indeed. Everyone is mind-controlled by the patriarchy to such an
extent that they not only are unaware of the mind control, but they are
unable to think of an alternative way of existance, and thus we are
doomed to stay like this forever. Quite a dilemma indeed.

>To reiterate the last post, and keep this thread tied to IF, I'd like to
>restate my previous thoughts with my new terminology. I think that we
>apply a "male gaze" to IF, and that's why the characters we play, unless
>stated otherwise, "feel" male. To tie this way back to the origin of this
>branch of the thread, I also think we apply a "straight gaze" and the
>characters feel straight, even when no reference is made to the character's
>orientation.

Define a "straight gaze" without making references to sexuality. How do
straights look at Picassos? How do straights listen to Mozart? How do
straights smell roses? Explain how this differs from the way that
someone with a "homosexual gaze" would perform the same actions.

(To summarize this, I think you confuse/conflate our tendancy to assume
unknown people are average with an assertion that we are unable to do
otherwise.)

>Now THAT'S a long way to go to make a point, no?

Yes. As this is fairly off-topic for the group and would be better
discussed in alt.feminism or another more general gender discussion group,
I'll finish up quickly. I find your words here *incredibly* patronizing
and ignorant of your subject matter. Furthermore, I think what you've said
does nothing to promote real equality of any sort, and does much to promote
stereotypes which I, at least, find odious. As a postscript, I would agree
with your first point that I have never seen a female character who is
not defined at least partially by a relationship with a male, but add that
the same is true is reverse.

>That is all,
>
>Joe

Den of Iniquity

unread,
Sep 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/6/96
to

I've been reading assertions about this 'male-gaze' stuff and the
inability of women to have character in the absence of interaction with
males... Heavy stuff, and from what (little ;) I understand, I disagree.
Certainly, the society we live in does indeed currently have a tendency
towards maleness, towards heterosexuality, where I live towards the
Caucasian, and if a character is presented with none of this kind of
information whatsoever I will default towards thinking of that person as
being like me - reasonably intelligent young single straight white male
with no obvious disability. (Lucky me!)

However I believe that as soon as enough detailed information is provided,
these preconceptions are suspended. Further I believe that every person,
male or female, has a character which can be illustrated by the sum of
every interaction they have with _every_ other person, male _or_ female.
And any good, full depictions of people's characters whether in plays, film
or i-f, should be (and are, IMO) illustrated in aspects of their
interactions with both genders.

Which brings us to the beholder - a tight, closed set of presuppositions
in the mind of a person can change the way they see something - if you
believe strongly that all women are evil, you can see evidence for it in any
portrayal of a female character, whether staged or in real life. So I
think that if you can't see any evidence that a female's character has
been shaped in any way by other women, that could be as much in the way
you see things as in the performance of actors (whether real people,
performers on a stage or digistised NPC's).

Or maybe I'm being blinded by my own set of tight, closed preconceptions. ;)
(I know it's not an impossibility...)

--
Den (getting out the thick skin again...)

Matthew T. Russotto

unread,
Sep 6, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/6/96
to

In article <322B78...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz>,

It's much easier than that:

> look

Leslie is here, looking appraisingly at Alex
Robin is fuming jealously.

> set gender of Leslie to female

Leslie is here, looking appraisingly at Alex
Robin is fuming jealously.

> set preference of Leslie to female

Leslie is here, looking appraisingly at Alex
Robin is fuming jealously.

Pat, Francis, Leslie, Alex, Teddy, George, Mike, Phil, Ronnie -- what other
names do you need?
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com russ...@his.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Trevor Barrie

unread,
Sep 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/8/96
to

Greg Ewing <gr...@cosc.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

>It occurs to me that this might be a good place for the
>idea of non-first-person prose that was discussed a while
>ago, e.g the prompt would be "What should Mary do next?"
>and the responses would be "Mary opens her handbag"
>instead of "You open your handbag" etc.

>But that could be a lot of work to implement,

No, I don't think it would be. In TADS, I believe you could handle this by
changing the pronouns associated with the "Me" object and modifying the
prompt; I'm sure it would be equally easy with Inform.


George Caswell

unread,
Sep 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/8/96
to

On 6 Sep 1996, Donald Scott Macron wrote:

> aul...@koala.scott.net wrote:
>
> : No counterexample is needed for a man. Thousands and thousands of male


> : characters exist independent of the female characters. Hamlet's character
> : is IN NO WAY defined by his relationship to Gertrude (or Ophelia). It's

> : ironic that the example you gave is one I likely would have chosen to
> : illustrate MY point. Perhaps we misunderstand each other's idea of what
> : defining a character means. I hope this clears up my meaning: Many, many
> : male characters exist, period. Female characters exist only in relationship
> : to some man somewhere.
>
> This is the most sexist, baseless line of tripe I have ever encountered
> on a NG, bar none. Congratulations. Perhaps (I hope) this is a troll.
>

If he means it's not -often- that a female character is defined
independantly, I'd tend to agree, in a lot of cases, they aren't. If he
means it's not -possible-, I would say only because it is sometimes
considered an irregularity or simply is handled badly by the author...
(and so isn't accepted...)

....T...I...M...B...U...K...T...U... ____________________________________
.________________ _/>_ _______......[George Caswell, CS '99. 4 more info ]
<___ ___________// __/<___ /......[ http://www.wpi.edu/~timbuktu ]
...//.<>._____..<_ >./ ____/.......[ Member LnL+SOMA, sometimes artist, ]
..//./>./ /.__/ /./ <___________.[writer, builder. Sysadmin of adamant]
.//.</.</</</.<_ _/.<_____________/.[____________________________________]
</.............</...................


Laurel Halbany

unread,
Sep 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/9/96
to

Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:

>However I believe that as soon as enough detailed information is provided,
>these preconceptions are suspended.

<scratches head> I'm not sure what you mean. If you're saying that as
soon as the game says "You're a woman," then you stop assuming the
character is male--well, that's kind of obvious, isn't it?

If by 'preconception' you mean assumptions about what characteristics
people have--for example, if you assume your character is female when
told "you're timid"--I would disagree. Did you catch the discussion
about Black's gender when _Jigsaw_ first appeared? It was interesting
to see insistence that Black *must* be male because Black tries to
kill people, acts aggressively, etc.

aul...@koala.scott.net

unread,
Sep 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/9/96
to

Dear Mr. of Iniquity,
Thank you for an intelligent, thought-provoking reply. I shall try to
clarify a point or two about my statements, then, with your permission,
let this thing die.

In article <Pine.SGI.3.91.960906...@tower.york.ac.uk>,


Den of Iniquity <dms...@york.ac.uk> wrote:

>I've been reading assertions about this 'male-gaze' stuff and the
>inability of women to have character in the absence of interaction with
>males... Heavy stuff, and from what (little ;) I understand, I disagree.

Not assertions, really, as in statements of truth, but a theory I know
of and my hypotheses and propositions to add to it. It is, indeed, very
heavy and deep, and an opposing viewpoint is easy to understand.

>Certainly, the society we live in does indeed currently have a tendency
>towards maleness, towards heterosexuality, where I live towards the
>Caucasian, and if a character is presented with none of this kind of
>information whatsoever I will default towards thinking of that person as
>being like me - reasonably intelligent young single straight white male
>with no obvious disability. (Lucky me!)

Yes. These statements run parallel to the conclusions I drew in order to
apply the theory to how we perceive our player characters in IF, why they
feel male and (as someone said) straight.

>However I believe that as soon as enough detailed information is provided,
>these preconceptions are suspended.

(The IF hypothesis I posed was about situations that LACK that information.
What happens then?)

>Further I believe that every person,
>male or female, has a character which can be illustrated by the sum of
>every interaction they have with _every_ other person, male _or_ female.
>And any good, full depictions of people's characters whether in plays, film
>or i-f, should be (and are, IMO) illustrated in aspects of their
>interactions with both genders.

These are very good and valid points, and actually, I agree. It's not really
about how the character is _illustrated_ that I'm talking about though. It's
the deepest kernel of who the character is, what she represents at the
deepest level if we dig deep enough. The theory states, and I believe, that
somehow many male characters can be reduced to basic concepts that don't
necessarily involve women at all, but that all female characters can be
reduced to basic concepts which break down further to concepts that
inherently involve men. Remember that I proposed earlier that it all comes down
to the men in society, not in the show, and that our perceptual habits are
relevant. Try it with a few characters. Even if you disagree, you can see what
I mean, at any rate.

>Which brings us to the beholder - a tight, closed set of presuppositions
>in the mind of a person can change the way they see something - if you
>believe strongly that all women are evil, you can see evidence for it in any
>portrayal of a female character, whether staged or in real life. So I
>think that if you can't see any evidence that a female's character has
>been shaped in any way by other women, that could be as much in the way
>you see things as in the performance of actors (whether real people,
>performers on a stage or digistised NPC's).

I'm assuming you mean "you" in the general sense here, not "you" in the
ME sense. I surely don't think all women are evil, or that no female
character can be shaped by another female character. However, I agree that
it could be quite as much in the way I see things as it is a with anything
else. I've said I think the issue is not only that we have trouble
representing real independent women, but also that we (I and some other
feminists I know, at least) might not really know how to recognize her if
they managed to.

>Or maybe I'm being blinded by my own set of tight, closed preconceptions. ;)
>(I know it's not an impossibility...)

What I've read about brains lately suggests that way down inside, all we have
are concepts something like your "tight, closed preconceptions", and clever
ways to relate them to one another. So I don't think we're in as much
disagreement, after all. I buy the theory, you may not. That doesn't bother
me a bit.

That is all,

Joe


aul...@koala.scott.net

unread,
Sep 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/9/96
to

In article <50o51p$l...@nntp4.u.washington.edu>,

Dan Shiovitz <scy...@u.washington.edu> wrote:
>In article <50ni8u$i...@koala.scott.net>, <aul...@koala.scott.net> wrote:
>>You misunderstand my point. The counterexample is a female character
>>that exists on her own and is NOT DEFINED by her relationships with men (in
>>the show or in society). The point is that this has never been achieved.
>
>That is, one that has no relationships with men? As there are very few
>books, let alone movies, that have all-female worlds (not just casts), I
>doubt you'll find any. But then, I doubt you'd find very many for males
>either.

This is the same thing the guy said before I said, "You misunderstand my
point." Clearly then, it's not my point. I'm not talking about she exists
as in she lives in a place and either a man lives there or not, I'm talking
about a character who FEELS real, who simply IS, without having to be seen
through some male's eyes. Is that clear? Wait, don't answer that.

>I think if you choose to misunderstand (either willfully or out of
>ignorance) a character like Hamlet, then it's no wonder you think he
>exists independantly.

Naturally, you have no way of knowing what I know about Hamlet.
Perhaps you simply misunderstand the way I was speaking about him.

A VAST oversimplification of the theory I'm talking about is:
Who is Hamlet? ... He's this guy in this play...
Who is Gertrude? ... She's Hamlet's mother...
Who is Ophelia? ... She's Hamlet's...

Actually the whole thing is a bad example -- not one I chose, anyway.
Don't reply to that.

>Yes indeed. Everyone is mind-controlled by the patriarchy to such an
>extent that they not only are unaware of the mind control, but they are
>unable to think of an alternative way of existance, and thus we are
>doomed to stay like this forever. Quite a dilemma indeed.

Umm, is this sarcasm? Whatever it is, it would qualify as an Oliver Stone
version of the theory I'm talking about. Tone down the conspiratorial
overtones and erase the hopelessness, and you'll be close the point.

>Define a "straight gaze" without making references to sexuality. How do
>straights look at Picassos? How do straights listen to Mozart? How do
>straights smell roses? Explain how this differs from the way that
>someone with a "homosexual gaze" would perform the same actions.

I'm sure I don't get that bit. I haven't defined "male gaze" without
reference to gender, nor in relation to paintings, music, and nature.
Why should this be needed to discuss a "straight gaze"? Also, I have
not suggested that a "homosexual gaze" exists, so there is no comparison
or contrast to be made. Are you sure you've seen all of my posts about
this? Or that you have the requisite logical, forensic, and abstraction
abilities to discuss them constructively?

>(To summarize this, I think you confuse/conflate our tendancy to assume
>unknown people are average with an assertion that we are unable to do
>otherwise.)

That's actually pretty close to point, but for completely different reasons
than you said it. I've been reading alot about the inner workings of our brains
lately...

>>Now THAT'S a long way to go to make a point, no?
>
>Yes. As this is fairly off-topic for the group and would be better
>discussed in alt.feminism or another more general gender discussion group,

Thanks for the tip. I found it quite on-topic, based on the branch point
of this thread. I'll agree that NOW it isn't. So don't reply.

>I'll finish up quickly. I find your words here *incredibly* patronizing
>and ignorant of your subject matter.

I'm not sure how you can accuse me of ignorance, when YOU don't understand
what I'M saying. Do you even know what my subject matter is, yet? As for
patronization, whatever of it was perceived was not intended. Chalk it up
to an all text medium. I'm going to give up any discussion of anything that's
not black and white, yes/no, scientific fact. I should have learned that years
ago. Try to talk about an interesting and thought provoking theory, and BAM!
Don't reply.

That is all,

Joe -- restricting all r.a.i.f posts to Inform syntax issues only.

aul...@koala.scott.net

unread,
Sep 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/9/96
to

In article <50o1qk$5...@netnews.upenn.edu>,

Donald Scott Macron <dma...@mail2.sas.upenn.edu> wrote:
>
>This is the most sexist, baseless line of tripe I have ever encountered
>on a NG, bar none. Congratulations. Perhaps (I hope) this is a troll.

And I did it without even trying!

I'm going to suppose that you received a later post before the original on
this theory, and simply jumped in before you knew what was going on.
Otherwise it's that you are not listening or cannot comprehend (or that I
cannot explain, but I'm REALLY trying -- are you?).

It's a FEMINIST theory, based on a presentation at a conference I attended
and lengthy discussions I had with a friend. We are actually quite the
liberal feminists.

That is all,

Joe -- SHEESH!


Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Sep 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/9/96
to

aul...@koala.scott.net wrote:
> >This is the most sexist, baseless line of tripe I have ever encountered

> It's a FEMINIST theory, based on a presentation at a conference I attended


> and lengthy discussions I had with a friend. We are actually quite the
> liberal feminists.

You speak as if calling oneself a feminist protects one from being
either sexist or baseless.

I comment upon the generality, not upon the particular argument you
posted earlier.

--Z

--

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

JlB1925

unread,
Sep 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/10/96
to

>Don't reply
Hmm. This is a new way to win an argument. When someone replies to you,
restate your position loudly and clearly and tell them the subject is
closed. Sounds like my parents, who never had good reasons for anything
either...

---
Liam Burke
I do not in any way represent Punahou Academy, its employees or its giant
flying wombats, and anything I may say or do that directly contradicts
this is merely the product of one of my many warped minds.

JlB1925

unread,
Sep 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/10/96
to

>It occurs to me that this might be a good place for the
>idea of non-first-person prose that was discussed a while
>ago, e.g the prompt would be "What should Mary do next?"
>and the responses would be "Mary opens her handbag"
>instead of "You open your handbag" etc.

>But that could be a lot of work to implement,

and I wouldn't have very much fun. Reminds me of those really long
prompts in Witness at the beginning. This prose says "Done," "Taken,"
"Dropped," etc. It's expert mode. I wouldn't want to play a game with
excess comments on my every action.

Roger Giner-Sorolla

unread,
Sep 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/10/96
to

I'm reminded of something Samuel R. Delany, one of my all-time favorite
writers, said about an even more traditionally male-centric paraliterary
genre -- science fiction.

To paraphrase (I think you can find the exact quote in his essay
collection _The Jewel-Hinged Jaw_), he said that the real challenge in
creating believable and independent female characters, for a male writer,
was to make the relationships between female characters important and
interesting.

In other words, connecting all female characters to males alone
runs the risk of making them functionally mere female archetypes (wise
mother, seductive lover, loyal chick-sidekick, femme fatale) no matter how
courageous or individualized the well-meaning writer tries to make them.

An interesting functional criterion, at least. But can we find an IF game
with more than one important female character?

Roger Giner-Sorolla University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
rs...@virginia.edu Dept. of Psychology (Social)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Good Times" is a real virus. But it doesn't infect computers.


Francis Irving

unread,
Sep 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/10/96
to

On 6 Sep 1996 02:21:08 GMT, dma...@mail2.sas.upenn.edu (Donald Scott
Macron) wrote:

>aul...@koala.scott.net wrote:
>
>> Female characters exist only in relationship to some man somewhere.
>

>This is the most sexist, baseless line of tripe I have ever encountered

>on a NG, bar none. Congratulations. Perhaps (I hope) this is a troll.

Don't jump to conclusions.

Aultman's assertion was about female _characters_, and certainly not
about women in general.

S/he is implying that stories are sexist. Even that IF is sexist.

Perhaps s/he is being sexist by interpreting stories such that female
characters exist only in relationship to some man. Anyone who already
sees the world like that would see it like that in stories.

But by his/her later post, where s/he says s/he is feminist, I suspect
that this is not the case.

-Z wrote


> You speak as if calling oneself a feminist protects one from being
> either sexist or baseless.

Come on, Andrew! Calling yourself feminist, if you are feminist,
certainly stops you being sexist _against_ women.

Francis.

Nulldogma

unread,
Sep 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/10/96
to

> An interesting functional criterion, at least. But can we > find an IF
game with more than one important female
> character?

Well, I'm working on one. If it were to be the first of its kind (I can't
think of any others offhand), it'd be a pretty sad commentary on the state
of the genre.

> Roger Giner-Sorolla University of Virginia,
> Charlottesville, VA
> rs...@virginia.edu Dept. of Psychology (Social)

Hey, that's not in New York...

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

Francis Irving

unread,
Sep 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/10/96
to

On 6 Sep 1996 12:13:01 -0400, russ...@wanda.vf.pond.com (Matthew T.
Russotto) wrote:

>> look
>
>Leslie is here, looking appraisingly at Alex
>Robin is fuming jealously.
>
>> set gender of Leslie to female
>
>Leslie is here, looking appraisingly at Alex
>Robin is fuming jealously.
>
>> set preference of Leslie to female
>
>Leslie is here, looking appraisingly at Alex
>Robin is fuming jealously.
>
>Pat, Francis, Leslie, Alex, Teddy, George, Mike, Phil, Ronnie -- what other
>names do you need?

Hey, does that mean you don't know what gender I am?

Actually you can tell by the last vowel.

Francis.

Roger Giner-Sorolla

unread,
Sep 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/10/96
to

On 10 Sep 1996, Nulldogma wrote:

> > An interesting functional criterion, at least. But can we > find an IF
> game with more than one important female
> > character?
>
> Well, I'm working on one. If it were to be the first of its kind (I can't
> think of any others offhand), it'd be a pretty sad commentary on the state
> of the genre.

Of course, today I remembered Brendon Wyber's "Theatre."

>
> > Roger Giner-Sorolla University of Virginia,
> > Charlottesville, VA
> > rs...@virginia.edu Dept. of Psychology (Social)
>
> Hey, that's not in New York...

Nope. I got my Ph. D. and now I'm doing a post-doc in more placid, if
duller, surroundings. And all I have is that darn game to remind me.

-- Roger

Rhodri James

unread,
Sep 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/11/96
to

francis...@vegauk.co.uk (Francis Irving) wrote:

> -Z wrote

>> You speak as if calling oneself a feminist protects one from being
>> either sexist or baseless.

> Come on, Andrew! Calling yourself feminist, if you are feminist,
> certainly stops you being sexist _against_ women.

Not necessarily. And anyway, that's not what Andrew was saying; please
read the plot more carefully or you'll miss the vital clues :-)

Anyway, what Aultman and co have discovered is a specific case of the
general rule that everyone in a piece of fiction is defined by their
relationship(s) to the protagonist. Thus Ophelia is indeed defined by her
relationship to Hamlet, and the daughters to King Lear. Usually there is
only one protagonist, but a sprawling enough story can have more; Babylon 5
for instance appears to have two (sequential) protagonists, although claims
could be made for three.

Are all protagonists male? No. A majority are, or more properly were,
since fiction is something of a reflection of the society we live in. But
counterexamles that spring to mind are C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry, C.J.
Cherryh's Pyanfar Chanur (and Ari-whose-surname-escapes-me in Cyteen),
Peter Ho/eg's Smilla Jorgensen... I could start flipping through books to
name more examples, but that should be quite enough to start with.

--
Rhodri James *-* Wildebeeste herder to the masses
If you don't know who I work for, you can't misattribute my words to them

... Intel Outside