Gay characters in IF

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Darin Johnson

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Aug 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/25/97
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In article <uOdf2BAD...@highmount.demon.co.uk>, Neil Brown wrote:
>(Puts asbestos underwear on, just in case.)

Two pair?

>how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a work
>of interactive fiction? Or even if the player was meant to be gay?

How do you know there aren't any already? Just because they don't
make it explicit in the text doesn't mean they're not. Heck, we could
have had gay characters in TV in the 50's. Most IF characters are
essentially asexual anyway - they don't tell you either way; and they
shouldn't either, it's unimportant to the story. Does Belboz have a
missus at home, or a domestic partner of either gender? I don't care,
it's irrelevant.

Heck, the most important character in most IF is the player. And you
can be whatever you want. Most stories don't even let you know if you're
male or female, and almost none give you any hint as to your cultural
or racial background (there are exceptions of course).

Point being, unless the author is trying to make a political point, it's
just extra fluff to tell us those unimportant details.

--
Darin Johnson
da...@usa.net.delete_me

Neil K.

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Aug 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/25/97
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In article <uOdf2BAD...@highmount.demon.co.uk>, Neil Brown
<ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> [...] how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a work


> of interactive fiction? Or even if the player was meant to be gay?

If my game in progress ever gets finished, I guess I'll find out. :)
There are elements to it, particularly critical plot elements revolving
around the protagonist and a same-sex relationship, that will undoubtedly
offend bigots.

However, I'm not the least bit concerned if bigots don't like my game. In
fact, I'd be quite pleased if they don't. A game that delights bigots is
not likely to be a game that I want to write.

- Neil K.

--
t e l a computer consulting + design * Vancouver, BC, Canada
web: http://www.tela.bc.ca/tela/ * email: tela @ tela.bc.ca

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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Nathan Thompson (apot...@no.spam.net) wrote:
> On Mon, 25 Aug 1997 21:40:35 +0100, Neil Brown
> <ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> > I'm curious to know [...]


> > how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a work
> > of interactive fiction?

> I'm just trying to fathom why anyone /would/ be offended.

I'm trying to fathom why we should care if anyone is offended.

--Z

--

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

Mordacai

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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>>Point being, unless the author is trying to make a political point, it's
>>just extra fluff to tell us those unimportant details.
>
>

Um, at the risk of being flamed here, I rather disagree with that. This
is actually a question I've been seriously considering. The stuff I've
written if-wise are more story than game (a point which has been argued
before and needs not be dudged up again ;) and therefore are very
character oriented. Within the scope of what CAN be done, it's been my
foremost goal to make the characters in the stuff I've done as interesting
and real as possible, rather than just tools for puzzles. Albeit, I'm far
from good at such characterization, but the theory is sound.

That said, I consider a choice about a character like his sexuality is a
very important one. If it is well founded and developed in the game, it
can be considerably more than just fluff. Of course, as in regular
fiction, making a character gay, JUST so you have a gay character is not
only pointless, but in bad taste. Yet if it is done well, it can be a
profound character element.

Again at the risk of getting flamed, Sierra On-Line recently game out with
a game, Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle of Flesh. As far as the GAME went, it
was, simply, not good. But the story was more intruiging than many I've
seen and, though the writing wasn't too sterling, the actors did as good a
job with it as they could. To such an extent that, when the best friend
character died (a foregone conclusion, but nonetheless...) I actually felt
quite bad about it. This was in fact on of the few experiences where I've
actually felt anything about a character in a game. And, I honestly
belive, that part of what made the character engaging enough for me to
sympathise with him was the fact that he was gay. It was a unique
character choice, that opened up a lot of different options with his
character and made him more than the generic
best-friend-that-dies-ten-minutes-before-the-finale.

Anyway, thank you for letting me vent there. I think I'm going to go call
my boyfriend. ;)

Ian Finley

Matthew Daly

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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mord...@aol.com (Mordacai), if that is your REAL name, said:

>>>Point being, unless the author is trying to make a political point, it's
>>>just extra fluff to tell us those unimportant details.
>
>Um, at the risk of being flamed here, I rather disagree with that. This
>is actually a question I've been seriously considering. The stuff I've
>written if-wise are more story than game (a point which has been argued
>before and needs not be dudged up again ;) and therefore are very
>character oriented. Within the scope of what CAN be done, it's been my
>foremost goal to make the characters in the stuff I've done as interesting
>and real as possible, rather than just tools for puzzles. Albeit, I'm far
>from good at such characterization, but the theory is sound.
>
>That said, I consider a choice about a character like his sexuality is a
>very important one. If it is well founded and developed in the game, it
>can be considerably more than just fluff. Of course, as in regular
>fiction, making a character gay, JUST so you have a gay character is not
>only pointless, but in bad taste. Yet if it is done well, it can be a
>profound character element.

I suppose that I, for one, would be intrigued to see what you had in mind.
I suppose it could work. For instance, I could imagine a "puzzle" where
you had a partner who was upset that you weren't affectionate in public,
but if you're not careful, you'll incur the "attention" of a gang of
homophobic teens. I use the word "puzzle" in quotes because you really
wouldn't want to have scenes like:

----

> WAIT

Bill, noticing that you're not going to hold his hand stiffens and says
"_Fine_. I'll just find someone _else_ to take me to the Liza Minelli
revue. And you can just for_get_ about my ever loaning you that ten-pin
fromitz board!"

[Your score has gone down by five points]

----

But what you could do is to have this be a marker that your story will now
turn in a way that it wouldn't have if you had behaved differently. It
doesn't even need to be a life-and-death issue with rampaging teens --
perhaps it's just your conservative neighbor who will come to make a fuss
with your landlord. The possibilities, if well-managed, are compelling. I
would caution you that too many filmmakers and playwrights have portrayed
these issues with a heavy hand with shallow characterizations of
heterosexuals, and something with greater depth and compassion toward all
characters would truly fill a void.

I-F has a really powerful ability to explain to players how it feels to be
something that they aren't. I mean, we've been spies and wizards and space
cowboys, but we could also be inner-city schoolteachers and minority
farmers ... and gay men.

-Matthew, and sorry about bringing up the Liza stereotype. :-)
--
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.

--- Support the anti-Spam amendment! Join at http://www.cauce.org ---

Zey Guy

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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In article <uOdf2BAD...@highmount.demon.co.uk>, Neil Brown wrote:

>(Puts asbestos underwear on, just in case.)

>how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a work

>of interactive fiction? Or even if the player was meant to be gay?


I assume you're talking about a serious attempt at a believable gay
character and not the limp-wristed, showtunes-belting stereotypes like the
ones found in the Leisure Suit Larry Games. (The one distracting element
in an otherwise enjoyable series.) Don't worry about who will or who won't
be offended and just go for it!

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Adam Cadre

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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Graham Nelson wrote:
> Incidentally, there's a lesbian or at any rate bisexual character
> in I-0.

What's more, the protagonist is Latina. No political statement
intended -- she is because, well, she is. I can't speak for anyone
else, but when I'm writing, whether it be IF or conventional fiction,
I don't construct characters as tools to accomplish a task, fitting
them with race and sex and orientation according to my needs; they
simply occur to me, with race and sex and orientation and favorite
color and date of birth and all those other details falling into place
as I come to know the character better. Sorry if I sound like a hippie
but that's just the way it works for me. *shrug*

-----
Adam Cadre, Durham, NC
http://www.duke.edu/~adamc

Neil Brown

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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In article <19970826024...@ladder02.news.aol.com>, Mordacai

<mord...@aol.com> wrote:
>That said, I consider a choice about a character like his sexuality is a
>very important one. If it is well founded and developed in the game, it
>can be considerably more than just fluff. Of course, as in regular
>fiction, making a character gay, JUST so you have a gay character is not
>only pointless, but in bad taste.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean about that last bit. Why would it be
in bad taste to include a gay character just for the sake of it? If I
were to write a sequel to The Wedding tomorrow, and decided that it
would be nice to have a gay character or two, would that be in bad
taste?

The important thing, I suspect, is how gay characters are portrayed
rather than why they are there. Camp Liza Minelli devotees do exist, but
tend to be in the minority. (Tut tut, Mr Daly. Shame on you!)
______________

Neil James Brown
ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk
http://www.highmount.demon.co.uk

Graham Nelson

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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> In article <slrn603t9k...@connectnet1.connectnet.com>,

> da...@usa.net.delete_me (Darin Johnson) wrote:
>
> > Point being, unless the author is trying to make a political point, it's
> > just extra fluff to tell us those unimportant details.
(That is, the sexual orientation of the main character.)

In article <fake-mail-250...@van-as-11c01.direct.ca>, Neil K.
<URL:mailto:fake...@anti-spam.address> wrote:
>
> Hm. So if I were to include a gay, lesbian, bi, non-white, female, etc.
> character in my game I'd necessarily be doing so to make a political
> point. But if I were to include a straight or white or male character in
> my game then I wouldn't?

Contra Neil:
The issue, I hope, is really what you choose to say about the
character. I agree that it's deplorable prejudice to regard an
implication that the person in question is heterosexual, as saying
nothing about him or her. But the alternatives are not (a)
implying heterosexuality or (b) implying homosexuality; there's
also the more popular option (c) giving no clue either way.

Contra Darin:
Going for options (a) and (b) need not be a political statement.
They might just be filling in the characterisation better; they
might clarify the background to the game, or the motives of the
people in it. Surely IF is only impoverished as a literary form
by ignoring part of the richness of human variety?

Well, this may be my most pompous contribution of the year. But
it's in a good cause.

Incidentally, there's a lesbian or at any rate bisexual character

in I-0. But you have to pretty filthily inclined to find this out.

--
Graham Nelson | gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk | Oxford, United Kingdom


Paul Winalski

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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> On Mon, 25 Aug 1997 21:40:35 +0100, Neil Brown
> <ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
> >how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a work
> >of interactive fiction? Or even if the player was meant to be gay?

Well, the original mainframe ZORK game had that "epicene gnome
of Zurich" in the Bank of Zork, and nobody seemed to be
offended by it....

--PSW

Art Gecko

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Aug 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/26/97
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Matthew Daly (mwd...@kodak.com) wrote:

: -Matthew, and sorry about bringing up the Liza stereotype. :-)

As well you should be.

--Liza

--
Visit the ifMUD - you can be gay, straight, male, female, neuter, white,
black or stripey. Just don't be idle. http://fovea.retina.net:4001/

Magnus Olsson

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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In article <34031B...@acpub.duke.edu>,
Adam Cadre <ad...@acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

>Graham Nelson wrote:
>> Incidentally, there's a lesbian or at any rate bisexual character
>> in I-0.
>
>What's more, the protagonist is Latina.

She is? I honestly didn't notice.

>No political statement
>intended -- she is because, well, she is. I can't speak for anyone
>else, but when I'm writing, whether it be IF or conventional fiction,
>I don't construct characters as tools to accomplish a task, fitting
>them with race and sex and orientation according to my needs; they
>simply occur to me, with race and sex and orientation and favorite
>color and date of birth and all those other details falling into place
>as I come to know the character better. Sorry if I sound like a hippie
>but that's just the way it works for me.

Well, it works exactly the same way for me.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------
Not officially connected to LU or LTH.

David J Wildstrom

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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The difference, as I see it, is that you can't just throw in a gay character.
If, for instance, you had a security guard in your game, making him/her black
or white or left-handed or whatever shouldn't be much of a problem, and any
good description of him will include these facts (well, maybe not left-handed,
but certainly skin color, approximate age, etc.) If you wanted to have a
character whose sexuality matterered, however, the only way you could bring
that out wold be dialog, and it seems that any character with enough dialog
of that personal a nature could no longer be the sort of character you could
throw in jst for the jell of it.... you'd need to build something around
him/her.


Neil Brown

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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In article <ant262348868M+4%@gnelson.demon.co.uk>, Graham Nelson
<gra...@gnelson.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>Actually "The Gay Wedding" would be a truly wonderful sequel to
>"The Wedding". Make everyone in it gay, lesbian or otherwise
>nonconformist, including the narrator...

Yes! Why didn't I think of that myself?

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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JID wrote:
>
> I've been hesitant to join this discussion since I don't write IF, but I
> have to agree with this statement. I don't really know how to have it
> happen any other way. I mean, MY gender/sexual orientation/hair color/etc.
> are such an integral part of me that I can't imagine having a character --
> in regular fiction or in that mythical game I AM going to write once I
> figure out how to do it, really I am, betcha can't wait -- not have that
> kind of background. Just like in life, one of the NPCs could well be gay,
> but you wouldn't know it unless it suddenly became germane. You might go
> through the whole game not knowing, because you never spoke to that
> character.

Concerning that last point: Anyone involved in this discussion who has
not played "Everybody Loves a Parade" to completion should do so right
now. (No, it doesn't have any overtly gay characters. Just play it and
you'll see why I bring it up.)

--
Carl Muckenhoupt ca...@earthweb.com
EarthWeb http://www.earthweb.com/

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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Neil K. wrote:
>
> So for me the issue of gay characters in games is not strictly what is
> said about such characters, though that's obviously very important. For me
> it's more about presenting a realistic and believable universe populated
> by realistic and believable characters. Most IF is not. The vast majority
> of the games out there are full of cardboard cutouts if anything. The
> player is cast in an ostensibly neutral way, yet is very often
> unconsciously written with an assumed male voice, in my opinion.

Which makes me wonder about the possibility of writing a game from an
ostensibly neutral but implicilty gay or female voice.

Let me explain with a couple of literary references. Firstly, consider
the novels of Philip K. Dick. They have tendency to include sentences
like "She sat down, her bare legs bent under the chair". By drawing our
attention to the woman's legs, he lets us know that the protagonist's
attention is also so drawn. Without dialogue, and without making a big
point of it.

Secondly, Moby Dick. (It is only as I write this sentence that I
realize the common occurence of the name "Dick" in these examples. I
plead coincidence.) Reading the first few chapters really made me
wonder if Melville was gay. For one thing, we have the relationship
between Ishmael and Queequeg, which starts with them sharing a bed and
proceeds to the point where Queequeg declares them, according to the
laws of his people, married. Furthermore, there are very few women.
This is understandable for a story set chiefly on a 19th century whaling
vessel, but what few there are (the innkeeper in Nantucket, for example)
are either maternal or sisterly, and definitely not potential love
interests. Whereas the men are all handsome, broad-chested sailors.
(Even Ahab has a Byronic streak.)

I just think it would be interesting to see a game that uses similar
techniques to indicate the (non-straight-male) gender and/or sexuality
of the protagonist without explicitly stating it. Of course, some
people managed to perceive implied homosexuality in Jigsaw, where it
wasn't even intended by the author...

Matthew T. Russotto

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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In article <3405cf11...@news.softcom.net>,
Nathan Thompson <apot...@no.spam.softcom.net> wrote:

}Perhaps, but this may be a case of obfuscation by vocabulary. How
}many people know what 'epicene' means off the tops of their heads? I
}don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence, but /I/ certainly had to
}look it up.

I also had to look it up... and it doesn't mean homosexual according
to Merriam-Webster.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Adam Cadre

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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Neil K. wrote:
> Now let's say you have a male character who says "See you later! I'm
> meeting my boyfriend for dinner." Just as casual. Yet all of a sudden
> it's a big issue.

Darin Johnson replied:
> Well, not if you don't know the character is male :-) And I've never
> heard a gay person say something like that in real life - it's more
> like "gotta go, I'm having dinner with Bob."

Right. I've stumbled upon this conversation before. It went something
like this:

1: Why does everyone look at me strangely when I say "This is my
lover"? No one bats an eye when you say "This is my wife."

2: I've never said "This is my wife" in my life. I say "This is
Karen." If you were to say "This is Luke," no one would think
twice.

athol-brose

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Aug 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/27/97
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In article <5turfk$8...@decgate.bridgewater.ne.hcc.com>,
<jken...@himail.hcc.com> wrote:
>Historical note: there were, as I recall, quite a few persons of --
>err -- unusual gender identity in "Circuits Edge", although I don't
>recall offhand whether any of them were, in the strict sense, gay.

Yeah ... there were several gay/lesbian characters, as well as the pre-op
debs (presumably gay) and other very confusing gender identities.

Wasn't Sayiid (or whomever you got that cologne for) homosexual?
--
r. n. dominick -- cinn...@one.net -- http://w3.one.net/~cinnamon
why so full of sorrow, no tomorrow?

Nathan Thompson

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
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On Tue, 26 Aug 1997 01:22:21 -0400, Paul Winalski
<wina...@lspace.zko.dec.com> wrote:

>> On Mon, 25 Aug 1997 21:40:35 +0100, Neil Brown
>> <ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>>
>> >how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a work
>> >of interactive fiction? Or even if the player was meant to be gay?
>
>Well, the original mainframe ZORK game had that "epicene gnome
>of Zurich" in the Bank of Zork, and nobody seemed to be
>offended by it....
Perhaps, but this may be a case of obfuscation by vocabulary. How
many people know what 'epicene' means off the tops of their heads? I
don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence, but /I/ certainly had to
look it up.

Nathan Thompson
---------------
Remove 'no.spam' to reply.

Darin Johnson

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
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In article <fake-mail-270...@van-52-1003.direct.ca>, Neil K. wrote:
> Now let's say you have a male character who says "See you later! I'm
>meeting my boyfriend for dinner." Just as casual. Yet all of a sudden it's
>a big issue.

Well, not if you don't know the character is male :-) And I've never
hard a gay person say something like that in real life - it's more


like "gotta go, I'm having dinner with Bob."

I guess the point is that IF sticks to comfortable, normal situations,
for most characters. If they don't, then it's jarring, and makes you
stop and thing, even if the IF author meant nothing by it. It's not
that If mirrors societal norms because it's bigoted, but because
stepping outside the norms draws attention, and that's usually not
what the author wants. Why should the story have a hiccup just
because a character has to go home for dinner? Who he goes home to
have dinner with is irrelevant; so using the most common example, the
character goes home to his wife, precisely so that it doesn't seem
unusual. (of course, the character *could* have said "I have to go
home for dinner" and left it at that :-)

> Another example. Someone says "I'm not a bigot, but why do gay people
>have to be so *blatant* about their sexuality? Can't they be discreet
>about it?" And these are people who wouldn't think twice to see a straight
>couple smooching or holding hands in public.

Depends upon what you consider blatant. I wouldn't consider holding
hands blatant. Open mouthed kissing on the sidewalk I would consider
blatant with any sort of couple. Thus, I suspect when most people
make this complaint, they aren't talking about hand holding or normal
kissing; they're complaining about swishes and groping and such.

> Yet another example. Take a look at an older movie someday - all the
>extras walking along the street are going to be white. (except for obvious
>examples like black porters at a railway station and so on) But nowadays
>movies will have a far more diverse (and accurate) cross-section of
>society as background extras, even if the cast is mainly white. Because it
>would look weird otherwise.

There's more to it than just this. Early Hollywood had a lot of
peculiarities that may have led to this. Ie, if you don't have many
black actors or extras, there won't be many walking around in the
background. Also, it would have done Hollywood to show the realities
of life, because the reality was harsh and Hollywood wanted to show a
rosy picture much of the time (ie, reality would have shown blacks off
in their own substandard railway car).

> So the point of this rambling post? (other than the obvious fact that the
>topic is of some importance / interest to me) Well, simply that I believe
>that in order to get a rich, believable story, you need believable
>characters in a believable world.

True, that's the point even people you disagree with are saying. In a
believable world, you don't *know* who's gay or not the majority of
the time, you don't automatically know their religioun, or their
political beliefs (well, around election time it often becomes
apparent with a lot of people :-), and so forth.

>Choose the background elements for your character that's right for your
>story, and leave it at that.

I bet a lot of IF authors do just that, but it never gets out into
the story (unlike normal literature, where spending a few chapters
dwelling on this stuff is common).

--
Darin Johnson
da...@usa.net.delete_me

Nathan Thompson

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
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On Tue, 26 Aug 1997 08:47:57 -0700, Jason Dyer <jd...@u.arizona.edu>
wrote:

>Nathan Thompson wrote:
>
>> On Mon, 25 Aug 1997 21:40:35 +0100, Neil Brown
>> <ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>>

>> >I'm curious to know, seeing as we have so many gay characters on the
>> TV
>> >nowadays (Friends, Ellen, EastEnders, even fleetingly on ER), and
>> >bearing in mind the reaction Graham Nelson received to early versions
>> of
>> >Jigsaw ("Am I supposed to be gay?" in a not terribly pleasant
>> manner),


>> >how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a
>> work
>> >of interactive fiction? Or even if the player was meant to be gay?

>> I'm just trying to fathom why anyone /would/ be offended. Sure, it
>> might be a stretch for a straight person to play a gay person if
>> sexual orientation has much bearing on the story, just as a man
>> playing a female lead character might be a little awkward if gender
>> was relevant, but that's a far cry from /offensive/.
>
>Well, there still is a reasonable percentage of the population who finds
>homosexuality morally
>wrong. This does not necessarily indicate a bigot; the bigot will simply
>draw irrational conclusions
>from that idea (such as "we need to beat up homosexuals because they are
>homosexuals".)
>But even the non-bigots would be offended in the same way many people
>were offended when they
>were forced to steal in Lost New York.
I suppose I've been assuming that most IF fans are more progressive
than that, and I /do/ find the likening of stealing to homosexuality a
bit offensive, but I do see your point.

Nathan Thompson

Nathan Thompson

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
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On 28 Aug 1997 01:31:01 GMT, da...@usa.net.delete_me (Darin Johnson)
wrote:

>But 'epicene' doesn't mean gay. It just means it's hard to
>distinguish the sex. It can mean effeminate, but I know effiminate
>people that weren't gay as well. An "epicene gnome of Zurich" in
>my mind conjures up an old short person, with so many wrinkles
>you can't tell if it's a man or woman.
I interpreted the usage similarly, but I suppose the point was that
the state of sexual epicenity (sp?) is an unusual one and similar in
that respect to homosexuality. Of course, one may well argue that,
among gnomes, the epicene condition is common -- or seems to be common
to a human observer. But I will not argue that because I have
pasteries to hunt down and eat.

Nick

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
to

> >Well, there still is a reasonable percentage of the population who finds
> >homosexuality morally
> >wrong. This does not necessarily indicate a bigot; the bigot will simply
> >draw irrational conclusions
> >from that idea (such as "we need to beat up homosexuals because they are
> >homosexuals".)
> >But even the non-bigots would be offended in the same way many people
> >were offended when they
> >were forced to steal in Lost New York.
> I suppose I've been assuming that most IF fans are more progressive
> than that, and I /do/ find the likening of stealing to homosexuality a
> bit offensive, but I do see your point.
> Nathan Thompson
Even if the player considers some aspect of the character they find
themselves playing in the game morally suspect is that necessarily
a problem? Part of what makes life interesting is that there are very
few morally easy situations. We all find ourselves in situations which
we find morally uncomfortable from time to time, its part of what being
human is. Indeed many gays who I know who have been brought up in the
church struggle with the fact that they have a sexuality they have always
been taught is wrong.
This tension between morality and reality is something that we must
work to resolve within ourselves, not be offended by.
Nick


Den of Iniquity

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
to

On Wed, 27 Aug 1997, Adam Cadre conveniently summarised one thread for me:

>Neil K. wrote:
>> Now let's say you have a male character who says "See you later! I'm

>> meeting my boyfriend for dinner." [...] All of a sudden it's a big issue.
>
>Darin Johnson replied:
>> I've never heard a gay person say something like that in real life - it's

>> more like "gotta go, I'm having dinner with Bob."

If you are speaking of your partner to a person or persons who have had
little or no introduction to that person, it's more common to refer to
one's boyfriend, one's girlfriend, IMO. Thus when talking to certain
colleagues at work, or addressing this newsgroup, for example, I'd start
an anecdote with 'The other day, my girlfriend...' rather than actually
naming her.

--
Den


Richard G Clegg

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
to

Sorry, couldn't resist adding this but there may have already been gay
characters in IF does anyone remember the old Sherlock Holmes game from
Melbourne House?

The following may not be a 100% accurate quote but you could do
something like this:

> WATSON, FOLLOW ME
Waston is now following you.

> SIT ON COMFORTABLE ARMCHAIR
You sit in the comfortable armchair.
Watson sits in the comfortable armchair.

Draw your own conclusions but to me it seems Sherlock and Watson were
pretty cosy in their domestic arrangements. Quite sweet really I think.

--
Richard G. Clegg Only the mind is waving
Dept. of Mathematics (Network Control group) Uni. of York.
email: ric...@manor.york.ac.uk
www: http://manor.york.ac.uk/top.html


Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
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Neil Brown <ne...@highmount.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>A gay character doesn't have to be 'outed' (though I can envisage a
>running joke where a band of militant gay rights activists make random
>appearances throughout a game to try to 'out' characters, even if
>they're straight, and abseil down buildings and wave banners). A
>character can already be out, and the fact casually mentioned.

That sounds hilarious! I hope someone steals this idea and uses it.

Matthew

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
to

Jason M Tucker (tuck...@garnet.tc.umn.edu) wrote:

> I feel that the player is the LEAST important character in IF. Face it,
> you play a featureless, genderless, often naked person. The player is
> merely a mask, and we put our own emotions and mores into that identity.

Except in all the games where this isn't true.

Graham Nelson

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
to

In article <3404AD...@earthweb.com>, Carl Muckenhoupt

<URL:mailto:ca...@earthweb.com> wrote:
>
> I just think it would be interesting to see a game that uses similar
> techniques

[that is, the skewing of the plot to contain predominantly virile men
in an environment which seems to contain no women]

> to indicate the (non-straight-male) gender and/or sexuality
> of the protagonist without explicitly stating it. Of course, some
> people managed to perceive implied homosexuality in Jigsaw, where it
> wasn't even intended by the author...

Excuse me? I intended to leave the option open, (though I didn't
100% succeed: a lesbian player of Release 1, for instance, sent me
some shrewd hints on how to increase the ambiguity; and there's
still a bit of fudging in the Suez canal sub-plot). Perhaps the
disturbing implication was that it didn't matter what the gender
of Black was, so long as you were attracted to him/her.

LFrench106

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
to

>> "A woman goes into a
>> hairdresser's" may well be a joke about hair, not women.
>
>I don't think that could be a joke *not* about women, although you're
>welcome to supply examples if you don't think the newsgroup will collapse
>into Bad Comedy Hour. :)

Here's an example (addapted from a joke on rec.humor.funny (where it was a
male goes into a tavern))

A woman goes into a hairdresser's, and waits to be served.

After talking to the secritary, she hears "Nice hair."
She looks around, but nobody is around who could have said it.

After sitting and waiting, she hears: "Nice blouse."
Again, nobody is around.

Right before being served, she hears "You look pretty."
When her hairdresser comes up, the woman asks "I've been hearing somebody
saying nice things about me, but there's nobody who could have been saying-"

The hairdresser says "Oh, that's those shampoo samples..."

"They're complimentry."

Luc French
Member of Narnwatch

Russell Glasser

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Aug 28, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/28/97
to

Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> I was deeply enlightened by a comment in Hofstadter's latest book which

WHAT? WHERE?
Hofstadter's latest book being titled what and published when? I
haven't read anything by Doug since "Metamagical Themas". If he's got
something new out, I'd really like to know.

--
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one
persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all
progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-- George Bernard Shaw

Russell can be heckled at
http://www.willynet.com/rglasser

Eric Starker

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

>Here's a question I have. How many gay IF players are there out there? I
>don't really expect many responses to this query, but I'll stand up and
>come out. It doesn't affect the way I play IF, and it doesn't really make
>much difference in the scheme of things, I'm just curious as to whether
>I'm the only one. None of my gay friends play IF, and few of them even
>ever played Zork. In fact, I don't think any of them even MUD.
>
>So, here goes, I play IF, and I'm gay. :-) (putting on my
>rainbow-colored armor, and picking up my pink triangle shield)
Me too, me too! A strange thing to admit, for some reason. (Yeah,
man, there's nothing gay people can't be! There are gay policemen,
soldiers, doctors, and players of interactive fiction!) So I guess..
no, you're not the only one.

Eric

"Not knowing everything is all that makes it okay,
sometimes."
-- Delerium, Brief Lives

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

> "They're complimentry."

Ok. I was going to complain that the femaleness of the main character
*is* part of the joke, although not part of the punchline, since the
setting is inextricably a hairdresser-with-a-bunch-of-women-being-
hairdressed. A stock situation.

But you say you adapted it from a man going into a bar -- I assume it was
complimentary peanuts or something -- so obviously the joke *itself* is
gender-neutral, since it can be translated precisely.

So I guess I have to modify my claim. A joke can require a certain amount
of setup whose contents aren't truly necessary to the joke -- they can be
anything, but it has to be *there*. ("A martian walks into a refozzatory,
and suddenly zie hears 'nice gnaester!'...") So the femaleness of the
character can be tied into the background rather than the joke itself,
and then it isn't a flaw in minimality.

(The "joke itself" would be something like "Person enters a place where
certain services are offered gratis. Person receives three positive
comments from an unknown source; inquires as to the source, and is told
the comments come from such a service, which is 'complimentary.'")

(Weirdly, if you reduce a joke to its joke-DNA in this way, it becomes
*completely unfunny.*)

Magnus Olsson

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

In article <5u6k93$7ml$1...@netty.york.ac.uk>,
Richard G Clegg <ric...@manor.york.ac.uk> wrote:
>Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
>: (Weirdly, if you reduce a joke to its joke-DNA in this way, it becomes
>: *completely unfunny.*)
>
> Actually, I quite liked the generic lightbulb joke:
>
> How many members of a particular minority group does it take to change
>a light bulb?
>
> n: 1 to change the light-bulb and n-1 to act in a manner considered
>stereotypical for their minority group.

But then this is not a joke reduced to its barebones: it's really a
joke about a class of jokes.

Matthew Amster-Burton

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

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

>(The "joke itself" would be something like "Person enters a place where
>certain services are offered gratis. Person receives three positive
>comments from an unknown source; inquires as to the source, and is told
>the comments come from such a service, which is 'complimentary.'")
>

>(Weirdly, if you reduce a joke to its joke-DNA in this way, it becomes
>*completely unfunny.*)

Not completely unfunny at all--I would be highly entertained by about
two more jokes reduced in this manner, especially if you threw in some
straight lines about a comedian who takes everything too literally.

Matthew

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

Graham Nelson wrote:
>
> In article <3404AD...@earthweb.com>, Carl Muckenhoupt
> <URL:mailto:ca...@earthweb.com> wrote:
> >
> > I just think it would be interesting to see a game that uses similar
> > techniques
>
> [that is, the skewing of the plot to contain predominantly virile men
> in an environment which seems to contain no women]

Well, think of the Philip K. Dick example too. There are characters of
both sexes in his books. And I'd hardly call the plot of Moby Dick
skewed to achieve this result - it's almost an inevitable result of the
setting.

> > to indicate the (non-straight-male) gender and/or sexuality
> > of the protagonist without explicitly stating it. Of course, some
> > people managed to perceive implied homosexuality in Jigsaw, where it
> > wasn't even intended by the author...
>
> Excuse me? I intended to leave the option open, (though I didn't
> 100% succeed: a lesbian player of Release 1, for instance, sent me
> some shrewd hints on how to increase the ambiguity; and there's
> still a bit of fudging in the Suez canal sub-plot).

Ah. Well, the Suez Canal bit made me think it wasn't really something
you had in mind. I apologize for misrepresenting your intentions.

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

Darin Johnson wrote:

>
> In article <5u4085$s7p$1...@netty.york.ac.uk>, Richard G Clegg wrote:
> > Draw your own conclusions but to me it seems Sherlock and Watson were
> >pretty cosy in their domestic arrangements. Quite sweet really I think.
>
> Watson lived at his own home with his wife; it comes up quite often in
> the stories (though maybe not in the movies).

Once he was married, yes. But that didn't happen until _The Sign of
Four_. Before that, they were quite specifically sharing an apartment
for the sake of lower rent per person; in _A Study in Scarlet_, the
first Holmes story, a friend of Watson's introduces them expressly for
that purpose. (Obviously, this was before Holmes' career took off.)

I don't think there are any other tenable conclusions to be drawn.
After I got out of college, I spent more than a year sharing an
apartment with another man for exactly the same reason, and would never
dream of calling the experience "cosy" or "sweet".

Magnus Olsson

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

In article <3406F0...@earthweb.com>,

Carl Muckenhoupt <ca...@earthweb.com> wrote:
>Darin Johnson wrote:
>>
>> In article <5u4085$s7p$1...@netty.york.ac.uk>, Richard G Clegg wrote:
>> > Draw your own conclusions but to me it seems Sherlock and Watson were
>> >pretty cosy in their domestic arrangements. Quite sweet really I think.
>>
>> Watson lived at his own home with his wife; it comes up quite often in
>> the stories (though maybe not in the movies).
>
>Once he was married, yes.
(...)

>I don't think there are any other tenable conclusions to be drawn.

Of course, there has been a lot speculation about Holmes' and Watson's
relationship, some of it explicitly pornographic. Without any support
from the Canon, of course; I suppose the mindset that makes people
speculate about the possibly scandalous private lives of real-world
celebrities applies equally well to fictional characters. (And it can
get worse: there's an entire literary sub-genre devoted to sexual
fantasies involving Star Trek characters - see, for example,
alt.sex.fetish.startrek).

(The word "scandalous" as applied to the alleged homoerotic overtones
of the Holmes/Watson relationship should of course be interpreted in
the Victorian context of the stories.)

Hmmm - come to think of it, I'm not entirely blameless when it comes
to inventing scandalous stories about fictional characters myself -
some years ago, I wrote an answer for the Usenet Oracle where I -
sorry, the Oracle, who was temporarily incarnated in my body -
revealed some previously unknown facts about the domestic life of Tom
Bombadil and his relation to hobbits. :-)

Matthew Daly

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson), if that is your REAL name, said:

>Hmmm - come to think of it, I'm not entirely blameless when it comes
>to inventing scandalous stories about fictional characters myself -
>some years ago, I wrote an answer for the Usenet Oracle where I -
>sorry, the Oracle, who was temporarily incarnated in my body -
>revealed some previously unknown facts about the domestic life of Tom
>Bombadil and his relation to hobbits. :-)

And, of course, we all know about Bert and Ernie....

-Matthew, separate beds? shee-yeah!
--
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.

--- Support the anti-Spam amendment! Join at http://www.cauce.org ---

CDKAISER

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

m...@bartlet.df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) writes:
>> How many members of a particular minority group does it take to change
>>a light bulb?
>>
>> n: 1 to change the light-bulb and n-1 to act in a manner considered
>>stereotypical for their minority group.

>But then this is not a joke reduced to its barebones: it's really a
>joke about a class of jokes.

Hmmm.

object Joke implements JokeSkeleton, Laughable {
string name = minority_group->full_name();
string action = minority_group->action(STEREOTYPE);
return "How many .... \n";
}

How about a Joke superclass? :-)

Cameron Kaiser
spe...@calvin.ptloma.edu


Paul Herdeg

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

Magnus Olsson wrote:
>
> In article <5u6k93$7ml$1...@netty.york.ac.uk>,
> Richard G Clegg <ric...@manor.york.ac.uk> wrote:
> >Andrew Plotkin (erky...@netcom.com) wrote:
> >: (Weirdly, if you reduce a joke to its joke-DNA in this way, it becomes
> >: *completely unfunny.*)
> >

> > Actually, I quite liked the generic lightbulb joke:
> >
> > How many members of a particular minority group does it take to change
> >a light bulb?
> >
> > n: 1 to change the light-bulb and n-1 to act in a manner considered
> >stereotypical for their minority group.
>
> But then this is not a joke reduced to its barebones: it's really a
> joke about a class of jokes.
>
> --
> Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
> ------ http://www.pobox.com/~zebulon ------
> Not officially connected to LU or LTH.
Umm...no offense...but if we're going to talk about dissecting jokes...
at least change the subject line?
:)

--
I can be contacted via e-mail at her...@stratos.net.

Graham Nelson

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Aug 29, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/29/97
to

In article <5u4085$s7p$1...@netty.york.ac.uk>, Richard G Clegg
<URL:mailto:rg...@york.ac.uk> wrote:
> Sorry, couldn't resist adding this but there may have already been gay
> characters in IF does anyone remember the old Sherlock Holmes game from
> Melbourne House?
>
> The following may not be a 100% accurate quote but you could do
> something like this:
>
> > WATSON, FOLLOW ME
> Waston is now following you.
>
> > SIT ON COMFORTABLE ARMCHAIR
> You sit in the comfortable armchair.
> Watson sits in the comfortable armchair.
>
> Draw your own conclusions but to me it seems Sherlock and Watson were
> pretty cosy in their domestic arrangements. Quite sweet really I think.

I think I'd better not tell the "lemon entry, my dear Watson" joke
at this point. It has to do with lemon curd, ahem, supplementing
the body's natural oils.

John Francis

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Aug 30, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/30/97
to

In article <5u6trd$dq5$1...@bartlet.df.lth.se>,

Magnus Olsson <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se> wrote:
>In article <3406F0...@earthweb.com>,
>Carl Muckenhoupt <ca...@earthweb.com> wrote:
>>Darin Johnson wrote:
>>>
>>> In article <5u4085$s7p$1...@netty.york.ac.uk>, Richard G Clegg wrote:
>>> > Draw your own conclusions but to me it seems Sherlock and Watson were
>>> >pretty cosy in their domestic arrangements. Quite sweet really I think.
>>>
>>> Watson lived at his own home with his wife; it comes up quite often in
>>> the stories (though maybe not in the movies).
>>
>>Once he was married, yes.
>(...)
>>I don't think there are any other tenable conclusions to be drawn.
>
>Of course, there has been a lot speculation about Holmes' and Watson's
>relationship, some of it explicitly pornographic. Without any support
>from the Canon, of course; I suppose the mindset that makes people
>speculate about the possibly scandalous private lives of real-world
>celebrities applies equally well to fictional characters.

Ah, but the *real* fun comes in pseudo-learned papers that purport to
find support for their claims solely from within the Canon (or Conan).

The main tenet of the Baker Street Irregulars (and other such groups)
is that Holmes and Watson were real people, and Sir Arthur was just
Watson's literary agent. Even within the very restricted rules of
the game it is possible to come up with all sorts of interesting
questions about the marital status of Watson (how many wives? etc.)
and other, rather more scurrilous, suggestions.
--
John Francis jfra...@sgi.com Silicon Graphics, Inc.
(650)933-8295 2011 N. Shoreline Blvd. MS 43U-991
(650)933-4692 (Fax) Mountain View, CA 94043-1389
Unsolicited electronic mail will be subject to a $100 handling fee.

GraemeCree

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Aug 31, 1997, 3:00:00 AM8/31/97
to

>>how many people would be offended if a gay character turned up in a work
of interactive fiction?
>>

Probably the biggest drawback to having an explicitly gay character
in an I-F game would not be gay detractors, but rather gay supporters. The
game would be put under a microscope by people looking for something to be
offended at.
For example, if Zork 1 had been written with an explicitly gay main
character, then there would be those who would be grossly offended by the
fact that you see an ugly person looking back at you when you look into a
mirror.
Players are frequently made to look bad in I-F, but with a gay
character, too many would believe that the character was being made to look
bad because he is gay. And since many people have no concept of
individuality, this would quickly turn into an insult against not just the
player but all gays.
This isn't to say that it couldn't be done well, but there would be
certain pitfalls, and the atmosphere certainly wouldn't be as relaxed and
jovial as in your usual I-F fare.


Deirdre T.

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Sep 1, 1997, 3:00:00 AM9/1/97
to Eric Starker

Damn!! i seem to have missed the first post of this thread and so i am
seeing a load of replies without the first posting!


oh yeah.. while we are counting queers i will wave my little pride flag
for the lesbian corner :) hi all!


d

Monica K

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Nov 13, 2021, 5:02:52 PM11/13/21
to
Holy shit. 1997 lgbtq rep in media discourse, things never change. I am making a text based adventure game in 2021 because of my love for zork and games like it! I think we have come a long way with gay/trans rep in media, but there are still ways to improve. Neil K from Tela Computer Consulting & Design, I love to play that game you were making!!!!

Monica K

unread,
Nov 13, 2021, 5:06:15 PM11/13/21
to
On Monday, August 25, 1997 at 3:00:00 AM UTC-4, Neil K. wrote:
> If my game in progress ever gets finished, I guess I'll find out. :)
> There are elements to it, particularly critical plot elements revolving
> around the protagonist and a same-sex relationship, that will undoubtedly
> offend bigots.
> However, I'm not the least bit concerned if bigots don't like my game. In
> fact, I'd be quite pleased if they don't. A game that delights bigots is
> not likely to be a game that I want to write.
> - Neil K.

I don't think you will ever see this but this post made my entire month!!! I would have loved to play your game, dude. I tried your Tela email but it seems nothing works. I don't expect you to see this, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Nov 14, 2021, 11:51:22 PM11/14/21
to
In article <47a7ad00-59ad-4ae1...@googlegroups.com>,
Monica K <sadm...@gmail.com> wrote:
>I don't think you will ever see this but this post made my entire
>month!!! I would have loved to play your game, dude. I tried your Tela
>email but it seems nothing works. I don't expect you to see this, but
>it doesn't hurt to try.

I don't like to blow my own horn...

Well, who am I kidding? If I had ever been flexible enough to blow my
own horn, I totally would have been enthusiastic about it.

Anyway, "Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country" certainly has some
stuff to say about same-sex relationships, although I will admit that
these days its treatment of trans issues is...rudimentary at best.

I could have done a lot worse, back in the day.

Adam

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Nov 15, 2021, 10:56:16 AM11/15/21
to
Here, Monica K <sadm...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Monday, August 25, 1997 at 3:00:00 AM UTC-4, Neil K. wrote:
> > If my game in progress ever gets finished, I guess I'll find out. :)
> > There are elements to it, particularly critical plot elements revolving
> > around the protagonist and a same-sex relationship, that will undoubtedly
> > offend bigots.
> > However, I'm not the least bit concerned if bigots don't like my game. In
> > fact, I'd be quite pleased if they don't. A game that delights bigots is
> > not likely to be a game that I want to write.
> > - Neil K.
>
> I don't think you will ever see this but this post made my entire
> month!!! I would have loved to play your game, dude.

My usual rule is to not post here any more, but I think it's worth
doing it this once:

The game referred to here is _The Lost Spellmaker_. You can
play it here: https://ifdb.org/viewgame?id=m7bgf8mop636i32o

Got 8th place (out of 34) in the 1997 IFComp.

--Z

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