RACE AND GENDER IN GAMES

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I haven't seen a topic about this, but I really think this is something that warrants discussion. A big trend is that many important characters gravitate towards being white and male. Obviously, I am aware of notable colored/female characters, both heroes and villians, but fact is that they're a big minority. This also applies to sexuality - there'll rarely be any LGBT+ characters in games, if they are, it's usually of the homosexual variety.
Have you ever thought about this type of representation? What do you do to change this or justify the appearance/lack of them?

Also, a small litmus test: Simply count down each named Character in your game(-s) and tell me the percentage of

-female
-colored
-LGBT+

characters in your game. I exclude unnamed characters to save you the trouble of browsing through your game to find every NPC who always says the same line if you speak to her. You may count the unnamed characters within the statistic, though.
Funnily enough, the topics of women in games and LGBTQ+ folks in games came up very recently! The result was a total trainwreck.

So... yeah. Beware this can of worms you have opened.
Well, this time, it's specifically about the representation in the games RMN makes. Do you have anything to put on the table?
I'm actually hopeful that this will turn out to be a good topic - because it's about personal games.

Lemme see. I tend to experiment with romance options and genders in my games but it's usually behind the scenes (in that, sometimes you might be playing a trans character but never be told because it doesn't matter to the story at all, or it's only hinted at). Hm...

Current games:
A Star Inside
Main character is bi-sexual (you have the option of three guys and one female. Usually I even it out but for this game I'm not because it's more story driven.)
Two of the male options are straight, one is bi-sexual and the female option is homosexual.
The villains are mainly straight and born-gender. One is bi-sexual and the other is asexual. Two villains are in a committed hetero relationship with each other, there's a one-sided hetero crush between two others and two others flirt a lot (one with anything that is cute, male or female, the other with the opposite gender.)

Hope is an Empty Word has no relationships except among the NPCs, and there it's mainly straight with some homosexuality thrown in. In fact, the first couple I added are homosexual so... The genders are as born, but there's a story-based reason for that.

Angels Among is purely yuri - basically female dating dungeon crawl game. One of the characters is masculine in looks and name, but identifies as female. Whether she's actually trans is another matter I've been wondering about myself. I don't want to add a trans-character in just for the sake of having one, but on the other hand it would literally change nothing about the character and the interactions with her if she were trans. On the other other hand, the character herself would never tell anyone if she was trans or not, so really it wouldn't matter either way. You'd never be told, though you could always just assume she is or isn't, I guess.



Most of my games are either straight or bi sexuality mains with a scattering of homosexual. There's almost always an androgynous character or two thrown in and sometimes there'll be a trans character, but that won't really be mentioned since it's often not the focus of the plot.
unity
You're magical to me.
12150
Well, Luxaren Allure is pretty much unashamed pure yuri - all the playable characters are female and either gay or bi.

The main character, Karuna, is the in-game equivalent of African, but with anime-hair rather than more accurate hair, but that's just how I envisioned her. Perhaps I should have gone with more realistic hair for her, but... oh well. I guess she looks more like she falls under the TV Tropes label of "ambiguously brown."

In Last Minute Gift, the main character Lieve and her roommate Mina are discovering their feelings for each other, but it's really not made explicit in the game. Unless you find a ring as present which will give you a bit of a hint :3

author=Liberty
Angels Amongis purely yuri - basically female dating dungeon crawl game. One of the characters is masculine in looks and name, but identifies as female. Whether she's actually trans is another matter I've been wondering about myself. I don't want to add a trans-character in just for the sake of having one, but on the other hand it would literally change nothing about the character and the interactions with her if she were trans. On the other other hand, the character herself would never tell anyone if she was trans or not, so really it wouldn't matter either way. You'd never be told, though you could always just assume she is or isn't, I guess.

LIBERTY! I WANT THIS GAME! :DDDDDDDDD Where is it?
For my character design, I didn't specify any sexual preferences for them so there won't be any cases of lack of representation and to avoid defining them by it (also, it would make for easy yuri)

Also, my cast so far is all-female due to me having trouble writing out male characters for some reason I don't understand.

When it comes to race, it's a little more difficult to represent non-white people in RPG Maker as the RTP only comes with white people. The only way to get people of color into VX Ace is using custom graphics or the godawful character editor.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18722
I can actually think of a few.

Catharsis, Free Spirits, April Was a Fool almost anything made by Craze all have LGBT characters. I can think of others too that trend towards the 'lol I'm a lesbian and girls are hot' but really not too many like that.

As for non-white characters, a big problem with that is the RTP graphics have limited options for non-white characters. The ability to generate your own character sprites helped with this when VX Ace came around, and I do remember someone kickstarting a graphics set for assets for non-white characters, so it's good that people are trying to help address the issue. A user named RedMask has a series of projects featuring non-white casts.
This is because most games are made by straight, white males.

I find it much easier to write male characters, so I have more male than female characters in my (only one and less than a half) game. I think my first game has about 3x more male NPCs than females. My second game barely has any NPCs yet, but I plan for having 4 playable male characters and 2 playable female characters.
unity
You're magical to me.
12150
author=Solitayre
A user named RedMask has a series of projects featuring non-white casts.

RedMask's newest game being made, Nsala Sunset, also has bisexual characters and same-sex relationships as well ^_^
charblar
"wait you made this a career?"
3552
To not repeat what others have said but from my point of view. You really don't find a lot of games that just put a lgbt+ person in just because they're there. At this point in time if you want a lgbt character they're front and center and the story revolves around them or they're a driving force or you get some excuse like "oh that person in the back corner of that one bar is gay just fyi" while they look exactly like the 50 other same versions of the sprite. Dialogue for characters like these isn't enough like just implying they're not straight or cis to really help at all we've all grown up past the point of omg they put a........ GAY in there GAME! a GAY GAY! GAY!!!!!!! But as much as I love me some games that have lgbt people at the front of it I would love to see a point in time where games have lgbt people along the side and not just used to cause a conversation

Edit: Get these damn sjws off rmn
Edit Edit: If you took that seriously. I'm a gay trans girl.
unity
You're magical to me.
12150
I suppose I'm as guilty of that as anyone else. I don't do it subtly at all. It is, indeed, often the focal point when it's there.
Ah, I forgot to talk about race!

I usually edit charactersets in some way to make less white-skinned peeps, and will sometimes include a dark-skinned protag when necessary. Most of the time if there's race wars of any kind it's between two white races and mainly about cultural differences instead of skin colour. In fact, colour of skin never really factors in when it comes to hate between people - black, white... it's seen as no difference.

Angels Among has one dark-skinned main character, but again, it's not a main component of the story or world in that game. And there's a ninja.

Honestly, I don't go by real-world races. I know some people go "Oh, this person would be Chinese and this one would be German" but I don't do that when creating characters. I choose what works for that area of the world. If it's trade-heavy there's going to be a large mixture of races, colours and species. If it's secular, there's not.

And the characters reflect that.

For Hope is an Empty Word you get to pick your character looks and half of the humans are dark skinned, while the other half are light. There's three different races - Aether, which have wings and black/grey skin; Humans and Neko which are half darker fur and half lighter. As for your party members, of the three humans you can have, two are dark skinned. The Nekos are all dark-furred members and the Aether are all the same colour because they are.

For A Star Inside one of your dating possibilities is dark skinned, one is Neko, one is very pale and one is lightly tanned. The main character is white but that's for a specific reason. The enemy characters are mainly white skinned but two of them aren't human. There's two who have darker skin, though.


@char: Like I said before, a lot of the time I don't really bring up when there are trans or lgbta+ characters because it's not relevant to the story. They're just people. Thing is, they are there and you can find them if you keep an eye out. See, I do a thing with my NPCs where I give them ministories and characterisation and then build their houses and interactions in the game around that. So you'll find two men living in one house together and no mention made of them being homosexual... but they are. It's their story and the clues are there if you bother to look but I ain't spelling it out because they're just people and people don't spell that shit out to random strangers wandering through their lives. Unless it's necessary for you to know that, clues and hints might be all you see of those relationships. Frankly, that's how I think it should be done - as something that is treated as a normal, everyday occurrence except when it's necessary to expand on it.
charblar
"wait you made this a career?"
3552
author=unity
I suppose I'm as guilty of that as anyone else. I don't do it subtly at all. It is, indeed, often the focal point when it's there.

It's nothing to be ashamed of as I still want games which bring these things up. While I think if you want to make a game on a trans character though I would say please at least have someone who is trans work on your game because there has been a long time of trans representation in media when written by straight cis people just being.

  • I am trapped in the wrong body
  • I must transition
  • I have transitioned my life is better I'm so happy


And that is really not true a lot of problems still occur after transitioning it really doesn't make everything better. Basically you want to actually know and develop GOOD lgbt characters if you want to include them.
I just want to say that one thing MV generator does right is giving you a nice dark-skin palette colour that doesn't look horribad. Granted, some of the skin colours don't look great but for the most part there's a lot of variation there which is wonderful. Just wish there were more hair options... :<
I honestly don't mind the gender/sexual orientation of NPCs in general - most of the time, they don't have any indication towards any (however, I do acknowledge that the ones that do are generally straight).

Here's a few benchmarks regarding representation:

1,6%: In a 2013 study, this percentage is the ratio of homosexuals in the USA.
6%: This many people in the Oscar jury are people of color.
12,5%: One person out of the eight default actors.
16,7%: A study showed that if males were seeing a crowd with this percentage of females, they'd believe men and women to be equally represented.
24%: In the Oscar jury, this many people are female.
30%: Germany's Gender Quota for females.
33,3%: Percentage of female playable characters in Final Fantasy 7, not counting Young Cloud and Sephiroth.
If homosexuals only make up ~5% of the general population (based on UK government research), and my cast of important named characters is less than 20 people (for most games this is usually true), then it isn't even statistically abnormal that none of those characters would be homosexual. Resultantly, I find it far stranger when games have mostly (or large numbers of) LGBT characters than when games have little-to-no LGBT representation, because the latter is more reasonable statistically.

But I prefer maths to people so... it's probably just me. I actually find it really interesting that that these forums have a large LGBT ratio compared to the general population (at least that's the impression I get based on the most frequent posters), and I wonder what it is about gam mak that causes this to happen.

ANYWAY!

The only game I've made where this type of analysis applies is Sore Losers. The important named characters are:

  • Markus: Mercenary. The main character you play as, but not really the main protagonist. Male/Straight.
  • David: Sidekick to the above. Male/Straight.
  • Jade: One of the most important, non-military people in the whole of "Central Ferusia". Female/Straight.
  • Alexis: An AWOL military captain. She's actually the main protagonist even if she isn't the person you play as, and she's definitely the most important character in the story. Female/Asexual.
  • Locke: Another mercenary. Male/Straight.
  • Chris: Scavenger/Mercenary/Assassin. Male/Straight.
  • Ben: Loud-mouth sidekick to the above. Male/Straight.
  • Lozzie: Rebellion soldier. Female/Straight.

There are other named characters but they're not really important. To be honest, although I've listed sexualities for all of these characters, sexuality is rarely explored throughout the course of the game. It's simply not an important element of the story. Only David has a back-story that explicitly mentions his sexuality, although Markus' can be implied through certain gameplay elements and Alexis' is related to elements of her backstory that aren't explicitly mentioned. For every other character in the game, I didn't really write their dialogue with a particular sexuality in mind, but it's entirely possible that their are snippets of dialogue that hint at them being straight simply because that's my own "default" way of thinking about things. Since they're far more likely to be straight than they are to be gay, I guess that's what I'll list them as. Ultimately, since 5% of 8 is 0.4, I don't feel particularly bad about all of the characters being straight bar one!

I don't think that there's any racial diversity in Sore Losers, but that's for pragmatic reasons rather than being something I'd have done intentionally. Almost all the charsets I used in Sore Losers come from SNES rips (there aren't many dark-skinned characters in SNES games) or from the charas-project charset generator (which IIRC makes dark-skinned characters look awful), so I simply didn't have the resources to do anything other than keep everyone white-skinned. I certainly wasn't someone who was willing to create their own charsets back then.

As for Sore Losers: Riot Grrrl, there's only one important character and that's Cheska. Since her sexuality isn't explored throughout the course of the game, I honestly couldn't care less whether she's straight or not. It's simply not something that I've thought about. I could say she's gay, but there's no way you'd be able to tell in-game, so what'd be the point?
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
25619
LightningLord2
Also, a small litmus test: Simply count down each named Character in your game(-s) and tell me the percentage of


Admittedly, I have strong preference for female leads in drama and action, so I tend to be a little imbalanced in my stories.

-female Between 60 to 100 percent. Never a male lead unless I come up with one I really, really like.
-colored Between 10 to 30 percent.
-LGBT+ I don't usually focus on sexuality, but I always assume that at least one of my characters is gay.

Personally, not being LBGTQ+, I don't focus on it, but working in the piano industry, which makes me actively involved partially in the LBGTQ+ community, it's always at the back of my mind. My characters don't discuss their sexuality, so until it comes up, the possibility that they're gay always exists. It just depends on how the story goes, and I don't touch on sexuality unless the narrative calls for romance.

As for female characters? I don't know. I've always related better with female protagonists than with male protagonists. Some favorites from popular culture being Mara-Jade Skywalker, Faith (from Mirror's Edge), Sarah Conner, Storm of the X-Men, X-23, and Max Guevara (from James Cameron's Dark Angel). Way too often they're oversexualized and it's really tacky. It's a good way to wreck a story. Over the years, I've become a little dismayed by the lack of good female leads. As a result, I tend to prefer them for my own stories. As for people of color, I tend not to worry too much about it.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18722
This is an amateur community even by indie standards and I don't really feel like a 16 year old kid making a game in their spare time should feel any obligation or compulsion to address social issues in their projects, but I do think it's cool when developers go the extra mile to be inclusive, and think it's something to be encouraged.

I do think larger scale studios have an obligation to start doing better by minorities, but I'm starting to think it might not actually be their fault. They made a black guy be a main character in Star wars and people are losing their minds. I mean what the hell?
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5236
Does green hair count as "colored?" What about half-demon?

In a traditional medieval high fantasy RPG you're making an entire world from scratch so it seems much easier to just make a world where concepts such as different types of sexuality or different races don't exist in the first place. And the simplest and most effortless method of doing so is to make everyone in that world match yourself. If you're white, you make the entire fantasy world be white. If you're bisexual, you make the entire fantasy world be bisexual. If you're 16 years old, you make every named character be 16 years old.

If you write characters who are similar to yourself, they'll be far more believable. Why put in extra work just to make less believable characters? You're not making a AAA game where you need to make as many players as possible feel included. It's okay for your game to have a limited audience. As an indie developer you're not trying to make your game be something to everyone; you're trying to make it be everything to someone.

Of course this is all assuming your game is heavily story-driven. If your game has almost no story and the main character is mostly just an avatar, then let the player pick their gender and appearance. Or at least their gender. Doing so will significantly increase the reach of your game, but require basically no effort.
author=LightningLord2
I haven't seen a topic about this, but I really think this is something that warrants discussion. A big trend is that many important characters gravitate towards being white and male. Obviously, I am aware of notable colored/female characters, both heroes and villians, but fact is that they're a big minority. This also applies to sexuality - there'll rarely be any LGBT+ characters in games, if they are, it's usually of the homosexual variety.
Have you ever thought about this type of representation? What do you do to change this or justify the appearance/lack of them?

Also, a small litmus test: Simply count down each named Character in your game(-s) and tell me the percentage of

-female
-colored
-LGBT+

characters in your game. I exclude unnamed characters to save you the trouble of browsing through your game to find every NPC who always says the same line if you speak to her. You may count the unnamed characters within the statistic, though.

Non-white. Colored is offensive.

My main hero in Oracle of Tao is an independent female (ironically, dressed as a housewife), and my other characters are majority female. Out of 11 characters, only three characters are male, two of those are able to crossdress, and the third is an angel (possibly intersex/asexual).

In terms of race, well, we don't have alot of black characters, but I tried to make an Asian town or two, and we do have at least two non-human characters (angel, demon, half-elf, and mermaid) so I tried to at least deal with the issue of being other than than white-bread humans.

One of my male characters is LGBT (effeminate straight with trans traits), and doesn't just crossdress because you can crossdress him. This is dealt with in story as part of the character's ultimate attack. I have his voice-acting played by a female.

In Tales From The Reaper, the cast is almost universally female, and we have a lesbian relationship.

Of course this is all assuming your game is heavily story-driven. If your game has almost no story and the main character is mostly just an avatar, then let the player pick their gender and appearance. Or at least their gender. Doing so will significantly increase the reach of your game, but require basically no effort.

If you're customizing, a simple way to add immersion, is to add flags. That is, when picking the color of skin, you can add variable flags, where characters might respond favorably (or unfavorably) to race, or sex, or whatever. Of course, this extra work is lost since people get offended. But they also might be offended if you brush over the fact that people in fact are prejudiced against. The closest equivalent would probably be playing as a drow. Or a necromancer.