RACE AND GENDER IN GAMES

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slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4008
I definitely see where Peri's coming from here. I think it's better to be aware and worried about reinforcing stereotypes than to totally not worry about it, but I think it's fine if some things about a character match stereotypes, as long as the character as a whole is more than a mess of stereotypes. Going off what Libby said, it's why female characters have historically been so cliché in games - there's so often only one, maybe two, women in a game - even with a big cast - which really amplifies how noticeable the stereotypes are.

Anyway I guess to some up my thoughts: I don't think it's necessary or even possible to always create characters that don't fit any stereotypes. Rather, the characters shouldn't be defined by those things. I don't think making a bisexual character promiscuous is a bad thing - I think it's a bad thing when you always do it, or if that's treated as an end-all be-all requirement of being bisexual, like they're defined by it. I think - and this kinda goes for everything anyway - critical assessment of the character and any of your own potential biases is the key.

But I could be totally off-base here! I'd love to hear others' opinions.
I'm sure no matter what you write, people will have some criticism of it - all you can do is do the best you can.
Lets agree to disagree. Or was it disagree to agree?
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
13391
author=slash
I definitely see where Peri's coming from here. I think it's better to be aware and worried about reinforcing stereotypes than to totally not worry about it, but I think it's fine if some things about a character match stereotypes, as long as the character as a whole is more than a mess of stereotypes. Going off what Libby said, it's why female characters have historically been so cliché in games - there's so often only one, maybe two, women in a game - even with a big cast - which really amplifies how noticeable the stereotypes are.

Anyway I guess to some up my thoughts: I don't think it's necessary or even possible to always create characters that don't fit any stereotypes. Rather, the characters shouldn't be defined by those things. I don't think making a bisexual character promiscuous is a bad thing - I think it's a bad thing when you always do it, or if that's treated as an end-all be-all requirement of being bisexual, like they're defined by it. I think - and this kinda goes for everything anyway - critical assessment of the character and any of your own potential biases is the key.

But I could be totally off-base here! I'd love to hear others' opinions.
I'm sure no matter what you write, people will have some criticism of it - all you can do is do the best you can.


I don't think you are off-base at all. I'd say one of the biggest reasons some people are turned away from non-heterosexual content, or writers being afraid to touch upon these characters, is because they think that trait needs to define the entirety of their character.

Too often I see homosexuality/bisexuality as something that explicitly calls to itself, or treated as a joke. To have a character whose only trait is "I love my own sex" is really on the same level of writing a... shallow prostitute? It kind of misrepresents sexuality as a whole and perpetuates stigmas that barely exist in life.

Human beings are complex creatures with a huge variety of experiences that shape their thoughts and view of the world, and their sexual preferences only contribute to a small part of that.
Yup, which is why I recommend writing a character first, and then add gender and sexuality after the fact. Of course it depends on the story you want to tell, though. If you want to tell the story based on the gender vs society or sexuality-based, then that's completely different, but often people who write those stories are ones who have the experience because those are the stories they want to tell and want the world to know about because they're amalgamations of their own story (not always, but mostly if you've a story about a minority group fighting against the majority, the writer is often of that minority or knows a goodly bit about the struggles of said minority.)

If you're writing a story that doesn't focus on those things, then just making characters and adding sexuality and gender as an afterthought works fine. It's only when you examine those traits in the story that you need to really think about how they're portrayed by the character, otherwise it's just one piece of information in a large amount that makes up the whole of the character.

One of my own examples:
In Celdran's Curse, Lance, one of the fathers to the kids, is homosexual. It doesn't come into play at all, or get mentioned because as far as the story is concerned, he's a father, guard, knight, warrior, protector and leader before anything else. His background is such: grew up on a farm, joined the army as a young teen, rose through the ranks, had one female lover before realising he far preferred the company of men, had a string of male lovers while he continued to climb through the ranks and eventually became a King's Guard. Settled down with his current lover of 14 years, Rove, and was considering adopting a child when the kids came into his life. He helped raise them as part of the Guard and was a very devoted father - one of the more lenient ones, who often watched them play. He was nearing retirement, considering taking the kids full time since they were getting older, when he was killed by a new-comer to the knights.

You see him in the start scenes of the game, and when he is killed, but never after. There is a part of the story later on where you meet Rove, though, and their relationship is treated as just an everyday, normal relationship because in this world sexuality is varied and accepted (depending on culture, some like paedophilia and incest are as well, as you see in other parts of the game). It's just not a big deal in the society of the game that two men love each other, so it's treated as normal by both the cast, the society and the narrative. No need to draw attention to it, it is what it is. But that's the thing - it's just one aspect of Lance's character, and a small one at that. The more important ones were the fact that he was a protector, a father, a Guard, a strong and capable person and that he cared for the kids and they cared for him. That mattered more than who he might have been sleeping with.
On the other hand, sexuality can matter very much to anyone regardless of their orientation and can be a huge part of their life, as in, some people genuinely just care more about something like romance than other aspects of their life and some would sacrifice everything and anything for someone they were in love with.

So overall I would say that it is as important as any other part of the character's makeup, in that it is equally important to a character in how they relate to everything and what their motivations are - a person could have no interest in sex or love and so see themselves as untethered by those things in their life, or they are just completely indifferent in that they don't even think about it, or they could work their whole life to try to find love or just sex or whatever else, and other things are peripheral to them...

It is sort of dependant on the individual writer, too (I think). If you're less inclined to care about the presence of romance between characters in a work then you might have little interest in putting it into your own work, therefore sexuality at all would not be of priority when you're making characters, so you would just likely default to whatever you associate sex with broadly.

Lastly I would think that how much is explored, if at all, should do with how relevant the character is to the story (and I mean that as regardless of orientation or gender, as in the example from Celdran's Curse). And that, in one story, having a variety of characters with X trait, whatever it is, is probably the easiest way to work to defy and/OR invoke stereotypes (to show that certain attitudes or behaviour need not be stereotypical) and create individual characters that aren't singularly burdened with having to be the one to break or evade stereotypes.
Which is why I mentioned that if the story revolves around that aspect (or if it's a big chunk of it) then it matters a lot.
" Of course it depends on the story you want to tell, though. If you want to tell the story based on the gender vs society or sexuality-based, then that's completely different...


If you're writing a story that doesn't focus on those things, then just making characters and adding sexuality and gender as an afterthought works fine.
"

I picked Lance as an example since I had that project open at the time, but hell, I've main characters like, oh, Dell, who are also non-straight but don't mention it at all because it never comes up in the story, despite the fact she's bisexual. Sexuality isn't mentioned in the game and thus it doesn't matter what they are, despite the fact that it was considered when making the characters (because I don't have issue writing any type - please remember that this was advice given over some people saying they don't know how to write non-male/straight/white characters).

If you were curious though:
Lise - straight.
Dell - bisexual.
Mal - non-sexuality (he's a robot)
Tome - homosexual.

To clarify Liberty, I meant that your personal example sounded efficient. What was mentioned was proportionate to the characters' roles in the story. It was simple, you had it fleshed out enough and it also, rather importantly I guess, contextually was not a big deal - which means you actually did think about what it meant for those characters to be gay in the context of your game's world, rather than just make them gay for the sake of it with little impact, even though it ultimately is of little importance. So like, the opposite of a "token" character. Sorry if I didn't articulate that properly!

As for the other thing, I was unobservant and so arranged what I was saying in a way that sounded like it was contrary to what you were saying. Now that you've pointed that out, I feel like a moron XD


I seem to have read it wrong, probably due to headache issues I've been having lately. I should make the text on my browser a bit bigger. Sorry! >.<;

To be honest I think representation is a silly thing anyway. Since there is no one way to represent a person. Say for example, if I create a female character that is badly written people will say she's a bad representation of females. This, to me, is ridiculous. Why is it that just because she's female she suddenly represents women? I hate how we all just lump all women together as this one homogenous group when it comes to that stuff. All women are individuals, chances are you'd never come across a character that really represented you unless that character is self insert material. Sarah Connor does not represent women, she is nothing more than a fictional character. And in regards to lack of women, minorities, ect compared to straight white males. Well, it's because the majority of people making the games are straight white males and the majority of people within their country are straight and white. I don't know why there's more male leads than female, heck, most female writers I can think of write male leads. But the question I pose is, why does it matter? To me skin colour, race, sexuality is irrelevant unless the game specifically focuses on those themes. Cloud in FF7 could be a trans polysexual black non binary woman for all I care. To me, those types of things should just be an afterthought in most cases. I do like it when there are more characters in a game than white men, simply because variety is nice to see, but I don't see why it should be such a big issue to specifically demand more women in games. Because I can relate to a character. Regardless of their sexuality or race, these things shouldn't matter. But for some reason, they do. I suppose the question I would ask is, why do you think we need more characters that aren't straight white men?
That thing here for both points raised comes down to the very same thing, imho.
It is precisely because the majority of characters are cis straight male, that anything other than that automatically reaches a status of "special".

Why are we playing a woman, and not a man? Why is it a black guy, not a white one? This in term gives the decisions made with that "special" person more weight. Simply because the non-thought, default decision is the straight male character. If you simply don't give it any thought, because it has been an established norm, it likely would end up with a mostly straight white male cast.
And I agree, a single character shouldn't "represent" a whole group. It's impossible to. But when you see none of the group, then seeing one or two of them makes it appear much more important. And seeing some of them, and seeing them being completely off and stereotyped is a sad thing when you just want them as natural as diverse as they actually are.

If the whole range of humans were as much completely normal default characters as is the usual male one, then none of this special attention would be on these characters.
Having only one female character among many males, for example, automatically allows for different kinds of male characters, and well, only one female character. This automatically draws attention to the fact and also to the variety of "representation". If you can see only one, then what do they choose her to be? And why?

Having more diversity would, down the line, result to people not batting an eye to female characters, or different ethnic backgrounds unless it would make sense in the story and game environment, and I believe this is a point you would like to reach, MrZero - with or without a balance in them appearing. And I can get that. It's kind of weird to pay any special attention to it, but the imbalance does it.

If there are only samey types of things in an industry, a unique one will stand out so so much more. And that can be both good and bad.

It means that when such a thing happens - you rejoice because it is such a rare chance to such someone different - like yourself on top of that! - implemented as just another person. You exist like anybody else, and if a medium gets that, then that is awesome!
But it also means that there is more attention on it than it should be - it shouldn't be such a special occasion to see people from different countries in games with international appeal, cast and world.

Which is why, ultimately, I believe putting more emphasis and making efforts to "represent" more such diverse characters will enable a change from considering them from the start as any other, and in turn make them what they are supposed to be - normal characters. Not sensations, but just normal characters.
In response to the above, you can avoid a woman in your game to represent women in general by having more female characters in your game with different personalities and opinions, which also dampens the impact of a character having stereotypical traits. The same applies for skin color, religion, sexual attraction, gender identity and pretty much any other way you can make a character different.

Reviving this thread for another discussion round: As you may know, there's been some talk/critizism/whiny manbabies complaining/etc. about Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, primarily through the inclusion of a trans woman named Mizhena. I'm not really willing to discuss the character here, rather, I want to raise a few questions about trans people in games in general:

-How do you write trans characters?
-How can you convey a character being trans effectively without it feeling "forced"?
-How do you avoid your work being transphobic (or being percieved as such)?
-How do you write a character arc dealing with the trans character's gender identity?

I heavily encourage bringing in opinions from transgender folks you know - or bring your own if you are trans!
charblar
"wait you made this a career?"
3552
author=LightningLord2
-How do you write trans characters?

As long as you don't make the character arc and character's main goal just to transition unless that's what the game is about then you're pretty much ok. Being trans isn't all fixed when and if you fully transition.

I really don't see point in writing a lengthy thing since it will just be buried ignored or ripped apart.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
9219
this entire thread


barf.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
21227
stellar addition mate
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4368
author=LightningLord2
I heavily encourage bringing in opinions from transgender folks you know - or bring your own if you are trans!

I'm sorry, but who cares is trans and who isn't?

and that's not a hit against anyone trans, but they are just people. Why does it have to be stated in a game or media? I'm all for it being used and talked about but I'm saying more in a fantasy world where there can be angels and demons, gods, monsters, ghosts, humans, humanoid beings or aliens.

I don't know if this applies but I like the message behind it:
"Surely they would have cured baldness by the 24th century," to which Roddenberry replied, "In the 24th century, they wouldn't care."

This is in reference to Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek the Next Generation who is bald as the actor Patrick Stewart has a condition that made him lose his hair at an early age.
I'm not saying no one should care about the stigmas and problems of being trans but that people shouldn't care what someone is, especially in a fantasy world.


Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7367
author=Max McGee
this entire thread
barf.

One word post? But this isn't Welp, welp.


Welp.

author=InfectionFiles
I'm not saying no one should care about the stigmas and problems of being trans but that people shouldn't care what someone is, especially in a fantasy world.

The way I see it, it's just like the real world. We need to make it a thing first before it can be brushed away. Doing so now isn't the solution as that'd be like saying "women should have the right to vote, but I mean, why get upset about it?" It hasn't been done yet; we can start taking it for granted after the fact. Hell, you've already got gay couples figuring out that, hey, marriage isn't such a fantastic idea anyway. The big thing is that the option is now on the table.

Give television and video games a good ten years to quote-unquote "throw it in our faces" and we'll all be okay.
author=Liberty
Yup, which is why I recommend writing a character first, and then add gender and sexuality after the fact.

...who are also non-straight but don't mention it at all because it never comes up in the story, despite the fact she's bisexual. Sexuality isn't mentioned in the game and thus it doesn't matter what they are, despite the fact that it was considered when making the characters


This is pretty much how I do it as well. I treat Gender/Sexuality like any other personality trait. Just one other thing about a character, not some giant monolith of a thing.

Just write them as a person with good characterization in general, and don't overly sweat the gender/sex thing and you're going to do alright.

Hell, two important characters in my games thus far are very much bi, and yet nothing has really hinted at that fact yet. It might show up later for one character in particular, if I have the opportunity to make her a recurring character, but overall, I don't tend to emphasize it or make it some huge deal.

author=LightningLord2
-How do you write trans characters?


I don't have any yet, but I have the vague idea for one at a later date.

Essentially, it'll either go down like
1) In one game, they're male, in a later game, they show up as female. Minor background political squabbling is happening, but it's nothing major or in your face.

2) You meet a female character, background squabbling is happening, but not major, and if you REALLY really start poking around, you might be able to piece it together yourself, but overall, it's not a huge deal.

Then again, my main series takes place in a world where gender and sex discrimination is virtually non-existant because they've long since adopted the idea of "I don't care who you are, what you identify as, or who you like to engage in consensual shenanigans with. All I care about is if you can do the damn job."

It's only really in noble circles that things like this might cause a stir because "Oh noes, we might not be able to have an heir to the family anymore, now what?!"
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4368
author=Aegix_Drakan
Then again, my main series takes place in a world where gender and sex discrimination is virtually non-existant because they've long since adopted the idea of "I don't care who you are, what you identify as, or who you like to engage in consensual shenanigans with. All I care about is if you can do the damn job."

Yeah, I like this one. And what I was getting at in my previous post.

It's something a character can mention but really no one is going to gasp and scream "what, gross!" or "we applaud your bravery and are proud of you" it's just the norm.
None of my characters in either of my main games (Yuusha, Soma Spirits) have canon sexualities. Nor are there any romance subplots.

I let the players decide.
author=SgtMettool
None of my characters in either of my main games (Yuusha, Soma Spirits) have canon sexualities. Nor are there any romance subplots.

I let the players decide.


Although this should be alright on paper, what actually happens is that LGBTQIA+ people won't feel 'true' representation because characters in general are considered straight, white and male unless proven otherwise.