LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

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LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#1 Post by sugarberry » Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:53 am

Hi everyone <3!!!! I've got The Monstrous Heart, an LGBT visual novel, in the works, and I wanted to know~

Would you prefer only happy endings, or would you prefer the traditional good, neutral, and bad endings?

I ask because I often see that LGBT players tire of seeing LGBT characters in bad situations, and some would honestly just rather have something lighthearted. Like an escape from real life, I suppose, which is hard for us anyhow :( .

Now, originally, I had planned for TMH to have a traditional tri-ending setup, with the neutral ends simply being "good-but-not-GREAT" ends, and bad endings that were bad for plot reasons, not bad because anyone DIED or BECAUSE the character was LGBT.

Your thoughts <3 ???

I also have a twitter poll https://twitter.com/themintiestdev/stat ... 4165866496 on the subject!!
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#2 Post by Dovahkitteh » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:03 am

Now, originally, I had planned for TMH to have a traditional tri-ending setup, with the neutral ends simply being "good-but-not-GREAT" ends, and bad endings that were bad for plot reasons, not bad because anyone DIED or BECAUSE the character was LGBT.
^ This. I think you should write whatever plot you'd like, and if it makes sense to have bad/neutral ends based on your plot, then put them in. Molding the game into a different shape just because of the characters/target audience seems like an insincere thing to do to yourself as a writer, in my opinion. Fluff games/endings are perfectly fine, but I think the content should be independent of how the characters identify, unless that's actually a specific relevant point in the plot.
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#3 Post by alleyneangel » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:29 pm

I think it's less about seeing them in bad situations and more about seeing them in bad situations specifically because of their lgbt identity or that further harmful tropes and stereotypes. If the bad ending is bad simply because bad crap happens, than that's probably fine.

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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#4 Post by PMscenarios » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:05 pm

I agree with both previous posters. Please do bad endings, just don't have someone kill themselves (or sacrifice themselves for the protag) because them being LGBT means they can never find love/have a romantic ending.
(see Deadly Premonition for a good example of what not to do..)
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#5 Post by juunishi master » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:50 pm

Now, originally, I had planned for TMH to have a traditional tri-ending setup, with the neutral ends simply being "good-but-not-GREAT" ends, and bad endings that were bad for plot reasons, not bad because anyone DIED or BECAUSE the character was LGBT.
I agree with this (and basically with everyone above me).

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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#6 Post by Milkymalk » Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:18 pm

I think the best way to write a LGBT VN (or ANY story, for that matter) is to not make LGBT the theme of it. Straight people don't define themselves as straight either (they define themselves as whatever influences their daily life the most - their job, their role in the family...), so an LGBT story that revolves around the fact that the cast is LGBT will (almost) always fail at displaying them as people rather than stereotypes. Make LGBT an aspect of the game, not the main plot point. The same goes for endings. Make the endings good/bad for plot reasons, not because of a single character trait.
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#7 Post by Remayre » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:02 pm

Milkymalk wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:18 pm
I think the best way to write a LGBT VN (or ANY story, for that matter) is to not make LGBT the theme of it. Straight people don't define themselves as straight either (they define themselves as whatever influences their daily life the most - their job, their role in the family...), so an LGBT story that revolves around the fact that the cast is LGBT will (almost) always fail at displaying them as people rather than stereotypes. Make LGBT an aspect of the game, not the main plot point. The same goes for endings. Make the endings good/bad for plot reasons, not because of a single character trait.
This. Exactly this.

As representation of LGBT has grown in the media, the characters are usually boiled down to token stereotypes. We're so much more than that, and honestly, my orientation is the least important part of me. The only things needed to show that a character is LGBT is their significant other, or if someone directly asks. Then again, it could be set in a LGBT only club, in which I guess it would be important to the plot to focus on LGBT? It's a fine line.

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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#8 Post by trooper6 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:14 pm

Milkymalk wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:18 pm
I think the best way to write a LGBT VN (or ANY story, for that matter) is to not make LGBT the theme of it. Straight people don't define themselves as straight either (they define themselves as whatever influences their daily life the most - their job, their role in the family...), so an LGBT story that revolves around the fact that the cast is LGBT will (almost) always fail at displaying them as people rather than stereotypes. Make LGBT an aspect of the game, not the main plot point. The same goes for endings. Make the endings good/bad for plot reasons, not because of a single character trait.
On the other hand a great number of films/books made by queer people for queer people have being queer be the central theme of it. Sure there all the lesbian detective stories that are mostly about the detective case...but so much queer media is about being queer. There are all the coming out stories...Desert Hearts, Beautiful Thing. There are the stories about Queer Rights and Queer Struggles...Milk, Serving in Silence: The Margarete Cammermeyer story. Most of the classic queer films made by queer people for queer people...being queer isn't some thing that isn't important to the story...it is central to it. Because being queer is not the same as being straight within a homophobic society. Sure we are all people...but when I was in the Army, my straight friends weren't in danger of being put in prison just because of who they were. I was. My queer identity was very central to my existence, not incidental to it.
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#9 Post by Milkymalk » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:51 am

trooper6 wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:14 pm
There are the stories about Queer Rights and Queer Struggles...Milk, Serving in Silence: The Margarete Cammermeyer story. Most of the classic queer films made by queer people for queer people...being queer isn't some thing that isn't important to the story...it is central to it.
Is it really the protagonist being queer that is central to the story, or is it everyone else's perception of a queer person? Stories about queer discrimination don't focus on the person. They focus on the politics and society surrounding and reacting to that person. A story about discrimination of queer people is at its core political or sociological criticism.
"Queer films made by queer for queer" is self-celebration in its most neutral sense. It's about a subject common to all involved and most important to them, mostly from a time when it made them an outcast. It conveyed a feeling of group identity. In this case, it was about being queer in general, not a particular person. The people in these movies are to be stand-ins for everyone else who might be in a similar situation.

What do you want as the focus of your story? The "adventures" of your protagonist or criticism of the society he lives in? Protagonists in dystopian stories are not remembered very often for a reason: They are merely observers, points of view for us. I remember more about the society of "Elysium" than I do about the protag himself. I know about "Metropolis" but who the f* is the protagonist? Aldous Huxley's "Fahrenheit 451" left an impression, but not for the protagonist.

In the same vein, if you write a story about queer people being oppressed, it's not so much about the people but about the society oppressing them. That's usually where the conflict originates from.

For example, you might have a gay protagonist. If his struggles come from being gay, that's criticizing the society. If his struggles come from an antagonist who would hate him whether the protag is gay or not, even if he utilizes the "gayness" to his advantage or to express his hate, that's a story about the person.

Part 3 (I think?) of the point&click adventure Technobabylon played this right when one case involved a gay couple of rich entrepreneurs, one of whom was murdered. Being gay was never a central plot point. The murder had nothing to do with being gay, hell, the word "gay" or anything similar was never even used or brought up. The wording "his husband" was all the player ever got from that direction. This made it feel so mundane, so very NORMAL, that I as a player gave it no second thought after I realized, "huh, so that's perfectly normal and accepted there". It brought being gay into the game in a believable way and played it so that it was present, but not overshadowing anything else. Give people more gay like that and they will accept it without batting an eye.
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#10 Post by Zelan » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:02 pm

Milkymalk wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:51 am
Is it really the protagonist being queer that is central to the story, or is it everyone else's perception of a queer person? Stories about queer discrimination don't focus on the person. They focus on the politics and society surrounding and reacting to that person. A story about discrimination of queer people is at its core political or sociological criticism.
"Queer films made by queer for queer" is self-celebration in its most neutral sense. It's about a subject common to all involved and most important to them, mostly from a time when it made them an outcast. It conveyed a feeling of group identity. In this case, it was about being queer in general, not a particular person. The people in these movies are to be stand-ins for everyone else who might be in a similar situation.

What do you want as the focus of your story? The "adventures" of your protagonist or criticism of the society he lives in? Protagonists in dystopian stories are not remembered very often for a reason: They are merely observers, points of view for us. I remember more about the society of "Elysium" than I do about the protag himself. I know about "Metropolis" but who the f* is the protagonist? Aldous Huxley's "Fahrenheit 451" left an impression, but not for the protagonist.

In the same vein, if you write a story about queer people being oppressed, it's not so much about the people but about the society oppressing them. That's usually where the conflict originates from.

For example, you might have a gay protagonist. If his struggles come from being gay, that's criticizing the society. If his struggles come from an antagonist who would hate him whether the protag is gay or not, even if he utilizes the "gayness" to his advantage or to express his hate, that's a story about the person.

Part 3 (I think?) of the point&click adventure Technobabylon played this right when one case involved a gay couple of rich entrepreneurs, one of whom was murdered. Being gay was never a central plot point. The murder had nothing to do with being gay, hell, the word "gay" or anything similar was never even used or brought up. The wording "his husband" was all the player ever got from that direction. This made it feel so mundane, so very NORMAL, that I as a player gave it no second thought after I realized, "huh, so that's perfectly normal and accepted there". It brought being gay into the game in a believable way and played it so that it was present, but not overshadowing anything else. Give people more gay like that and they will accept it without batting an eye.
(Psst, Fahrenheit 451 is by Ray Bradbury. Aldous Huxley wrote A Brave New World.)

I don't think that's entirely accurate. Just because a story revolves around a particular theme doesn't mean that it can't be character-focused.

Say I wrote a story about a lesbian coming to terms with her own identity. Although it's possible that she might come face-to-face with discrimination at some point in the story, I could also choose to focus more on her own perception of her identity - what it means to her to be a lesbian, how she feels throughout her self-discovery - possibly denial, followed by grudging acceptance (I could be bi...), followed by a more ready embracing of her identity and how she will choose to express it. Although the society that she lives in will inevitably be involved due to the nature of the story, it can still be a story about her.

Being queer is a deeply personal thing, and it isn't always deeply rooted in society and its unfortunate tendency to discriminate. I'm pansexual. I'm also lucky in that I've never had to experience discrimination for my identity. This is partially because I'm not out to everyone who knows me, and I also fully understand that this is not the case for many people who identify as pan or otherwise queer. However, if I were to write my own personal story about my self-discovery, discrimination and the effect of society would feature very little in that story. My sexuality was something that I nurtured and discovered mostly on my own, helped along by a few queer friends. That story would be about the three of us, and most especially me. The main focus would not be others' perception of me - it would be my own perception of myself and how it changed and developed as I matured and came to better understand myself.

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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#11 Post by trooper6 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:01 am

Milkymalk wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:51 am
What do you want as the focus of your story? The "adventures" of your protagonist or criticism of the society he lives in? Protagonists in dystopian stories are not remembered very often for a reason: They are merely observers, points of view for us. I remember more about the society of "Elysium" than I do about the protag himself. I know about "Metropolis" but who the f* is the protagonist? Aldous Huxley's "Fahrenheit 451" left an impression, but not for the protagonist.
On the other hand Brandon Teena is 100% the person I remember from Boys Don't Cry. And that film is all about his transness. Harvey Milk is 100% the person I remember in Milk and that movie is about his struggle for Gay Liberation...it is about his gayness. The Watermelon Woman is about the erasure of black gay women...and I remember the Cheryl Dunye and the Watermelon woman vividly.

Some queer people want the world to ignore their queerness. For it to be ignored and made incidental. No big deal. Something that just isn't important. But that is not what all queer people want. I want coming out stories. I want stories that are about queerness. That recognize that queer people do not function in our society in exactly the same way as straight people do. I want When Night Is Falling and Stone Butch Blues. I want Boys in the Band and Tangerine. I want But I'm a Cheerleader and the Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love. I want movies and books and music that is about queerness. Others may not. But I do. And there is definitely a market for stories by queer people for queer people that celebrates and explores queerness rather than placing it as something unimportant in the background.

But to the original question:
Some people engage in media with queer people because they want happy endings. They have enough discrimination and violence in their real life that they want a nice escapist fantasy and will be unhappy with death and misery.
I don't mind downer endings...UNLESS I get the sense the queer person's bad end is a punishment by the author for the protagonist being queer. If I want to read homophobic literature that punishes queer characters, I'll read 1950s pulp novels like Satan Was A Lesbian. But I only read those for academic purposes as part of my job being a professor who also does Queer Studies. I don't want to read homophobic literature for fun. There are ways to have downer endings that aren't homophobic, and there are ways to have downer endings that are homophobic. I prefer the non-homophobic downer endings.
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#12 Post by papillon » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:59 pm

I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, but let me talk for a second about Nurse Love Addiction.

The romance routes have good and bad endings. The bad endings do not necessarily mean that you "lose" the girl. Sometimes, they mean that you got together... in the worst way possible. There are some amazingly bad bad-ends in that, without ever writing a breakup scene.

However I am a player who loves bad ends, including really horrible bad ends. The contrast between the awful outcome and the good outcome interests me.

For yuri fans specifically, a lot of them will flip tables if any bad end includes "so now I'm going to go marry a man and have babies". I suspect many of them would much rather have a bad end of "and then my girlfriend turned into a yandere mad scientist and chained me up in her basement and I slowly lost my mind"

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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#13 Post by Milkymalk » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:29 am

Zelan wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:02 pm
(Psst, Fahrenheit 451 is by Ray Bradbury. Aldous Huxley wrote A Brave New World.)
Daaamn! ^^; I read both books during the same year for school, sorry for the mix-up! I had gotten up hardly an hour ago when I wrote that. Nonetheless, it is valid for both books.

As a person that is (afaik) straight I can't say much about being queer or what it means for your expectations for a story. It's just that more often than not, I experienced that stories that thematize the society around the protag yet try to immerse you in his/her POV tend to come over as preachy, trying to convey the feeling of "Oh yes, we have it so bad, don't you agree? Can I have a halleluja?" That seems to be an easy trap to fall into: To wallow in self-pity instead of developing an interesting story. That might attract queer people who want confirmation of their suffering (and in doing so, mostly teens/YA who are still a bit angsty), but it drives away most non-queer people who are interested in the subject or just want to read a story.

How do you feel about the end of "The Chinese Botanist's Daughters"? I'm assuming you watched the movie. If not, do it :) I watched it at the theatres on a whim with a friend who happened to be in town and it was well worth our time!
Last edited by Milkymalk on Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#14 Post by Milkymalk » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:33 am

papillon wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:59 pm
I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, but let me talk for a second about Nurse Love Addiction.
That sounds intriguing, to be honest. I really like "bad" endings that are not just "everyone dies" or "you don't get what you want". I guess that makes them more ambiguous than bad, but whatever.
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Re: LGBT visual novels- How do you like your endings?

#15 Post by trooper6 » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:40 am

OP, really the question you have to ask yourself is: do you want to make your LGBTQ+ story for straight people who want to marginalize queer experiences else the presence of queer voices be considered preachy, or do you want to make a story that feels honest to queer people?
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