Diversity in Visual Novels

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Diversity in Visual Novels

#1 Post by Zelan » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:55 pm

Hi everyone!

I’m doing a study for my English class on diversity in visual novels, aiming to understand the effects that diversity has on VN players’ selection and enjoyment of visual novels. If anyone wants to participate in the study, the link is here: (link)

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes of your time. The first thing that you’ll see when you click on the survey link is the consent form, which contains a lot of information that is important to ensure your understanding and willingness to participate, but can be a little hard to make sense of – if any of it is confusing to you, feel free to send me an email at the listed address or PM me here and I’ll be happy to clear things up. You can also get in touch with my academic advisor or the university’s Institutional Review Board with the listed contact information.

You aren’t obligated to participate, and there’s no compensation or anything for participation, but hopefully participation will help us to further understand diversity and its role in visual novels and media as a whole.

Also, to avoid making this thread just a self-promotionary thing, feel free to comment below with anything related to diverse VNs - VN recommendations, suggestions on how to approach diverse characters, anything that comes to mind. I'd love to hear your thoughts. c:

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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#2 Post by Mammon » Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:14 am

On the survey; ironically trying to account for everyone results in me feeling prissy and left out. In genders, there's no simple option for male and female, meaning that if you're a heterosexual you'd have to select that you're cis male (and probably have to google what it even means), thus not allowing you to answer that you're just fe/male and have yet to decide upon your sexuality. Comparable to agnostics in religion, you're leaving out the moderates that aren't fully of either their local religion or atheism, or in this case the large percentage of the population that still identifies themselves according to the simple M/F system without further tying themselves down and children/teens yet too young to conclusively state their gender.

I normally don't care about this stuff, but in this case it seems like a big oversight by trying to be covering all options.

Anyway, filled in the survey.

One thing that I filled in with the survey (that the others reading this thread cannot see ofc) is why diversity in VN works. And I filled in that this is because of visual representation. In other media like novels it has to be described and the reader has to be reminded of it regularly lest the characters will be 'whitewashed' in their theatre of the mind, in a VN you can just see the sprite and that's that. There's no need to draw more attention to it beyond this, and as long as the VN doesn't do this then that's good. Ethnic diversity without making it something that the story revolves around or that bogs down a story having nothing to do with it. Even in movies and video games that's usually hard to find, but in indie VNs it's a lot more common. Diversity without this being a crux.
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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#3 Post by Selidor » Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:44 am

To add to the above, for any future surveys you might create, you’d be better off splitting the question about gender identity into two - one with gender, and the other with trans status (including ‘prefer not to answer’ and ‘questioning’ options). You’ll find that many trans men and women don’t necessarily feel comfortable with a question that asks them to define their gender identity as ‘transgender [man/woman]’ rather than simply man or woman.

Also, the race question feels very American-centric. For example, ‘Asian’ covers a huge range of people. There’s probably value in separating out someone from Japan, source of a large number of visual novels, from, say, an Iranian or an Indian who plays or creates visual novels.

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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#4 Post by CSV » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:39 am

I filled the survey!
I am a little surprised there are no questions about our opinion of diversity in VNs, but I understand that might not be the focus of your study.
What I mean is that I personally tend to choose VNs that have character types I like rather than ones that focus on diversity; I think diversity is good across VNs because people like different things and deserve content they like, but having every type of character in a single cast can be too much. An individual player looking for what they like and relate to won't fit all the categories for gender, sexual orientation, etc. I find this is particularly true for romance-based games.
As an example, take all the recent commercial VNs that have half the routes be otome and the other half be yuri. There are people who are interested in both, but for others it feels kind of bad to pay for a game where you know right off the bat you aren't going to play half the routes. It could be better to have discount versions where it's just the otome routes or just the yuri routes...so it would technically be less diverse, but better for both creators and buyers/players.
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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#5 Post by Cyanade » Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:30 pm

I personally think our differences are more rooted in culture than in anything else. Someone could be the same gender, orientation and race as i am, but if they grew up in a vastly different society, its going to be harder for me to identify with them than if it were someone from a more similar culture, regardless of their gender, orientation and race. My perspective might be different though, as an immigrant who’s experienced living in both conservative societies and in melting pots.

I’ve encountered a lot of media where diversity just means having cast members with a different skin color or sexual identity, but if they don’t really show how that difference affects that character’s treatment or worldview, then what’s the point? I’m not saying its a bad thing-sometimes it’s for cosmetic purposes, and sometimes those differences really have no bearing in that specific setting. What I don't understand is including it just to be PC.

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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#6 Post by Preseva » Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:42 pm

What constitutes diversity? How are you defining it?

Does author intent and identity matter? If you're counting games with gay romances as diverse, the majority of those VNs are yaoi and yuri. Yet those are written primarily by heterosexuals for the sexual / emotional gratification of a heterosexual audience, and it could be argued they fetishize gayness rather than represent it. Gay people may not find much to identify with in such games, or consider them true gay romance.

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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#7 Post by Zelan » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:22 pm

First of all, thanks a lot to everyone who responded to the survey, it's a huge help to me and I appreciate you all taking the time to do it. The survey will be kept open for a bit longer to collect the necessary reponses - if you haven't filled it out yet, please consider doing so! Now, to respond to all the replies in this thread:
Mammon wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:14 am
On the survey; ironically trying to account for everyone results in me feeling prissy and left out. In genders, there's no simple option for male and female, meaning that if you're a heterosexual you'd have to select that you're cis male (and probably have to google what it even means), thus not allowing you to answer that you're just fe/male and have yet to decide upon your sexuality. Comparable to agnostics in religion, you're leaving out the moderates that aren't fully of either their local religion or atheism, or in this case the large percentage of the population that still identifies themselves according to the simple M/F system without further tying themselves down and children/teens yet too young to conclusively state their gender.

I normally don't care about this stuff, but in this case it seems like a big oversight by trying to be covering all options.

Anyway, filled in the survey.

One thing that I filled in with the survey (that the others reading this thread cannot see ofc) is why diversity in VN works. And I filled in that this is because of visual representation. In other media like novels it has to be described and the reader has to be reminded of it regularly lest the characters will be 'whitewashed' in their theatre of the mind, in a VN you can just see the sprite and that's that. There's no need to draw more attention to it beyond this, and as long as the VN doesn't do this then that's good. Ethnic diversity without making it something that the story revolves around or that bogs down a story having nothing to do with it. Even in movies and video games that's usually hard to find, but in indie VNs it's a lot more common. Diversity without this being a crux.
Hey Mammon, thanks for replying and filling out the survey! Yes, you aren't the only one to complain about the lack of simple male/female options - I was having a lot of trouble finding a balance between including a fair amount of options so that the "other" category isn't overused, and the knowledge that realistically having more of those options means that a lot of them will probably go unused, especially considering my fairly small target sample. I'll keep that in mind for the future. (Although, as for your comment about children and teens, this survey is only intended for those ages 18 and up! I had initially wanted to do this survey without that limitation but the issue of parental consent proved too much of a hassle for me to do so.)

That's a really interesting point about visual representation in relation to diversity, I'd be curious to see if anyone else shares that viewpoint. I do know what you're talking about with the 'internal whitewashing' issue. On the other hand, though, there are plenty of VNs that actually do the opposite and use a lack of visual representation, usually to make the MC a self-insert character to an extent. Of course after reading through plenty of threads on the subject I know that LemmaSoft's general consensus seems to lean towards "faceless MCs bad" but nevertheless it is an interesting duality in the medium.
Selidor wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:44 am
To add to the above, for any future surveys you might create, you’d be better off splitting the question about gender identity into two - one with gender, and the other with trans status (including ‘prefer not to answer’ and ‘questioning’ options). You’ll find that many trans men and women don’t necessarily feel comfortable with a question that asks them to define their gender identity as ‘transgender [man/woman]’ rather than simply man or woman.

Also, the race question feels very American-centric. For example, ‘Asian’ covers a huge range of people. There’s probably value in separating out someone from Japan, source of a large number of visual novels, from, say, an Iranian or an Indian who plays or creates visual novels.
Hi Selidor, thanks for your input! Especially thank you very much for informing me on the issue of splitting the gender identity question - I hadn't considered enough that some people might prefer not to disclose their status as cis or trans. Unfortunately I cannot change the current survey to reflect this since any and all revisions have to go through an IRB approval, which can take weeks, but I will definitely keep it in mind for the future.

And yeah, I'm not at all surprised that you brought up the race question, I'm absolutely aware that it's pretty limited in its options. When putting together that question I struggled to find a good guide to have options that were distinct enough from each other without it becoming a list of potentially hundreds of different identities to the point where the data becomes unusable. Ultimately I really wasn't satisfied with the question, but I went with what's pretty much the same options that you see on those online surveys, and I hoped that the fill-in-your-own options offered throughout the survey would be enough to supplement the lack there.

Thanks for all of your feedback on the survey itself, it's definitely super helpful!
CSV wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:39 am
I filled the survey!
I am a little surprised there are no questions about our opinion of diversity in VNs, but I understand that might not be the focus of your study.
What I mean is that I personally tend to choose VNs that have character types I like rather than ones that focus on diversity; I think diversity is good across VNs because people like different things and deserve content they like, but having every type of character in a single cast can be too much. An individual player looking for what they like and relate to won't fit all the categories for gender, sexual orientation, etc. I find this is particularly true for romance-based games.
As an example, take all the recent commercial VNs that have half the routes be otome and the other half be yuri. There are people who are interested in both, but for others it feels kind of bad to pay for a game where you know right off the bat you aren't going to play half the routes. It could be better to have discount versions where it's just the otome routes or just the yuri routes...so it would technically be less diverse, but better for both creators and buyers/players.
Hi CSV, thanks for responding! Concerning your comment about opinions on diversity, that's covered (if I'm understanding you right) in the questions where you are asked whether you are more likely to play a visual novel that you consider diverse. I know it's not exactly the same question but the intent behind it is similar.

I get where you're coming from with the concept of diversity across VNs and not necessarily within them. For me personally, I'm pansexual, so having romanceable characters of various genders in one game is not something that would give me pause when buying a game, but I can completely understand why someone who preferred just one gender might, for instance, hesitate to drop $20 on a game with 5 routes when they know they'll only play 2 of them. It is interesting to see you mention the split model, as I don't think I've actually seen it used in a released game before but I do remember seeing the same idea proposed in a WIP thread here on LemmaSoft a while back.
Cyanade wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:30 pm
I personally think our differences are more rooted in culture than in anything else. Someone could be the same gender, orientation and race as i am, but if they grew up in a vastly different society, its going to be harder for me to identify with them than if it were someone from a more similar culture, regardless of their gender, orientation and race. My perspective might be different though, as an immigrant who’s experienced living in both conservative societies and in melting pots.

I’ve encountered a lot of media where diversity just means having cast members with a different skin color or sexual identity, but if they don’t really show how that difference affects that character’s treatment or worldview, then what’s the point? I’m not saying its a bad thing-sometimes it’s for cosmetic purposes, and sometimes those differences really have no bearing in that specific setting. What I don't understand is including it just to be PC.
Hey there Cyanade, thanks for the response! You bring up a super interesting point when it comes to culture; since culture is so hard to pin down, it's totally possible that you could have two people who look similar on paper that are actually quite different from one another. Consider, though, that race, sexual orientation, and the like do have cultures all their own, e.g. gay culture, black culture, etc. This is not to negate what you said about culture being a big factor, and of course other things like location can have an influence on culture, but having traits in common can in some cases also mean having cultural overlap as well. (Also, this is a bit off-topic, but I'm interested in how "internet culture" might have an influence on people's experiences as well - not something I'm focusing on in the current study, but food for thought.)

I understand where you're coming from with the idea of including diverse characters "just to be PC." On the one hand, I personally believe that there isn't any harm to be had in intentionally creating a diverse cast of characters, but when doing so it is important to keep in mind a story's setting, and how each character's identity will relate to their personalities and experiences given the context of that setting. I remember once seeing a VN in the WIPs here - not mentioning the name because it's not important - where the creator listed a bunch of traits for characters that they wanted in their VN which included gender identities, sexualities, and ethnicities, but little to no mention of these characters' personalities (some didn't even have names). One of the main criticisms on the thread was that the characters read like a list that was trying to tick off as many boxes as possible. This is not to say that the VN and its characters were doomed to be uninspired, but in general many writers find it more effective to start out with at least a basic personality and then follow up with such traits, rather than the other way around, to ensure good character design and development.
Preseva wrote:
Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:42 pm
What constitutes diversity? How are you defining it?

Does author intent and identity matter? If you're counting games with gay romances as diverse, the majority of those VNs are yaoi and yuri. Yet those are written primarily by heterosexuals for the sexual / emotional gratification of a heterosexual audience, and it could be argued they fetishize gayness rather than represent it. Gay people may not find much to identify with in such games, or consider them true gay romance.
Hi Preseva! Thanks for the questions. For the first one, I'm using a fairly loose definition of diversity for the survey - basically, whatever the visual novel players consider to be diverse. This is the reason for the wording of questions such as "games that you consider to be diverse." The idea that I think a good amount of people probably get of diversity includes things like the questions I included in the survey - gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and (dis)ability. I also included chronic illness in the survey - it's something that I can't recall having seen personally in many VNs, but it's a community that is becoming more and more vocal. However, to truly include anything that those answering the survey might feel is relevant, I added the option to "describe any other aspect of your identity that you consider important." A bit of a personal example - I have had eczema since I was very young. Technically, I think this might be considered a chronic illness, but since mine is relatively tame compared to what some people have to deal with I've never really thought of in this way. Still, it's not something I can ever remember seeing in a character before. While this isn't the end of the world for me - I don't really consider "eczema" a crucial part of my identity - it would be a pleasant surprise for me to see a character with eczema in any media. I've especially thought that this could be interesting if it were used in a romance game, particularly one with 18+ elements. You don't need all the nasty details, but nevertheless eczema flare-ups can be a bit gross and it was something that I sometimes felt self-conscious about; seeing a character deal with this, among whatever else they have going on, would make the character more interesting to me personally.

Your second point is absolutely fantastic and is something that I'm quite honestly really hoping to be able to work into the final paper. "Bad diversity," for the lack of a better term, can be at best bland and at worst harmful or stereotypical. While an author's identity can definitely affect their ability to write about characters with particular backgrounds, I think intent is ultimately the most important thing, as this is what will show up in the final product. The example that comes to mind is Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (which was later adapted into the move Love, Simon). If I remember correctly, she is a straight woman, but she wrote the book after communicating with queer teens about their experiences and the things that they wanted to see in queer media. The book and movie have both been praised for their handling of a gay romance, balancing the struggles that queer teens face with the happy endings that queer media is often denied.

-----

these responses took me like 2 hours to write and i haven't slept in 35 hours lmao kill me

Anyone else can feel free to jump in with their ideas in response to any of the above posts or my additions! My responses aren't meant to be the be-all end-all of discussions. c:

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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#8 Post by Mammon » Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:01 am

Zelan wrote:That's a really interesting point about visual representation in relation to diversity, I'd be curious to see if anyone else shares that viewpoint. I do know what you're talking about with the 'internal whitewashing' issue. On the other hand, though, there are plenty of VNs that actually do the opposite and use a lack of visual representation, usually to make the MC a self-insert character to an extent. Of course after reading through plenty of threads on the subject I know that LemmaSoft's general consensus seems to lean towards "faceless MCs bad" but nevertheless it is an interesting duality in the medium.
Oh, you misunderstood what I meant. But with 35 hours without sleep, who can blame you? Please think of your health! Stop killing yourself, we'll wait for our responses until after you to catch a wink of sleep. I was talking about other characters, the ones on the screen always. Your LI or friend, not the MC themselves. With them, getting to pick your gender and skincolour can be a real hassle for the developers to make, implement and add into the CGs. I wouldn't recommend it (especially for a first project, don't take on something as audacious as this until you know you can, people!), in fact I recommend not doing it at all until you've got the skills and budget to do it. And even then, people may still complain that you didn't add their specific skincolour or haircut.

With the other characters however, you can make one of the LI's black or your best friend asian, or whomever whatever. And because the reader can see the sprite on screen, you don't need to keep reminding them by describing the sprite. I'm currently reading a book that is very ethnically diverse, the constant descriptions of 'the black man adjusts his glasses' or 'the olive-skinned woman shrugged' instead of using their names gets real old after a while. With a VN, no such thing would be necessary. You can see them on screen whenever they're there, and don't need to describe them and draw attention to it all the time to remind the people that not all characters are caucasian.

Anyway, don't worry too much and I'm sorry for starting this whole identity responses avalanche by being the first to bring it up.
zelan wrote:And yeah, I'm not at all surprised that you brought up the race question, I'm absolutely aware that it's pretty limited in its options. When putting together that question I struggled to find a good guide to have options that were distinct enough from each other without it becoming a list of potentially hundreds of different identities to the point where the data becomes unusable. Ultimately I really wasn't satisfied with the question, but I went with what's pretty much the same options that you see on those online surveys, and I hoped that the fill-in-your-own options offered throughout the survey would be enough to supplement the lack there.
Maybe just add the basics and a <fill it in yourself> option everywhere all the time, that would allow anyone who doesn't fit in the regular Y/N categories to define their answer as specifically and specially as they want.
zelan wrote:I understand where you're coming from with the idea of including diverse characters "just to be PC."
I agree with you, Zelan, the best way to be PC in a story is to not actively strive to be PC, just to not be completely centered around one race and norm. Let the story define itself, rather than forcing it to be defined based upon features of a person that are currently highly discussed.
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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#9 Post by CSV » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:51 am

Zelan wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:22 pm
First of all, thanks a lot to everyone who responded to the survey, it's a huge help to me and I appreciate you all taking the time to do it. The survey will be kept open for a bit longer to collect the necessary reponses - if you haven't filled it out yet, please consider doing so! Now, to respond to all the replies in this thread:
CSV wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 11:39 am
I filled the survey!
I am a little surprised there are no questions about our opinion of diversity in VNs, but I understand that might not be the focus of your study.
What I mean is that I personally tend to choose VNs that have character types I like rather than ones that focus on diversity; I think diversity is good across VNs because people like different things and deserve content they like, but having every type of character in a single cast can be too much. An individual player looking for what they like and relate to won't fit all the categories for gender, sexual orientation, etc. I find this is particularly true for romance-based games.
As an example, take all the recent commercial VNs that have half the routes be otome and the other half be yuri. There are people who are interested in both, but for others it feels kind of bad to pay for a game where you know right off the bat you aren't going to play half the routes. It could be better to have discount versions where it's just the otome routes or just the yuri routes...so it would technically be less diverse, but better for both creators and buyers/players.
Hi CSV, thanks for responding! Concerning your comment about opinions on diversity, that's covered (if I'm understanding you right) in the questions where you are asked whether you are more likely to play a visual novel that you consider diverse. I know it's not exactly the same question but the intent behind it is similar.

I get where you're coming from with the concept of diversity across VNs and not necessarily within them. For me personally, I'm pansexual, so having romanceable characters of various genders in one game is not something that would give me pause when buying a game, but I can completely understand why someone who preferred just one gender might, for instance, hesitate to drop $20 on a game with 5 routes when they know they'll only play 2 of them. It is interesting to see you mention the split model, as I don't think I've actually seen it used in a released game before but I do remember seeing the same idea proposed in a WIP thread here on LemmaSoft a while back.
Concerning split model games, the only examples I can think of are some games by Winter Wolves where they have a separate 'Otome' version and a 'Girl's Love' version, though I think those are more two versions of the same story rather than half of the same game.

Also, after reading other comments and specifically Cyanide's mention of culture, I would like to add that 'diverse' might have different meanings for different people. For example, based on my experiences on the internet, Americans seem to see a diverse cast as having several characters from different races, beliefs, etc. interacting in a single environment, and what they usually call realistic diversity strikes me as forced at first glance - I am not familiar with that much diversity in real life. Conversely, if I presented a story about a public high school class where only one or two out of 20+ students are not white, Americans might see that as tokenism, but it would be my expectation of realistic as it *was* my reality.
This is not to say that there's a 'wrong' level of diversity, just that your audience's mileage may vary when using that word.

Kind of related to this, because I saw you mentioned 'black culture'... The 'race equals culture' concept might vary a lot too depending on where you live. E.g., I think a lot of people in an African country where the majority of people are black would not be happy if you assume they have the same culture as the neighboring country simply because that other country also has black people as the majority. I for one am sometimes surprised by people speaking of 'European culture' because they don't seem to understand each country has its own culture and mixing them up can be pretty offensive.
I also feel like that in many places there's often a concept of culture > race. Like, racism is sadly present, but xenophobia is more common; e.g., a white person might trust a national that is of a different race over a foreigner who is white.

(Sorry for the long reply!)
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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#10 Post by Zelan » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:33 pm

Hi again everyone! Thanks for all of the responses, I've reached my target number so the survey itself is closed, but feel free to continue using this thread for discussion if you wish! c:
Mammon wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:01 am
Oh, you misunderstood what I meant. But with 35 hours without sleep, who can blame you? Please think of your health! Stop killing yourself, we'll wait for our responses until after you to catch a wink of sleep. I was talking about other characters, the ones on the screen always. Your LI or friend, not the MC themselves. With them, getting to pick your gender and skincolour can be a real hassle for the developers to make, implement and add into the CGs. I wouldn't recommend it (especially for a first project, don't take on something as audacious as this until you know you can, people!), in fact I recommend not doing it at all until you've got the skills and budget to do it. And even then, people may still complain that you didn't add their specific skincolour or haircut.

With the other characters however, you can make one of the LI's black or your best friend asian, or whomever whatever. And because the reader can see the sprite on screen, you don't need to keep reminding them by describing the sprite. I'm currently reading a book that is very ethnically diverse, the constant descriptions of 'the black man adjusts his glasses' or 'the olive-skinned woman shrugged' instead of using their names gets real old after a while. With a VN, no such thing would be necessary. You can see them on screen whenever they're there, and don't need to describe them and draw attention to it all the time to remind the people that not all characters are caucasian.

Anyway, don't worry too much and I'm sorry for starting this whole identity responses avalanche by being the first to bring it up.
lmao don't worry I slept, thanks for the concern Mammon haha <3

Oh yeah, I get what you mean, the reason that I brought up main characters was because I think it's interesting the way that diversity with MCs tends to be approached differently than with love interests. It's far more common to see customizable MCs than it is to see customizable LIs (although there are a few games that have the latter), but even more so there are a lot of developers who go with faceless, eyeless MCs to give them potentially any identity whereas they would never do that to make their cast of LIs more diverse. It wasn't exactly what you brought up but just something that I thought of.

And no worries for bringing up that point about identity, I wanted some good discussion and that's what I got. c:
CSV wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:51 am
Concerning split model games, the only examples I can think of are some games by Winter Wolves where they have a separate 'Otome' version and a 'Girl's Love' version, though I think those are more two versions of the same story rather than half of the same game.

Also, after reading other comments and specifically Cyanide's mention of culture, I would like to add that 'diverse' might have different meanings for different people. For example, based on my experiences on the internet, Americans seem to see a diverse cast as having several characters from different races, beliefs, etc. interacting in a single environment, and what they usually call realistic diversity strikes me as forced at first glance - I am not familiar with that much diversity in real life. Conversely, if I presented a story about a public high school class where only one or two out of 20+ students are not white, Americans might see that as tokenism, but it would be my expectation of realistic as it *was* my reality.
This is not to say that there's a 'wrong' level of diversity, just that your audience's mileage may vary when using that word.

Kind of related to this, because I saw you mentioned 'black culture'... The 'race equals culture' concept might vary a lot too depending on where you live. E.g., I think a lot of people in an African country where the majority of people are black would not be happy if you assume they have the same culture as the neighboring country simply because that other country also has black people as the majority. I for one am sometimes surprised by people speaking of 'European culture' because they don't seem to understand each country has its own culture and mixing them up can be pretty offensive.
I also feel like that in many places there's often a concept of culture > race. Like, racism is sadly present, but xenophobia is more common; e.g., a white person might trust a national that is of a different race over a foreigner who is white.

(Sorry for the long reply!)
Oh yeah, I have seen some of Winter Wolves' games like that, although I haven't played any myself. I'd be curious to know how well that model works for them, although interestingly I've noticed that their recent games seem to all have both MC gender choice and both male and female love interests, so maybe they've decided that the old model wasn't worth it? All speculation of course but it is interesting.

Yeah, that's definitely a good point about diversity and its meaning to different people. That was kind of what I was getting at when I answered Preseva's question, where my questions referred to "visual novels that are, in your opinion, diverse." And I definitely think that there's no one rule of thumb when it comes to diversity, since in particular the setting has to be taken into account. Like, if your story takes place in the future, or even in, like, present-day New York, there's a lot of reason to actually actively include diverse characters to make the setting more realistic and believeable. But if the story is like Disney's Brave and takes place in early Scotland, most if not all of the characters are going to be white. Historical settings in general can be tricky because oftentimes there was more racial diversity than people realize, but there were still a lot of societal restraints that prevented people of color from holding certain positions. Ultimately, I think that partially depends on how important historical accuracy is in the particular story.

That's a great counterpoint to what I said about culture and race! I still do think that, depending where you are, race can play quite a part in the culture that you grow up in, but being black in the U.S. would definitely lead to a completely different experience than being black in Africa - and, like you said, there are such a range of cultures there that there isn't really one that everyone can be lumped into. You're totally right about xenophobia's prevalence as well, I think it probably depends on where in the world you are but there are definitely people who mistrust foreigners no matter what race they are. If I can ask, what sort of things have you heard about "European culture" that surprise you? I've never heard anyone mention it, or if I have I don't remember, so having your view on that would be interesting.

And no worries for the long reply! Everything you said was super interesting to me, I love hearing your opinions. c:

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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#11 Post by CSV » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:18 pm

Zelan wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:33 pm
That's a great counterpoint to what I said about culture and race! I still do think that, depending where you are, race can play quite a part in the culture that you grow up in, but being black in the U.S. would definitely lead to a completely different experience than being black in Africa - and, like you said, there are such a range of cultures there that there isn't really one that everyone can be lumped into. You're totally right about xenophobia's prevalence as well, I think it probably depends on where in the world you are but there are definitely people who mistrust foreigners no matter what race they are. If I can ask, what sort of things have you heard about "European culture" that surprise you? I've never heard anyone mention it, or if I have I don't remember, so having your view on that would be interesting.
Well, I have seen many instances in American media where both fiction and real people will refer to 'European Culture' as if a single culture spans across the continent. I think it's often something specific that they don't see in their own country, and when they hear about the custom of an European country they will generalize it to all of Europe. For example, I once read part of an interview with an American celebrity that had moved to somewhere in France and was now saying that 'Mothers in Europe aren't too protective of their children'...judging only by French region she was in.
It strikes me as jarring because when I speak to people from other European countries, there are a lot of differences even for small daily things. People who have stayed in another country for a while also note the difference in habits and attitudes. There are similarities from place to place, but assuming a one-size-fits-all attitude isn't good.
Side Note: In the topic of diversity, there's also the fact that many generalizations made seem based on very few countries (England, Germany, France), and namely their respective capitals, which are probably the most diverse places in Europe. I visited London once and the very first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of diversity. I knew it was a huge city will all different kinds of people living there, but I wasn't expecting anything like the real thing!
Another Side Note: I am particularly annoyed by the 'lumping together' because I am Portuguese and we often get lumped up with Spain, even though we are an almost 900-year-old country and have a historical rivalry with the Spanish. We will be offended by foreigners who just randomly assume we speak the same language or have the same customs. Similarly, I once had a classmate whose parents were from an African country and she would tell us it was awful how people will talk about Africa like it's a country rather than a a whole group of separate nations some of which are at odds to this day.
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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#12 Post by Cyanade » Sat Dec 01, 2018 7:22 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Zelan! I’m late in my reply so I think a lot of what I wanted to say has already been covered by other people. My experience has been very similar to CSV’s even though I come from Asia rather than Europe. Asia is also often conflated and generalized based on just a few countries (in this case China, Japan or India) when in reality, it’s so large and diverse that even us Asians have a difficult time sometimes pinpointing someone’s exact nationality. I know someone who’s been mistaken for Chinese, Thai, Nepalese when she was really from the northeastern part of india-even her fellow countrymen didn’t get it right.

In many parts of Asia, race also takes a backseat over regional tension. People in general have stronger feelings towards fellow Asians from neighbouring places because of shared history (past conflicts/alliances, land/border disputes etc) whereas there’s just not enough background to have any concrete opinion on a completely foreign entity. Similarly, opinions on race vary and will usually be based on media portrayal and/or colonial mentality if there is no personal experience to base it on. I guess what I mean is that there is more bigotry and xenophobia than there is racism, although racism does exist.

I’d also like to add that, in the same way that black culture is not the same worldwide, gay culture is also not ubiquitous-gay culture in America for example is different from the gay culture in say, the Philippines, where they have their own norms and even their own invented lingo. I think lgbt perception is very much informed by a locale’s prevailing attitudes towards sexuality which is pretty diverse just in Asia. There might be some places where having sex with the same gender(or sometimes even animals) is considered a more acceptable way to explore your sexuality than premarital heterosexual sex. There’s also cultures where your gender is determined by your role in society rather than your physical sex. Sometimes homosexuality is persecuted not because the act is viewed as immoral but because any kind of deviation from the norm is discouraged in collectivist societies. After all, the idea that homosexual love is purer than heterosexual love was the norm in east Asia prior to westernization.

Like you said, setting plays a huge role in how diverse the cast is, so I personally dont find anything wrong with a homogenous cast because like CSV said, for some people this is their reality. There are many games that have an all-Japanese cast and no one seems to have a problem with it. I think it only becomes an issue if the cast is all white? But even in North America, not all places are as diverse as NYC-I’ve been to a small town in the US where, other than 1 black girl everyone else was white, and they were all American.

Now that I think about it, the idea of race determining your culture is probably a uniquely american perspective. Is diversity in America more race specific because of its more recent history (black segregation, yellow peril etc.)? And is inclusion in media the way the current generation is trying to combat the past?

PS. I find internet culture interesting too, especially how memes have been able spread across different parts of the world despite language barriers. I guess some types of humor are universal? Its great that I can get to learn something (for example this topic) from people that i otherwise couldn’t have come into contact with normally.

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Re: Diversity in Visual Novels

#13 Post by JBShields » Wed Jan 16, 2019 7:30 pm

Could you share what you learned on this thread?

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