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#1 Post by Morgan_R » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:32 am

Inspired by Thirteen's comments in its WIP thread, I thought I'd try to get an informal headcount of non-binary folks here, and maybe talk about non-binary characters in visual novels.

Personally, I'm non-binary (they/them pronouns, please!) but I'm presently planning to not have an NB option for the protagonist of my WIP. I feel kind of bad about that, but it's really hard to justify doubling my character art for the small minority of players who will want to play an NB character. If it was just sprites I'd do it, but I'm planning a lot of CGs, so... yeah. :/

Anyway! I'd love to hear from other people on the subject, whatever your thoughts are. ^_^

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Re: Non-Binary?

#2 Post by trooper6 » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:36 am

Perhaps your next VN should be the story of an NB person? You don't always have to give players choose on everything.
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Re: Non-Binary?

#3 Post by Thirteen » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:52 am

This is so neat! I'm glad I inspired ya to make this thread!
So I'm NB (it pronouns please!), and most all of my characters in my VNs are either NB or their gender is not described and up to interpretation.

Touching on the issue of different sprite sets for different genders, I try to make all my main characters look gender neutral, so they could be interpreted as male, female, or neither.
It's a bit of an easy way out, but it saves a lot of time in the long run haha.

But that being said you could easily have a character who does not preset as androgynous and have them be gender neutral. Since being gender neutral doesn't mean you have to look a certain way. It could also be quite interesting to see how that character interacts with others when the subject of their gender identity is brought up!

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Re: Non-Binary?

#4 Post by Rinima » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:20 pm

Consider myself Genderfluid (I don't mind people using female pronouns), but I generally don't really show it physically (I wear very gender neutral clothes anyway). Also have my hair short.

But yea, this isn't something I go shouting about.
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Re: Non-Binary?

#5 Post by kisa » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:52 pm

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All of you are kawaii-er potatoes.
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Re: Non-Binary?

#6 Post by ibukichan » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:23 pm

I'm genderfluid myself (they pronouns please) and I like to have at least one NB character in all of my VNs, or at least someone who isn't cisgender. I feel that NB representation is very important, especially since society considers male and female the only genders.

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Re: Non-Binary?

#7 Post by Alera » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:21 pm

it's really hard to justify doubling my character art for the small minority of players who will want to play an NB character.
I disagree! You don't have to be NB to want to play the game. I'm sure people wouldn't mind to try! So don't think about it this way.

Or if you worry about art and if you already have an option between female/male protag, how about having another set of options and have it like that:
1. Choose appearance:
A) female looking chara
B) male looking chara

2. Choose pronouns:
A) female
B) male
C) non-binary

So you can keep the art you have, all you're changing is how people refer to that character!

That's how I'd do it at least. ^^
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Re: Non-Binary?

#8 Post by The Library Cat » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:49 pm

To expand on Alera's suggestion (which is a great starting point), I'd even go so far as to entirely remove gender indicators like 'female' or 'male' from this model. Why? Challenge people's assumptions of what exactly 'female' and 'male' is and mess with their ingrained notions a bit, that is always good to do. ;) So instead of offering 'female' or 'male' pronouns, do it like this:
a) he/him/his pronouns
b) she/her/hers pronouns
c) they/them/their pronouns
etc etc (this is by no means an exhaustive list of pronouns in existence, but it's enough for demonstration purposes)

Of course, you have to know whether you can actually code this properly (if the player chooses option a and the pronouns from option b sneak into the text, this will cause massive confusion), and as for doubling the art, well, not everybody who is nonbinary looks androgynous, and pronouns are not inherently linked to appearance, anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much about that (trans people who have not transitioned exist too, you know, and they still deserve to be addressed with correct pronouns!). Of course more options are always great, but keep your overall workload in mind and don't overload yourself. :)

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Re: Non-Binary?

#9 Post by Morgan_R » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:16 pm

Thank you all for your thoughts so far! ^_^

I've actually recently played an iOS game called LongStory that offered two possible avatars and three possible pronoun sets, independently from each other. Which I thought was neat... up until the point where it had no real significance in-game. I mean, I guess there's something to be said for a world where everyone magically knows what pronouns you prefer, even if your style of dress doesn't match your pronouns, and also, using 'they' is totally fine with everyone? But it fell pretty flat for me, actually.

So yeah... I'd prefer to provide just the standard binary gender options, rather than add a non-binary option that doesn't actually reflect my experience as a non-binary person. And at the moment, I don't think the cost/benefit analysis is working out in factor of providing an option that does reflect that experience. If this were a game where character customization was a thing, that would be different (and hopefully someday I'll make a game like that.) ^_^

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Re: Non-Binary?

#10 Post by Laiska » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:27 pm

I'm sort of vaguely NB, if that makes sense (I don't consider myself entirely female, but I know that no matter what I do my appearance isn't going to be anything but, so I usually roll with the identification; she/they pronouns preferred), and my theyfriend is NB as well.

Even with a set protag appearance already in mind, it's not impossible to have an NB main character, because as others have noted, gender isn't entirely tied to appearance. It really depends on how comfortable you are with having that "disconnect" (as far as a general audience is concerned) in your game.

The game I work on, Queen At Arms, has a genderqueer protag, who has the appearance of a very boyish girl (because they were raised disguised as a boy, for story reasons). For sake of reference, we usually refer to the MC as 'she' (though all the characters in-game refer to them as 'he' for most of the game), but in reality our intent is for players to be able to choose whichever interpretation they like of their gender, because the character theirself cares more about making it out of a war alive than focusing on gender. It only really comes into play when you get heavy into the romances, because different characters have different preferences. We also intend, in the second edition of the game, to include a romanceable character who is NB/genderfluid with a more outwardly male appearance. It's not an entirely satisfactory mode of presentation, but that's a resource matter. :P

Basically, do whatever you think will make you the happiest with your game!

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Re: Non-Binary?

#11 Post by Mad Harlequin » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:58 pm

Rinima wrote:Consider myself Genderfluid (I don't mind people using female pronouns), but I generally don't really show it physically (I wear very gender neutral clothes anyway).
This is basically how I am, too.
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Re: Non-Binary?

#12 Post by ludeshka » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:25 pm

...I'm not NB myself, but I did try to write a NB protagonist.
Looking back, I might not have made the best job of it, since I basically just hinted at it.

I'm sure the portrayal in your vn when you finished will have a lot more going for it, since you can make it more real.

The best portrayals of NB characters I've seen where in the Choice of Games (Try "Creatures such as we" for example, the whole game is up for free )
I understand it's way easier in choicescript than in renpy because they have no graphics, but still, what Alera proposed sounds like a really good idea.

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Re: Non-Binary?

#13 Post by rockets » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:17 am

it makes me happy to see fellow nonbinary gamemakers here!
facts about me and the gender and the whatnot: i'm a somewhat dudely pangender person, and hope to move to europe so i can take hormones that aren't allowed in the country i live in. i respond to nearly every pronoun, but like just being referred to by my name! (ron, rockets, dickmissiles, veron)
i'm currently making a non-erotic eroge with a protagonist whose gender is never mentioned, though there are some physical customization options that affect CGs very infrequently.

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Re: Non-Binary?

#14 Post by Morhighan » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:23 pm

I've considered myself bigender as well as non-binary for a long time. I switch my preferences from time to time. Usually I go with female pronouns to make things easy, but sometimes it's annoying to me.
Good to see all of us about. :3

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Re: Non-Binary?

#15 Post by KittyKatStar » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:14 pm

Alera wrote:
it's really hard to justify doubling my character art for the small minority of players who will want to play an NB character.
I disagree! You don't have to be NB to want to play the game. I'm sure people wouldn't mind to try! So don't think about it this way.
I echo Alera here. I love seeing all kinds of different protagonists. Many people are already comfortable with an avatar not their gender (Tomb Raider, etc. I enjoyed Mass Effect and played through as both male and female Shep) so I'd like to see more NB protags (and characters) too.

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