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Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 18 Sep 2017, 17:59
by TilenM
Hey!

So I'm in a game dev. team and a while ago we were deciding on what gender should our leading character be. An idea came up to make this character Agender (EDIT: doesn't identify neither as woman nor man; not sure what the right expression is) and this sparkled a very "passionate" debate. The team was pretty much devided in half. Some thought it would be a good idea and others (including myself) seriously opposed it.

The arguments FOR having an Agender protagonist (as presented by part of the team that was cheering for this idea):

- it would make the character more mysterious
- it would set us apart from other games
- it would be very inovative
- it is something that catches attention
- it would appeal to a wider spectrum of gamers

Now for the arguments AGAINST such an idea (those arguments are totally biased and written from my side of the view):

Whilst it's true that it would put more mystery into our character's persona and it would also set us apart from other games, I think it's also true that we have to consider HOW do we set us apart from others. Yes, it would be something inovative and we would stand out, but would this really be portraing what are we trying to do game-wise, or would it portrait us more as a certain political agenda-serving studio that tries to appeal to the PC culture we're living in today? And yes, it does catch the attention, but what kind of attention? It's a very common expression we hear that "even a bad publicity is still a publicity", but I think it's evident in the gaming world, that good reviews and good publicity is what makes you money. And this leads me to the last point: would it really appeal to the "wider spectrum of gamers"? I think not. Again, I think it would only appeal to some of the people, but majority of these people would not be the kind of people that would actually consider buying our game (eg. would not be gamers), but would instead just agree with the agenda we would be representing and move on.

As a marketer I have to look at things from marketing point of view and I always tend to follow the basic saying: Inovations are welcome, as long as they don't produce more bad than they do good.

But I've been wrong before, so I'm really interested in your opinion. Is gender something you even notice? Would you mind if the game's main character would be Agender? What do you have to say?

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 18 Sep 2017, 19:05
by Lyberta
TilenM {l Wrote}:Again, I think it would only appeal to some of the people, but majority of these people would not be the kind of people that would actually consider buying our game

As a marketer I have to look at things from marketing point of view


It looks like you are developing a proprietary game which will mean that this is not the best place to ask your question.

Other than that, Undertale has a protagonist who is a "genderless child" and is ranked 37th best game of all time on PC.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 18 Sep 2017, 21:56
by Duion
Argument against having an Agender: They do not exist.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 19 Sep 2017, 05:37
by onpon4
I would choose to use a female character every time given the choice, but a trans-trender? Why on Earth would I choose that over a male character? They're both equally not the same as me, the only difference is that one is a part of a political agenda I am opposed to.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 19 Sep 2017, 05:51
by eugeneloza
I like flowers and trees :) And (harmless) bacteria are also cute.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 19 Sep 2017, 11:13
by TilenM
onpon4 {l Wrote}:I would choose to use a female character every time given the choice, but a trans-trender? Why on Earth would I choose that over a male character? They're both equally not the same as me, the only difference is that one is a part of a political agenda I am opposed to.

Alright, thanks for this answer! :) And I have to say, I totally agree. I'm glad to say we ended up with picking a female character :D

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 19 Sep 2017, 11:32
by Duion
Why not a robot, that would be agender.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 24 Sep 2017, 00:20
by mdwh
People who don't portray/behave/whatever along stereotypical gender roles do exist, as do those who identify as transgender, neither male nor female and so on. It's rather sad that a game portaying such a character is assumed to have a political "agenda", but not when it's portraying anyone in more traditional gender roles or behaviours. The only politics I see are those people who seem to be against such people; the only PC culture is those people offended by it.

It's not clear that you should need a reason to; do it if you want, or if fits the story - or not if you don't want to. It's probably better if you know about such people though, rather than trying to portray a group you don't know just because you think it'll make the game more popular.

"not sure what the right expression"

Non-binary seems to becoming increasingly common.

A flip side argument: rather than arguing why someone must be without gender, start off with a neutral character in a game. If you've got a sprite in many genres of game, no one cares if you haven't assigned a gender to it. Of course, most such games don't explicitly say that the character doesn't have gender - seems odd to me though that the moment you say "By the way, the main character bob that is these bunch of pixels doesn't have a gender", a bunch of people get uptight and start accusing you of a political agenda.

Personally, in RPGs I think it's good to be able to choose the player's gender (I know some RPGs simply have a specific character you play, but I prefer being able to create the character). More control on character appearance instead of it all coming from one binary choice is always a good thing imo. For other genres of games, I'm not sure I care - as I say, all characters might as well be without gender for all it matters in most cases.

I would choose to use a female character every time given the choice, but a trans-trender? Why on Earth would I choose that over a male character? They're both equally not the same as me, the only difference is that one is a part of a political agenda I am opposed to.


"We should only have men in games, don't want any of this PC female rubbish. Why would I pick a female? It's not the same of me, and it's part of a political agenda I am opposed to."

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 24 Sep 2017, 07:02
by eugeneloza
Why political agenda?

While most races of Decoherence are bi-gender, there are several exceptions:
Kerf - is a 3-gender insectoid race.
Kerf Donor - dumb, strong, engineering genius. Grammatical gender: male. Galactic classification: donor. (there were arguments on replacing this for "male" but kerf were strongly against this)
Kerf Acceptor - harsh, leadership, intelligence, chemistry. Grammatical gender: female. Galactic classification: acceptor.
Kerf Incubator - kind, high-endurance, physics. Grammatical gender: female. Galactic classification: incubator.
Moreover, kerf have 12 genders in their language. 3 genders for themselves, 3 genders for animals of their homeworld, 1 neutral gender (for inanimate objects), 1 neutral gender (used only for artificial items), 2 genders introduced as a token of respect post-first-contact for other races of the Galaxy, 2 genders for animals of other worlds.
Vegetos is a vegetative race. They occasionally have flowers, but as expression of emotional state, not as way of reproduction.
Vegetos - slow, non-conflict, thoughtful, regenerates in sunlight, chemistry genius. Grammatical gender: male. Galactic classification: vegetation.
Thess is a feline race.
Thess male - extinct in bacteriologic (rather bio-viral) war.
Thess female - weak, desperate, biology genius. Grammatical gender: female. Galactic classification: female. (while being genetically engineered, they strongly insist to be classified as females in hope to reconstruct male gender in some future)
Illuzma is a chameleon-like race.
Illuzma - aggressive, slow, can become invisible. Grammatical gender: female. Galactic classification: genophage (consume other creature's GCC (of DGCC-1 type at a right-oriented-DNA carrier) to support for genetic diversity).
Bazh is a frog-like race.
Bazh is a female from birth to 8 years, and a male during the remaining lifetime - rude, talkative, highly regenerative, genetic engineering genius. Grammatical gender: male (as only males are adults, and females never leave homeworld). Galactic classification: hermaphrodite.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 24 Sep 2017, 07:11
by onpon4
"We should only have men in games, don't want any of this PC female rubbish. Why would I pick a female? It's not the same of me, and it's part of a political agenda I am opposed to."

Since you are so sure this has nothing to do with a political agenda, which "non-binary" person can you point to who supports conservative political parties? If you can find me an example, I will concede "non-binary" as apolitical. That doesn't mean I'll accept it as valid, though, nor does it mean that I would rather control a "non-binary" person than a male in a video game.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 25 Sep 2017, 02:00
by c_xong
onpon4 {l Wrote}:
"We should only have men in games, don't want any of this PC female rubbish. Why would I pick a female? It's not the same of me, and it's part of a political agenda I am opposed to."

Since you are so sure this has nothing to do with a political agenda, which "non-binary" person can you point to who supports conservative political parties? If you can find me an example, I will concede "non-binary" as apolitical. That doesn't mean I'll accept it as valid, though, nor does it mean that I would rather control a "non-binary" person than a male in a video game.

I wouldn't look at that as proof either way. Identity politics is a broad enough church, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some who were conservative too, just as some neo-Nazis are Jewish. Conversely there are TERFs, many of whom aren't conservative but are against certain flavours of gender identity.

In the current political climate, depicting non-cis genders will court controversy, and if done poorly, will also backfire. I wouldn't do it unless it's something intensely important to you personally, and that you can pull it off with sensitivity.

Re: Would you mind an Agender protagonist?

PostPosted: 15 Jun 2018, 14:22
by Wuzzy
So much talk, but my answer is very simple:

No, I would NOT mind an agender protagonist. It's just a game, a fantasy. What is more important is that it makes sense in the game's universe, more or less. It really depends on the kind of game you want to make.

Most pointless flame war ever. :) Please focus, this is not about whether agender beings do exist in the real world, that's totally besides the point.