Jul 01

2010

Gender Politics Taste Like Chicken (or, Help Us Flavor the Next Choice of Game)

Posted by: Heather Albano | Comments (53)

Based on number of comments on this topic, clearly the next game should be Choice of Romance. :P – Jake Forbes

Yeah, the thought crossed our minds, too. The Great Villeneuve Debate, aka TGVN (thank you, Jake, for coining a term that will make me grin for the rest of my life) demonstrated among other things that there was room in the Choice of Games stable for something that relied more heavily on personal interactions and less heavily on hitting things with swords or crunching them with your dragon teeth. (Don’t worry, we haven’t given up on those games. We’ll be doing those, too.)

While I of course cannot comment on what we might be working on next, setting a romance plot in a world we built ourselves would remove many of the aforementioned constraints. It would be much easier to code said plot to work equally well for male-courting-female, male-courting-male, female-courting-male, and female-courting-female. – Me, on April 5th

Looking at our market research data confirmed the impression. I was genuinely surprised at the number of votes (via the blog and via the AdWords test) for Choice of the Consort. Okay then! Adam and I settled down to write a game based on the concept, “As a lovely young courtier who has caught the monarch’s eye, will you gain a crown or lose your head?”

Henry VIII’s love life provided a reasonable starting point for our research, since the six wives and three-at-least mistresses of that unstable ruler demonstrated a variety of paths a lovely young courtier might take to a monarch’s bed… and/or the throne… and/or the executioner’s block. We figured that if we could achieve something partway between a Tudor court intrigue and a drawing-room comedy of manners, we’d have the right atmosphere.

Except we also knew we wanted to set the story in a gender-equal world where it was equally possible and equally interesting to play male or female, straight or gay.

Which meant we had just deprived ourselves of all the usual building blocks of a Tudoresque court intrigue or an Austenesque comedy of manners.

A gender-equal world eliminates the tension around needing to have a male heir… the tension around a woman needing to marry at all. A gender-equal and same-sex-friendly world makes unusable the rituals of courtship that impart the flavor of a late medieval or early modern romance. How do the formalized roles of suitor and courted work now? What would make a relationship ‘scandalous’? How does a same-sex couple have a legal heir in a world without modern technology?

How do you impart the flavor without using any of the traditional ingredients?

It struck me as not unlike adapting traditional recipes for a vegetarian audience. After all, a lot of things taste like chicken. More to the point, a lot of things have the texture of chicken, serving just as well in the role of “protein thing that absorbs the flavors it is cooked with.” There need to be rules of courtship that the player can choose to obey or flout; there need to be obstacles to a happy union; there need to be markings other than gender that indicate who is the courted and who the suitor in any given encounter; there need to be constraints on what sort of person the monarch may take as a consort; none of these things need to match their counterparts of this world as long as they serve the purpose equally well.

So we went back to the very beginning, made the building blocks, and then used them to create an Austenesque romance within a Tudoresque court intrigue. Or, at least, we hope we did. The initial feedback is promising. In a about a month, we figure, you’ll be able to tell us if we pulled it off.

In the meantime, we could use your help! In Broadsides, if you recall, we were at a loss for titles in the gender-flipped universe. In the game-currently-known-as-Consort (we may change the working title before release) we’re struggling with the title for the monarch’s spouse. The monarch can be a reigning King or a reigning Queen, and his/her spouse can be male or female.

Help us title the spouse! Choices beneath the cut!

Here are the choices. Should we call the monarch’s spouse:

1) Prince/Princess Consort?

That makes the combinations:
King John and Princess Consort Mary
King John and Prince Consort Martin
Queen Mary and Prince Consort John
Queen Mary and Princess Consort Joan

2) King/Queen?

That makes the combinations
King John and Queen Mary
King John and King Martin
Queen Mary and King John
Queen Mary and Queen Joan

(I don’t like this one personally because I think you need a title distinguishing the person who rules from the person to whom the ruler is married.)

3) King Consort/Queen Consort?

That makes the combinations
King John and Queen Consort Mary
King John and King Consort Martin
Queen Mary and King Consort John
Queen Mary and Queen Consort Joan

4) The Consort?

That makes the combinations
King John and his Consort, Mary
King John and his Consort, Martin
Queen Mary and her Consort, John
Queen Mary and her Consort, Joan

(Possibly the best in terms of gender neutrality, but perhaps lacking in flavor? It would also mean that we have to change the game’s title, as the action does not follow the person who holds the title of Consort at game start.)

5) Something else entirely? Let us know what you think!

53 Comments

  1. Firestorm717 says:

    I vote for the third choice, since according to Wiki, that’s generally the title given to the husband/wife of a monarch (who does not have reigning power). Prince/princess consort sounds a little…young, I thought at first that it referred to the wife/husband of the monarch’s child.

    You might also consider looking at how East Asian cultures titled their consorts, i.e. concubines in the Imperial family of China. There were also ranks, such as first consort, second consort, etc.

    I’d love to hear how you plan on working scandal into the gender-equal world. I thought at first that you’d structure it the same way as Broadsides, in which inequality simply went one way or the other.

  2. Spider says:

    I second the third choice. All the power of the full title implied (king or queen) with the reminder that this person isn’t the ruler.

    Alternatively, you could do what they did in… gosh, I can’t even remember the titles anymore. A very funny quartet of books I read when I was young about a dragon and the princess she captured (who really wanted to stay captured, thank you very much, because it was better than being a princess at home). The ruler of the dragons was the King of the Dragons, regardless of gender. King was, to them, a genderless title. (the queen of the dragons wasn’t necessarily the king’s spouse and was a completely different job that the dragons didn’t really care about and usually wasn’t even filled).

  3. inkwell says:

    i was going to vote for the first choice, but i do see it reading a little young. the third option sounded best to me after that, having all the flavor of someone connected to a ruler while simultaneously reminding us that they have no ruling power.

    though, maybe instead of “Queen Joan and Queen/King Consort InsertNameHere”, it could be “Queen Joan and Queen’s Consort InsertNameHere”. it would give it more gender neutrality, no?

    also, Spider? i’d love to know what books those are you’re talking about. they sound interesting!

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alex R. Alex R said: RT @choiceofgames: Gender politics taste like chicken http://bit.ly/9kTfik Help us flavor our next Choice of Game [...]

  5. esha says:

    I actually liked the fourth choice, myself! Because it seems the most direct- But second to that, the third one, since it does include the full title as well, without being a bit confusing like the second could be. Also, those books Spider’s talking about… if I recall correctly, they’re The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede! Covering Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons and Talking to Dragons. Brilliant stuff.

  6. Penguin Zero says:

    One way to make the Prince/Princess title more acceptable might be to make it more specific. Just calling the royal husband a Prince might be a bit minimal, but saying King’s Consort Alex, Prince of Archaia sounds rather neat. And once that’s established, calling him Prince Alex for short doesn’t sound so diminutive.

    It’s not without precedent, real or fictional — there’s princely titles used primarily in relation to other thrones, like most notably the Prince of Wales for the heir apparent to the throne of England, and in the original novel of The Princess Bride, it mentions that she’s made princess of some small isolated province so she can be a suitable royal match.

  7. Gavin says:

    I think the second choice is the best, despite the fact that it does, as you note, take away the signifier of the reigning monarch. On a positive note, the parings noted with this terminology and context conveys more power of a ruling union than it does with one person (typically female in heterosexual couples in pre-modern societies especially) being the silent partner. Its the most gender neutral and egalatiarian of the bunch.

  8. I have to vote for choice 4, though it may present the most challenging to implement. Simply calling the consort as such removes gender stereotypes, though those stereotypes still exist within the given names (Mary, Martin, John, Joan etc).

    Penguin Zero makes a good suggestion as well. By extending the title past King’s Consort to include a princely title allows said title to be used thereafter without losing respect.

  9. Zeredihethert says:

    the 3rd and 4th

    options makes the most sense and are the most accurate

    I prefer 3rd

  10. Deviija says:

    I notice the focus is on making the King/Queen’s consort the modifier. But what about making the King/Queen zieself have the modifier?

    Supreme King John and King Martin (or Supreme King John and Kingly Martin, modifying both).

    Or High Queen Margaret and Queen Joan.

    Or Ruling King, Acting Queen, Chief King, Head Queen, etc. for modifying the ruling person in power.

    Just a thought.

    High Queen Mary and Consort Queen Joan sounds good to me, too. Modifying both to differentiate the titles. High Queen/Consort Queen, High King/Consort King. It very much shows who is in charge versus who is the one given power by marriage/association.

    However, if one wants to keep no modifiers on the acting ruler, then I’d vote for ‘King/Kingly and Queen/Queenly’ to denote subtle power differences in titles.

  11. UbiquitousGrue says:

    I like the third one, myself. It’s to the point and, as mentioned, clearer as to who is doing the actual ruling.
    I would posit that if the game is set in a culture with a distinct class system and emphasis on wealth/property, then you might still see some of the typical scandals pertaining to inheritance despite the gender equality. The emphasis might be on age instead of gender, but you’d still want to be sure that the child was of the royal bloodline.
    Alternately, you could borrow the Ancient Roman model, where ‘blood’ didn’t necessarily tie into things, and folks (well, men) often just adopted new heirs if they didn’t have any. That takes the focus off of having children and onto just having someone to take up the family name.

  12. Spider says:

    Yep, those are the books, Esha! Thanks for identifying them for me.

    I’m actually liking Inkwell’s suggestion now, with King and King’s Consort/Queen and Queen’s Consort. It’s like the fourth option, only it’s specifying the ruler as opposed to the generic his or her.

  13. Firestorm717 says:

    Hm, after some thought, I also like the King’s/Queen’s Consort idea. The titles sound smoother together, as it emphasizes the relationship of the consort to the monarch, and using a possessive really underscores the fact that his/her status is tied (and subordinate) to the ruler.

  14. Joseph says:

    I like the thoughts you guys have put into this one. It’d be interesting to see a developing story from the eyes of a Consort. I can just imagine all the friends and enemies made in that.

    I like the 4th suggestion for the name, by the way.

  15. Faye says:

    I like the suggested “King’s/Queen’s Consort” the best myself, but of the options in the post I like the fourth.

    As for why I like the possessive title, I second what Firestorm said: rolls smoothly and denotes the relationship between the ruler, the consort, and the crown.

  16. Julian says:

    If the position of consort is a necessarily subordinate position, then I really think that they should be identified as prince/princess, or even prince/princess-consort.

  17. inkwell says:

    thanks, to Spider and esha for alerting me to these novels. i should love to get my hands on them. :3

    i hope this game gets done soon– the more i read about it the more interested in it i become!

    if the Prince/Princess title ends up being the most popular, i do quite like the idea Penguin had of adding in the additional “of InterestingPlace”. i imagine the full bit could be mentioned once, modified randomly, and/or perhaps even have influence on your initial stats.

  18. Soshoni says:

    Option 1. Prince/Princess Consort.

    It’s got real life precedence, and (because of that?) it doesn’t sound young to me at all.

    I’d like to point you towards Prince Phillip – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Philip,_Duke_of_Edinburgh – husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

    He’s known as the royal consort, or prince consort, because he’s married to the reigning monarch.

  19. Sheliak says:

    I like inkwell’s suggestion of Queen’s Consort/King’s Consort. I like that it puts the emphasis on the ruler, which seems in character for the situation.
    My second choice would be option 1, Prince Consort/Princess Consort.

    (Also- The Enchanted Forrest Chronicles are awesome!)

  20. What’s with the need of having men and women be equal in the game? I know that men and women are ACTUALLY equal, but in society they aren’t viewed as equal. Doesn’t it add to the romance and intrigue if a woman, by societial standards and practices, couldn’t do the same thing as men? I’ve always thought that a woman who is bad-ass AGAINST society’s standards, parleyed to a more bad-ass protagonist.

    Same thing with homosexual relationships. It would add more intrigue if, the couple was caught, they would have their heads cut off. It would have a more Romeo & Juliet forbidden romance. The stakes would be higher!

    This is all just a suggestion, and your goal is interesting. I just wanted to point out a few narrative opportunities.

  21. UbiquitousGrue says:

    Bryan:

    I would suggest, in turn, that when you have to deal with that inequality every day of your life, in most every piece of mainstream entertainment you can find, it loses some of that, ah, romantic sheen.
    Most stories out there *are* presented in the fashion you suggest; it’s hardly like CoG’s going for the least creative option out there on this point. The stakes can still be high – just for different, new, and more exciting reasons. And really, sometimes it’s nice to be able to be the unabashed hero of a story you wouldn’t normally get to star in.
    Just my opinion, of course. :)

  22. Matt says:

    I am beginning to dislike ChoiceofGames’ outlook on gender more and more. Gender EQUALITY is all well and good but this seems to be leaning more towards gender neutrality. If both genders are relatively the same and indistinguishable in characteristics, what is the point of having two genders at all? This eliminates the fantastic gender-specific stereotypes like the femme fatale, the seductress, the he-man, the grizzled private eye, etc. I would hate to see these roles destroyed because people bicker over which is better: the femme fatale or the James Bond super-spy. It just depends on what you fancy, there is no ‘better’.

    It just seems to me like you’re normalizing everything. You have gay relationships all over the place as if sexuality is just some irrelevant thing you can choose, like picking between red and blue. Gender and sexuality are themes we’ve had since art was created and you’re making them irrelevant. Meaninglessness makes for poor literature.

    I’m interested in your response, ChoiceofGames.

  23. Ben says:

    Personally, I like King Consort/Queen Consort—though I recall only one instance of the formulation “King Consort” being used to apply to the (potential) non-ruling spouse of the Queen, and that was thoroughly fictional *and* hypothetical (in Dunnett’s “Game of Kings”). I also second the suggestion to look for inspiration outside of Western Europe: off the top of my head, I can think of two female European monarchs in their own right who were married to men who were not themselves monarchs in their own right (e.g. Philip of Spain, William of Orange)—and that’s if you allow the somewhat contentious claim that Empress Matilda actually was Queen. And even if so, I don’t think “that bastard Geoffrey” is a good precedent for how the ruling Queen should refer to her husband. :-D

    The more I think of it, actually, the more I like “Lord Consort” and “Lady Consort” (or even something more indirect like “Grand Duke/Duchess of the Royal Household”) better than King/Queen Consort: if you go for something that close to historical usage, you’re going to be bouncing up against the historical usage we’re all most familiar with, where the Queen is by default the spouse of the reigning monarch, and having to fight against people’s subconscious expectations the whole time. Might be simpler to pick something with a bit less baggage to fight against.

  24. esha says:

    Matt- honestly, the way I see it, I don’t see why we can’t have fantastic stereotypes regardless of gender. The seductress as male; isn’t that an interesting concept? The James Bond super spy, who’s to say that the fact that she’s got breasts and a vagina makes her any less of a brilliant, device wielding agent? And if she can get the girls and the guys, more points to her. And speaking for myself (though I don’t know how much you’d go for it), I’d love to see a young, up and coming charmer, son of the biggest corporation in town knocking at the door of a tired, beaten down grizzled private eye, who keeps a photograph of the family she once had in her wallet at all times to remind her of what she still works for. That, I think, could be really interesting.

    Gender and sexuality are themes we’ve had since art was created, I get your point. But who’s to say that switching gender around here and there makes things meaningless? I think it just makes things far more exciting. In Choice of Broadsides, I played first as a male, but I also loved what happened when you played as a female. It was thought provoking, fascinating, and I’d love to see more of this.

  25. William says:

    Matt – I know, right?

  26. Deviija says:

    This is a game about choice. Freedom in creating what kind of character you wish to have, to produce what story you would like to see, something that will entertain you and be to your interest. So of course giving the choice to have gay relationships or to play a female without real world prejudice and intolerance and outlier oppression is going to be offered. It is something that I have come to truly love and admire in Choice of Games’ unique development. It would be no different than choosing what stats you want your character to have, or what moral path/philosophy you want to choose for them.

    Certainly gender and sexuality and art are bedmates. However, this does nothing to negate or neutralize or normalize archetypes. A grizzled 50′s styled private eye is still a grizzled 50′s styled private eye if she is a woman. A seductive fatale is still a seductive fatale if he is a man fatale. In worlds where gender and sexuality and race are less oppressed (or looked down upon), the roles of individuals broaden. They don’t diminish. You can be a gay James Bond, a lesbian Queen Victoria ruling the world with her consort, and the plot would still revolve around the same key points and storyline notes that they always have. With one big exception: the audience/player is finally able to have a story that they wish to play and entertain themselves with. In an industry where this development and intrigue and offering is rare, it is a huge gratitude. These games and Choice of Games offer choice, progressive outlets that include the audience rather than exclude them, and leaves the decisions completely up to the player. I, for one, prefer it that way.

  27. Matt says:

    It’s not the archetypes I’m concerned about so much as gender itself. A private eye as a female would be interesting but it would have to be done differently. Genders inherently have different traits, I can’t see a female PI being an alcoholic as is the custom. So if you chose to be a female PI over a male one, it would be different. Gender-specific stereotypes have to be maintained, there has to be a difference between genders. This is what I am really worried about. That the choice between male and female becomes meaningless, that the only thing gender affects is the title you get. You made a comment about how it is like choosing stats but I disagree. The stats you choose at the beginning of the game have a drastic effect on how the game turns out, gender does not but I think it should. I would hate to see all of these great games made into a gender neutral, one-size-fits-all type of thing.

  28. UbiquitousGrue says:

    …So alcoholism is a gender trait, now? Eesh. (Also, the jaded and bitterly drunk PI is pretty much an archetype, isn’t it?)

    Alright, more seriously – I think this:

    “Genders inherently have different traits, I can’t see a female PI being an alcoholic as is the custom. So if you chose to be a female PI over a male one, it would be different. Gender-specific stereotypes have to be maintained, there has to be a difference between genders. ”

    illustrates perfectly the difference in approach here. CoG’s design is based in the idea that cultural associations/expectations of gender are not necessarily biological truths – apparently you disagree.
    But your inability to “see a female PI being an alcoholic” might be best served by a moment’s examination as to why that might be. Is it a matter of finding it more unappealing in the “fairer” sex? Or is it based in what you know about what’s expected in women in traditional culture (I am assuming you are writing from a Western perspective, here, apologies if not) – in which case CoG’s setting, as distinct from that, renders the issue more or less moot.
    imo.

  29. esha says:

    I suppose it’s true that we associate some traits with certain genders. But I’m going with UbiquitousGrue on this- things like a female PI being grizzled and middle aged and weary and alcoholic, why not? It isn’t as if girls can’t touch alcohol and boys can, or as if alcohol somehow has a different effect on them. Again, like in Broadsides where the entire female version of the world was completely different culturally based on gender… I thought it was a fantastic thing to do. Also, it’s CHOICE OF GAMES. Not ‘we give you a gender, you must play it as that’. If you want to play a character who’s a male grizzled alcoholic private eye, sure! But some of us would like to see her as female, and that choice is something that is really, really wonderful to have. Also, a lot of these stereotypes we’re discussing, well, I see them more as character types than gender related types. A noble warrior is a noble warrior. A young hero setting out on an adventure is a young hero doing just that. I, for one, would like to think that a boy can handle things just as well as a girl, and that a woman can be just as prone to failure and fall just as hard and fast as a man can.

    Furthermore, if we’re talking about… well, perspectives and culture, I’ll actually say that what you’re talking about roles can vary greatly from culture to culture. Take economics- in the Western world, generally men are the ones selling things and buying things and trading, but in Southeast Asia, if you head to the markets, traditionally it’s the women who handle those things. Different cultures have different ways of viewing genders, as well, so honestly what sex you are is not a be all, end all. Context is everything! Who’s to say whether the fictional worlds that we’re enjoying in these games have a similar outlook to our own, or one that’s totally different? For me, exploring something like that adds to my enjoyment of the games.

  30. Matt says:

    You’re all missing my point. Firstly I am a Westerner. Secondly I’m not going to debate traits belonging to genders, it was just an example of firmly ground in stereotypes about the difference between genders.

    My point is that you SHOULD be able to choose genders but it should change how the story turns out. I don’t care about cultural differences, that’s not what I’m talking about. What I am talking about is that in any culture that I know to have existed (correct me if I’m wrong) has had different roles for male and female. Be it the Amazons or the Victorians. It doesn’t matter if in the East females manage the funds and in the West the men do, the point is that there is a difference between genders. I didn’t see that in Choice of Broadsides. I just saw a lot of he’s changed to she’s.

  31. I log on to respond to Matt, and find that UbiquitousGrue, esha, and Deviija have already made the bulk of my argument for me. :) We’re trying to make it possible for you to be able to play the kind of character you want to play and still be able to be the story’s protagonist. Or to say it another way, we want you to be able to play a character with whom you can relate and not penalize you for that choice, not restrict any future choices the way they might be restricted in the real world. We want you to be able to feel like yourself and still feel like the protagonist of a Hornblower novel.

    We are indeed viewing gender roles as socially-constructed rather than biologically-determined, and so it should be totally possible to play as a male seductress or a grizzle female private eye (I love those examples) or a ruling Queen who does not have to subordinate herself to her husband or a Prince who needs to be rescued from a dragon… To this end, we’re spending time trying to deconstruct what makes the archetype the archetype, separate from gender or sexual orientation.

    The approach has been pretty well-received, so far–we’ve gotten positive comments from people who enjoy feeling included in a way they sometimes don’t while playing other games.

    But of course it’s not to everyone’s taste. I’ve gotten a couple of other comments similar to Matt’s–to the effect that the player would prefer that a game with historical flavor not deviate from historical archetypes, stereotypes, and constraints. They would rather play as a historically-accurate man or a historically-accurate woman in a Hornblower story–would rather play as Hornblower with his choices or Lady Barbara with hers–instead of having a gender-flipped option.

    That’s a completely legitimate perspective. Those players will probably appreciate the greater historical verisimilitude of Vampire (in which, to quote Jason, “while you can certainly play a woman or an African American, the rest of the game-world does not change for you. Instead, the character will have to confront the very real forces of tribalism and discrimination that have defined so much of America’s history”) while the gender-equal world of Consort may not be as much to their taste. Another player will have exactly the opposite reaction. Hopefully, across the different CoG games, there will be something for everyone.

    It sounds from the last comment that Matt doesn’t necessarily want to see traditional Western gender roles, but only gender roles of some kind, since there are gender roles in the real world. I’d argue that Broadsides does have them. Depending on whether you choose to play as male or female, you’re the protective gender and the other one is the one on the pedestal: those are gender roles.

    Would we ever artificially construct them? Design a gameworld in which, by societal convention, only women are allowed to do X and only men are allowed to Y and only gay men are allowed to do Z, and then have the player navigate among those restraints? Yes, it’s quite possible we might. That’s it’s own kind of interesting. Speaking only for myself, thought, there’s a number of other games I want to write first, so perhaps someone else will beat us to it, exploring gender roles in that manner in a user-contributed game?

  32. John smith says:

    I prefer the 3rd choice just because I would prefer to be a king, rather than a consort. It sounds like it has less authority in my opinion

  33. I say: Still have gender neutral archetypes (Grizzled, old Private eye: Except as a woman. Seductive, tight clothes fitting male-fatale) But put those excellent, neutral stereotypes in a society that doesn’t jive with those things! This causes brilliant gender-neutrality discussions.

    Remember how Scout in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (sorry for the caps, I don’t know how to use italics in this editor) had problems tackling her ladyship and her own tomboyness. It provided a colorful and insightful discussion.

    I would love to play a woman, running in the wild with her male scouts, being the best hunter out of the whole group: To just come home and have her ear bitten off for not being a “lady.”

    I would also like to play a man, who daydreams every single day about his Prince Charming, but he is punched in the arm by his wing-man while at a yule-ball: To pick a lady to court.

    I don’t think anyone in this discussion wants gender-inequality (I.E: Women are confined to the Virgin or the Whore character archetypes OR that they can’t accomplish the same tasks as men.) or to have gay-relationships completely erased from the game.

    I just think that if we put them in, we can make more of a statement or ramp up the intensity.

  34. Luke Hunter says:

    Sorry, i have to jump in and say something here on Matts behalf, i do think that everyone is jumping in and telling him to stop being sexist when that really isnt what he is trying to say.
    I believe to put it simply, he is trying to say that the sex of the character has no impact on the story at all, and in this i agree with him.
    You could play through as a male or female, or even some wierd alien sex “other” and it would have absolutely no affect on the story what-so-ever except it would say either
    “he went to the door”
    “she went to the door”
    “it went to the door”
    That, thus far in both games” is the only effect that the gender change has had on the games.
    I understand why this is the case, it may be difficult to try and create a different but balanced scenario depending on the sex of a person, but maybe an example is:
    “a male bounce is standing at the door of the club” if your a guy, you will have to try and intimidate or bribe him to get past.
    However if your a girl, you can still intimidate or bribe him, but you also have the option of attempting to seduce him to get past.
    Or maybe both characters have all 3 options, but the guy who tries to seduce him just cops a smack to the face and a, “bugger off you wierdo”. This would add some depth/meaning to the whole gender choice.

    Before anyone flames me for this and calls me sexist, im just using this as an example, i by no means think that all girls do this, so please dont waste time jumping back and claiming i think all girls are objects, i just wanted to clarify a valid point that i think matt was attempting to make.

  35. Deviija says:

    I’d like to point everyone back to Heather’s lovely post/response on the matter. I think some have glossed over the fact that there ARE gender matters in Choice of Broadsides, and it goes beyond changing he to she. On the surface it may seem that way, but underneath it has more relevance to this discussion than I think folks are giving credit.

    If you choose to be a female, yes, the entire navy is female. This also means the entire social and domestic and homeport matters are flipped so that MEN are the ones staying at home, and MEN are the ones in the position of social and political prowess and governance. This is illustrated when your PC is considering that courting someone is good for your career (or you’d like someone special to share your time with). In this instance, we see the men in the mixing hall in these social/political/’domestic’ roles.

    That, in itself, is a huge social commentary on the matter of gender affecting the game.

    It concerns me that people require prejudice or a slap in the face response from the world/NPCs over what gender or sexuality you choose to play to be what signifies ‘showing relevance of roles within the world.’

  36. William says:

    So not only was “he” flipped to “she”, but “she” was also flipped to “he”? I haven’t played Broadsides as a woman yet, so I can’t comment on my own experience, but I doubt that all the NPCs switching sex as well as the player provides the tangible change in gameplay elements that people such as Matt are advocating when you play as different genders. Doesn’t it keep things exactly the same except genderswapped?

  37. russianspy1234 says:

    I am going to have to stand up for Matt as well. He isn’t (I don’t think) saying that only men or only women can do certain things, simply that societies perception can be different of it. A woman certainly could be a grizzled middle aged alcoholic private eye, however society perceives that as less common (whether that is true or not) and thus would react differently to her than they would to a male, especially in earlier times. While I do admire what the writters are trying to do, making it fair to both genders like in broadsides while trying to stay at least semifair to the historical context, which I think they accomplished, I agree with Matt, it woould be nice if gender changed more than names and pronouns, at least in some of the games. It could be as simple as keeping the gender of other characters the same and thus limiting your romantic prospects, or maybe having one special “area” for each gender while the rest of the game changes. Basically, my belief on these games is the same as I’ve argued in gender studies discussions, equal =/= identical.

  38. Firestorm717 says:

    Hm, I also agree that having gender affect some more aspects of the story would be very interesting. For example, in Choice of Broadsides, I was hoping to see how a female-only Royal Navy dealt with pregnancy. Obviously, in a male-dominated world, that wasn’t really an issue because the husbands were not physically encumbered, but I think if the Navy (and indeed, most positions of power) evolved as female-dominated, there would be very different policies revolving around childbearing. Even these simple biological differences could give rise to interesting what-if scenarios, and inspire dialogue about current laws.

  39. Thesupercuteandfuzzy says:

    Hi guys, this is my first post, so bear with me.
    I believe Matt is simply bringing attention to (please correct me if I’m wrong) the lack of choice to play as one who is of the “subordinate” gender. In Broadsides, for example, if the chosen dominant gender was female, then, I believe Matt is saying that choosing to play as a male character in such a world would change the game. In Broadsides, you can’t choose to play as one of the “subordinate” gender because the story is about the adventures and choices of one of the “dominant” gender.
    Personally, the ability to choose which gender is the dominant gender is one of the reasons why I love Choice of Broadsides. Changing which gender is the dominant gender is such an intriguing idea, and the ensuing humor is hilarious:
    “You are a young and gallant officer, but are you a young gentleman or a young lady?
    ~I’m a young gentleman, of course, and rather confused by the question.
    ~I’m a young lady. The idea of gentlemen going to sea and being exposed to the horrors of combat– it’s a frankly revolting idea.”
    That being said, I think that a Broadsides 1.5, with the story following one of the subordinate gender, would be quite entertaining.
    Returning to the subject of the first post by Heather Albano, I am in favor of inkwell’s: King/Queen insertnamehere1 and King’s/Queen’s Consort insertnamehere2. It seems like it could get lengthy, though. I also like Deviija’s: High Queen/King insertnamehere1 and King/Queen insertnamehere2.

  40. Punxysaur says:

    I will be ok with any of them but I don’t even think anyone know what I said in the other place so i was thinking that if you made another of the pirate and the chick you wanted from Gaul is still alive and you run into her/him again in battle yet you can still love her so you can choose to have a chat with her/him and then he/she can offer you to join Gaul and if you still want to be with her so you join her and kill the other members and then you come up with a plan to steal your old team battleplan and use it against them. Gaul win the war and your love one offer marriage to you and you can argee to it and you get married

  41. Anise Strong-Morse says:

    I think that what Broadsides achieves, in particular, is a shift in player perceptions, rather than character ones. Yes, at a mechanical level, the genders are simply reversed; one could argue that it “makes no difference.” But playing a female captain in a female Navy undeniably felt like a qualitatively new experience to me, even after playing a male captain. Among other things, I judged my romantic interests differently. A frivolous flirty young gentleman comes across differently than a frivolous flirty young lady.

    I’m currently writing another Choicescript game for Choice of Games focused on the political career of a young Roman during the late Roman Republic. This game, unlike Broadsides, is not set in a lightly altered fantasy setting like Albion, largely because we judged that the audience would be more interested in playing in a historically plausible Rome than in “Rema;” I’d be happy to hear if readers think differently. As a consequence, you are required to play a male Roman protagonist, because there’s simply no way to have a historically authentic Rome where women can pursue political careers in the same type of ways that men can. (Among other issues, unlike Broadsides, having children will be a part of your character’s life, and I think no one would be made happy by unexpectedly dying in childbirth a third of the way through the game.)

    Since one of my favorite things about Choice of Games is the intriguing take on gender and sexuality (showcased even more in the upcoming awesome “Choice of the Consort”), I did want to include that aspect. Therefore, there’s absolutely an option to play a male Roman protagonist who’s primarily attracted to other men. That will definitely shape and affect your career and life, as the Romans had definite ideas and attitudes about such attractions. On the other hand, I won’t be bowing to certain modern (or some ancient) stereotypes; your character won’t suddenly start mincing or lisping if you choose to play a character sexually attracted towards other men. (If you choose to imagine your character walking or speaking differently, that’s fine, naturally.)

    I am curious, before the game gets any farther, what people’s reactions are to the idea of having a gender-limited protagonist in the interest of a more authentic setting, while still allowing for some interesting examinations of sexuality.

  42. William says:

    I’d be completely fine with that, Anise, and am actually rather looking forward to your game now.

  43. Luke Hunter says:

    Hehe, this thread got slightly sidetracked didn’t it.
    Is there any way you guys could implement a forum or something, so that we would have a place to discuss all these ideas?

  44. Deviija says:

    I think the theory of an authentic setting that really does explore and examine sexuality sounds brilliant, Anise. Rome is one of my favorite settings with so much political climate, intrigue, promiscuity and chastity, laws and policy, and how different many views about many things were then that are taboo/prejudiced against now.

    However, at the same time, I am not personally interested in playing restrictive gender-based games. It is in large part a fault of mainstream gaming over the course of my life and becoming cynical and alienated far too many times by the industry (and what they view as a game, catering to one very specific demographic). But that said, I would play such a game mainly because of the same-sex relations from a male POV. Being able to have M/M romance and sexuality in my games is a high freedom and interaction that I rarely get to enjoy in commercial games. Something I prefer to see/read when weaving my characters’ stories.

    My mixed feelings, but there it is. :)

  45. Anise Strong-Morse says:

    Devija, I totally understand the mixed feelings, and share them to a large extent. The problem I’ve been having is that I think Broadsides was able to gender-switch successfully because it focused on a fairly narrow slice of society. Adam and Heather didn’t have to worry about lack of effective contraception or the physical strength needed to run a pump in a coal mine or other such issues. In Consort, meanwhile, which I suspect you’ll very much enjoy, the entire focus is on court life and romance. But Choice of the Roman is explicitly trying to capture as many facets as possible of elite Roman life, and I’m not sure how to gender-switch that without writing two entirely separate games. I can promise you, however, that there are some very strong and influential female characters (somewhat the reverse of Broadsides, where people have complained that everyone interesting was the same gender as the protagonist.)

  46. Sabrina Dent says:

    Technically, the correct appellation would be “Queen Mary and His Royal Highness The Prince Consort” or “King John and Her Royal Highness The Princess Consort.” Spouses of monarchs would then be referred to less formally in the narrative as Prince Bob and Princess Julia. This seems like a very workable solution to me.

    See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_consort

  47. [...] Albano writes about setting up a court-intrigue/romance game plotline in a gender-equal gaming [...]

  48. Kate14 says:

    Flippin eck whats with all the Deep meaninhful debates just make me a game where i can breathe dire n eat peasants.

  49. EllieMurasaki says:

    Why distinguish between king and queen at all? Why not something like Ruler and Ruler’s Consort? Except that sounds stupid, but I’m sure there’s a good gender-neutral word out there…somewhere…

  50. Jayn says:

    One thing Matt said jumped out at me, that being that choice of gender changing how the game is played. Frankly, it strikes me as missing hte point of feminism–choices. I don’t WANT my games to change based on which gender I choose, and I don’t want to be corralled into certain playstyles if I prefer to play as one gender over another. It reminds me of a joke from the human females in WoW–”Why does everyone assume i know cooking and tailoring?” I don’t want to have to play as male to be able to play in the way I choose.

    (As to Luke–how about having characters randomly assigned gay/straight/bi attributes? Would make the ‘seduce’ option a bit more interesting :P)

    Finally, to the point–I really like the King’s/Queen’s Consort option, or just plain Consort.

  51. William says:

    Yeah, Jayn, I suppose that’s what the whole thing’s about: whether you prefer historical accuracy or gender neutrality. You just fit into the latter camp.

    Well, I suppose that since Broadsides is set in FakeEngland rather than England “historical accuracy” isn’t really the correct term to use. I suppose what we (read: I) would like is a game where the choice of gender won’t automatically shift the gender you choose into being the dominant one in the setting, effectively resulting in an identical (disregarding pronouns) experience when you replay as the other. And since that’s what we’re going to be getting in CotV, I’m the happiest man ever to have lived.

    PS if anything I’ve said here is retarded/just not true then forgive me. I’m not good at things.

  52. [...] een wereld waar de seksen gelijkwaardig zijn, maakt een historische romance bijna onmogelijk. De auteurs:  Which meant we had just deprived ourselves of all the usual building blocks of a Tudoresque court [...]

  53. John says:

    I would love to see some western(old west), choice books …

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