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Would you mind an Agender protagonist? (Forums : General Banter : Would you mind an Agender protagonist?) Post Reply
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Sep 18 2017 Anchor

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?

Edited by: TilenM

Sep 19 2017 Anchor

To be honest why does it matter? Is it a centeral point in your story? or are you doing it to virtue signal?


A lot of so called critics miss the mark time and time again, it's really not a matter of the character's race/orientation/etc. It's how they're written and built throguh story telling. Judging by your pros I'd say you're more leaning towards virtue signaling about how progressive you are rather than making a good game or a well written character. It's not going to make the character more mysterious by the way, especially if you beat people over the head with it. I also love how you write off any cons as bias without actually dissecting them or actually addressing the issue which is just reinforcing my assumption that you are just doing it to be oh so progressive.

I'd honestly come back when you have a concrete outline of the character before proposing it because what you're trying to sell to not only me but peole here is a bland 2D cut out with a "it's Agender! WOW!" flyer taped to it.

Sep 20 2017 Anchor

Would you mind if the game's main character would be Agender?

It really depends on the story IMO. If your game is about a life of a blind girl, having agender protagonist would obviously not fit. OTOH if the game is about alien or monster trying to save the world, gender hardly matters so agender protagonist would do.

Example : Ghost Trick : Phantom Detective is about ghost trying to save people while discovering the truth about his/her death. At beginning of game, you might guess protagonist' gender however after completing the game, you could see that gender of protagonist has no effect to the story

Is gender something you even notice?

Usually I never bother since gameplay is always my main focus of playing a game.


Sep 20 2017 Anchor
DarkBloodbane wrote:

Would you mind if the game's main character would be Agender?

It really depends on the story IMO. If your game is about a life of a blind girl, having agender protagonist would obviously not fit. OTOH if the game is about alien or monster trying to save the world, gender hardly matters so agender protagonist would do.

Example : Ghost Trick : Phantom Detective is about ghost trying to save people while discovering the truth about his/her death. At beginning of game, you might guess protagonist' gender however after completing the game, you could see that gender of protagonist has no effect to the story

Is gender something you even notice?

Usually I never bother since gameplay is always my main focus of playing a game.

This is honestly the response of the average person. No one really cares I think. Again I don't think the gender of the character is really even necessary as anything but some side info instead of the main selling point. I think as a marketer you've really overestimated the value of this one faucet of the character as a selling point.

In any case hope Mr. Marketer understand what people are getting at

Sep 20 2017 Anchor

Is the protagonist's gender really important?
If it is not, is mentioning it important story-wise?

If "No" is the answer to both questions, why don't you simply make it androgynous?
By having an androgynous character (and never mentioning its true gender) would make said character mysterious, but it would not be necessarily innovative or set you apart from other games (as said characters have been in Dragon Age or Zelda, for instance).

As why to do that, I personally think it is a good idea to have an androgynous protagonist (whose gender is never mentioned) so that said gender is applied by the person playing it.
This way, the point of view of the protagonist would change depending on whom is playing it, some would play it in a more "Female" way, while others would play it in a more "Male" way; even more so if it's a game with many choices that branch up the plot of the game.

It would not be much different than choosing the classic "Male/Female" but it would be an improvement because you wouldn't have to work on minimum two protagonist models, you wouldn't have to set up the story in a way that keeps track of the protagonist's gender and you could simply skip the whole "select gender" part; Plus, there are some people that identify as both, or neither... By having an androgynous character whose gender is never mentioned or chosen, they could easily identify as anything and immerse themselves in more easily.

TLDR: I see having an androgynous protagonist as less work, an improvement under many aspects and surely more original than most games albeit not innovative.
I would definitively consider it unless the game is required to have a certain gender (Pregnancy, for instance).

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