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Default Single Protaganists in RPG's?

November 20th, 2007, 01:25
Rina brought up her complaint of a forced male protagonist in Eschalon. Similar complaints have been recently about the Witcher for a variety of reasons. Other games have this such as Tomb Raider.

Is it sexist? Does it show a lack of poor game design?

The argument has been made that the characters are designed for the story in mind but some players don't like the paths they inevitably forced to make. They argue that this kind of design is inflexible.

The biggest complaint is that female gamers are underrepresented and when women are portrayed its as some sort of male fantasy made with triangles.

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November 20th, 2007, 02:13
I guess I don't really invest myself in my avatar as much as some players, so it's easy for me to play females or males. Half the time, I think the deciding factors for me are the voice and the portrait (and no, that doesn't mean I aim for the chainmail bikini). In Wiz8 for example, there are a few female voice/portrait/class combos that "fit" for me, so I tend to have females in my party with those combos. From the other angle, I guess I don't feel limited if I only get one gender to pick from.

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November 20th, 2007, 02:17
well plenty of games that do give you the option can actually be more sexist. i'd much rather play a good pregen female character like april ryan (though not an rpg) than have the option to play a build it yourself character with no core personality. but you are right there are very few pregen characters in rpgs that are female.

this would be a good time to point out though that deus ex 2 has a lovely female character you can play as that is quite different from playing as the male alex
one actually feels like playing a male alex and the other a female, not just some neutered lines read by an uninthused voice actor.

there's actually quite a number of adventure games that have female protagonists, partially because those games appeal to those not in the mood to start a body count. my favourite genre is actually a blend of adventure/rpg and i personally think sinces those games are heavily story and dialog based that having more than a pregen character makes in depth story telling impossible.
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November 20th, 2007, 05:25
For me the issue doesn't come down to a character's gender really. I'm just as happy to play Tomb Raider as, oh, Planescape Torment (yes, vastly different games I know, but I'm not talking about gameplay here). If the fixed character is there to facilitate specific story-telling then fine, although I will admit that a game with a fixed character will diminish my initial interest in the game. I do by far prefer to create my own characters, if only because different builds offer different ways to get through the adventure, and I do enjoy coming up with my own concepts.
However, a fixed character usually allows far greater character-game interaction and connection, so that's a plus.

Ultimately it comes down to how well, or not so well, that fixed character is integrated into the game. If it's an RPG, allow me to build that character as I see fit. If it's an action game, I could really care less.

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November 20th, 2007, 07:01
I personally prefer to play a game with a fixed character - in the likes of Gothic, Eshcalon, etc, rather than play a game with loads of character creation options - like NWN2, and it seems to have little to none impact on the story. Or anywhere else.
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November 20th, 2007, 07:16
In real (p&P) RPGs, I can look back on a couple of horrible gaming moments when it comes to pregenerated characters (like in those, erm, fantastic AD&D Dragonlance modules). In p&p RPGs, the players ultimately make the story (or the GM succeeds at keeping up the illusion of freedom) so I really do care about playing my own character. Which most of the time (75%) is male.

While I can get really immersed in a computer game and suffer with a pre-generated hero or heroine, I still like to choose my character's looks, gender included. So if a game offers more than one version of the protagonist or a host of protagonists I can choose from (or at least has a paperdoll), it's a tiny plus for said game. I don't mind playing Gothic's male hero, though I would have loved to be able to choose his looks: while his gender was important (at least in G1), his looks weren't important for the story. In Quake 2, I loved the fact that you could play as a female, and I was really sore when they ditched that option for Q4… but not because I felt restricted by the preset gender (I always pick the character whose looks I prefer regardless of gender), I just felt they prevented me from continuing 'my' game.

In one of the Atari 2600 games, you could choose between a boy and a girl who went out to save their girlfriend/boyfriend from a vampire. This was the first game I remember where I could pick my character's gender, which was nice to have.

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November 20th, 2007, 07:33
Matters little to me, I've played both. Kult forced you to play as a female, Gothic as a male and I enjoyed both games immensely. While I obviously play a male more realistically, it can be fun to play as a female sometimes. I have a couple of female NWN chars, and like Dte, I always use a mixed party in games like Wiz 8 or M&M.

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November 20th, 2007, 08:32
Like Corwin it doesn't really matter to me though I have a preference to play male. It's nice to the choice but I prefer a really good story with excellent gameplay.
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November 20th, 2007, 08:34
It would be easy to say that it doesn't matter, but if I would almost always have to play a female character in games I don't think I would consider it fun anymore (I'm male). So I'm actually surprised there is no more criticism from the women's side on this matter. Think about the keywords 'fun' and 'sometimes' in Corwin's post above.
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November 20th, 2007, 08:49
I think that life is full of trade-offs. Yes I would like the perfect game but I know that is very unlikely so I accept that I will not get it. If I was mega-rich perhaps I would commission my own game but I'm not. So gender isn't the deciding factor (and after all it's suppose to be role playing).

In my perfect game I agree that gender would be selectable.
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November 20th, 2007, 08:56
Originally Posted by Jaz View Post
In one of the Atari 2600 games, you could choose between a boy and a girl who went out to save their girlfriend/boyfriend from a vampire. This was the first game I remember where I could pick my character's gender, which was nice to have.
I know exactly what game you're refering to, I had that game as well.

…..wish I could remember the name….
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November 20th, 2007, 09:32
In adventure games and games like Tomb Raider I'm fine playing whatever sex the game has me playing, it's like watching a movie or reading a book only then with interactive bits.

In my RPGs I want to play the character I want to play, make my own story so to speak within the limits of the game. I can honestly say I have never completed an RPG that made me play a male character. I just cannot get into an RPG the way I do when I have a choice.
I suppose it is because I tend to project myself on the main character, I could never play the evil side in RPGs that allow that either. Both playing a character of opposite gender or alignment just is no fun to me, and I've stopped trying to force myself to do so a long time ago just because people say I'm missing out.

So gender choice is definitely an important thing for me. As a matter of fact, the more choices the better. Give me a chance to customise looks, race, class, gender, voice, hairstyle, piercings, tattoos and earrings, and so on, and I'm a happy girl
(of course that is just the beginning, the game has to be fun to play as well, but if I already get turned off a game at character creation (or lack there off) there is no hope I'll get immersed as much as I do with games where I have the choice).
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November 20th, 2007, 11:35
It is almost no point in trying to change the mind of a true feminist they are both unreasonable and blind. In Sweden everything should be equal… so now the haircut for male and female has to cost the same or it is discrimination… nevermind that cutting a female's hair takes twice as long on average!

It is equally stupid to pick on games that doesn't allow you to play both as male and female. If it is a generic RPG without many story-elements ok, there complaint can be acceptable. But if the RPG has a story predefined for a specific personality it is just like picking down on Harry Potter because the main character is not female… thus for any production either a lot of males or females most complain and boycott the product.
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November 20th, 2007, 14:01
Agreed with GothicGothicness.

Playing a rpg where the character, the «class» is pregenerated tend to offer the best roleplaying experience. Many of the best NWN SP modules are designed around a specific character. Else, it's too much to support. What if the player is a female dark gnome? It's pretty hard to create a game based around this unless it's specifically designed for a female dark gnome.
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November 20th, 2007, 14:08
I wonder what the gender split among people who write for computer games is . . . on the assumption that they're mostly male geeks it's probably a good thing that we don't have more female protagonists in computer games as they'd probably end up being rather unconvincing female characters. Just think how cringe makingly painful most attempts to work some kind of female love interest into role playing games have been and then imagine it being that convincing for the whole of the game

Anyway, different things for different situations. A well fleshed out character properly integrated into the plot is great. An open ended ability to define your characters is great, although more for party games as I find that if I'm doing a single player game I end up tending towards some kind of an all rounder, even if they've got some specialties.
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November 20th, 2007, 17:53
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
I wonder what the gender split among people who write for computer games is . . . on the assumption that they're mostly male geeks it's probably a good thing that we don't have more female protagonists in computer games as they'd probably end up being rather unconvincing female characters.
I'm not so sure about this. From what I have seen on the Dragon Age forum for example, it seems to me that quite a few of the professional writers hired for this game are women.

But personally, it's just that at its core, I find that a game with a medieval setting where genders are equal feels silly. Come on, beside Joan of Arc and a few minor exceptions, women have always been considered as negligeable in term of strength in medieval/antiquity time. Just doing the opposite for the very modern principle of politically correctness and gender equality… I'm not sure how to describe this but it seems to destroy how much I can get into the game setting.

For some games it's not a big deal, but in a rpg where the story is something very important… well…
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November 20th, 2007, 18:38
It's better if you're given that option, I think. Especially if it makes a difference, even if it's just an occasional little thing.

Recently I replayed IWD with a female paladin leading the party. There were a few moments with unique dialogue pertaining both to her paladin status and her obvious hotness. I was entertained by that, and it caused me to gain a higher opinion of the game.
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November 20th, 2007, 18:47
To some extent I agree with vanedor, in that if a female is adopting a central role in a realistic medieval setting, it shouldn't be out of an artificial political correctness. She should have a very specific background (as in Joan of Arc, Catherine de Medici, Elinor of Aquitaine, the Lady in the Lake, etc) that makes it believable—unless, of course, it's set in a fantasy world, where they certainly might have a different evolution of male-female stereotypes.

Which brings me to the idea of fantasy, which is certainly a hefty segment of what constitutes the appeal of role-playing. It's all a fantasy, and you should get to be what you want—if you can. But just picking a female character often doesn't really mean a whole lot.

As an example, let's take Bioware's early rpgs. Do you have a choice of gender -yes. Is it meaningful? Hard to say—but because their games succeed in other role-playing aspects, you don't really notice that your female character is probably going to play just like your male character. That's the strength of a well-imagined gameworld and a huge variety of character customizations and skills. Looked at differently, maybe it's also merely the ultimate in political correctness.

Of all the rpg's I've played, the only one I can think of atm where I appreciated the pre-generated female characters and felt their behaviour and personalities were plausible was one where I played a pre-generated male character. (Planescape:Torment.)

Frankly, much as I prefer to play as a female when possible, I think the gender of an avatar is mainly cosmetic. If picking a female avatar results in different story events, dialogue and experience, then it's significant; however very rarely is this the case. It would be nice someday to see a well-crafted rpg with a believable female protagonist, but right now I'm happy if I can just play a well-crafted rpg.

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November 20th, 2007, 21:09
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I know exactly what game you're refering to, I had that game as well.

…..wish I could remember the name….
Now I remember, it was Ghost Manor! It was half of the only Xonox Double Ender I had, the other half was Spike's Peak.

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November 20th, 2007, 22:56
Originally Posted by Jaz View Post
Now I remember, it was Ghost Manor! It was half of the only Xonox Double Ender I had, the other half was Spike's Peak.

Yes! I knew it had "mansion" or "manor" in the title, and I remember Spike's Peak now as well.


Here you go….
http://www.atariguide.com/4/472.htm


http://www.atariguide.com/4/476.htm
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