The Problem with Video Game Character Creators

For video games where you build your own character, why does it only give you the option of “male” or “female” to choose from?

The first character creator that stood out to me, honestly, was in My Sims, an adequate Wii game spin-off of The Sims. You create your character in it, but you don’t assign any gender – you have access to all options in the editor.  Of course, all the characters are chibi so there isn’t really a “body type” difference in the characters you see around town, so why bother having that constraint?

But what if more games did that? Even if you did have different body-types, why not have all the options available, and not have to assign a gender? The lead character is usually addressed by their name anyway, and the Singular They could be used when your character isn’t directly being addressed.

I’ve had some people just recently argue with me about how “Singular They” is an abomination to the English language and that they refuse to use it, however. (Really? English? English itself is an abomination…) So I have a different suggestion for your character creators to get around this.

Don’t assign gender to your character in a character-creator. Assign pronouns.

The programming is not going to be much different from switching between he/she in the dialogue. You could store variables to be swapped out based on the pronouns. (He Him His – She Her Hers – They Them Theirs – and so on).

But that doesn’t go far enough – since these values are going to be stored in variables anyway, why not allow the user to type in their own pronouns?  Just have them enter in the three-or-so variations of the pronoun that shows up in the given language.

pronounbox

Many games allow the user to type in their own name – so give it a try, let people enter their own pronouns. Let people choose any option in the character editor.

Update, February 19th

I recently watched a GiantBomb Quick Look for Sunless Sea, and during the character creation process, I saw that they ask the question, “What term of address do you prefer ashore?” with options like “Madam”, “Sir”, “Citizen”, and more, which is a nice, story-integrated way to deal with this.

address

You can check out Sunless Sea’s official webpage here.

Do you know any other games that do this?

La Ido Linguo and Sharing it with Others

quoesasito

Esperanto has a problem with branding. Can Ido be a blank slate for introducing others to Auxiliary languages?

Most people who have already heard of Esperanto, regard it with disdain, for some reason. I think part of the problem is that they see it as egotistical for one man to invent a language. Some people are a bit more familiar with Esperanto than just the ‘synopsis’, and their dislike of Esperanto comes from run-ins with Esperantistoj, who come off as pushy and defensive. (This, I think, is mainly because there’s a few myths about Esperanto that everybody brings up, and we’re tired of hearing it, so we get exasperated. Nobody listens to us! :P)

So, Esperanto has a branding problem. However, Ido does not. This is partially because almost nobody knows what Ido is.

Ido is more of a tabula rasa at this point. Yes, there are few speakers of Ido, and nobody knows what it is, but that can make it a building point.

I also think that telling people what Ido is would go over a bit better – Oh, a committee of people put together this language! Somehow sounds more scientific and thought-out than just some random man.

You still have the problem of the over-European influences on the language, even more so than Esperanto it seems like, but since nobody knows Ido to begin with, it’s about “marketing” that as a strength. Perhaps not jumping right into the “Fina Venko”, “This is a global second language for everybody” pitch. (Does Ido even have a “Fina Venko”? I’m not that close to Ido culture).

You also have the advantage of Ilu Elu Olu. People new to Ido won’t find the same fighting going on over the Esperanto -iĉ, gender neutrality, and so on. Some people, who would otherwise be interested in learning Esperanto, can run into this early on and leave – not because it’s being discussed, but because of the hate that gets spewed when it is discussed. Alienating people who voluntarily come to the language is not the way to spread your language!

I, myself, kabeis (left the Esperanto world) several times, but eventually came back because it was fundamentally a fun thing for me. I just learned which communities to avoid. ;P

Minor pluses include lack of hats – strange and different, hard-to-type (relatively) characters are intimidating! And perhaps lack of accusative – though, really kids, the accusative isn’t a difficult concept to grasp. I had trouble with it at first, too, but it’s really not difficult. ;P

So what do you think?  If you’re an Esperantist, do you think that Ido is worth a shot? (I mean, you already know Esperanto, how much more work would it be to learn Ido?)

Would it be worth it to be a part of and build the Ido community?

My Ido website is here: http://niaido.moosader.com/

And if you’d like to be part of a chatroom, there is #NiaIdo on Freenode. You can connect via the web through this link.


Some input from my friend Tea (with formatting/grammatical fixes):

As a long time Ido learner, I think that Ido has both a disadvantage and an advantage. That is: It is not well-known.

How’s that good?

Well, Esperanto community is already as big as it is but it’s also very crystallized. It is not flexible at all. Now, Ido is a very beautiful language and it fixes and improves a lot of Esperanto flaws (Call it flaws, call it features) although that depends on your taste. Ido has a chance of not learning of the mistakes of the past and to grow up and mature (both physically and actually the community feels very cozy because is not as big as Esperanto’s).

I always saw Esperanto and Ido as two languages that can live together, that could even merge into one or even many languages (which would be really cool). Maybe they are not as close as dialects but they are two really close languages one to the other.

I saw other communities of not-known-languages that are really cool they are so flexible, so collaborative, they care about newcomers and about making the language grow and not bashing people for “not using it properly” and to see people speaking different languages, understanding each other and going towards the same goal is simply marvellous.

Because what I hate the most is to be new at something and have a bunch of smart-asses bashing me instead of helping me.