Friday, September 26, 2014

How can I Stop making Sexist games?

 "How can I stop making
Sexist games?"
Apparently, my works, at least to some, make me look at least subconsciously sexist. I want that to stop. I want to do things right. I want to write positive women characters. I want to avoid tropes that degrade women and instead actively make a point FOR women, not against them.
 -- Genuinely looking for advice. 
When I started writing M/M fiction I ran into a similar problem, I was a Female trying to write from a Male's point of view. How about I give you some of the tricks I used to get around that particular wall?

First, memorize this: 

Males and Females are
Not Interchangeable.

Women are Not guys with a pussy any more than guys are women with dicks  -- no matter how much the modern teen wants to think so. 

Read This: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.
 -- There's a lot of bitching about this book, but that doesn't change the fact that it's RIGHT, and it has the absolute best view of the Gender Divide; how men think vs. how women think.

Males and Females THINK, FEEL, and REACT differently because biology has designed them for different things.
  • Males are not designed to be impregnated.
  • Females are. 
That's not Sexism, that's Biology. The biology that goes with being, or not being a potential baby factory strongly influences how the individual sees and feels about the rest of world around them. Especially when it comes to... 

The act of Possible procreation.

Most guys (not all of them,) see sex as Entertainment; something fun to do. Some even see sex as a Sport; "Gotta get 'em all!"

Women, on the other hand, see sex as a Life-Threatening experience every time they have sex. This is because to a female, Sex = Possible Pregnancy and pregnancy can KILL.

Even in this day and age with all our medical advancements, women still DIE just from being pregnant. Hell, a woman can survive all 9 months of pregnancy and still die the moment they take the damned thing out -- right on the table. Some die months later, after its out!
It is estimated that 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in the U.S. in 2013, a total of almost 800 deaths.
Read  -- Maternal deaths in childbirth rise in the U.S.
Imagine knowing that there's a real possibility that you could DIE at the age of 13, (puberty). That's how old I was when my Mom told me that Sex = Pregnancy, that the pill isn't perfect protection, and pregnancy could mean Death. Just to make matters worse, having an abortion can also kill you, plus there are STDs that will kill you too.

Now imagine being told that sex WILL happen eventually, that's it's utterly unavoidable, and that the first experience aways Hurts and Bleeds.

Kind of changes your perspective on why females search so desperately for someone that Loves them once they're old enough to have sex, ne?

A 'good' girl isn't a 'good' girl anymore, she's merely Terrified of being hurt or dying, and a 'bitch' is not just a cock-tease, she's a woman actively searching for someone that will Love her with the only weapons she has; her looks and her ability to say "No" to those who would use her and toss her aside. A 'slut' however, is someone actively pursuing Suicide though sex.

Now imagine that a female has finally decided to have sex with someone she cares for, and the guy Refuses to use a condom and declares that he intends to cum inside her.
-- What is She feeling at this time?

If you can't guess, it's Betrayal -- and Terror.

THIS why so many females Hate the games that feature such scenes. To them, it's not sexy entertainment, it's HORROR.


What is Sexism?
  • Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of Gender. 
This shows up in games as:
  • One gender presented as Inferior to the other by way of stereotypical gender-based appearances and/or behavior.

  • The big brawny Hero vs. the fragile, delicate Heroine
  • The plain, mild-mannered, gentlemanly Hero vs. the gorgeous, aggressive, violent Heroine 
  • The lazy, slacker Hero vs. the athletic, straight-A, childhood-friend Heroine
As you can see, it goes both ways -- and it's WRONG both ways! However...

 Far too many game Heroes are:
Saviors of Women.

What's wrong with a good old-fashioned Rescue? Nothing at all, unless...

When the Stronger gender
Rescues the Fairer gender -- it's SEXISM.

Here's a rhetorical question for you:
  • Who is Stronger, and who is Fairer? 
Clue-by-four: If you chose a Gender to answer that, your answer is Sexist.

And that's not even the worst of it.
The Power of LOVE

The very worst form of Sexism --and the most popular-- is:
  • The Inferior gender is Fixed, Rescued, or given Salvation by the Superior gender through The Power of Love.
'Good' females are awkward, helpless, feather-brains, 'bad' females are heartless, cock-tease bitches, and the cure for all their problems is the Love (sexual or not,) granted by the male 'Hero' character.

Bad Girl + Hero's Love  =  Bliss

In other words; they're being 'cured' by "The Magical Penis," to quote my editor.

Don't worry, these game creators are not alone. In fact, they're outnumbered. There are tons and tons of bodice-ripper books that do the opposite; cure the Beastly Male with Love and "The Magical Pussy". The book Twilight is a perfect example of this.

By the way, the original model for this type of story is the fairy tale; Beauty & the Beast.

What's wrong with
Love/Sex Saving the Day?

-- Love can, and does, make things better and can be amazing support in times of crises, but Love can't fix Real Problems.

Then there's the flip-side... 

Demonic Love

In games that feature Demonic characters, they take it one step further; the Main Character (usually Male,) grants their Love to a demon (more often than not; Female,) who then destroys them for it by turning them into a demon, and/or sending them to Hell.
Love = Damnation
Denial = A long healthy life with No Sex.
That's almost like saying "Masturbation will give you hairy palms."

Taken to the extreme, this theme becomes the foundational Trope of Slasher movies; Death by Sex, where sex or even kissing was enough to get someone killed -- and messily.

What's wrong with
Damning you to Perdition?

Well, it's shows an undercurrent of Hate or Fear of the Opposite Gender (and sex) that dates back to the Victorian Era.
In Victorian England, the only way women could legally have power and property was through the death of their husbands -- IF she'd borne him No Living Sons. Women could not inherit property and keep it. All legal rights to any properties she might have went to whoever she married. Therefore, any Widow with power and property was automatically assumed to be a Murderess of her husband, and forced to wear Black as a blatant warning. This is despite the fact that England had a ruling Queen that everyone supposedly adored.

So back then, men considered women Terrifying. In fact, playing with hookers (and Russian Roulette with Syphilis,) was considered Safer than getting married. At the same time, women considered men unreasonable beasts out to murder them with sex because 4.9 out of every 1000 women died in childbirth.
Just to be clear, when they talked about a woman suffering "a fate worse than death," they weren't referring to sex. They were referring to Pregnancy. In other words, nine months of suffering then dying. You see, a child created out of wedlock was expected to kill the mother.

Truthfully though, I don't think Fear of the Opposite Sex has anything to do with these games. I believe that they were simply trying to make a Romance game and this theme was one they'd been exposed to one too many times, so they used it.

However, there's another theme used far too often.

--Gratitude Sex/Love--
Pussy as Reward
This is where The Hero Saves the Girl and Wins her Love, also known as the Damsel in Distress theme. It's a VERY popular theme, but it's not (emotionally) healthy in the slightest. Realistically speaking, gratitude wears off pretty fast, especially if someone else suddenly does the saving.

So, once you stop using "The Magical Penis" and "Pussy as Reward" themes, what's left?

No, seriously...!
Have the characters Save Themselves and fix their own problems. Someone who loves them can Support them and Assist them, but ultimately people will never feel secure mentally or emotionally until they can save themselves. Anything else is Wishful-Thinking and Fairy Tales.

So, how do you Do this?

You can start out with a story that LOOKS like a Magical Penis/Pussy story, or a Damsel in Distress tale if you like, but have the main character realize that gaining Love/Sex isn't enough to fix the Main Problem. Whatever that problem is, they have to go out and fix it Themselves -- with Love/Sex being the emotional/physical support they needed to do so -- NOT the Reward.

Simple, ne?

Not really.
 -- Sexism is most often rooted in the Characters rather than in a story's actions, so to avoid Sexism, you need to avoid characters defined ONLY by their Gender. 

What kind of characters
should you put in your games?
The kind the Plot needs to be fulfilled.  

How do you figure that out?
  1. What is your story/game's Master Problem.  
    • There's a monster eating people.
    • There's a murderer that needs to be found.
    • They want to go to the Dance, but don't have a partner yet.
    • They have a crush on someone they feel is Out of their League.
  2. What kind of characters would be the Least able to fix the story's Master Problem -- at first glance?  
    • Those are the characters you need. 
Seriously...! The trials and tribulations it takes to BECOME someone who can fix the Master Problem, or find someone to assist them, will guarantee that Sexist is the last thing those characters will be.

Before you go adding
Love, Sex, or Romance to your games...
Know Thyself!
You need to understand how You really feel about Men, Women, Sex, and Love because your personal experiences and feelings toward these subjects will be reflected in your Games.

Here's an exercise:
How you Really feel about Females:
-- Who represents the perfect Female to you?
-- How do They feel about the opposite gender? (If you don't know, then Guess.)
-- Do you Agree or Disagree, and Why?

How you Really feel about Males:
-- Who represents the perfect Male to you?
-- How do They feel about the opposite gender? (If you don't know, then Guess.)
-- Do you Agree or Disagree, and Why?

How you Really feel about Sex:
-- Is Sex an Entertainment, a Sport, a Gift, a Responsibility, or something else entirely?
-- What have you learned from your personal experiences?
-- Is Sex a Good thing, or a Bad thing?

How you Really feel about Love:
-- Have you ever been truly in Love?
-- What have you learned from your personal experiences?
-- Is Love a Good thing, or a Bad thing?

How much of what you know came from Books, TV, and Movies?

How much of what you've seen in TV, Books, and Moves is WRONG?
-- Give examples:

How much of what you've seen TV, Books, and Moves is RIGHT?
-- Give examples:
By realizing your personal views on Love, Sex, and the Opposite Gender, you can see --point blank-- WHAT you are putting in your games.

Guys, want to create
better Female Characters...?

Here's an exercise:

Write a Mary Sue.
Write yourself into a story as a Woman dealing with a Male that has no interest in romance. (Having him Not interested because he's interested in a different female is right out!)

The most effective way to do this is:
  • Pick a Movie you know and like, and Insert Yourself as a Female, but not as an established character, as a New character. 
  • Don't Change your base personality. Leave it intact! 
  • Make sure that your female character has a healthy respect for the consequences of Pregnancy -- Death. (This will keep her attitude towards sex and romance realistic.)
  • Put your female character opposite the male character that has no interest in romance and change that character's mind about Your Character. Make him Like her. 
  • Use her Character, not her Body to change his mind. (Being Hot is not good enough!)
  • Do this without changing His true base character.
  • Write this from Her point of view only -- no switching!
Aim for 5000 words, 10,000 if you need it.

When it's done, have at least two of your Female beta readers look at it and ask:
  • Was the Male Character 'In Character' or 'Out of Character'?
  • Was the female character Realistic?
  • LISTEN to their advice.
You can tell them that it's just an experiment in writing female characters because it is, but Do NOT tell them that it's a Mary Sue.

This should prove quite the eye-opening exercise for any guy who wants to write at least semi-realistic female characters. When I did this to improve writing Male characters, the results proved to be quite enlightening.


Writing Narrative in VNs

Coffee & Tea by Meisan

On Writing Narrative
in Visual Novels
I twitch as he slowly moves his hand to my shirt and up it. His fingertips tickle a bit, but I resist laughing.
-- From a long adult scene posted by a VN creator looking for a Critique.
The scene itself was excellent, lots of descriptive details and quite entertaining, however the sentence structure used to write the scene...? There were more than a few examples I could have used from that post, but this one line covers pretty much everything.

Something I only learned after being published:
When writing a Story, you're Not supposed to put two people's Actions in the same paragraph, and definitely not in the same sentence, for exactly the same reason you don't put two people's Dialogue in the same paragraph.

Everybody knows that when a new character speaks they get a new paragraph, right? In other words, you DON'T put two different people talking in the same paragraph. Anyone who has written any kind of fiction learns this pretty darned quick, (usually from their readers.) When writing for a VN you're kind of forced to do this because each character's dialogue is separated by their individual text boxes.

What nobody seems to get is that the same goes for a new character's ACTIONS. Seriously, when a new character ACTS they're supposed to get their own paragraph -- even if they don't speak!

You paragraph by Change of CHARACTER.
 -- Not because they speak, but because they ACT. What many people seem to forget is that Dialogue is an ACTION. In other words, the reason you don't put two different characters' Dialogue in the same paragraph is BECAUSE you're not supposed to mix two characters' Actions.

"Wait a minute, doesn't that cut everything into tiny bits, you know, when you cut all the dialogue away then divide up all those paragraphs?"

In normal fiction, Character A's dialogue is supposed to be in Character A's paragraph of actions. Character B gets his own paragraph of dialogue AND actions. You divide up a story's paragraphs by individual Character -- not by individual lines of Dialogue OR Actions.
VN fiction is a little trickier. 
In VN fiction, you could add the descriptive parts (the narrative) to the dialogue in the same box using Quotation Marks to separate the dialogue from the narrative, (just like in a real book!) However, most don't bother with description at all because description is normally handled by using Images -- not words. Instead, narrative text ends up in its own textbox, completely separate from the dialogue. This works just fine in most cases.

However, sometimes one doesn't have the right images for a needed scene, or the image is a CG -- a static image. When that happens, the only thing one has to rely on to describe what's happening is Text.

When I'm writing a scene I don't have images for, or I'm using Static characters, (characters that don't change their expressions,) I do put the description in the dialogue boxes with the dialogue and use quotation marks to separate the dialogue from the narrative, just like I would in a regular story.


When I have long descriptive scenes; such as a fight scene or a love scene, I still put the description in the dialogue boxes and use quotation marks, but I write those in Novel Mode. Mainly because it's much faster to read it that way and the reader won't be distracted (or frustrated) by needing to click after every sentence.


But that's just me. If you want to use ADV mode to show each line of Dialogue separate from your descriptive text, be my guest. It's been done before, so I doubt anyone will say anything about it. It's just much, much slower to read.

The problem comes in when there's a LOT of narrative and more than one character is Acting in said narrative.

When you have more than one character doing things, I strongly advise keeping each character's actions separated out to individual lines. Mainly because it's very easy to lose track of who is doing what when the actions of more than one person are all mashed into the same paragraph, but also because that's how you're supposed to do it.

"Where the heck did THAT rule come from?"
Strunk & White's Element's of Style, the grammar handbook.
In dialogue, each speech, even if only a single word, is a paragraph by itself; that is, a new paragraph begins with each change of speaker."

This is often misinterpreted as "Make a new paragraph at every new line of dialogue."

Um... No. The key phrase here is:  
"a new paragraph begins with each change of speaker."

As long as the Speaker is Acting, the Speaker HAS NOT CHANGED. However, every time a new character Acts, you ARE Changing Speakers -- even if they don't talk! Therefore, each new character ACTING gets a New Paragraph, whether or not they have dialogue.

How this works...

I twitch as he slowly moves his hand to my shirt and up it. His fingertips tickle a bit, but I resist laughing.

WHY this is WRONG:
I twitch < Her actions|as |His actions > he slowly moves his hand to my shirt and up it. His fingertips tickle a bit, < His actions | Her actions > but I resist laughing.

First, remove the word AS.
-- This is a red-flag word. 9 times out of 10 it means that you've written the sentence Backwards. In fiction --and only in fiction-- you're supposed to write in Chronological order; the order in which things actually happen. (Reference: Scene & Structure by Bickam)

Also, write story narrative in Past Tense. Sure there are authors that write in the Present Tense, but few of them actually do it right, and in English, it's uncomfortable to read -- especially in Action scenes.

Next, separate the lines by Character
I twitched.
He slowly moved his hand to my shirt and up it.
His fingertips tickled me a bit, but I resisted laughing.
Now that it's gone, you can actually see that the word "AS" literally threw the Action in that sentence (I twitched,) Out of Order.

Now ask yourself, where does "I twitched" actually belong?
-- My guess is that it belongs here:

Adjusted again:
He slowly moved his hand onto my shirt.
I twitched.
His fingertips moved further up it.
It tickled a bit, but I resisted laughing.
See the difference?
 -- By the way, if the sentences you end up with seem too short, it means you need to Add More Description.
But what about when someone is watching someone else, or feeling someone do something to them?
-- Concerned about Observation
This looks perfectly fine, right?
He watched her shake her butt.
He felt her skin move against his.
However, once you take this into account:
"…A new paragraph begins
with Each Change of Speaker."
When a new character ACTS they're supposed to get a new paragraph.

Not so fine after all. You have two people acting in the same line -- in Both Lines. The way around this little gem of a problem, is to SHOW the event by character rather than TELL it in one lump. You begin by dividing the actions by Character:
He watched her.
She shook her butt and her skin moved against his.
He felt it.

Seems kind'a…short eh? That's because those lines TOLD you what happened instead of Showing you what happened so there are all kinds of details missing. Once you add enough details to paint a whole picture…

From his seat at the edge of the stage, he watched her.

Tall, svelte, and in the skimpiest bathing suit he'd ever seen, she moved in close and shook her butt. The round, firm flesh jiggled enticingly against his face.

His cheeks were subjected to the most incredible, though slightly sweaty, facial massage ever.

You can take my advice or leave it, your choice. However this is how I was taught to write by my publishing editors.