Neutral Pronoun Writing


(permanent link) added: 2008-04-18 18:50:11 sponsor: DieHard (last reply: 2008-04-21 10:18:17)

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Similar to Pronoun Trouble, but when a whole piece is written with a gender neutral slant in relation to one or more characters. Many forms of interactive fiction have to keep in mind that the player can be either gender and while there usually isn't any trouble if the narrative is referring to you directly, it can prove problematic if other characters want to talk about you. This often leads to rather circuitous, flowery language that looks incredibly out of place. This generally shows up in games where the developers were too constrained (or, perhaps, too lazy) to have the game capable of modifying the dialogue to fit either gender. This becomes especially problematic if voice work gets involved, as even just recording two versions of the dialogue that requires it could be a lot more time and storage space intensive than just simply writing in a gender neutral way. Also applies pretty frequently to Choose Your Own Adventure type books.
Examples:
  • As mentioned above, Choose Your Own Adventure books often fell victim to this. Some get around it by assuming that the reader is a particular gender (or, perhaps, excising the reader altogether and giving a generic predetermined avatar that the player vicariously lives through).
  • City of Heroes uses this... and looks pretty silly in places because of it. One particular example would be "A foolish youngster called [insert player name here] tried to stop me, but it was no contest. The nuisance was easily dispatched. If I had only known what was in store, perhaps I would have hoped to lose." Who honestly talks like that?
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