I am working on a choose your own adventure game and something important to me is to beyond the gender binary. While I can find some comprehensive lists of pronouns I know Waypoint is an inclusive community and was hoping to get feedback from people.
What are the pronouns you use and why?
It’s worth looking at how 2064: Read Only Memories handled this. They offered players a choice of he, her, they, ze and xe pronouns alongside the ability to enter an entirely customised option.
It’s fantastic that you’re making room for this in your project! “What pronouns do you use?” is a fantastic question, generally, as it gives folks the chance to clarify how they ought to be referred to. “Why?” won’t always read well as a follow-up, so be mindful about how you use that one.
Ah, sorry if the “why” came across as a poor choice of words… I completely understand if people feel that is more than they wish to give, but I suppose I was just wondering why that particular choice clicked with them. Still I suppose that isn’t really any of my business. Also the pronoun choices from 2064 definitely seem doable.
Generally don’t use “it” for people but otherwise that’s a decent selection of the common conventions and how many decades old they are (at least appearing in citeable literature). Best to ask for pronoun preference and offer a text field if they would rather not use one of the standards.
Missed from the table but in the text: singular they normally is themself not themselves.
This isn’t completely related, but it seems like a good place to ask. Does anyone know of a genderless honorific that isn’t something particular like a profession? Basically a replacement for “Sir” and “Madam”.
The standard honorific is Mx.
To replace sir/madam then I’ve heard mir (rarely - hybrid of the two) and also a pronounced Mx (“mux”) used for lack of a good alternative. In the case where you want that sort of formality then “honoured guest” or similar can work. Collective often folks, “Lords/Sirs, ladies, and gentlefolk: please take your seats”.
I’ve been thinking about how do this in a future game of my own which I think will have a lot of text. why don’t you try for he/him/his she/her/her they/them/their but also add the option for players to specify their own set of pronouns?
It should be possible. I am still learning the code for the system(I have been focusing more on narrative) but it should be possible.
Thanks for that suggestion, but it seems awkward still. They are gonna look at me funny when I call someone “Mir”.
Something happened yesterday and I think it may be relevant. I went to the mechanic to get my muffler re-attached and he called me “Boss”. I liked it.
If anyone has an opinion on whether “Boss” is a good genderless non-specific honorific, I’d appreciate hearing it.
I like Boss as an honorific! I’m also with you about a lot of genderless honorifics sounding weird or clunky in my mouth. I would never call anyone Mx, or Mir for example unless explicitly asked.
Of course Boss also communicates a certain hierarchy (i.e. a mechanic to a costumer) which might not always be present between people. Something like “citizen” might work in more egalitarian situations.
i’ve also been seeing “ser” used in specifically medieval settings to denote a knight regardless of their gender
It sounds weird, but I’m not a huge fan of Boss.
It might come out as patronizing, (You’re the Boss! /s) and yet there’s times when it does feel ok. This is more of a personal feeling though, as I do like other honorifics that are related to fields. (Scholar, engineer, senior)
Based on some of the example here, I do like the idea of honorifics based on their system instead. So scholar for someone that shows constant educational traits, skilled for someone that is good with physical labor, Ser for protection and so-forth.
Just gonna drop in and say that i think “it” is okay to use (even for humans) I mostly go with They when it comes to english but i also use It. I come from Sweden and in my language i use the pronoun “Den” which is the Swedish word for It. It just sounds better in Swedish i guess but i still think “It” is a okay and usable pronoun. (sorry for rambling)
i think “It” is a good and cool option to include for players to choose if they want, but if we’re talking about a lower-budget game that wants to use one pronoun as a catch-all, i can’t think of anything more alienating to an English-speaking audience looking for pronoun inclusion. there’s such a history of “It” being used specifically to disrespect and mock pronouns that i don’t think can be ignored
although honestly now i’m really interested in what kind of existing pronouns are used in non-English languages for gender neutral personal use
I personally use they/them because I’m non-binary. For some people it’s harder to wrap their mind around using singular They/Them instead of non-traditional pronouns like Xe and Ze, but in my experience They/Them is more common. I think it’s interesting to think of non-gendered terms that aren’t necessarily pronouns.
Like @Shivoa said, Folks is a great collective term. Instead of Dude or Man, I really like to use Friend; i.e. “Hey friend how’re you doing??”
How fun that you brought that up!
In 2013 in Sweden we added a gender-neutral pronoun in the Official Swedish Dictionary (im not really sure what else to call it) that was a blend of the male “Han” and the female “Hon” called “Hen”. It seems to have caught on pretty well even though there were lots of “funny remarks” about how it means chicken in english or whatever.
that’s actually pretty funny cause “hen” is also specifically a female chicken, and i’ve seen it used both in friendly girl-to-girl contexts and also kinda crass and impolitely (like “broad” or “chick”)
Seconding @nath_kai, I have yet to play a game that tops 2064: Read Only Memories in terms of presentation and choice of pronouns. Just letting you write your own pronouns in is a pretty simple way to include everyone. Barring that option, I think the best solution is a trinary of he, she, and they. It’s the most commonly recognized non-binary pronoun, and the simplest to implement.
Just be sure to do more than a quick copy+paste. Fallout 4 had that problem with her/hers.
Supergiant’s upcoming game, Pyre, allows the player to choose between she/her, he/him, and they/them (first couple of minutes of this video) in the same style the game offers other choices about the player’s background in a way I rather liked.
I’d also say one thing that’s worth noting: not everyone who uses he/him or she/her pronouns IDs as a man or a woman. There are a lot of nonbinary people who, for one reason or another, prefer ‘binary’ pronouns. But many games tie the pronoun and gender together inseparably, which can be alienating. Where possible, I’d stick to genderless titles and epithets in general gameplay. Ser/Serah in place of Sir/Madam, Regent in place of King or Queen, and so on.
Yeah, it might be more of a generational thing, but “it” makes me recall “it’s Pat” sketch that was early 90’s SNL. At the time, non-binary was a punchline and either you where a gay man or butch lady. (In a very disrespectful sense).
I’m hoping that the current generation doesn’t have that same image burned into their heads, but I worry that older gens won’t be able to disconnect that feeling.
i didn’t think of it as a thing connected to older generations, like i’m still early 20s and i’ve absolutely been called that in high school so i think it’s sadly still a very relevant putdown
(also jesus that deep cut to the SNL sketch just gave me hives being reminded of it, preach)