Okay, I said earlier in the thread I’d talk about the Massive Chalice thing, so here goes.
Massive Chalice was a kickstarted Double Fine game where the premise was that it’s a turn based strategy which takes place across generations, and those generations would inherit traits off their parents which would affect their abilities and other things on the battlefield. It was a pretty cool idea and it did well on Kickstarter and on the forums people started chiming in with their ideas for it.
I set up a post where I said that while this is a very cool idea, and while I don’t think that DF were deliberately setting out to exclude, it had the potential to be a very straight game, one where the heroes are defined by their ability to pass down their genes, and one with no room for other kinds of relationship.
Firstly, I want to say that the response from the devs was mostly good. In particular the project lead, Brad Muir was very sensitive to the idea that the game could exclude people and said that he’d definitely look at what could be done about that in a way that fit in with the goals of the game.
The forum post then kinda exploded, and it was mostly fairly supportive, mixed in with a whole lot of ‘I don’t care either way, I don’t see why it matters’ (and I tried to give my best explanation of why to me, this was a thing that mattered a little bit), and the occasional person who was just extremely hostile to the idea that any of the game should be changed for the sake of being inclusive.
All the cliches were hit ‘the world looks a bit medieval, so gay and lesbian relationships would be UNREALISTIC’ came up, of course, and all the sorts of ‘I don’t see why your politics have to get all up in our games’ but amid these is perhaps my favourite bad take on why not to be inclusive of ALL TIME:
Someone actually argued that you should not include LGBTQ+ characters unless the plot specifically needs it because of -drum roll- Chekhov’s Gun.
For the uninitiated, this is the idea from playwright Chekhov that if there’s a rifle hanging on the wall, during the second and third act it should go off at some point, i.e. every plot element should feel necessary. It’s a nice sort of editing rule of thumb to make a story more concise and feel tighter. For a more recent reference (although I guess not that recent anymore… dang) Back to the Future is a film often praised for it’s great editing in that there’s barely a scene or a line in it that doesn’t advance the plot or characters in some way.
So this dude’s argument was basically that if you have, e.g. a gay character, if at some point their being gay isn’t important to the story, then you ought to get rid of that, they should just be straight.
So I sort of did the Drew Scanlon blinky face thing and tried in about 6 different ways to explain where I think he’d misunderstood both Chekhov’s Gun and also made an assumption that straight is ‘default’ unless given a reason not to be, but he wasn’t getting it at all, and then the whole thing spiralled down into this rabbit hole of “isn’t it perfectly natural that I find gay stuff gross, being straight?” (which, as a gay guy who had to fight a lot of internalised homophobia in order to feel comfortable with myself, I took a lot of exception to) and… so, yeah, that was the less fun part of that forum thread.
Aaaanyway, the game came out and they did in fact try to be more inclusive, but the way they handled it was a bit weird.
I think basically they were never quite able to come up with a totally satisfying mechanic to it. In the world of the game you act as this kind of immortal entity who arranges marriages, and if you want you can totally put two guys or two women together, but in those situations they can’t have children (there are also infertile people, or people with low fertility). In those situations you can adopt, but the more you adopt the more it costs, so it’s not a long term strategy. There are some strategic reasons to want to have this arrangement, adoption introduces potential traits that you might not get from normal childbirth, but it’s a bit of a crap shoot. It turns out almost always to be a better strategy to find highly fertile couples and get them having as many children as possible.
So, you can put people in non-traditional relationships, but there seem to be really compelling reasons not to, and only a few edge-case reasons where it could come in handy. And the relationships are always about the player’s choice of who to marry, rather than anything to do with the desires of the heroes. So in the end I’d give Double Fine credit for being the sort of company who will genuinely listen to the concerns of their fanbase, and their staff were constantly great in defending my right to express my concerns… but in this particular implementation it seems like they couldn’t really come up with something that was more than a superficial nod to inclusivity, which maybe just had more to do with how the marriage mechanics of the game were designed in general.
And that’s the end of that.