cristovau: (Fresh)
[personal profile] cristovau
So, when I originally started writing Venting Day, I wanted the characters to be gender neutral. This doesn't mean that all the characters are gender-less (although a couple are pretty much gender-less for a variety of definitions) but rather it doesn't matter for game play if "An inspired, misunderstood genius" identifies as a man or woman, for example. Further, attraction between players isn't set in straight fashion and pairing could create homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual identities based on casting and shifts. I wanted the identity to be fluid and casting to challenge what might be seen as gender tropes. It has been interesting, and I have loved seeing how different castings and gender identity change the presentation of the roles.

But I goofed up. In writing the 7, and then 9 characters, I gave the characters traditional gender-specific names and used gender specific pronouns. In the various runs, I edited each sheet for the casting and player chosen identity. But this meant that each run reflected the specific casting and gender of the run. It was quite a bit of work to verify that each character sheet had the correct gender nuances for the sheet and the other castings in the run.

This wasn't what I originally wanted, and I should have gone the extra half-mile to create gender neutral names and material. Well, that is what I am doing NOW. Essentially, I am filing off gender markers from the entire game. It is a bit of work and I tend to fall on using the character's name instead of shorthand pronouns.

In any case, I wanted to list here the gender-neutral names. I know some have some gender leanings, but overall, I like these:

Rowan Van Allen
Emery Janos
Charlie Wares
Alexis Smythe
Dinton Jiness
Clover Linden
Morgan Sears
Loren Larson
Jordan Wu

So, what does my internet bunch think? Are these suitably vague in terms of gender id? Would you feel comfortable playing a character with this name and your preferred gaming gender id? Inquiring GMS need to know!

More anon...

Date: 2016-03-09 06:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've never thought of Alexis as gender neutral, it sounds female to me... but a quick google search indicates many people do so... yeah! Looks good.

Date: 2016-03-09 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think of Rowan as a male name.

There should be a database for gender-neutral names, for LARPers. I've been trying to avoid using the same names over and over.

In Seek/Find, the characters are,

Joss Groener
Lindsey Bergeron
Wei Du
Dylan Madani
Kim Hammond
Quinn Gasparyan
Pat Norbert
Alex Umber
Charlie Roebling
Sam Derry
Claude Fromion
Tracy Yates

I think consensus among us writers is that Lindsey, Wei, and Alex read as female and the other read as male; in the second run, Sam and Claude were played by women who chose to cross-cast themselves after reading the sheet.

In Second Chance, the characters are,

Harper Aiken
Avery Bissel
C. J. Orkney
Dr. Riley Eckhart
Taylor Orkney

In both games, we avoid referring to any PC by gendered pronoun.

In Platform 6, there's a mixture of gendered and ungendered names; I do use gendered pronouns for PCs, but I ask players which gender they want to play. Gendered names come in pairs. Your character's name, Pranav Oldan, is gendered - the female version is Prashi. Some of the ungendered names are reflexes of modern ungendered names; one, Teri Benedic, is intentionally a reflex of a name that's pronounced the same but spelled differently in modern English, Terry vs. Terri, and arguably Leni Gilbr't (Lenny) is similar. The other ungendered names are Zhun Raman (from June), Darsi Thran (Darcy), Naed Dicson (from Nat), An Moran, Zei Lorion (from Zee), Mel Gupta, Thul Sueft (Thul is the only invented name in the game), Aelec Dern (from Alex), and Luca Fong. I have a big name bank, in which PC names have to be either ungendered, or gendered with easy swaps, like Gaius/Gaia, Vinod/Vina, or Oleg/Olga; it's meant to include PC names but also secret real names, and names of replacement characters.

I have a mad scientist speed dating LARP project that I'm still mulling over whether to make completely straight or completely queer. I'm still unsure about names in the queer version, but I'm going to try hard to avoid overlap with Seek/Find and Second Chance.

Date: 2016-03-10 02:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A database would be an interesting resource. Your play with nationality and cultures is set beyond what I am doing, and a question I am not quite ready to broach.

Another possible source for gender neutral names is using place-names a la Indiana Jones.

Seattle Smith. Missouri Diaz. Cumberland Digiorno. Wabash Grueber.

It could be argued that this sort of naming scheme tends toward male children, but picking place names with more feminine connotations might help. Curiously enough Cumberland Digiorno sounds more male to me than Seattle Smith, but I associate Cumberland with masculine Civil War songs.

In fact, I was approaching this with the use of Clover. The use of nouns in place of a traditional first name expands the gender associations and can say something about the character. Clover, for example, tend to live off being lucky. The problem with this naming scheme is it appears to be much more informal, like a nickname, rather than a proper name. But it is worth exploring as an option.

If nothing else, it is a curious investigation into cultural expectations and practices.

Date: 2016-03-10 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I read Missouri as a bit more feminine than the rest.

The idea of using nicknames is compelling, and recalls Boomer, Starbuck, Apollo, Helo, Hot Dog, and Racetrack in the reimagined BSG. Another possibility is using online handles, as in the Matrix: Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, Mouse, Switch, Tank, Dozer, Cypher, Apoc. Or, if you will, ?, Offside, Wired Lizard, Breaking Light, Cristovau, Bardic Nerd, and Captain Ecchi.

Re nationality... what's the story behind the ship in Venting Day? Asking because it sounds like the sort of setting that should have like 1 white Westerner out of 9 people, like Planetfall only done right (Planetfall has 7 white characters out of 20 in the version you played and 22 in the second version, and it should have more like 3). Either way, you should run it again, I really wanted to play at Intercon O (I forget why I didn't - perhaps it filled while I was signing up for other games?) and I just looked at the blurb again and it sounds right up my alley.

EDIT: by the way, in Mad Scientist Speed Dating, I'm debating whether to set it in New York or Boston, which has implications to the ethnic composition of the PCs. In Boston, 11 whites out of 12 is normal, and the realistic range is 10-12, maybe 9 on the outside; in New York, probably 8 out of 12 is average, and the realistic range is 4-12. Final decision depends on questions like "given con size, could there be twelve queer mad scientists setting up speed dating at Arisia?".
Edited Date: 2016-03-10 03:07 pm (UTC)

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