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Tobias
2571 3 6

Mardekina

Posted by A Tobias 2 years ago
I've been making more progress on MARDEK, and I've started on the actual coding stuff! There's little to show at this point though, so I don't have any pretty pictures this time.

However, I have been thinking about something...

I've been interested in evening out the genders of the cast, because most characters were male before and recent changes in my mind and opinions led to this bothering me... This led to me making some previously male characters female, and removing other males completely. It's worked out quite well... sort of. Or rather, there are a bunch of female characters now - a majority, even - and there are even episodes where all four characters are female (not because I was trying to force such a situation, but because it happened naturally)... But most of them seem to appear infrequently and the guys still get the spotlight most of the time.

Quite frankly - and I suppose this is no secret anyway - I'd like to attract more girls to my work, if I can. Not through manipulation, but by making something that might genuinely appeal to a different audience than the 90+% male lot I got with my previous efforts. Perhaps it's never possible considering the line of work I'm in, but I'm still at least interested in trying. I've talked to girls about games design in the past, and something that comes up often is how female characters are uncommon, highly sexualised or stereotyped, that they act as supporters for the guys, etc... I know that it's becoming increasingly common for games these days to defy that old rule, but even so it feels like female leading protagonists are rare (unless they're 'action girls', which are basically like men with (oversized) breasts anyway... as if the expectation is that only a male personality can fill such a role, and any physical differences are purely cosmetic; such female characters seem designed to appeal more to men anyway, as something to ogle at).

The introductory parts of this MARDEK game will be crucially important, because they'll determine who'll keep playing and who'll quit in the first five minutes. The problem is though that they focus entirely on Mardek and Deugan - two guys - so even though I have a bunch of female characters planned for the story, they don't show up until later, meaning that many people won't see them at all.

But could I get away with giving Mardek a sex change?! Deugan has to be male and that fact is too important for the story (I just can't bear to drop the scene where he fights off a whole army using just his pork sword, titanic pectoral muscles glistening in the sun, while screaming bad-donkey one liners), but Mardek - despite being the protagonist - is barely even a character at all, really, and as such would be easier to change.

It would be a BIG change though!!! I mean, changing the sex of some minor character who appears in episode 10 or whatever is one thing, but changing the protagonist sort of makes it into a different story entirely, doesn't it? Does it? Mardek is a very masculine name, too, so I couldn't keep that... (Obviously I wouldn't go with 'Mardekina' either, though!)
I feel like the Mesopotamian reference in his name is no longer relevant, also... Not that it ever was; I came up with the name 'Mardek' randomly as a child, and only discovered that it was similar to the god 'Marduk' years later. So it's not as if I called him that because of some symbolic meaning or anything. Other characters like Enki got their names based on his - none of them for any meaningful reason beyond that - but maybe I could rename them, too.
And that would mean renaming the series. I've wanted to rename it 'ROHOPH' for a while, actually (as early as when I began working on the original chapter 2), since I feel that Mardek himself is fairly inconsequential for the plot while Rohoph is the character it revolves around, and if I did go with that name then at least it should be familiar to MARDEK fans...

But, well! It's such a huge decision, and I imagine that most people would absolutely hate it... especially since it's so transparently some kind of ploy to pander to what amounts to a minority. It could just end up ruining everything.

Anyway, I've not decided to do this; I should make that clear!! Rather, it's just an idea that came to mind and made me go 'hmmmm'. It might be interesting to make this change, but I won't if the only result will be to alienate the people who've been waiting for this game for years.

I made ∞ a poll ∞ so then you can tell me how VERY NEGATIVE you feel about the whole thing!!
6
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on 3 Roots

3 Comments

24 United States AIS
ScintillaPurpose
4
It doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

If you're worried about women just being a support for men, what if female Mardek starts coming out that way? Rohoph, who is male, possesses Mardekina and guides her to do things and is the source of her power. Deugan, on the other hand, a boy, will seem like the real hero, considering the title isn't MARDEK anymore, as he has lofty heroic ambitions. Mardekina is then just going along to heal the guys and carry out the will of the man voice in her head. That seems way worse from a feminist point of view.

It also worries me that you'd be inclined to change Mardek's personality to be more stereotypically girly, as though you couldn't have a girl who behaves like him; he's not even all that macho or anything—

And as someone who's played original MARDEK, yeah, changing Mardek to be female just feels inauthentic. I guess it wouldn't be as bad if I hadn't played the game before, but even then, female Mardek wouldn't add much for me, aside from the aforementioned problems.

Naming the series ROHOPH, however, while keeping Mardek a guy, might be interesting. It will make the story feel pretty different, a story about the conflicts among the Governance instead of how these distant alien events drive Mardek into being a hero. I might like that, or at least it'd change things up.
24 Finland
Corelis
3
The thought of changing Mardek's gender made my eyebrows rise for a moment, but I figured that it might not end up changing all that much so I wouldn't participate in the violent riots that would undoubtedly erupt, but I'd still prefer if you kept him male. I enjoyed the original games, and every change that doesn't provide some clear benefit for the story feels like it increases the distance between the remake and the game I liked, even if the change wouldn't affect the overall story all that much.

To be honest, I was actually more put off by the suggestion that the series be renamed ROHOPH, perhaps to your surprise. Even though Mardek as a character doesn't affect the plot as much as would be expected from a main character, I nevertheless always felt like it was his story. I thought he affected the way things happened so little because his personality is the kind that goes with what others do, and the story would eventually be about his character development from a person doing whatever others do to a hero who does heroics because he wants to, the way he wants to (without stepping on people's toes, of course), breaking away from Rohoph's extremist control and finding his own way. A transformation from a person for whom things happen into a person who does things, who makes a positive difference in the world from his own initiative - an actual hero.

That's the way I envisioned the story would continue. Changing the name into ROHOPH RPG carries the implication that the story isn't Mardek's anymore, that his character development isn't going to be as important anymore - rather, there would be more focus on Rohoph, whom I considered a villainous character. Sure, a story with a villain protagonist can be entertaining, but is a fairly major deviation from what I expected from the MARDEK series, and thus something I would not be fond of seeing.
22 Netherlands rloax SanguineMelancholic
Mania
5
I think changing Mardek's sex like this just as a ploy to get more female players would only serve to annoy fans of the old game and likewise I can't imagine something like this would actually bring out more girls to play your games, especially if it's not handled properly...

Even if Mardek is not the most important character plot-wise, he is still clearly among the most popular and iconic characters of the series, which should be clear from the poll and the name of the series. He's the one we always got to play with, most of what we experienced was kind of through his eyes, with him being the one we're in control of, I think you're grossly underestimating how much you'd need to change if Mardek were a girl...

His relationship with Deugan would probably need to be completely rewritten so they don't come across as childhood friends who later become a couple, because you know everyone is going to assume that and I doubt that's the couple you're actually trying to go for... Besides that, you'd be angering the many many people who want to see a male Mardek and Deugan get together!!

I imagine his relationship with Emela would also be completely different, Emela would probably not talk the same with with a boy and a girl given her backstory. I imagine the same would go for his relation to Elwyen, what would you do with that?

Even aside from that, you said you don't like how action heroines are apparently just men with ludicrous racks, so does that mean you'd change Mardek's personality too? As it is he doesn't seem like he has that much of a masculine personality, but then I don't know whether you'd just keep it the same or change it... If you can keep it the same, then the change just seems like completely arbitrary pandering which I imagine is more off-putting than comforting for women, while changing his personality seems like a big no-no, especially if it'd turn him more into a Caoimhe or Chelsea...

The only real benefit seems to be 'appealing to the target audience', but that seems like such a clinical process, the sort of thing some grey suits would do in a business meeting. I just can't see it actually paying off, it seems like an admission that women are just so unwilling to play a game where the main character is male even when there's enough female representation and that they'd not be put off by being pandered to in a way like this...

If anything it sounds rather demeaning, like trying to make a site more appealing by just adding pictures of pink flowers and ponies, there has to be a better, less jarring way to go about it than that. I'm sure that's not at all the impression you want to give, but that doesn't change that's what some people will think.

Anyway, I personally really don't like the choice since I feel like it doesn't actually add anything and I feel like it's straying much too far from the original content, but I also think it's an unfeasible idea that is just as likely if not more likely to repel women or just attract ridicule for how it gets treated. I don't have an issue with you wanting to make MARDEK appealing to a broader audience, but I think this is a ridiculous way of going about it, I prefer to see expanded roles for women who are already there or changes to characters who aren't this integral and would actually be meaningful changes, there has to be more to it than just balancing out the gender ratio.