Wow, has it really been twenty years? My God.
Back in 1996, I released the first version of the sex game Onyx. It’s a game for two to six adult players, played a bit like Monopoly (the players can buy properties on a game board) but with a twist. Each player fills out a profile specifying sex, orientation, and kinks, and if a player lands on a property owned by someone of the correct sex and orientation, the player can pay rent or work off the debt. Working off the debt causes the game to search its database of sex acts and draw an appropriate act that fits the genders and kinks of the players.
All very straightforward, right?
Fast forward twenty years. I’m working on (among many, many other things) an update to Onyx, Onyx version 4, and I’m a lot more aware now than I was then.
Twenty years ago, I thought there were only two possible sexes, and the idea that someone might be trans wasn’t even on my radar. (And nonbinary genders? Way outside my conception!) One of the things this new update includes is a complete overhaul of my assumptions, which means a complete overhaul of some legacy code that stretches clear back to version 1.0.
Onyx 4 will allow players to specify their own pronouns however they like, and will be much more accommodating of trans and nonbinary players. As part of the update, I’m going through the database of sex acts, and man, I made a lot of assumptions.
Assumptions about pronouns. Assumptions about genitalia. Assumptions about what would and would not be possible when someone identified as a particular gender.
It’s slow going. There are hundreds of actions in the database, and I’m having to go through and check every one: am I using hard-coded pronouns? Am I presuming what the players’ bodies look like? (Spoiler: Yes. Yes, I was.)
It’s been an interesting exercise, being confronted with these assumptions in a direct and systematic way. I hope the new version, whenever it’s done, will be more accessible and accommodating for more people.