All of these choices and changes are clearly tied to programmatic decisions. How NPCs react to and form relationships to my character are coded into the characters’ artificial intelligence. Arguably the goal in some of the NPC reactions is to enrichen the experience of the game, by making choices (including sexuality choices) matter to the game play experience. The fact that certain clothing options are read as cross-dressing, that sexuality is inscribed into characters’ very code (their very being), and that gender and sexuality are statically related, however, demonstrates an oppressive worldview defines the very structure of the game. In a fictional world where I can use magic on a regular basis, where faces carved in rock talk to me, and in which I battle fantasy creatures, that particular types of reality and marginality are reinforced in the Fable games is curious. It is also indicative of larger systemic problems in how marginalized characters are incorporated into games.
Adrienne Shaw, “The Lost Queer Potential of Fable“
I’m really glad pieces like this keep appearing — maybe I have an eye for them at the moment? — and provoking people to think about the core structures and constructs of games. Both what is being “allowed” through code and how that same process can inculcate players into the systemic exclusionary practices endemic to projects like that one.
On a related note, I brought up a very similar point with Oblivion years ago that is still true in Skyrim. For as much as either of those games are about magic being able to change the world, it seemingly has no effect on the embodied player. She cannot change her physicality once set. Time travel? Of course. Turn invisible? Sure. Breathe underwater? Yup. Change species, race, gender, weight, or height? Nope, can’t do it. Immutable body.