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Spoilers for a dialogue option with a merchant in Goodneighbor, which we then get 3,000 words of discussion out of. Also very minor spoiler for Curie’s quest.

Butch:

Well. I made progress.

Joined the railroad for real, and I hope you do that soon, as MAN the themes. We have a good two or three posts once you do this particular quest (Tradecraft). DUDE the themes. And a very creepy bit.

(Side note that might be the main note if you didn’t do something I’ve done: Kotaku said a while ago that this game is at its best when it’s a horror game. Indeed, we have seen some creepy bits, and they work. A certain sense of ominousness, coupled with that nagging idea that there are many things we do not yet know, really works. But I digress.)

And then I did it! I GOT to Good Neighbor! And I saw the mayor ghoul kill a guy, and I met the very, VERY strange woman robot gun seller, who I actually liked, and the ghoul merchant who was pre war, and then M got home early and I had to stop.

We can talk on the railroad, if you’ve done it.

But here in Good Neighbor…..

Interesting bit one: The robot. Your dialog choices when she says “I’m a woman….what do I look like?” You can agree, you can tell her she’s nuts, or you can (wait for it) PERSUADE her that she’s a robot. I just agreed. Who am I to argue? But again, here’s an us/them bit. I find it telling that here is a “not woman,” as she is a robot who SOUNDS like a man. She’s voiced like a drag queen. Is that what she’s supposed to be? Is this a gender identity thing? Is this asking us if we’re cool with alternate gender identity, if we’re angry, or if we want to “persuade” people that “they are what they are?” (and not in the cookie monster/La Cage way?) Indeed, based on her voice, I was surprised when she said she was a woman. She SOUNDED like a man. I had to re-look and say “Oh yeah…she has a chest….” (I want credit for not checking for robot chest right off the bat). It was an interesting character, and an interesting set of dialog choices, given the question.

Yes, internet, we can go way deep on a dialog choice with a merchant. BOOM!

Interesting bit two: All along, we’ve been talking about how people take the “I’m 220 years old” thing in complete stride without batting an eyelash. Well, here’s someone who DIDN’T: The ghoul who actually IS 270 years old. She called bullshit right off the bat. Which was kinda jarring. I’ve gotten used to people NOT saying “bullshit,” so when someone does, and emphatically, it stands out. Why her? Something’s up.

Feminina:

Yay progress! I made…minimal progress. I finished up with Med-Tek for MacCready, and now I have to go back to Goodneighbor to give a person a thing and MacCready was like “this is the last thing I’ll ever ask you for,” but we’ll see about that.

Then I went to a settlement to unload some loot and wound up getting bogged down looking for cement to build them another pump…had to go to another settlement to make them some beds, but they did have cement, so went back to the first settlement, made a pump, and then, irritated about the fact that NOBODY CLEANS UP FERAL GHOUL BODIES AROUND HERE BUT ME (seriously, they’ve been lying in the middle of various buildings since I killed them 37 months ago, and I keep hoping they’ll eventually disappear but NO, these settlers would rather just WALK AROUND THEM because apparently I am THE ONLY ONE WHO NOTICES CLUTTER), dragged some ghoul bodies out into the woods, and then two different BoS vertibirds crashed next to the property (LEARN TO DRIVE, BoS pilots), and then the settlement was attacked by super mutants who killed me with a grenade before I was able to save after laboriously dragging the ghoul bodies into the woods, so the corpses are BACK IN THE DAMN HOUSES again, sigh.

Then I hung around waiting for the mutants to attack again, but they didn’t, and I couldn’t wait all night, so I went to bed.

So not a whole lot of forward progress there.

I kind of like KL-E-0…you’re right, she has some interesting gender presentation, but whatever. I’m not going to argue with traders about whether or not they’re what they say they are (possibly the only time I didn’t try to persuade someone of something). Just buy my loot! She is an assaultron, and they do have a more feminine appearance (for some reason…I mean, whose design decision was that at RobCo, and why?), but it’s true, her voice sounds more “man playing a woman.” But in fact, as we could have argued with her if we wanted, she’s neither a woman nor a man playing woman, because she’s actually a robot. However, we could say that since being a robot means she is by definition without a biological sex, she is all the more free to express/identify herself as whatever gender she prefers, regardless of physical or vocal characteristics.

So you do you, KL-E-0. Also, buy my loot.

Daisy is the ghoul merchant, right? I kind of liked her too. As you said, her “no way!” response to your story was interesting. She also gave me the BPL quest…did you get auto-XP because you already cleared it out, or do you have to go back and clear it again?

Butch:

Ah, see, reason eleventy NOT to care about settlements. They fuck your saves up! Fuckers. If they don’t care about dead ghouls, then I don’t.

I also forget I can pick stuff up. That is, until I do it by accident and wind up with a dirty ashtray floating there in the middle of the screen for a while until I realize what’s happening. Or, worse, a corpse. That’s always rather upsetting.

And KL-E-0: again, this holds a mirror up to us as players. What did we say? What did we WANT to say? Me, I automatically just agreed, which, again, yes, is the first time I didn’t hit the yellow one just to see what happened. Why that one? Liberal guilt? I really did agree? Here’s us, a couple of hippies, just being, automatically, sure, robot, do what you do. But I’m SURE there were people who argued. Or just were mean.

DO robots not have a gender? Curie is female. Or is she? Am I going to put her in a dude? I just assumed she was female. And that’s without any type of physical gender characteristics.

I wish you had done the railroad, cuz there’s another one there we must discuss.

Feminina:

Yeah, I always forget I can move things. I’ll walk over the ghoul body myself for the 30th time, thinking “man I wish I could get rid of this,” and then think “oh, right, I can”…by dragging it slowly and awkwardly somewhere else. Remember how you could just pick up bodies in Assassin’s Creed and fling them into piles of leaves, which would instantly hide them forever? That’s a mechanic I want right now. Pick up, carry, heave.

That, or let me SCRAP the damn body in workshop mode. I scrap everything else (except, weirdly, super mutant armor…that stuff apparently cannot be broken down and reused). You KNOW a feral ghoul body would be good for at least a bit of leather!

I’ve got a dead settler up in one of the Sunshine Co-Op buildings…I should move that, too. It’s probably the reason they’re not happier. “Well, Bob’s body just lying there, all undecaying and creepy, really makes us feel bad, and now none of us want to sleep in those beds.”

Never mind why you don’t bury the dude yourselves…

I wasn’t arguing that robots don’t have gender. Clearly they’re gendered by the manufacturer (“the Miss Nanny was created as a female counterpart to the Mister Handy” or whatever the load screen says), as well as by their voices. They certainly don’t have a biological sex, though, and the Nanny/Handy models look the same, so presumably their gender could be readily changed via programming. Curie is female because her voice is female: if there were a switch to flip so that she started talking like Codsworth, I think it would be pretty easy to start thinking of her/it as male.

Consider GPS units in cars. I know a few people who have them and use the talking feature, and you can select a voice, and someone who picked a male voice gave it a male name and refers to it as “he,” while someone else who picked a female voice calls it “she.” Obviously it’s neither, it’s a tiny robot running some software, but we naturally tend to personalize things, and it’s logical to go by the voice if we don’t have any distinguishing physical characteristics. I’m pretty sure if the person I know who calls it a male name decided to switch to a female voice, the device would become female in her mind as well.

Perhaps in her mind it’s not so much the GPS unit itself that has gender, as that the device CHANNELS some personality with a gender…so it’s more like a phone, which could be used for messages from a male or female directions-giving entity. And arguably FO4 robots likewise are more channeling gendered personalities, than they are actually embodying them: if we flipped a switch and made Curie talk like Codsworth, would it be Curie with a new voice, or would ‘Curie’ vanish and some new Codsworth-y character take her place?

Considering that (not a spoiler at this point) we do in fact transfer her personality into a new body, then indeed, the physical robot form seems to be more like a conduit for Curie’s software than a necessary part of who she is. And this implies that there is some fundamental aspect of Curie-ness that exists independent of physical form, and that Curie-ness presumably can have a gender, which–since Curie is self-aware–Curie would be best placed to advise us on, whether or not it matched her physical voice and form.

KL-E-0 also apparently being self-aware, we must also acknowledge her as the best entity to rule on her own gender. Of course, the interesting thing about KL-E-0 is that, opposite to Curie in robot body, she has a feminine-ish physical form but not an unambiguously female voice. KL-E-0’s body and Curie’s voice would instantly read as feminine. Curie’s robot body and KL-E-0’s voice would be really hard to make a call on: you’d have pretty much no option but to wait for the character to declare a gender and then accept it. My personal assumption is that KL-E-0 just enjoys messing with peoples’ gender expectations, since presumably she could adjust her voice if she wanted (unless all the assaultron vocal cord parts were destroyed in the war!), but there’s no real way to tell.

And it is indeed an interesting commentary on the current sort of national gender identity discussion and our personal politics that we chose not to argue with KL-E-0 about it, even though it was a persuade check that could have garnered us XP.

“OF COURSE you’re a woman if you say you are!”

I guess it’s a sign of the progress of transgender acceptance that we agree with this immediately: it would be so terribly rude to argue. Whereas robbing a random trader is NOT too rude for me. Priorities.

“Look, I may take all your money, but I’m not going to question your gender identity while I do it. I accept you for who you are, which is someone I’m robbing. Now give me those caps.”

While, as you say, I’m sure other people either don’t actually feel that way about gender at all, or don’t feel strongly enough about it to pass up a chance to persuade. We’re just very well trained. I blame the homosexual agenda.

Butch:

You can get a pretty good fling on some things. Accuracy is a problem, though. Maybe you have a better touch than I do.

Um….yeah….I’m ok that scrapping bodies is not an option….I am…..

The other settlers don’t bury the dead guy because they know you love to loot. They don’t want to deprive you of the opportunity, or you might scrap their disco ball.

Good point about the robot voices being gendered by the manufacturer. They also have different paint jobs. The nannies seem to all be white. Maybe that’s a tip.

You know what would be an interesting mirror for the player? If you could flirt with Curie before she was human, and then that assumption was challenged. Flirt away with what you think was a woman, then put “her” in a man’s body. See how PCs react.

Do it, Buttons. Do it.

As for putting Curie into a male body and having her still be female…But would she understand what that is? That implies that gender is not based on any physical trait. Which I think some people now say. I wonder, when I get there, which’ll be soon, if she’ll care if the body she gets is a man or a woman. I get the sense that KL-E-O would care.

And on KL-E-0, I didn’t notice the ‘feminine’ physical form. Maybe I was tired or something, but I didn’t notice until she said she was a she and I said…”Oh yeah….” Curie I instantly thought of as female, despite her being a ball with laser beams. KL-E-O, which is hard to type, it took me a minute.

It could have garnered us XP to have argued with her. I wonder if it would have worked, or not.

You robbed a trader? Robbed? Dude. Just sell her some Abraxo cleaner if you need the caps. Thief.

But we are well trained. College. I blame college. And Obama. Not really. Well, college, really.

Feminina:

Oh, I looted the dead settler a long time ago, never fear. He’s just lying there in his underwear. But you have a good point…maybe they think I have some even MORE unholy purpose in mind for his corpse, and are afraid to touch it as a result.

“After all, she does leave ghouls lying around…maybe it’s some pre-war ritual…we’d better not interfere.”

No wonder they’re unhappy.

All right, fine, I don’t need to actually scrap bodies. You’re right, that would feel weird. Shades of “Nazi soap made of human fat.” Nasty in many ways. No need to go on.

But there could at least be an option to “bury” that would remove the body from the middle of the floor. THAT’s what I really want.

I don’t want to spoil about Curie’s human body, but…OK, it’s not a man. So yeah, I agree I would have been interested to see her in male body. It would be an interesting exploration of “well, you’ve developed a certain relationship with this character as a robot whom you thought of as female, despite the fact that ‘female’ doesn’t necessarily mean anything in a machine: how does that look now?”

Especially weird if she still SOUNDED like Curie, which one could argue she might actually still want to do because her voice is the only perceptible thing she brings from one body to the other, so why wouldn’t she want to keep it as a point of continuity? And why would she care if that voice seemed incongruous coming from a male body: as you say, we assume Curie has some concept of gender, but why should it necessarily match ours in terms of things like “people with flat chests and beards don’t normally speak in that kind of high-pitched voice” or whatever? A male body walking around calmly talking in Curie’s voice and not seeing anything odd about it would be interesting, whether she called herself male, female, or neither.

In fact, I’m not sure she ever specifically refers to herself as female, although she is referred to that way in the notes where the scientist talks about programming her: it’s just implied by her voice (and, as you point out, the white paint job), and reinforced by her eventual female body, and she never challenges that assumption. She’s been gendered by her manufacturer and her programmers, I guess, and she’s OK with the gender she’s been assigned, like most but not all of us.

On reflection, they missed a huge opportunity to explore gender here. KL-E-0 (which IS hard to type) suddenly seems like small potatoes. Whatever, KL-E-0…your slightly draggy voice is no longer interesting.

Butch:

You left him in his UNDERWEAR? Dude….

Probably the settlers are unhappy because they know that if THEY die you’ll leave their stripped corpses out in the sun for all eternity. That wouldn’t please me.

A “bury” option would be good. You could dig up graves in FO1 and 2. Why not make some? Come up with poetic epitaphs.

Feminina:

I figured someone else could wear his clothes! Waste not, want not. It’s not as if HE needs clothes for anything.

True: the knowledge that your de facto leader, the only one who possessed the secret of building…well, anything…would strip you to your underclothes and leave you lying where you fell, would probably not encourage good cheer. Fine: I’ll move the body out of sight. That’s all I can do, you know, since they didn’t see fit to have that “bury” option. Which I agree would be a great place to showcase some good epitaphs.

“Here lies Bob: hard-working gourd farmer, devoted son, and super mutant speed bump.”

Butch:

“Here lies Bob, who taught us it’s better to be behind the turrets than in front of them.”

Thanks, Bob.

Feminina:

“Here lies Bob, naked and unmourned. Start cleaning up the damn ghoul bodies or you’re next.”

Butch:

And, then, the down arrow.

Really. Why do we wonder?

Though the other day I hung up a disco ball. I decided to make my little area in Sanctuary there a little patio place. Put up a ceiling fan, hung a disco ball (how does mama Murphy NOT like that), then rang the bell, got every together, handed out vodka….

You’d THINK that would be automatic on the 100% happiness but no. Ingrates.

Feminina:

“Here lies Bob. Happiness [down arrow]”

If a disco ball and vodka won’t do it, I give up. They’re never going to be happy.

Butch:

Dude. Disco balls.

And ceiling fans! CEILING FANS! That was, like, a major selling point when I bought my house. It had a ceiling fan!

What more do they WANT?

Feminina:

I wish I knew.

I mean, other than the dead bodies cleared out. Ha! It would be pretty awesome if I finally moved them, and their happiness shot way up. But I expect they won’t even notice.

As a sign of their lack of concern about ghoul bodies, there was one disturbing scene that I should have screencapped: I had put a bed on top of a ghoul body, just to keep it out of sight, but one day I came back and the body was on top of the bed instead, and a settler was sleeping sort of half under it, so it was draped over him like a terrifying blanket.

Unfortunately he stood up before I could overcome my horror and take a picture. But regardless, if the guy didn’t mind SLEEPING with a ghoul corpse, he probably wouldn’t care that it was lying in the middle of the floor.

Maybe his happiness would go down if I took away his snuggly ghoul teddy bear!

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