#YesCallMen Writing

I am going over my notes from the SA Game Dev Challenge this year planning to do a proper post-mortem of the process. In the mean-time, I thought I would share a little about the writing that went into the game. The game has 2 major dialogue points, with 2 more that sort of got thrown in towards the end that I ended up liking quite a bit. In this post I talk quite a bit about setting up the different dialogue, but if you want to just read it you can skip to the bottom where I posted everything from the game. The dialogue points are:

  • When the host responds to a caller

This happens when the player plays an argument card or ends their turn. This was the first bit of writing that I knew I would need, and I was dreading it. My initial research did not help to allay these fears, as I had to collect actual MRA arguments and try to put them into the game without actually seeming to endorse them. A few people on IRC suggested a madlibs-type system, which I started to put together for initial testing. The arguments followed a pretty basic structure involving a thing that women allegedly do that MRAs hate and a thing that they feel men are forced to do or suffer with as a result. So I ended up with a format of “If it weren’t for women who [do this], maybe men wouldn’t feel forced to [do that]!”, with a few variations. After doing this, it was clear it wasn’t going to be enough, because I had used real MRA arguments and it still seemed a little dark, not to mention I just felt a little gross.

Luckily, just on a whim people started throwing out random absurd arguments and mixing them up and all of a sudden it became hilarious. So what I ended up doing was starting with a base list of “female verbs” and “male verbs” representing semi-realistic arguments, which I add to as the game progresses from a list of “strange” verbs for each gender. And it pairs a random male verb with a random female verb from the list collected so far. So as you play the arguments get more and more absurd, even though it starts with a list that mostly represents real MRA arguments. And thus we end up with the classic and true MRA argument, “Well, if women didn’t run faster than horses, then men wouldn’t have to gaze long into the abyss and allow the abyss to gaze back!”

  • When the game describes a caller’s argument

The decision to have the game describe the caller’s argument from the host’s point of view was a deliberate one. I wanted it to seem like the host wasn’t really paying attention or wasn’t listening and just summarized the argument in his head. It also allowed me to play a little bit with the arguments that might seem weird if they were actually shown as “spoken” dialogue from a real caller. The caller arguments start with very simple basic things that women often have to deal with and MRAs often don’t think is a real issue or don’t think should be taken seriously. This was things like having a career, equal pay for equal work, being treated like human beings. Then I thought why not make some of these ridiculous as well, which resulted in one of my favorite lines from the game, “The caller says something about women just wanting to not be shrunk down and kept in jars as trophies. How ridiculous!”

  • When the host signs off from the show

This was one of the bits that ended up getting snuck in at the last second. Originally I just had a placeholder sign-off quote I thought up on the spot when I was putting in the messaging system, which was “Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get more TRUTH BOMBS dropped on you!” This stayed in until the final few days of the challenge when I went back and updated a lot of dialogue. I thought the idea of using the same format all relating to violence was pretty funny so I ended up writing about 20 different sign-offs with a bunch of different TRUTH WEAPONS.

  • When you get updated converted feminist numbers

This was something I threw together one night early on when it was late and I was too tired to work on anything really technical. I had decided there would be no actual end state, so I needed a way for the player to know the game was actually keeping track of their progress so they didn’t feel like it was just a pointless grind. I had already thought about using “feminists converted” as a way of tracking points, but then I had the idea of a public access call-in show being ridiculously effective and popular and it went from there. So instead of just tracking a number and stopping at the population of the world I decided to ramp it up so that every 10 shows or so you reach a new level of conversion.

The first step is to convert the entire planet, then move on to other planets, and other galaxies, then other universes and then multiverses.Initially, I only had different lines for the first 10 shows when you are converting Earth, plus a line or two for each new “step” describing the transition to converting other planets, galaxies, etc. I didn’t originally think anybody would play the game for longer than a couple minutes, so I didn’t put much time into it. But then playtesters had reported playing the game for hours and wanting unique results. So it stayed in for quite a while until the very end when I went back and spent hours writing unique results for every single show up through 50. This is some of my favorite writing in the game just because it’s so absurd, and coming up with random occurrences throughout the universe was a lot of fun.

In-game Dialogue

So with that said, I know not everybody has time to play the whole game and see every different combination, so I thought I would share the list of writing here. This is copy-pasted from my code so it’s not formatted very nicely but you should be able to get the basic idea. Again, keep in mind that the Female Verbs and Male Verbs get randomized and combined into a single argument with a format similar to “Just because men [male verb] doesn’t mean women should [female verb]!”

Female Verbs (normal):

“hate fedoras”,
“bleed for 5 days without dying”,
“change their mind after sex”,
“complain about a supposed ‘glass ceiling'”,
“dress slutty to get attention”,
“fake paternity tests”,
“friendzone men”,
“get excluded from the draft”,
“get mad when men ask innocent questions”,
“get rich off child support”,
“get sex whenever they want”,
“get so much maternity leave”,
“hate nice guys”,
“hit men without suffering consequences”,
“make men look stupid in sitcoms”,
“make more money than men”,
“only date assholes”,
“rape men’s wallets”,
“say ‘No’ when they mean ‘Yes'”,
“secretly like being ‘objectified'”,
“steal men’s sperm”,
“suck at video games”,
“want money for sex”,
“want rough sex”,
“want to be superior to men”,
“think penises are evil”,
“lie about rape”,
“act nerdy to trick gamers into liking them”,
“expect men to call them back”,
“cloud the issue with facts”

Male Verbs (normal):

“own fedoras for every occasion”,
“avoid females during their periods”,
“get falsely accused of rape”,
“mistrust paternity tests”,
“pay so much child support”,
“get drafted”,
“objectify females”,
“get attacked when they ask innocent questions”,
“beg for sex”,
“get no paternity leave”,
“pay attention to scantily clad females”,
“defend themselves physically”,
“spend all their money”,
“look stupid in sitcoms”,
“make less money than females”,
“act like assholes”,
“get stuck in the friendzone”,
“hoard their sperm”,
“excel at video games”,
“pay for sex”,
“think ‘No’ means ‘Yes'”,
“end up being inferior to females”,
“repeatedly ask for their number”,
“take them on a date to Golden Corral in their mom’s van”,
“get used to disappointment”

Female Verbs (strange):

“under-appreciate My Little Pony”,
“forget that it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”,
“have more bones than men”,
“keep on harping about global warming”,
“misunderstand bitcoins”,
“perform false flag operations”,
“attack the present from 10 years in the future”,
“bite the male’s head off during mating”,
“build doomsday devices”,
“control gas prices”,
“control the media”,
“feast upon the brains of the living”,
“fiercely guard the secret to flight”,
“get confused about the ending to Bioshock Infinite”,
“get distracted during important movie scenes”,
“get involved in a land war with Asia”,
“have a three-foot-long tusk used for hunting and dominance rituals”,
“have cold feet”,
“have handbrakes to help them around tight corners”,
“have highly acidic blood”,
“have retractable razor-sharp claws”,
“have teeth in their vaginas”,
“have the powers of a puma”,
“hog the covers”,
“hold in their farts”,
“just want to cuddle”,
“kick ass and chew bubblegum”,
“literally drain the life force of men during sex”,
“move their eyes independently”,
“pull out their victims’ still-beating hearts using only their bare hands and show it to them before they die”,
“refuse to acknowledge the brilliance of the A-Team”,
“refuse to share the gift of fire”,
“run faster than horses”,
“sap my sentry”,
“seriously just creep me out”,
“shed their skin once a month”,
“smell blood from up to 3 miles away”,
“speak the words of Zardoz”,
“stay a while, and listen”,
“tell me the odds”,
“transform by the light of the full moon”,
“unhinge their jaws to devour prey whole”,
“combine with other females to form a giant fighting robot”,
“cut into men, tear the flesh, wear the flesh, and be born unto new worlds where the flesh becomes their key”,
“have their reproductive organs on in the inside instead of the outside”,
“put their trust in worthless fiat currency”,
“fight monsters and allow themselves to become one”

Male Verbs (strange):

“age twice as fast as women”,
“remain seated with their seatbelts fastened and their seat backs in the upright and locked position”,
“say, ‘fuzzy pickles'”,
“devote more time to picking ice cream flavors”,
“sit on the bench during the big game”,
“live their lives never knowing the feel of the wind on their faces”,
“bring home the bacon”,
“shuffle everyday”,
“eat pack after pack of ramen noodles cooked over trash barrels”,
“mine for Bitcoins”,
“Google Ron Paul”,
“store dismembered body parts in the freezer”,
“inflate themselves to three times their size to ward off predators”,
“get their fins stuck in fishing nets”,
“love monster trucks”,
“change their coloration to blend in with their surroundings”,
“honk their horns at pretty ladies”,
“remind women they’re ACTION FIGURES, not DOLLS”,
“use echolocation to find their way in the dark”,
“crumble under pressure”,
“go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line”,
“hibernate during the harsh winter months”,
“have no time for love, Dr. Jones”,
“get sick of these motherfuckin’ snakes on this motherfuckin’ plane”,
“harass female gamers on voice chat”,
“rage for a while”,
“duel to the death… no, to the pain”,
“eat larger portions”,
“rescue the president”,
“find themselves all out of gum”,
“never carry cash”,
“buy anti-werewolf talismans”,
“get their brains transplanted into robots”,
“put Baby in a corner”,
“stay a while… stay FOREVER”,
“become the Pope”,
“remain ever vigilant”,
“find their princess in a different castle”,
“go on hunting trips”,
“get hunted to extinction for their valuable pelts”,
“ride upon a steed, perchance to spy a lady”,
“stay frosty”,
“fight crime in spandex body armor”,
“eat hamburgers out of dumpsters”,
“find out that their sworn enemy is actually their father”,
“fight through an army of robots”,
“die in real life if they die in the game”,
“prefer the leading brand”,
“make indie games”,
“have a computer as their closest friend”,
“collect the Dragon Balls”,
“purchase kawaii waifu bodypillows”,
“pee standing up”,
“drop hard negs”,
“gaze long into the abyss and allow the abyss to gaze back”

Caller Arguments (normal):

“to be treated like human beings”,
“equal pay for equal work”,
“to be respected in the workplace”,
“to not be stared at constantly by creepy guys”,
“to be permitted to vote”,
“to be more than just baby factories”,
“to not have to shave all the time”,
“to end genital mutilation in third-world countries”,
“to hear more female voices in gaming”,
“their voices to be heard”,
“to end gender discrimination”,
“the same benefits that men enjoy”,
“to have a career”,
“to be allowed to leave the house”,
“to not have to make me a sandwich”

Caller Arguments (strange):

“to not be shrunk down and kept in jars as trophies”,
“less than 30-hour work days”,
“to be allowed to eat at the grown-ups table during family dinners”,
“to perambulate unchaperoned”,
“to not be crushed into tiny cubes to save space”,
“to not have Game of Thrones be spoiled for them”,
“to not be sent dick pics constantly”,
“to be allowed to pick out their own clothes”,
“to not be literally objectified”,
“to not have to sleep under the stairs in the basement”

Host Sign-off Quotes:

“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get more TRUTH BOMBS dropped on you”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get riddled with more TRUTH BULLETS”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get diced up again by my Hanzo Steel TRUTH KATANA”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get run over again by my TRUTH MINIVAN”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get pummeled mercilessly again by my TRUTH FISTS”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get crushed up again by my TRUTH TRASH COMPACTOR”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get blown to pieces again by my TRUTH DYNAMITE”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get ripped to shreds again by my TRUTH PIRANHAS”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get burned to a crisp again by my TRUTH FLAMETHROWER”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get flattened again by my TRUTH HAMMER”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get bludgeoned about the head and neck again with my TRUTH CLUB”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get mortally wounded again by my TRUTH BAYONET”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get pierced again by TRUTH SHRAPNEL”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get flayed again by my TRUTH RAZOR”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get asphyxiated again by my TRUTH GAS”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get smothered again with my TRUTH PILLOW”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get atomized again by my TRUTH BEAM”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get irradiated again by my TRUTH FALLOUT”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get shock-and-awed again by my TRUTH MISSILES”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get accidentally targeted again by my high-altitude TRUTH DRONE”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get annexed again by my TRUTH ARMY”,
“Join me next time on #YesCallMen to get 360 no-scoped again by my TRUTH SNIPER RIFLE”

New Converted Feminist Occurrences:

First completed show – “>> Looks like you may have convinced a couple viewers…”,
“>> Looks like people in town are talking, and you have a few more fans…”,
“>> Looks like you’ve convinced quite a few people in town!”,
“>> Wow, your show is really picking up! The whole town is raving!”,
“>> People in nearby cities have begun watching your show!”,
“>> Clips from your show have gone viral online!”,
“>> You’re getting fan email from all over the country!”,
“>> Your show is now one of the most popular shows in the world!”,
“>> Are there even that many people on the planet?!”,
1 Inhabited Planet – “>> You have convinced every single living creature on the planet! Congratulations, you are the biggest asshole ever!”,
Multiple Inhabited Planets – “>> First contact. Aliens have come to Earth, and they want more of your show!”,
“>> Interstellar traffic around Earth has increased dramatically.”,
“>> A museum for alien tourists has been set up in your honor. On the moon.”,
“>> The ruler of the Daniea Industrial Complex on Tarandi Prime has commissioned a statue to be built in your honor.”,
“>> Psyri IV has been demolished to build a hyperspace bypass to Earth.”,
“>> You’ve been awarded the Key to the Crystalline City of Z’Supa on 8421 Persei IIIa.”,
“>> It turns out Qleaweo hipsters on Striavius Theta liked you before you were cool.”,
“>> Xruchaks from Gheeda VII have been seen cruising up and down Psori’s Belt blaring your show’s theme music.”,
“>> An Ueksig from the Shattered Moon of Gullveig V claims to be carrying your love child.”,
1 Galaxy – “>> You have converted the entire galaxy!”,
Multiple Galaxies – “>> Everyone in Uvshillon Sector 7124 is now required to wear a fedora on all 3 of their heads at all times.”,
“>> The Circini star system has been destroyed because it interfered with your show’s reception in 9239 Tauri Prime.”,
“>> There was a hover-pile-up on the hover-highways of Isop 1138 due to a Qieddash watching your show on xits holotuner and losing control.”,
“>> A war has broken out in the Geirskokul Colony over your comments on how Knofluhs spluxionate like this, but Raksyims spluxionate like THIS.”,
“>> A cult has sprung up around a Zilphylst male who claims to be receiving secret messages from you encoded in your blinking patterns.”,
“>> In a far away galaxy, after watching your show, a young moisture farmer goes outside and looks out across the desert with hope in his eyes.”,
“>> The tabloids in the Maenali Cluster are printing doctored holophotos of you sneaking into a hotel with Eccentrica Gallumbits.”,
“>> A new law has been enacted in the Pegasi arm of 6045 Vespae requiring all females to pay monetary reparations.”,
“>> A species of shapeshifters from the Aubrurl sector have all decided to permanently assume a facsimile of your form.”,
1 Universe – “>> Every living being in the universe watches your show constantly.”,
Multiple Universes – “>> Your message travels the known universe and into neighboring universes.”,
“>> A man hearing your show on the radio in a parallel universe picks up his phone and says ‘Anita! Anita! It’s Marvin! Your cousin, Marvin SARKEESIAN! You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well listen to THIS!'”,
“>> A group of man-apes banging on bones around a black monolith sense the sub-molecular vibrations caused by your show’s transmission and stop what they are doing for a moment to look skyward.”,
“>> A race of hermaphroditic space lobsters in a nearby universe has decided to stop reproducing due to disgust with their own female sex organs.”,
“>> The first annual convention of parallel versions of you was held at a Sizzler attached to a Best Western in Spokane.”,
“>> You have been selected as a celebrity guest judge on this year’s much-anticipated season of Jeremy’s Dance Magic.”,
“>> The denizens of the underside of the world have just heard about your show, and they can’t get enough.”,
“>> Theoretical beings from a perpendicular universe think your show is the best thing since unsliced bread.”,
“>> A female version of you from a parallel universe has offered her sincerest apologies to your fans.”,
1 Multiverse – “>> Your message spans across all of reality.”,
Multiple Multiverses – “>> Your message transcends time and space into alternate dimensions and realities.”,
“>> Babies are now born already wearing fedoras, and nobody thinks it is weird.”,
“>> A group of plucky young kids from the past have attempted to stop transmissions of your show. They have been dealt with.”,
“>> A creature that manifests only as nostalgia about the 80s was caught trying to sneak into your dressing room. You have graciously decided not to press charges.”,
“>> The Black Gate has opened, and from it spills terribles creatures imagined only in forgotten nightmares… and they just LOVE your show!”,
“>> The very fabric of reality has begun to flex and deform, such is the popularity of your show.”,
“>> horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse horse hor”,
“>> Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do.\r\nI’m half crazy all for the love of you.\r\nIt won’t be a stylish marriage,\r\nI can’t afford a carriage.\r\nBut you’ll look sweet,\r\nUpon the seat,\r\nOf a bicycle built for two.”,
“>> The show’s broadcast has reached the reality where you, the player, currently live. You now believe everything in this game is literally true.”,
Beyond All Comprehension – “>> The reach of your message is literally unfathomable. All feminists that are, were, or ever will be now understand your truth. You are truly the worst.”

The Beyond All Comprehension message then shows up for each completed show from then on.

Well I hope you enjoyed this look into some of the writing that you may have missed from the game. I really want to thank everyone in IRC for helping me out with random writing ideas, as I wouldn’t have had nearly the amount or quality as I ended up having otherwise.

So, what do you think ?