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I am writing a story for a video game.
For the story, I created a male lead but have some female characters.

I love their personality, traits, etc. It makes them very fun and interesting. However, I am extremely discouraged from sharing how they look because of a fear of people taking these characters that I love and created and making... inappropriate pictures, comics, etc out of them. I'm sure some of you have noticed the current trend.

From Disney characters like Frozen, to video game characters like Mario, you can literally just Google image search the title with your kids and will likely run into something. I'll be honest, I am sad for the world. I do not mean to lecture, but taking characters people poured their time and energy into developing and just corrupting them is wrong. But the thing is, I've searched online and do not see any way to protect my creation from pervs who just want to make porn parodies out of Intellectual Properties.

Does anyone else relate to this? And if so, how do you cope/deal with this?

One solution would be just to simply remove the female characters, but that cripples the story. Male and female characters offer dynamics into a story.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you everyone!

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    Why do you worry only about the female characters? Male characters will appear in fanfiction, drawings, etc. too. – Matt Feb 8 at 12:13
  • Simply because I do. This is my opinion completely, but there is a limit of what they can do to my male character (drawing them doing some naughty stuff to a girl), but the thing they can draw with female characters are almost endless. Thus I am more protective of them. – WriterGeek1 Feb 8 at 13:50
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    Adding to what other have said about Rule 34, Rule 34 is not only inevitable, it's fast. Look how fast the Internet has filled up with smut parodies of Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil 8 after she was revealed (in what, a few days)? And Lady Dimitrescu doesn't even dress that provocatively, the main thing people find attractive about her is her height. – user2352714 Feb 8 at 23:04
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    I’m voting to close this question because this question is asking about coping with their personal discomfort with the consequence of developing a story, and has nothing to do with writing per se. – EDL Feb 9 at 19:39
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    @EDL We have a lot of questions about coping with personal discomfort while writing and how it applies to the writing process. One of the highest rated questions on this stack is about how to mentally cope with killing off a character (writing.stackexchange.com/questions/45506/…) – user2352714 Feb 10 at 3:13
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You've just encountered one of the oldest and most famous rules of the Internet:

Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.

The first thing to point out is that Rule 34 is not a "current trend". Porn parodies have been around in some form or another for decades. The advent of the Internet has merely made them easier to create, share, and find.

Anyway, you're absolutely not alone in your fears - I think that, by now, the vast majority of content creators are well-aware of the Rule 34 phenomenon. There's a story that, when the Disney cartoon series American Dragon: Jake Long was in development, Disney sat down with the creator, showed him a bunch of porn of another of their cartoons, and told him, "This will happen to your show".

Now, personally, I have no issue with Rule 34, either of my characters or of other people's characters. Of course, I recognise that many content creators (yourself included) don't feel the same way, so I'll offer the best advice I can on how to deal with it.


My first and most important suggestion - and I realise you may not want to hear this - is to simply accept the inevitability of it. If your work becomes popular enough, people will make porn of it, and there's nothing you can do to stop them. Asking fans not to draw explicit artwork can help, but probably won't prevent it entirely. You'll just have to brace yourself for it.

There is, however, one avenue available to you: DMCA takedown notices. These basically say, "I am the copyright holder, I object to what you have done with my copyrighted material, and I demand that it be removed". Websites have a legal obligation to obey these notices, and you, as the copyright holder, have a legal right to issue takedown notices to fanart you find objectionable.

To use one of your examples, Nintendo have a long and well-known history of issuing takedown notices to artists who draw porn of Super Mario characters, and even purchased the rights to a live-action Mario porn parody so that it would never see the light of day. The fact that Mario porn is still readily available on the Internet is testament to just how much of it gets produced, although unless your game goes viral, I wouldn't expect it to receive anywhere near that amount.

Of course, in order to issue these takedown notices, you have to actively search for porn of your characters after it's already been made. If you really don't want to see porn of your characters, I'd get someone else to do that on your behalf. You also run the risk of the Streisand effect: the more you try to suppress something on the Internet, the more you run the risk of people spreading it intentionally to spite you.

One solution would be just to simply remove the female characters, but that cripples the story. Male and female characters offer dynamics into a story.

Yeah, don't do that. Not only will having an all-male cast create its own problems, but it won't actually solve the Rule 34 problem. Firstly, people creating porn of male characters is less common, but it does happen. There's also Rule 63: "For every given male character, there is a female version of that character." So people will take your male characters, make female versions of them, and then make porn of those female versions. The most famous example of Rule 63 is probably Bowsette.


For now, I'd suggest you simply try not to worry about it. Just write your game and create your characters as normal. Don't let the fear of Rule 34 stymie your creativity. Once your game has been completed and published, and is in the hands of Rule 34 creators, that's when you need to start worrying.

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  • Bonus points for also quoting Rule X for X =/= 34! :P – DM_with_secrets Feb 8 at 12:27
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In a way this is an irrational fear, not because it will never happen, but because of the reverse - short of never sharing your work with the world at large there's essentially nothing you can do to prevent it. Rule 34 holds as significant amount of truth now as it did 18 years ago. And the more popular and widely known a property/character gets the more likely they're going to receive the Rule34 treatment.

I'm not saying that it's okay that people do this or that you shouldn't be annoyed by it - but you need to accept that it's something outside of your control and not let it cripple your writing.

Does anyone else relate to this? And if so, how do you cope/deal with this?

Ultimately this boils down to the fact that not everyone is going to experience your work the way you would like them to - whether they do what you fear here or whether they don't like it, or whatever. You can never achieve a universal reception for your work - but you can work towards a certain audience, and focus on caring about how they are likely to respond to your work rather than worrying about what those outside it may or may not think.

From Disney characters like Frozen, to video game characters like Mario, you can literally just Google image search the title with your kids and will likely run into something.

Honestly I think you may be slightly overstating this fear - Google (other search engines are available) has things like SafeSearch for a reason. If you (or any parent) is doing image searches on the web with their kids they damn well should have it turned on! That said I just did an Google Image search for Princess Peach with it turned off and flicked through the first pages of results and nothing pornographic leapt out, I'm sure a frankly disturbing amount of porn exists for the character but if you want to find it you probably do need to do at least some non-zero level of effort to look for it.

"Just don't worry about it" is of course far easier said than done - but there are also practical things you can do to manage the levels of this. Keep characters' appearances and mannerisms reasonably grounded and avoid going too extremes - either hyper-sexualized or hyper-prim. Either extreme is going to be a tempting "target" (albeit for different reasons).

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Edit: Since my own reply to myself is the only answer that isn't "It is inevitable. Just accept it", I'm going to mark this as a solution of how to handle it until someone else comes along with a better one.

Thanks for your responses.
The gist I got out of it is: "It is inevitable, there is nothing I can do about it, and I should simply accept it"

I'll be honest, I do not like the answer and I do not agree with the answer. It isn't "inevitable'. For instance, to avoid this thing, the content creator can simply not write it or release it.

After sleeping on it, I came up with a solution:
People can make corruption out of a character you make, we agree on this.

But I do not think they can corrupt a character with no specific face. Does that make sense?

So my solution now is: the main female leads that I wish to protect, do not reveal their actual appearance. Make them randomly customizable characters that the player can choose their name, hair style, hair color, skin color, etc.
This protects the characters I want to protect AND allow players to have the freedom of choosing how that character looks. A win/win for both.

Each time a player run through this game, the "default skin" would be different because it is random, so there is no standard.

Since there is no specific appearance to it, there will be no specific appearance to target; of course unless they all agree on a single standard, which not everyone has same taste.

One group think the lead female character should be a blonde name Angelina
Another group think that she should be a tanned skin, dark haired latina named Jenny.
Another prefer blue-haired feminist (joking)

So which one would they make? They can try to make them all, but the customization are countless. With no specific standard appearance of the character, I do not see this gaining traction for anything.

For instance... there are MILLIONS of custom Minecraft characters (Steve is the standard). Do you see people making naughty parodies of the custom characters? No... but they may have made one of Steve since he is the standard.

Personally, I think this approach is perfect and the one I've been looking for.

Thank you everyone for inspiring me to come to this solution.
I am truly thankful.
Blessed

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – linksassin Feb 9 at 2:23
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    I'm downvoting this answer because it doesn't address the actual issue of handling the worry about what others can do with your characters. It just works around it in a way that likely won't be applicable to others who stumble upon this question searching for answers. You can't do that in a book, or in a graphics novel, or if you actually want to have the appearance of the character be meaningful or memorable. If it works for you, great, but it's not a good general answer to the question at hand. – Maciej Stachowski Feb 10 at 13:56
  • Characters in books (I feel) is less likely targeted compare to one in video games, which is why the topic is tagged: "video games" and "fantasy". Come up with a better solution, and I will mark yours as the answer. If your answer is: "Not possible. Give up. Just accept it", then your answer isn't a useful answer at all. – WriterGeek1 Feb 11 at 6:05
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    @MaciejStachowski Not to mention this answer comes off as rude and a bit arrogant. Specifically the "I do not like the answer and I do not agree with the answer" parts. OP asks a question, we give them answers, they say they don't like our answers and try to come up with their own solution completely unrelated to anything that's been suggested because of that, despite it being pointed out that their answer has a large number of problems (it caters to certain fetishes, reduces female identity, and doesn't stop the problem because porn is made of customizable characters like in Second Life... – user2352714 Feb 11 at 22:21
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    @MaciejStachowski ...Minecraft, Wii Miis, Pokemon, etc. Additionally OPs tone comes across as "I don't want readers to interpret my characters in a way I don't like" or "I'm morally superior to my readers", which while understandable is the writing equivalent of someone saying only they get to have fun in the sandbox. Reminds me of the old "never put your waifu in the game" argument in D&D. It raises the question of why we bothered answering (see DWKraus' comment) and just really rubs people the wrong way. I mean I would never tell a user I don't like their answer to my question point-blank. – user2352714 Feb 11 at 22:27

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