A visitor to this site asked if it were strange that a guy would play 'Princess Debut'. I have seen comments on the internet in the past on various sites intended to discourage any 'right-minded' guy from playing a female character in any game. I personally think that is utter rubbish.
It really is similar to a statement that a boy or man shouldn't read any books that feature female protagonists as though his real character would be effected or his manhood diluted by the experience.
Video games such as Harvest Moon and Princess Debut are interactive novels. We explore other worlds and other characters in these games, and one need not BE anything like the protagonist in order to play the game successfully and enjoy it thoroughly.
It could be perceived as even more challenging intellectually for a guy to play a game where he must assume a female persona, as it might require more thought and more inventive reasoning. I certainly enjoy playing games that feature male protagonists.
Often, one of the greatest gifts a game offers is the ability to free oneself of all the restrictions that real life imposes. At the same time, games that involve romance allow us to explore our own emotional responses to various situations and characters and sometimes even to learn from the experience.
The difference, when one plays the opposite gender, may be that you are a little less involved personally, especially where a game has a strong romantic component to it. Your character is involved and you want him or her to succeed but you don't go away and daydream about it as much as you may when you are playing your own gender in a game that involves romance. That having been said, one may hesitate to admit that one sometimes daydreams about fictional characters in Harvest Moon or Princess Debut, but the truth is that any truly powerful work of fiction creates its own reality in your psychic landscape.
In Rune Factory 2, your character in the 1st Generation is male and you have no choice in the matter. What happened to me was that I developed a very profound admiration and liking for my own character. I caught myself wishing that I knew more guys like him... Being female myself, I could not BE him in my own life, but I could respond to all of his sterling qualities. I enjoyed his Events immensely, and although he was the protagonist, I watched the unfolding of his life both as a participant and as a spectator.
In Princess Debut, because the protagonist is female, I find that I sometimes am in danger of losing my objectivity. I want to experience all possible results and events and yet, there are times when my own personal emotional reactions almost make that impossible. Witness the Event in Foxtrot Forest where I was able to betray Klaus with Kiefer. I couldn't stand it! (Even so, there was the guide-writer aspect of my character who was delighted to have discovered another twist in the game.)
As far as guys who play games that feature female protagonists are concerned, I admire their creativity and their ability to enter into the spirit of another role. I think it requires courage in a way, not least because there are elements in society that would sneer or view it in an absurdly negative fashion. If you are given a chance to experience a very different sort of existence in a game, why on earth would you not take advantage of that possibility? A game does not commit you ultimately to ANYTHING.
Male and female humans are two halves of a single species. If you are a guy, you probably have a mother, grandmother, aunts, female cousins, even sisters... Why should you not be able to see what it is like to play a female role in an adventure? I sometimes have found American culture to be particularly negative in terms of its expectations of what is allowed to a 'normal' male. In England, for example, it is quite common for guys to dress as girls or women strictly 'for laughs'. No one ever would extrapolate anything serious or significant from that.
Actually, many perceived differences between genders often are cultural rather than real. Every one has the right to create boundaries in his/her own personal life, based on his/her social or cultural traditions or preferences, but games should be free from those considerations. Enough said.