This "Farewell to Connected: The Orient" and "The Mysterious and Indistinct Art of Pronouns", as well as tangentially "SLIGHTLY BREAKING: same-sex marriage legal in Fallen London from Alexis Kennedy offers some insight into the way that Fallen London has approached the careful balance between its Victorian setting and its contemporary audience. The trend has essentially been towards (1) increased player choice and (2) greater equality in the setting.
To that extent, I just have a quick correction before I get back on topic:
[quote=Isaac Gates]It’s why the "addressed as" quality for the ambiguously gendered is: ‘si- er, mad- er, yes’, which is pretty good estimation of what a polite reaction in setting would be[/quote]This used to be accurate about two to three years ago, but it’s since been changed. The ambiguously gendered can be addressed by any option available in-game, including "Sir", "Madam", "Lord", "Lady", or any other gendered form of address, while gendered characters can be addressed as "Si- er, mad-er, yes" by refusing to give a form of address.
Anyway, that being said, the trend has essentially been towards (1) increased player choice and (2) greater equality in the setting.
For instance, the absence of women’s suffrage was flavor text reflecting true Victorian conditions, but when the Election festival was implemented, it would be poor design to ban characters registered as "female" from participating in the festival, because Fallen London isn’t built as a Victorian escapist fantasy. It’s a modern 21st-century story borrowing Gothic and Victorian aesthetics, with influences drawn from throughout western history.
The Great Chain of Being? That’s a Platonic and Neoplatonic idea. The Bazaar’s love story and the Seventh Letter? Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Renaissance. The setting - the Neath, the Unterzee, and the High Wilderness - draws on significant Romantic influences (Coleridge, Shelley, etc.) and early science fiction and horror (Verne, Lovecraft, etc.), hence the Victorian setting, but even then, these Romantic influences exist in opposition to the oppression within Victorian society (alluded to in-game with the conflict between the Bohemians and Society, for instance). My point is that Fallen London is not a period game - it’s the illusion of one.
That’s what Daylight is - it draws far more from the horror genre than it does from Victorian society, and what symbolism it offers is at most a scathing indictment of the destruction of creativity such a society might offer. You are free to critique the decision to make the Inspiring Imaginator an ambiguously-gendered character, but it seems like such a trifling thing to talk about. The character is explicitly written as androgynous, and the other characters in setting adapt to this. It’s not even the first time Failbetter has done this. Isery, the Cat’s Chiefest Claw is explicitly "ambigiously gendered". The concept has been previously established in canon.
I’m just not sure how relevant this discussion is to the story. The point of the Inspiring Imaginator is that they’re an ambiguous character - for much of the story, their life, motivations, and whereabouts are shrouded in mystery. This is just another facet of that.