The role-playing game Dragon Age: Origins included some potential lesbian love scenes that you’re still recovering from, so sorry for bringing it up — but Dragon Age II stepped it up and gave players the power to engage in something beside heterosexuality! You heard me right and this is very exciting: saddle up ladies, this is going to be a fun ride (and you have no excuse since you can play it on your PC, Xbox 360 or Playstation 3) — picking up chicks AND kicking ass in the digital world.
The new release allows people to engage in a wide variety of romantic options — regardless of the gender of your avatar or your in-game romantictarget. Let’s call it “Equal Opportunity Romance.” Sounds nicer than “the continuing battle for gay rights!”
Dragon Age is made by the famously choose-your-own-queerventure game developer Bioware, and as such is known for its relative gaydom. Of course, including homoertocism in gaming adventure still doesn’t cure all the ills of a limited RPG character creation system, as Taylor wrote a while back about the trouble with gendered avatars. Dragon Age II’s character creator has some seriously gaysexy appeal though, as you can see in the picture above, which is a far cry from your average fair maiden.
And though Bioware is perhaps the best major game dev known for queering things up (like in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2here was a long string of controversy about trans representations in Dragon Age when the first installment’s inclusion of trans characters was limited to ‘female’ prostitutes (the characters use those quotes I promise). GayGamer posted about that and said it right:
It can be difficult to write into media a character that is considered a minority and underrepresented. Among those difficulties is when finally including characters of the minority, having only a few examples tends to mean that it’s the only representation players have of said persons. When that is a stereotype, it can be easy to be disappointed.
What you see above, in the brothel, is my human mage standing next to a woman who is coded as trans. Unfortunately, these trans women (both the ones in the screenshot include “female” companion), are already made known to us that they are trans by the nature of the quotations around female, as if to say, “This is no real female.”
PS: No controversy like this one has broken out yet about Dragon Age II!
So here we are, moving right along on our merry way toward better games for gay people, and we arrive at Dragon Age and get our gay on, right? Well, it turns out that even though things like gay marriage are irrelevant in magical lands, backlash isn’t. So while you’re buying more leather accessories for your avatar’s lesbian lover, some straight male gamers are being downers about the whole thing. A specific post on the BioWare forums highlighted that the game was “ignoring” the straight male demographic and was catering to gay people, and women! And HOW DARE THEY!!1! Mike Fahey responded and I swooned:
And suddenly I feel bad for being a straight male gamer. This wasn’t Gaider’s intent, of course, but after reading the words of someone claiming to speak for my demographic turned about in such a fashion, I can’t help but feel a little bit dirty.
While I deal with straight white male guilt, I leave you with Gaider’s sharp and poignant parting words.
And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.
So keep on livin’ your rogue life in a magical land, no matter what system and no matter what your avatar looks like. Because now, you can just live your (digital) life, no matter what.