today we’re talking about dragon age 2, the latest from bioware. like most games in the rpg genre it shares, players have choices outside of the main storyline in what they want to do, and how they want to do it – side quests, extra items, bonus content and the like. a lot of times games take the custom factor further, and like da2 allow users to customize the appearance of either a male or female protagonist for their journeys. the first dragon age (dragon age origins) had all of these elements with a slight twist – they had a romance component of the game based on how you interacted with the other characters, ultimately leading to romantic encounters with the one you have an affinity for. now this idea’s not completely new – the mass effect games (also bioware’s) have a romance portion as well. even back in the late 90’s final fantasy vii had a system where cloud would end up on a date with aeris, tifa, yuffie or barrett during a scene at the gold saucer. granted, the “date” with barrett is more awkward bro time than romance but the point is that the system was in place. where dragon age differed was that your character could, if desired, have a romance with a character of the same sex, which brought both wrath and praise following the revelation of a possible gay male love scene with zevran the assassin. i thought it was a good idea – because guess what? people aren’t all straight males aged 18-35. in an industry where developers almost pander to their audience with sometimes ridiculously proportioned female characters and cater to every kind of straight male fanservice (no one even blinked at the thought of a female character having a relationship with leliana the bard), it was about time that they take a look at society and at make an effort to include their entire player base. that player base, in fact, not all being the same person.
“i’ll be generous and assume that 5% of dragon age 2 players are homosexuals. i’ll be even more generous and assume that the anders romance was liked by every homosexual. are you telling me you could not have written another straight romance that would have pleased more than 5% of your fans?”
but how is he and his straight male justice force being neglected? i could fire up the game right now, start up a male character, and still use the romance system to woo me a bonny lass. no one’s being neglected. that’s like saying that even though a lot of women played the game bioware should make double sure that i, their “primary target,” the straight male, am happy. oh… wait yeah he did say that too.
this guy doesn’t represent the straight male gamer. i’m actually more than a little upset that there is a demographic cleavage that he and i share. so i’ll close with david gaider’s words, because i really can’t come up with better: “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.”