It’s not often a gaming company responds to criticism in such an awesome and heartwarming way. For every ‘embrace your inner-geek’ speech la Metzen there is a casual dismissal of concerns (again, a’la Metzen.) For Blizzard to remove Real ID from the forums took the impassioned responses of thousands upon thousands of users, for example. Their track record is not brilliant.
So when a game company posts something like the following on their forums, I sit up and take notice. I’ve never played a Bioware game properly, but right now I’m considering shelling out for several simply because I want to give my money to a game company that doesn’t dismiss the concerns of fans who want more from their games than adolescent fantasies and objectification.
To the issue: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– perhaps a bit more eloquently, since it’s apparently of dire concern to some.
The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.
More than that, I would question anyone deciding they speak for “the straight male gamer” just as much as someone claiming they speak for “all RPG fans”, “all female fans” or even “all gay fans”. You don’t. If you wish to express your personal desires, then do so. I have no doubt that any opinion expressed on these forums is shared by many others, but since none of them have elected a spokesperson you’re better off not trying to be one. If your attempt is to convince BioWare developers, I can tell you that you do in fact make your opinion less convincing by doing so.
And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.
The truth is that making a romance available for both genders is far less costly than creating an entirely new one. Does it create some issues of implementation? Sure– but anything you try on this front is going to have its issues, and inevitably you’ll always leave someone out in the cold. In this case, are all straight males left out in the cold? Not at all. There are romances available for them just the same as anyone else. Not all straight males require that their content be exclusive, after all, and you can see that even on this thread.
Would I do it again? I don’t know. I doubt I would have Anders make the first move again– at the time, I thought that requiring all romances to have Hawke initiate everything was the unrealistic part. Even if someone decides that this makes everyone “unrealistically” bisexual, however, or they can’t handle the idea that the character might be bisexual if they were another PC… I don’t see that as a big concern, to be honest. Romances are never one-size-fits-all, and even for those who don’t mind the sexuality issue there’s no guarantee they’ll find a character they even want to romance. That’s why romances are optional content. It’s such a personal issue that we’ll never be able to please everyone. The very best we can do is give everyone a little bit of choice, and that’s what we tried here.
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.
In a wall of text. Sorry about that.
And I’m sorry if someone didn’t get everything they wanted out of the romances– as I always am. I wish we could do the ideal where there’s something for every desire and opinion, but as usual we make do.
- David Gaider – Lead Writer Dragon Age 2/Dragon Age Origins
This is a start. It’s a long road, and I doubt it will ever be 100% in my life time, but it’s amazing to see such common sense as the official line from a developer, and such a successful one to boot. I keep my fingers crossed that this will ripple out. I’m under no illusions that this will change the minds of the vast majority of the gaming industry, but if there is even one small corner where this attitude prevails, my day just got a bit brighter.