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And All Was Right With the World

Dragon Age Writer Patiently Explains Why There Are Not “Too Few” Romance Options for Straight Male Gamers

When an insistent Bioware forum poster attempted, several times, to create threads calling the company to task for only making two romance options for straight males in Dragon Age 2 (i.e., two out of four, so… half, unless you count a character obtained through downloadable content), the leader writer of the game stepped in an deposited a wall of text on him that was as righteous and eloquent as it was polite.

The gist of poster Bastal‘s argument was that Bioware had not catered to his desires with the romance options, and that since he is a member of the majority demographic of the player base, he is justified in being disappointed with them. He suggests that Dragon Age 2 developers should have sacrificed some of the development time spent on tailoring each character to appeal to the demographics that he perceives them appealing to in order to implement more female characters that would appeal to a straight male. (Oddly enough, he names the two male romance options as being strictly for male gay gamers, and names the character Aveline as being in the game to appeal to straight women… even though there is no romance available with her.)

Could I have come up with my own, equally polite response? Lets take a look at how the OP phrased his argument:

That’s not to say there isn’t a significant number of women who play Dragon Age and that BioWare should forego the option of playing as a women altogether, but there should have been much more focus in on making sure us male gamers were happy…

…Its ridiculous that I even have to use a term like Straight Male Gamer, when in the past I would only have to say fans, but it is as if when the designers were deciding on how to use their limited resources, instead of thinking “We have fans who loved Alistair and we have fans who thought Alistair was annoying. We have fans that thought Morrigan was great and we have fans that thought that she was a ****. And we have fans who liked the combat and we have fans who hated the combat but liked the story. How do we make make all these groups happy?” Instead, it is as if they went “We have straight males, straight females, gays and lesbians. How do we make all these groups happy?”

Yeah… lets just say I would have had a hard time. Fortunately, David Gaider was on the case.

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…

…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…

…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.

Thank you, Mr. Gaider. If this were Reddit, we’d be upvoting so hard we’d have to buy a new mouse.

(Whole thread here, via Kotaku.)

(Yes I know Alistar isn’t in Dragon Age 2 but I was so ashamed of how much I was crushing on him I had to stop playing the game. So, good work, Bioware, I guess.)

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  • Rachel

    David Gaider, you continue to be my hero.

  • Krystal

    Three cheers for David Gaider!

  • Anonymous

    Hear, hear!

  • Ashley

    I am “fuck yeah”ing this so hard.

  • Nicole Hazen

    Damn. *applause*

  • Kate S

    I am feeling warm and fuzzy with this.

  • Scott

    Yes, that response was well said by Gaider.

  • Lisa Morgan

    Bravo, David Gaider :)

  • Anonymous

    Such a lovely response!

    Also, let me say as a straight female gamer, I am able to play and enjoy storylines that – GASP – don’t cater to my sexual orientation! I know, right?

  • jennifer marshall

    When I heard about that comment, I couldn’t help but chuckle… those poor underrepresented “straight male gamers”. I say “way to go, Bioware” for a lot of aspects about all of their games, but I’m glad to know that they’re being progressive consciously – if that makes any sense.

    Also, mmmm Alistair. I, too, am hellof embarassed at how into that NPC I was/am. I had to make myself stop playing for a while because I was talking about him too much like he was *actually* my boyfriend. I only tell you this now because it sounds like you get it. If not, and I’ve embarrassed myself (again) it’s only the internet… Not like anything people say on here ever comes back to haunt them.

  • Anonymous

    Oh no. I have no idea where you’re coming from.

    (It’s not like I was happy for an entire day because I’d finally gotten him to kiss me.)

    (It’s not like I ruined my desire to play the game by spoiling all the endings for myself just to make sure I had the one where he stayed with me forever.)


  • katytron

    I wish I had something more meaningful to add to this other than a dreamy sigh and a whispered “Oh, Alistair <3" but there you go.

    Oh, wait, I do! A girl friend of mine played DA:O and even though she's gay she totally crushed on Alistair. Sooo, yeah. Lots of people are fully capable of enjoying a video game's narrative without having a cavalcade of overly-sexualised female characters thrusting in their faces.

  • JaneR

    I never actually played Dragon Age. Didn’t have time, wasn’t my thing, that sort of reasons for why not.

    But I’m suddenly developing an interest in Mr. Gaider’s career and want to support him the way I support my fav actors and writers. So I think I shall go and buy me DA2. Thumbs up for Bioware

  • Nicole Hazen

    I’m completely out of my element on this one after reading all the comments. I’ve never found anything attractive about any fake character. Not saying it’s bad or anything, I just don’t feel it.

  • Alli Rense

    Gaider’s response was spot on.

    Additionally, I’d say that the straight female romance options in DA2 were not that great, either. I mean Fenris? He was so obnoxious! (Although, they basically created the ideal man in DA:O. It’s kind of hard to go anywhere but down after Alister.)

    Read my review of the game here:

    Part 1 –
    Part 2 –

  • William David Frost

    I’m a straight dude who was sad I couldn’t get my male character to have a relationship with Alistair. I was also blown away depressed when I found out that sparing what’s his face made Alistair leave.

  • RPGirl

    First, Bravo to Mr. Gaiman, not only for answering to his customers’ criticism so well, but also for his actively progressive stance. I’m not a fan of the way Bioware (or, rather, EA) does business, but this is a shining example (to my mind) of the potential of the so-called new business model. Feedback and communication, acceptance and encouragement of new and existing consumer demographics — these are tools that more companies should utilize.

    That being said, I think the Alistair thing is all in the voice acting. My fiance and I both played through DA:O, and he went the route of attempting to get it on with every female he could, just to see what a cyber-stud he could be, while I made fun of him the whole time. Then I initiated the Alistair romance on my save file, and damned if Steve Valentine’s silky complements didn’t make me actually BLUSH. To the point where I would no longer play that save file with my fiance in the room! From then on, I let him think I was playing a lesbian City Elf rogue.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome response. And I, too, totally crushed on Alistair.

    Does anyone else feel that the romance we experienced in DA:O is seriously lacking in DA2? Not only am I totally disappointed with the romance choices as a straight female looking for a guy (Anders and Fenris? Blech…) but it feels as if the romance is a switch you turn on or off. There’s no “getting to know you,” no joking around, no real flirtation. They either love you, or they don’t.

    I really hope the exiled prince is a bit more appealing, but I haven’t gotten that far in the game yet. :(

  • littlepunkryo

    You can’t really romance Sebastian. You can flirt with him, and he’ll propose a chaste marriage in act 3, but there are no kissing scenes and he pretty much breaks up with you right before hte game ends.

  • littlepunkryo

    Ah I don’t mean to make it come off like romances can’t be chaste at all, because I know they can, but Sebastian is different from the other love interests in that there are no kissing scenes and no scenes in bed, which is what most expect when they are going into a romance in Dragon Age games. Sebastian doesn’t have any of those!

  • Anonymous

    Aww man, that sucks. Maybe I’ll go for Isabella or Merrill after all.

  • katytron

    awww that’s heartbreaking!

    I had advanced warning about that, because Tycho at Penny Arcade complained that Alistar was wearing some DLC armour he’d paid for when he left the party.

    I spoiled lots of the game by obsessively reading about the dialogue trees and their consequences but I at least tried to keep the romance with Alistair as ‘pure’ and un-spoilery as I could. That’s part of the reason it had such an impact on me, I think…

  • katytron

    this made me giggle! I had family staying with us when I was playing DA:O and there were quite a few times where I wished I could alt+tab away from the game so I could enjoy my little romance on my own ^_^

  • Fingolfin

    Encyclopedia Dramatica tells it like it is! —

  • Arakiba

    I will be buying this game, now that I know about this.