Dragon Age and Something Not Entirely Awful

9: Moving on from queerbaiting, or media intentionally baiting fans into supporting them through the supposed inclusion of queer characters who will never be queer, I want to return to analyzing a game, this time Dragon Age.  With tools like understanding fandom culture and the reasons why video games can be so powerful under our belts studying Dragon Age can be particularly rich.

This week Dragon Age: Inquisition was released.  It is the next game in a series that has produced three others, and the Dragon Age series has gained attention for a while for the inclusion of gay and bisexual characters.  

In Dragon Age: Originsplayers (who had the options of playing as either a male or female character from any of the pre-set ‘races’ that included elves) could romance a total of four characters in the game, so each character was bisexual to allow for a possible romancing from any configuration of a character the player chose.  This effectively ‘got rid’ of sexuality in the game; it did not seem to matter to anyone.

In Inquisition there are more romanceable characters, so some characters are only gay, some are only bisexual, and yet others are only straight.  That means that if your character is a female, for example, you can only attempt to romance the gay females, the bisexual characters, or the straight males.  This, according to David Gaider, lead writer for the series, is because, “[He] thought that was pretty important [as] those are different stories to tell” (Maiberg).

Additionally Inquisition will include a trans character.

Krem, of Dragon Age: Inquisition. photo credit: iwettia.tumblr.com

Krem, of Dragon Age: Inquisition. photo credit: iwettia.tumblr.com

Krem is a trans man and already a fan favorite, with many pieces of fanart in his tag on tumblr.  Krem is a welcome change from the transmisogyny in Origins where the player could visit a brothel and pick the “Surprise Me!” option where a dwarf in a dress named Serendipity would come out to dance for the player.  Later David Gaider acknowledged the mistake and said that Serendipity was supposed to be a drag queen, and the joke was not on trans women.

BioWare, the company that produces Dragon Age, is a great example of a company that is responding to the needs and wants of a population that is usually silenced.  When a straight male gamer complained in Origins at how he was flirted with by a male character, BioWare responded excellently.  Parts of their response are quoted below.

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. . . The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.
[. . .]
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. 

Bravo, BioWare!  Fans respond positively to this kind of inclusion, and the Dragon Age games enjoy patronage from a great number of people.  I hope to see them continuing towards inclusion in the future.  Next we are going to analyze a game that is in my top three: Skyrim.

Works Cited:  Maiberg, Emanuel.  “Dragon Age: Inquisition Has Straight, Bisexual, and Gay Romances Because They Tell Different Stories, BioWare Says.”  Gamespot.  20 July. 2014.  Accessed 11 Dec. 2014.


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