BioWare Practices More Than Virtual Equality

26 Mar

Only his programmer knows...

Dragon Age II, the new role-playing video game from BioWare, has an unusual feature: romance is possible between any of the characters regardless of their gender. That’s right: this game actually recognizes that both fictional characters and gamers may fall anywhere on the Kinsey scale! It is extremely rare for video games to represent the gay community; this is a welcome change.

Of course, some gamers aren’t happy with this move. In a very “kill him but mustn’t kiss him” post, one self-identified Straigh Male Gamer complained that BioWare was ignoring its primary demographic and potentially alienating them. To the company’s credit, they not only stood by their decision to embrace all forms of romance, they posted a very firm reply to the complainer. One key piece of the reply reads:

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.

BioWare takes a strong stand against heterosexist norms in both their game and their reply. Kudos to this company for doing the right thing and standing up to undeserved, assumed privilege.

Thanks to No More Lost for this story. More details can be found there, including part of the complaint and a more complete quote of the reply.

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3 Responses to “BioWare Practices More Than Virtual Equality”

  1. Jennifer March 26, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    This is the feature of the original game as well. It is a game where you truly develop the character of your, well, character. So, you could be a highly romantic, ‘it’s all about love’ individual or a ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ type. You also get to pick the gender of your own character as well as that of their love interests. It’s a hugely popular game.
    I personally don’t like the game play, but it has nothing to do with the romantic liaisons. My husband *loves* this game.

    • rhulshofschmidt March 26, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      Thanks, Jen. I didn’t realize that both iterations of this game practiced equality. I’m not a gamer at all, but it’s wonderful to see a strong stand made by a business in any industry.

      • Jennifer March 26, 2011 at 10:26 am #

        I’m really glad that you posted this. I didn’t realize that their decision to do this was an element of taking a stand. I just thought that it was interesting game-role development. They’re not the only game with this feature (Fable II & III come to mind). However, they are one of the most popular.
        As a female gamer, I often get frustrated with the incredibly misogynistic element of games or overly-stereotypical characterization of gender roles. It’s nice to see someone actively combating those elements.

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