Saturday, March 26, 2011

Break Out Your Tiny Violin

It’s certainly a regular thing for upset fanboys and girls to go on forums of their supposed favorite games and bitch and moan about certain aspects of the experience that they didn’t like. It seems that no matter how good a game is or how much someone claims to love it something always has to rub them so hard the wrong way that they feel the need to express their disapproval on the game’s official forums.

99% of the time I totally and completely ignore it. Haters gonna hate.

Truth be told, I would never have even known about forum poster Bastal’s complaint about the Dragon Age 2 romance options had lead writer David Gaider not taken the time to personally respond.

So what was so horrible about Dragon Age 2 that Mr. Bastal felt he needed to vent? In his own words, “Bioware neglected their main demographic: the straight male gamer”. He feels that because the majority of RPG gamers are straight and male and that the small amount of women who game stick to casual titles like The Sims the development team should have been much more concerned with making the straight men who play Dragon Age 2 happy. And how does one do this, you ask? Put in more hot, white, blonde, buxom chicks that want to rip your armor off it seems.

He feels that because Fenris and Anders can be romanced by both male and female Hawke that they were created specifically for female players and “the gays” which he estimates make up a staggering 5% of Bioware’s total fanbase. In addition, the two female romance options (which can also be pursued by both male and female Hawke) are “too exotic” and therefore were not created with the desires of the “straight, male gamer” in mind. I continue to be confused as to what he exactly meant by this. I guess Merrill’s tattoos and Isabela’s . . . erm, tan skin are intimidating? Honestly though, how anyone could think that Isabela wasn’t created purely to satisfy drooling adolescent boys is beyond me:

Whatever. I’m not going to say much in response to what is obviously a homophobic male teenager’s refusal (or lack of desire) to acknowledge the world around him. I did want to point out a few erroneous assumptions and hypocrisies in his argument however:

1.) His statistics. Yeah, it’s an easy one to go after but it’s just so damned irritating. The fact that this guy thinks the estimations he admittedly pulled out of his head are fact is just hilarious.

2.) He claims that the vast majority of women who game spend their time with pick up and go games like The Sims and yet he believes that Aveline was specifically created for women “given the lack of strong female characters in games”. If you think women don’t game, why would you possibly think this about Aveline? Also, why not mention Hawke as a strong woman that female players can identify with?

3.) He argues that there should be a “no homosexuality” option to prevent Anders and Fenris from making passes at male Hawke as that’s awkward. Somehow I have a feeling however that if he played as female Hawke and Isabela or Merrill hit on him he would not only not find it awkward but would probably peruse the relationship. After all, we as a society generally don’t have a problem with the idea of lesbianism so long as the chicks are hot and we can watch; it’s just the idea of dude’s kissing that’s offensive, right? Being a straight woman, I was not interested in pursuing a relationship with Isabela so guess what I did when she hit on me? I told her no thank you and we moved on. Shocking.

Urgh. Sorry. I know I just said I wasn’t going to spend too much time on a response to this doofus but my fingers got away from me. The level of entitlement and ignorance in this post infuriated me, especially the admission of being uncomfortable with a male character hitting on him while claiming he’s not homophobic. This was a recurring theme in the comments as well. Lots of players claiming, “I’m no homophobe but” and then proceeding to say something along the lines of it breaks Hawke’s badass persona to have him jumping into bed with Anders and/or Fenris. Gentlemen, once again, just like you would do in real life if a woman you weren’t interested in hit on you, just walk away. Don’t get all pissy that gay people can exist in your fantasy game and pretend it’s not your homophobia breaking your immersion.

Breaking your immersion. Oh yeah, this entire post is about a game. A GAME. A fantasy, role-playing game which is meant to allow people to explore and do things they never would in real life. Guys, it doesn’t make you any less butch to love on these fine assortments of pixels:

They’re not going to come out of the TV and change your orientation and as soon as you're done with Dragon Age 2 you can go back to ogling women in order to re-affirm your masculinity.

Okay, okay. I’m done now.

The entire reason I started this post was to share Mr. Gaider’s response to this guy. It’s a rather lengthy post so allow me to paraphrase here while pointing out my favorite points in bold:

"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”

Thank you, David Gaider.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this absurdity while simultaneously renewing my faith in the gaming industry as an entertainment outlet that deserves to be taken seriously.


  1. This Bastal guy should check out your previous post about Duke Nukem. If he wants dumb, white busty chicks that don't scare him, that game sounds more his speed.

    Mr. Gaider sounds like a smart guy. Almost like he wanted to fill his story with interesting and diverse characters, not just appeal to the lowest common denominator's sexual fantasies.

  2. Hamwize - First off, I LOVE your name. I am a great lover of puns. And I actually thought the same thing. It's kind of ironic that my last post was indeed about the women of Duke Nukem.

  3. This post is awesome <3

    I wonder if Bastal sided with the mages in DA2? Because that would be kind of ironic.