hit counter

Why Bioware Enforces They Deserve My Money

I don’t write often enough about games on my blog. However, I wanted to share something cool about a game company, Bioware. Recently they released a game called Dragon Age 2. This game has been played non-stop by Ray and Dave since it came out, and I’ve been watching it. It’s an awesome RPG. You get to choose to be a mage, warrior or rogue and the game changes depending on every decision you make. The non-linear story is very in-depth and allows for a different experience each time you play through it, depending upon the companions you choose to have with you. Additionally, your companions in the game flirt with you and you can choose to flirt or not flirt back. The gender of the companion doesn’t matter; they’re all bisexual.

On the Bioware forums, a player complained (this is the forum thread the complaint and the response came from) that Bioware neglected their main demographic, the straight male gamer, by having the straight male gamer have to ‘put up with’ men hitting on their character in addition to women.

One of the Bioware staff members, David Gaider, made a wonderful response to this player, which I wanted to share in part with you:
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.

I appreciate the fact that the company’s official response was thoughtful and pointed out that not only did they make the game to appeal to everyone, not trying to exclude female gamers, gay gamers or anyone else. And with these statements, they’ve enforced that they deserve my money because they see the imbalance and try to cater to everyone, rather than the ‘straight male demographic,’ which excludes me and many of my friends.

  • From our partners
    • Tovary

      I’m glad that there are some people in positions of authority who are not privilege-denying assholes.

      Do you have a link to the response itself? I’ve been muddlebrained all day, so maybe I’m just failing to find it, but the link to the complaint didn’t seem to have the response as well.

      • Phyrra

        Yeah I linked it above. David Gaider Bioware is the Bioware staff member who responded in such a thoughtful manner.

        The complaint is REALLY long, and you have to scroll below it to find the Bioware Staff response.

        • Tovary

          Puh, you’re right, my brain truly is muddled! Thank you :)

          • Phyrra

            No worries!

    • DaenaCat

      Best response from a gaming company EVER. I love the Dragon Age games (am working through DA2 now) and this makes me very happy to throw my money at this company.

      Responses like this reinforce the thoughts I had when playing these games — these games are for everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality. As a female gamer who is really tired of games that cater solely to the male gaze, I really really appreciate what Bioware has done here. <3

      • Phyrra

        Same here. I love RPGs and I’ve been playing them on my own, as well as with Ray and Dave, for years. It’s refreshing to see a different way to handle the story.

    • Lily

      Wow! What a great response, coming from somewhere so unexpected! Especially their last paragraph – sounds like they’ve got some great people on their team with a really good analysis. I like how the response is not guilt-inducing, but really sticks it to that particular player. Thanks for posting this!

      • Phyrra

        Yes, you don’t often see a company addressing the issue of privilege. It is a fantastic response. You’re quite welcome!

    • http://psychopixie.wordpress.com Julia Mathias

      Like everyone said, really awesome response. Romance is one of my favorite in the DA games and I just love how diverse they can be. It makes for a great gaming experience.

      • Phyrra

        I have to admit, I’ve got a soft spot for Isabella because of her piercing :)

        • http://psychopixie.wordpress.com Julia Mathias

          I’m more of a Merrill lover, when it comes to girls. She’s so cute and neurotic!

    • http://www.thejadecarver.blogspot.com Jade Carver

      I was kind of dithering about buying this game… but now I’m totally sold.

      I wish more people in the gaming and comic book industry were that awesome.

      For the record, out of all the friends I discuss comics and gaming with… three are male, five are female.

      • Phyrra

        Some are awesome, some are less awesome. I love it when I find the awesome ones.

    • http://lacqueredpaintedpolished.blogspot.com/ Jessi

      I love BioWare. While I’m not a big fan of the Dragon Age games, BioWare is the type of gaming company I like to support, unlike Activision. I love love love the Mass Effect series and I wish BioWare would bring back KOTOR. I know a lot for “straight, male gamers” and most of them would not be bothered at all by “men hitting on their character”. I can even see some of them actually pursuing that type of in-game relationship just to be silly. I am very much into video games and I don’t consider myself a “casual gamer”. I’m glad that companies are recognizing it isn’t all about the straight male gamer.

      • Sarah

        Same here. I think Bioware is truly doing some innovative stuff, and even if I don’t really like Dragon Age (the first one certainly had some racism/sexism problems that I don’t feel comfortable just saying “oh it’s medieval it has to be that way” with… it’s fantasy! It doesn’t have to be ANY way! /tangent) I think they’re a fantastic company with good ethics and an understanding of what gamers of any gender and orientation want.

        • Phyrra

          Yes, they really showed a great understanding and sensitivity.

      • Phyrra

        The men in my household aren’t afraid of being hit on by anyone, but they’re pretty secure in themselves.

        I’m glad you love them too :)

    • Sam

      I also enjoyed being able to marry multiple people in fable, unfortunately the spouses weren’t always happy about it if they happened to meet each other.

      • Phyrra

        Haha! I remember that!

    • http://thepaintedmask.wordpress.com/ dolce aria

      Played through DA1 with the boyfriend, am working through DA2 right now. That response is simply AWESOME! The boyfriend listens to me complain all the time while he games. I Love watching, but it’s so frustrating watching these games constantly cater so many elements of their storytelling, character design, costume design, etc. to that majority demographic in such a demeaning way.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fairly big fan of scantily clad girls, or femme fatale bada**es, or even the classic “rescue the princess” cliche, but that’s ALL that’s offered, it’s hard to get the same experience out of a game.

      Half the fun of gaming is IN the fantasy—of pursuing that silly flirtation, or playing the genocidal villain, or doing things that would be unpalatable in any realistic context. Do most “straight male” gamers ALSO complain about “having to put up with” quest altering choices that may not suit their moral code, because they advocate against mercy, may take an “eye for an eye” view of enforcement that is uncalled for in the situation, or may encourage characters to act in a mercenary fashion, murder “innocents” or “good guys” on the wrong side of the fight? NO! Why is it so important to force your own sexuality into a game, but to not pursue that SAME rigid outlook with choices that are ultimately FAR more damaging than choosing to flirt with a same-sex character.

      It still boggles my mind that we, as a people, tend to be FAR more emotionally threatened by others sexuality, than we do by actual physical danger, or mental illness.

      • Phyrra

        I remember growing up, I was always sad because I had to play a male character, as most rpg leads were male. It was rare to ever find a female, or even have the choice of being a male or female.

        And I’m fine with scantily clad women, though I know others don’t always like it. I mean, I <3 Bayonetta, and really, I’m not the demographic for that character :P

        Yeah, I’ve always found it appalling that in the USA people are more threatened by sex than by violence. I just watched a documentary today called, ‘This Film is Not Yet Rated,’ which discusses how movie ratings are done.

        • http://thepaintedmask.wordpress.com/ dolce aria

          I used to argue with my dad, on computer RPGs, because he’d create a party of six, and only include ONE token girl character, if me and my sister nagged him. His actual “main” characters were always men, and those games didn’t actually CHANGE the game based on if you were playing a man or a woman. He’d always make derogatory jokes about the costumes and armor designed for the women, often refusing to wear more “masculine” silhouettes(like plate armor), and opting instead for leather bikinis. My dad really WAS the “straight male gamer” stereotype. So games like Fallout, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, were like a breathe of fresh air for the variety of gameplay choices available, when I started looking for newer games than the classic old adventure RPGs.

          Even my “straight male” gamer boyfriend nearly always plays his first playthrough as a female, usually middle-of-the-road morals(Close to his real ones). Second playthrough is a male, usually a different character class, and often playing devils-advocate for whatever moral code his first character had. Third one is usually a woman again, often the OPPOSITE moral code of #2. And of course he HAS to get EVERY side quest completed, every “collect them all treasure” collected, EVERY possibility explored. SO much fun to watch.

          It makes me happy that he started two females in DA2(a mage, and a rogue), and he gave both of them my “signature” makeup colors—BRIGHT neon eyeshadow, bright blue or purple looks, extensive facial designs and tattoos. The man knows me!

          • Phyrra

            Yay! That’s so awesome :)

    • theetinygoat

      that makes me incredibly happy!
      i have a lot of friends who work in various aspects of the gaming industry, and they are constantly remarking on how its comprised (both the industry itself and the player base) mainly of straight white males who basically shit on anyone else who dares suggest that someone other than another straight white dude might have something to say. several of them have come close to leaving the field because they couldn’t deal with the sense of entitlement and privilege and general douchebaggery they had to face every day.
      good for bioware for recognizing that other people exist, and for not kissing the collective backside of the supposed majority.

      • Phyrra

        Yep, Bioware is awesome. I work in the gaming industry and I’m glad my company is a good one, rather than a bad one.

    • http://eyeheartit.blogspot.com/ Larie

      Oh, that’s so refreshing!

      • Phyrra

        It really is!

    • http://prettyindayton.blogspot.com Styrch

      Thank you for writing this post! I just read it out loud to my husband. We both play RBP games. I’ve always been interested in the way games treat gender, sexual orientation of the CHARACTER the user is playing, more so than I’ve been concerned with how the choices made in the programming may relate to the player. After all, it is an RPG game.

      That being said, more often than not I feel that the people writing these games often code be universally ambiguous in regard to gender or sexuality or orientation of characters simply because they don’t want to go through the extra work in the code, or in some cases the writing of alternate story line. I’ve seen some pretty funky choices that don’t match well with the story because I chose to play a female character (leaving sexual orientation out of this entirely), but make sense when I go through a game playing as a male character.

      It might be worth to note that the games I’m talking about are games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter nights, which are also Bioware. Those games always came across as being inflexible to me. Some tasks require you to flirt with a non-player character to complete the task. Others you can’t complete unless you are a man or a woman (whatever it calls for). That’s the type of programming I find lazy.

      I’m not defending the poster by any means in saying this, but I would bet that the items they are complaining about come about because of trying to make lazy programming work for both genders and any sexual orientation. The one-size-fits-all approach. But I agree with the BioWare staff member’s response that it’s not right for anyone to assume that the game should play for their demographic only. That makes the game incredibly uninteresting (as well as not equal).

      I would love to see a gaming world where you can program not only your character’s race, class, gender, looks but also their sexual orientation and then maybe get different story lines if the story calls for it. And notice I said my “character” again… I really don’t care if my character resembles me and my preferences. Why should I? It’s like acting. The poster obviously doesn’t understand the concept of RPG. If they are that uncomfortable because a character in a game hit on their character, then they are taking the game WAY too seriously.

      Sorry for the ramble, but I will probably have to pick up one of the current BioWare games just to see how they are handling these character choices and options in the games now.

      • Phyrra

        No no, the ramble is totally cool! I put this out there to encourage talk on the topic :)

        Sometimes I want my character to resemble me, and othertimes I want my character to be different. I almost always want to play a female, and I’m pretty cranky when I can’t. Ray and Dave are way more comfortable at playing female characters than I am male characters.

        Interestingly enough, my hero while growing up was a fictional guy from a fantasy world named Vanyel, by Mercedes Lackey.

        • http://prettyindayton.blogspot.com Styrch

          LOL – I’ll be honest with you too. I almost always play a female too. Mostly it’s because I see RPG as wish-fulfillment. I always wish I was as kick-ass as my characters! Not to mention, I almost always want their wardrobe, hair, makeup, body, etc. When I play a male it’s just strange because I don’t find anything fascinating about them. Is it possible that male characters may actually be less interesting? If there are mostly male programmers, would they spend more time on the females because they are more fun? Maybe it’s the graphic designer who does or something.

          And my husband’s the same way Ray and Dave are I think, although in my husband’s case when he plays a female character he almost always likes just looking at the female attributes (BOOBS, legs, etc) and watching the females flirt with other females. He gets a huge kick out o that. I’m sure the “straight male demographic” poster has no problem with that aspect of an RPG game either. LOL

          I’m going through a phase right now trying to write my own fiction. I keep seeing myself falling into male/female stereotypes and I really want to avoid that. I wonder if the developers of games ever think that way.

          My hero growing up was Atreyu. So I get that. :)

          • Phyrra

            Yep, often you write what you know, so you have to keep that in mind when you’re writing and try to break out of that comfort zone.

    • S. G.

      Oh, god. A game company whose online conduct doesn’t make me want to divorce humanity. I… I don’t know how to react.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing this. I love makeup, but I also love gaming.

      • Phyrra

        LOL, your comment about divorcing humanity made me laugh out loud.

        You’re quite welcome. I’m always happy to hear from people who love gaming and makeup :)

    • Lori

      Oh god, I read that thread (started by the dude claiming to represent “the straight male gamer,” if you’re wondering if he presents a more thoughtful and nuanced position when given a chance to elaborate . . . no) as it was developing. Couldn’t stick with it past the first 10 pages or so but I gotta love on the whole Bio team, especially David Gaider. It’s not the first time he’s brought up privilege when responding to forum comments. Of course the poster he’s responding to almost never seems to get it, but I always hope others silently reading pick up on it.

      I actually just shut down DA2 and went to check my blogroll before bed. How great is it to find a post on one of my favorite video game series on one of my favorite makeup blogs?? :D

      • Phyrra

        I keep wanting to email David Gaider and tell him how awesome he is, but I don’t want him to think I’m creepy.

        • Cori

          He’s been informed. But he wouldn’t think it was creepy, anyways, unless you sent him naked pictures or boiled his cats or something. But given the fragile writer ego, he’d probably love it right now. (Being told he was awesome, I mean, not naked pictures or boiled kittens. They’re really cute cats and should not be boiled.)

          • Phyrra

            I emailed him :) He responded back. He’s awesome. No naked pictures of kittens were involved.

    • nekosan

      Excellent! I’ve always liked Mass Effect for the choices of romantic storyline.

      And, dude, the OP of the complaint, claiming 80% male and a “generous” 5% gay? Sheesh. I don’t know the real numbers, but those seem off.

      • Phyrra

        Yeah, well, most statistics are made up on the spot. They’re not accurate.

    • Ana

      I think this might be one of my favourite posts ever. On any blog.

      Go, go that Bioware staff member!

      The response was clear, polite yet firm, and it addressed several good points.

      • Phyrra

        Yay! Thank you :)

    • http://littlemissmetamorph.blogspot.com kristen

      I freakin love Bioware. Im addicted to their other title Mass effect. Ive even costumed as one of their characters – Liara, which means prosthetics and blue skin makeup.
      I like that they offer you to play as any character you choose and that the choice of male or female for the lead doesnt change who the essense of the lead is – the lines they say are the same, with a little tweaking for continuity.
      Glad to see im not the only makeup and gaming obsessed person lol

      (thinking of posting on my blog, my more unusual makeup habits – like the prosthetics and body paint!)

      • Phyrra

        You’re definitely not alone!

    • Ryou

      This wins so much. Thank you for posting it, it totally made my day. =D

      • Phyrra

        You’re so welcome. It made my day too.

    • http://ladyinatophat.blogspot.com Lady in a Top Hat

      This was the best line:

      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.

      Heck yes. If I played video games, I’d go out and buy this game right now.

      • Phyrra

        Yes it is. You rarely see privilege (in this case straight male) being discussed.

    • sarah

      What a douche canoe. He obviously doesn’t realise how much the gaming world has changed.

      I love the response as well. And I like that they’re not excluding anymore. Not everyone is a tit or an ass man.

      • Phyrra

        It’s fantastic that they’re being inclusive as opposed to exclusive.

    • http://eighteight8.blogspot.com eight

      That is so awesome. I haven’t had much interest in playing DA, but this definitely makes me want to check it out.

      • Phyrra

        I totally agree with you :)

    • rabidmoon

      Wonderful response! The bf just got done with DA2, though I’ve not played it yet, I played thru the Origins and the paid content about 3 times so far (on third playthru, but that’s sort of on hold while I’m getting into RIFT)…..I have Mass Effect 2 on the list now that he finished it, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      My only complaint about DA2, based on visual observation only, is I really felt Origins looked better. But in terms of being aware of the diversity of today’s gamer, I can only applaud them.

      • Phyrra

        Other people have made that comment about the art feeling rushed. I mostly focus on the cinematics in it, so it’s not bothered me as much.

        How are you enjoying Rift?

    • Kawaiiferreto

      His response was so FULL OF WIN. I don’t honestly know much about Bioware and what games they’ve made, but I will be going out of my way to find out now!!

      • Phyrra

        I know! It was a ‘restore my faith in people’ moment to read it.

    • http://eyelinerandspraypaint.blogspot.com robyn

      My fiance plays a lot of Bioware and while I’m not really a gamer, they seem like a pretty awesome company. Good on ‘em!

      • Phyrra

        I try not to have too much gaming talk on my blog since it’s primarily makeup (just like I try not to have too much poodle, or book, etc), but I just had to share this. I’m glad your fiance likes them and that you’re happy with their response ;)

    • http://thestudentsguidetonailpolish.blogspot.com September Lena

      My friend has just finished this game (neglected all his schoolwork to do so, naturally) and I was thinking about trying it. After reading this, I probably will. After GCSEs, lol.

      Thumbs up for not being privilige denying jerks. <3

      • Phyrra

        Yay! Yeah it is fantastic.

    • http://www.the-beauty-spot.net Rach

      Im a big fan of Bioware, I adore the mass effect games and the voice acting for the woman lead character is amazing but I bet only a small percentage of peeps who play the game ever hear it!

      • Phyrra

        I love that Claudia Black has voiced characters for DA!

    • Rae

      I was waffling on buying DA2. I could afford to get it, but I have other large expenses coming up so I wasn’t definite.

      This made up my mind completely. A friend linked me to this post, I read it, and I immediately purchased the game.

      I always knew I liked Bioware.

      • Phyrra

        I hope you love it :)

    • Alyssa

      Amazing. =) I myself am I hardcore female gamer and love the options presented to me in the dragon age games because normally games really are set up for male players and I love the fact that bioware realizes there are other gamers than just straight males and are taking their stand against this stereotype =)

      • Phyrra

        Yes! It’s nice to not be excluded just because I’m female.

    • Pingback: Bioware: Romances in DA2 are for everyone » The 'mental Shaman

    • http://awfulhorrid.tripod.com Fred

      Very nice! I’m a non-straight male gamer, and I’m very aware of the hetero-normative and male-only options offered on so many games. I tried the DA2 Demo on Steam and unfortunately didn’t really like the game play, but I will absolutely keep this in mind with future offerings from Bioware. Good for them for being inclusive like this!

      • Phyrra

        Seeing Bioware’s response was a definite boost in my faith in humanity. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment ;)

    • Tabii

      I love bioware even more now! And dragon age 2 is amazing. I’ve almost beaten it as a Mage. :]

      • Phyrra

        Congratz!

    • Pingback: » Blog Archive » News Flash: Bioware on romances, homosexuality and the "straight male" demographic

    • Pingback: News Flash: Bioware on romances, homosexuality and the "straight male" demographic | Feed The Gamer

    • J McK

      Hi, I’m currently playing DA2, played DA1 to death, saw a link to this in my news feed and just had to respond. I love the response by BioWare and how the subject of privilege was tackled so fluently and accessibly. I find the attitude refreshingly progressive and I’ve reposted the link to this blog.

      I’m very much a Merrill girl, btw ;)

      • Phyrra

        Thank you! I think it is very rare to see the subject of privilege handled so eloquently.

    • Byron Heapes

      While I think it’s awesome that they defended the reasons behind it, and as a gay guy it makes me happy that Bioware is FINALLY getting over their homophobic policies, but at the same time, I don’t really think making everyone gay AND always hitting on you/being disappointed when you aren’t interested was really the right way to handle it, which I hear is exactly the case with the game. I’d rather have a bunch of great characters, some of which that were gay, some bi, some straight. Making everyone swing both ways isn’t really that much better beyond allowing people to live out their fanfics in game. I hope in the future bioware takes the effort to craft homosexual relationships, rather than just slapping straight content onto a gay context.

      • Phyrra

        Actually, I don’t feel they made every character gay, so much as every character is open to every possibility, be it gay, bisexual or straight.

      • Ian

        The romanceable characters aren’t all bi. One in particular is either gay/straight depending on you – the story actually changes depending on your gender. That character is also the only one who hits on you hard, but you can tell him you don’t want him to think of you that way and he won’t bring it up again (I’ve done so as both male and female).

        As best I can tell the other 3 will really only pursue you if you meet specific criteria, including flirting with them (indicated by heart icons, so you can’t do it by accident).

        Haven’t done all the romances, mind you. I try, but Merrill always winds up being the one (just as in ME1 I had a hard time not romancing Liara in any of my playthroughs.)

        I have some gameplay concerns with DA2 (the spawning, in particular) but I’m of the camp that says it’s still a good game, just not as good as I hoped.

        And David Gaider has always been awesome. “Not one to suffer fools” is the expression that suits.

    • http://www.facebook.com/billyjoecain Billy Cain

      More power to the community leads that spoke this truth.

      Diversity ROCKS! As an industry, we need MORE of it!
      bjc

      • Phyrra

        I completely agree :)

    • William R. Dickson

      And now I’m even happier that Bioware is finally releasing it’s games for the Mac. I’ll definitely buy more of them.

      • Phyrra

        Very cool :)

    • Glide

      As a straight male gamer, whom has mostly straight male gamer friends, i’m appaled that someone would claim that being flirted with by male characters turns him away from the game. Bioware’s blunt but honest responce is probably the greatest statement i’ve seen from a company in a long time.

      There’s plenty of reasons to dislike DA2 from a gamers standpoint, and I don’t plan on giving Bioware my money for this game. That said, bisexual companions is not one of those reasons.

      Here’s a little feel good thought: Studies have proven that homophobic individuals show more arousal from male stimuli, as i’ve leaned in my Psychology class recently. I’d be willing to guess this guys afraid of his own thoughts and is taking it out on Bioware. The irony makes me laugh.

      • Phyrra

        Thank you for sharing that insight! That’s fascinating!

    • William

      Like another gamer said before, I was dithering on whether or not to buy this game. BioWare’s response has most certainly helped me make my choice.

      I’m not.

      I am a straight male gamer. I do not wish to have to put up with my in-game avatar being hit on by male NPCs. Honestly, I don’t -really- care for my avatar being hit on by -female- NPCs, either. I don’t play games for romance storylines and whenever possible I do everything I can to skip/’subvert/ignore those plot lines because they detract from the action of the game for me. I can accept a romance plot in a movie or television series I’m watching; that’s all well and good. But I play games to slaughter enemies, explore galaxies and most of all to have fun. Having some computer-generated NPC make kissy-faces at me is -not- my idea of fun. It’s bad enough that a full two-thirds of the male students at my university are gay or bi and constantly hit on me – I don’t need it in my games. All I have to say to the company is “Thanks but no thanks, BioWare, and if you keep making games like this you’ve lost me as a customer”.

      • Phyrra

        You do make a good point in that there are some people who are not interested in games with romantic overtones. A role playing game such as this may not be the best choice if this is your interest level. As such, maybe check out the new Mortal Combat? It sounds like it might be more your type of game.

        • SomeGuy

          Oh snap! haha

          Me straight male – me like kill other people and chop wood

        • Glide

          I wouldn’t say that RPG is the wrong game genre for William, rather BioWare RPG’s are something he should avoid. BioWare enjoys writing romance into their games, and BioWare games are incredibly story driven. I could imagine that the new Elder Scrolls game would be exciting for someone with interests like William’s. Yes, there’s good story and lore, but such features are more context and driving factors then dominating points.

          Mind you, Skyrim’s a while’s away, but in the mean time, we can get excited. Like this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9eGtyqz4gY

    • SomeGuy

      @William:

      //It’s bad enough that a full two-thirds of the male students at my university are gay or bi and constantly hit on me – I don’t need it in my games.//

      Haha such a lie. What university is this?

      I don’t think you need to play games – you are already living in a fantasy world.

      And kudos to Bioware! The recognition of privilege is outstanding

    • Azalyn

      Thank you so much for this post! I too am buying DAII NOW and not doing my usual practice of waiting a few months for prices to go down. I was very impressed with Bioware’s “equal-opportunity romance” options in DAO and praise the devs to people I discuss gaming with. It seems like a small thing, but it is a HUGE shift in how video games are normally done. And now to make such a bold, powerful statement about it is even more win!

      I actually JUST got back from a presentation on genderbending in MMO gaming (why I play a male toon all the time) when a friend sent me this link, so this totally made my day and night!

      • Phyrra

        You’re welcome Azalyn. The Genderbending panel sounds fascinating!

      • Glide

        Wait, what was the verdict on why people genderbend their characters? This is something i’ve never understood, as my focus in gaming has always been to input myself into scenarios that I will likely, and often hopefully, never experience in real life. I’ve always found it hard to relate myself to my character when I have to take on a female role.

        I could imagine people who more easily relate to the opposite gender would enjoy rolling opposite gender characters, but I can’t imagine that that accounts for the majority of such occurrences.

        • Phyrra

          I myself rarely play male characters, but Ray and Dave play females as often as they play males.

          I think most of the characters we raided on in WoW were all female, as well.

        • Azalyn

          Hi Glide! What I’ve seen from research done by people like Nick Yee (http://www.nickyee.com/) on MMOs is:

          - Males play a slight majority of female toons
          - Females mostly play female toons
          - Females who play male toons are relatively VERY rare, like 1-in-100 rare

          There is a fair amount of discussion as to why males genderbend: free gifts, nice ass, smaller avatar, and psychological factors against PvP opponents. I’ve seen a fair number of comments by female players to the effect of: “Ew! Male avatars are icky looking!” – which is why they say they play females. (This is based on my experiences in WoW)

          The presentation I did was focused on sharing my insights on what sorts of things make people think you are male or female – racial choice, role choice, writing in a “masculine” way, etc. They are definitely stereotypes (that I would love to do away with), but keeping those in mind secured my online persona so well that no one even asked if I were female, which was fine by me.

          Personally, I genderbent my whole time in WoW because I had heard of the bad things that happen to female players and wanted to be free to pewpew without all that baggage (and there can be a LOT of social baggage). Also, I had a bad experience in Diablo I on Battle.net when someone found out I was female, so I swore to never let that happen again. Because pre-Dragon Age, few RPGs gave you a choice, I just got used to playing a male character in single-player games, and I enjoy creating characters who are mostly different from me, so I play mostly males with a few females. Because Alistair was straight, I ended up making a female toon for my first playthrough of DAO so I could snog him.

          I can point to a few articles on avatars and genderbending in a day or so (I’m traveling at the moment and about to head home tomorrow); they are quite interesting. Hope that gives some food for thought!

        • That Dave

          Glide – Wanted to throw in my $.02. There is actually a significant body of research conducted on MMO’s relative to real life status. This website is for a now retired (though apparently still forming a new study) researcher who has conducted over 10 years of scientific research on the people who play MMO’s and their decisions about them. I include a link directed to a discussion on virtual bodies (there are more pages for each article), though there are literally hundreds of pages of decent research. The results might surprise you.

          http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/001613.php?page=1

          • Glide

            Thanks for the link Dave. I’ve been reading over Some of the findings, and they’re quite interesting. It definitely provides me some insight into my WoW experiences; The data obtained aligns very well with my anecdotes and experiences from the 6 years I’ve spent playing.

    • David Gaider

      Thanks for the kind comments! And no, Phyrra, I won’t think you’re creepy. :)

      (Someone at work forwarded the link to your blog saying I should take a look.)

      • Phyrra

        You’re awesome in so many ways that I lack the proper verbage to describe it!

        • Cori

          Oh, and hey, there he is. I should have read to the bottom before replying.

    • http://www.epidigm.net/arcadia Anise

      That is a brilliant response. They broke it down to a. You aren’t typical and b. Even if you are, stop being a whiny spoiled brat and learn how to share.

      • Phyrra

        Lovely summarization :)

    • MissJupiter

      I don’t really play video games, but that response from BioWare is freaking awesome! Although, it did almost seem at first that it was something my mother had written. LOL I have been ingrained with the idea of the ‘tyranny of the majority’ ever since I can remember. <;-)

    • Sicram

      While I myself am straight male gamer (and borderline homophobic I might add) I just wish I could apologise on behalf every stuck up shmuck who thinks that just because he’s white and straight means everything should be tailored for him. It’s like underlying nazi-ism (durr, spelling). Hell, I wasn’t offended at all by Anders move. If by some reason a guy would hit on me in real life I’d at worst get a bit wide eyed and say “whoa! Sorry man but I’m only interested in female curves”, now why a homosexual man would hit on me is something out of comprehension I wouldn’t go berserk.

      At any rate, I really like how the reply was really thought out and more or less intellectually sucker punched that douche really hard.

    • Jamie

      One of the most interesting conversations I had with the Bioware team at PAX 2010 was actually about this, and the sexuality of their characters.

      Interestingly, my conversation was actually a bit on the other end though. I asked the Dragon Age 2 team if they would make a game where all the characters would be optional romances for both male and female characters – I asked this because, while I played a female character and had a fantastic relationship with Alistair in DA:O, my friend played a male character and was unable to experience that relationship and was unsatisfied with Zevran.

      The DA:O/DA2 writers summarily responded “you can’t have it your way every time”. Their position was that they wrote the characters first. They had characters whom the writers felt had it in their character to be bisexual and straight. They felt a character like Alistair would simply not be interested in a relationship with a male player, even though he’d be flattered by it. They said they try their best to include all of their gamers, but won’t compromise the quality of their characters in order to suit all demographics.

      They did assure me that they would keep my concerns in mind as they design further games, perhaps by including more party members – so that a player has a better selection of romantic partners, in case you’re not a fan of floozies like Zevran or passive romantics like Leliana. Hopefully, they kept this in mind for TOR.

    • Pingback: Dragon Age II Writer Defends The Game’s Sexuality Balance | Kotaku Australia

    • Pingback: Dragon Age II Writer Eloquently Defends The Game’s Sexuality Balance [Bioware] | That Soviet Guy

    • Pingback: Bioware responds on issue of LGBT rights and privilege - Tilted Forum Project Discussion Community

    • Pingback: News Flash: Bioware on romances, homosexuality and the "straight male" demographic

    • Pingback: Bioware defends gay content in Dragon Age 2 | Queer Landia

    • pathaN

      Bioware – Doing it right

    • Pingback: Bioware vs. privilege « The Moritheil Review

    • Pingback: 5 Things | Phyrra

    • KW

      Incredible. I’ve never, ever read something quite on par with David’s extensive and well delivered slam, especially the part about privilege. If this is the design process that truly does go on behind closed doors, you’ve found yourself a loyal customer. Very happy to read something that does demonstrate that Bioware is very aware of the issue.

    • Mjolnir

      Wow! What an awesome response from Gaider. That he commented here makes me squee like a fangirl. I really loved DA:O and I was disappointed that some of the characters couldn’t be romanced by a same-sex PC. I think it’s great that they changed that in DA2 and having played as a male character and watching my boyfriend play as a male character, you don’t get hit on at every turn and it’s very easy to turn NPCs down. Granted, DA2 isn’t as good as I hoped it would be, but for being in development for less than a year it’s not too bad.

      For those who complain about the romance aspect– you DO NOT HAVE TO pursue a romance in the game if you don’t want to.

      Oh and to add to the genderbending discussion, my boyfriend played FFXI for six years as a female character. He said it was because the character model looked better and had better looking gear.

    • Pingback: Paste Link Here « kirk hamilton .com

    • Alicia

      Thank you for posting this! A friend sent me a link to this page, and I wouldn’t have seen that wonderful response by a DAII staffer otherwise.

      I agree with everything the staffer (and you!) have said. Part of the reason I’m such a die-hard Dragon Age fan is how accepting and open the company is about appealing to different segments of the marketplace.

      (Which is a fancy way of saying I heart the gayness.)

    • http://jessicasideways.com Jessica Sideways

      Now, if they only would have got that when they were developing NWN, as there are NO queer romance options on any character gender, whether you’re playing the original campaign, Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark, Witch’s Wake, ShadowGuard, Kingmaker or Pirates of the Sword Coast.

      I know this as I play all of these games regularly.

    • Jo Ward

      Although i agree with the response of the bioware staff. I don’t think they have a consistent opinion on the matter. Mass effect is a perfect example of this where, you can have a lesbian relationship in the first game but no gay relationship and in the 2nd instalment its not really possible to have either unless you use a dlc which continues the relationship from the first story.

      It could be htat Bioware have finally made the decision that they are endorsing the attitude shown in the DA series. If this remains to be a consistent attitude for the future

    • Pingback: Bioware politely kicks ass, takes names. | Sinting Link

    • Pingback: Romance me! « weemadaggie

    • Pingback: BioWare writer stands up for inclusivity in games, tells entitled straight male gamer his privilege is showing. — The Hathor Legacy

    • spankyj25

      I love this, and really appreciate you re-posting and linking it! While it’s painfully clear that I don’t speak for everyone in my demographic (straight male gamer thirty-somethings) I will definitely speak for myself and say that I have no fear, disgust, or other such discomfort in having the option of homosexual relationships in a game where romantic relationships are an interesting and fun “side quest”. I myself have never explored the same-sex relationships in DA, but I don’t think that they should be excluded. That is simply backward thinking. In the part of the USA where I live, I know that homosexuality is an extreme minority to heterosexuality, but to say that the homosexual population doesn’t deserve the same treatment (even in something as trivial as a video game) as the rest of the population is down-right silly! I’m glad that the Bioware rep’s reply indicated that! I’ve been a Bioware fan for years, and this one comment in particular has endeared them to me that much more. Kudos is due to Bioware, and to you for the re-post and linking of this most important message against privilege and entitlement. Thanks for reading my two cents’ worth.

    • Pingback: 5 reasons to hate Mass Effect (Mass Effect 2) | myGamers.net – Malaysian Gamers Community

    • Kerem

      After I’ve read the article, suddenly understood why DA2 get lowest user points on metacritic: Homophobia. And then, I went to nearest store and bought a copy of DA2. Never regret. Thanks.

      • Phyrra

        You’re quite welcome, Kerem!