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.

tagged in Game Reviews