Dragon Age 2: Sexual Freedom

I’m the worst guy to go to for sex advice, as I’m relatively inexperienced with the matter. Don’t take that in the funny way, I haven’t dived deep into the hole of sexual diversity in video-games. Perverts. I haven’t had hands on experience myself, but I do know what’s what when it comes to sexuality. I’m straight, the end, but I understand other people might like the same sex or both types of human. That’s fine with me, it might not be fine with a lot of people, but if you want to go and love someone then it shouldn’t matter whether they’re male or female, Muslim or Christian, dead or alive. That last one was for me.

There’s been a certain controversy surrounding Dragon Age 2 that I want to comment on and this is the perfectly platform to do so. I haven’t played the game, I have no intention of playing either Dragon Age games and to be quite honest I don’t want to comment on something I don’t have first-hand experience of. I don’t know what it’s like to be gay, so I don’t know the level of insult that certain groups have taken with the game. It’s mainly because all of us heterosexual folk have been considered to be the ‘societal norm’ for a few centuries, although it’ll slowly rot away until sexual freedom becomes integral to the new paradigm.

Dragon Age 2 probably involves dragons, it probably involves fighting people, it probably involves dialogue choices and (being a BioWare RPG) it probably involves companions. I decided to have a read about the game’s mechanics and bits to try and see what all the fuss is about, something has come apparent to me. I am not sure whether Dragon Age 2 is insulting or supportive of sexual freedom.


“As a homosexual playing Dragon Age 2, I’ve witnessed the worst stereotype homosexual characters in this game. If you refused to make your moves on a gay character then you are received rivalry points for not wanting to be gay for the character,” the petition states. “This is completely wrong, homosexuals do not approach people and force them to kiss us, the person that wrote this game should be fired for stereotyping homosexuals in such a disrespectful way, as well as creating the worst writing in characters, plot and everything else in DA2.”

I… don’t know. Honestly, there’s something so odd when you just do not know. I recently saw To Kill A Mockingbird in play format, it was well acted and well put together but a part of me was sat there at the end remembering reading the novel. If you’re familiar with the material, you’ll know that the novel revolves around equality and racial injustice. When a certain character chooses to ignore something, even though he is a civil servant, it sort of muddles with my mind. I don’t know whether the code of law applies to the situation, what laws are unwritten and written, I just don’t know whether all men are created equal.

Are we created equal? Honestly, society has equality beaten in our faces and yet inequality is everywhere. The education system in my country, the United Kingdom, means that if a person of ethnic minority has the same grades as me and same ‘personal achievements’ they will still be placed above me when it comes to applying to University. It’s here when ‘diversifying’ our society turns into a bittersweet when you realise it’s only for the sake of trying to be politically correct, when it’s actually politically incorrect to put others above others.

If a ethnic minority excels me in every academic area, props to them, they deserve the university place. However, in Dragon Age 2 it seems that BioWare are… well I don’t know but I’m going to hazard a guess and say they just don’t know themselves. I’ve never written gay characters, I’ve never researched into something else and perhaps it’d be something to research in the future to open up my writing. It’s the same in that I’ve never written from a female’s perspective in my creative writing, not that I’m sexist, just I’ve been lazy and young and I’m male so I naturally write from my point of view.

So do I blame BioWare for not writing properly from a homosexual’s point of view? I don’t blame them and I don’t blame society either. Look above, I’ve highlighted something in red. This is the game’s mechanics at play, rivalry points, which influence your relationships with your companions in a negative advance. For trying to flirt with the main character and being rejected lightly, the relationship is squandered because the player didn’t want to go down that route. I know many straight people who, when it comes to RPGs, choose to go down the homosexual route because they’re curious on whether the relationships are similar. I, like some others, went down the heterosexual route because we just wanted to.

BioWare wanted to explore relationships beyond the atypical heterosexual bond, woman and man. I don’t mean to defend them in anyway and I don’t know what the characters are like, but the pressures upon homosexuals in modern society are quite disturbing. These pressures upon gender roles, racial roles and sexuality are the things that should be explored and not the actual roles themselves. Alyx Vance in Half-Life 2 abides by some gender roles with her body language and some interactions, but she strays away from this and tries to be unique. The way she goes towards these societal pressures, and away from them, is what makes her so interesting.

So, applying this thinking to Dragon Age 2 is… I don’t know. The character himself may only be creating a negative relationship, the ‘rivalry points’, only because he feels further rejected by society. His advancements have been shot down by someone who’s not interested, so he has chosen to see his friend in a negative light, perhaps understandable. What isn’t understandable is the choice, by BioWare, to make this a permanent action and a permanent effect on your relationship with the character. Just because you say no to someone who’s flirting with you, no matter their sexual preference, doesn’t always mean they’ll hate you for it.

Did BioWare explore these pressures within this relationship and the effects of your choice? I am not entirely sure. I do however know that in another BioWare game, such as Mass Effect 2, if you choose to follow a different relationship with a straight character then another straight character who showed interest in you will show spite. No matter the sexuality, these relationships are the same according to BioWare. I don’t think this was the right thing to do. It would be more interesting for the player to see underneath the spite, more than just the surface level.

The character who showed spite was Jack, in Mass Effect 2, the crazy bald ‘Prisoner Zero’, whose loyalty mission made me perfectly understand why she had become so spiteful at me. She had been rejected, torn apart by machines and horrible things had been done to her. I perfectly understood why my rejection of a relationship, even a friendly rejection, meant so much to her. I never could rebuild that relationship, it was permanently negative, I would go visit Jack to try and reconcile but she would want nothing to do with me. Fuck off, leave me alone.

I have no intention to play Dragon Age 2 and I’m not sure whether the same thing applies to it, but I do know rivalry points are permanent. Perhaps, like life, we only have the chance to change these bad movements sometimes. Perhaps these games explore the permanent actions of humanity, his impact upon his peers through rejecting the most fragile of bonds. Perhaps to love is forever, as is hate.

To this, I simply say, I don’t know. But perhaps a more important question of myself I should ask is:

Do I want to know?

4 thoughts on “Dragon Age 2: Sexual Freedom

  1. I agree that “pushing the envelope” to explore the many different facets of Humanity.

    Having played Dragon Age II, though, I can say that it’s a very poor exploration due to poorly executed game mechanics.

    In Mass Effect 2 you would build a friendship/rivalry with the companions depending out what choices you made between missions (mostly) in talking to them.

    Dragon Age II goes one step further in that you build rivalry or friendship points THROUGH having them in your party and making choices in almost every quest. So helping some mages with one person in your party may get you +5 friendship, where as with another person could ear +5 Rivalry, and a third party member may not care either way, but gets upset if you don’t ask for a reward.

    That aspect is a vast improvement and I think heads in the right direction (although it’s annoying if you’re trying to max friendship with everyone).

    Where the DA II falls flat on it’s face is that if you decided to have a relationship with person C and you build on that love interest, every single other potential love interest will continuously hit on you, even if you turn them down once or twice and each time you turn them down you get permanent rivalry points.

    It’s ridiculous that the game punishes you for being faithful or for preferring not to explore all sexuality options. I’d almost call it hypocritical that the writer for the story goes on a tirade that the game is meant to allow for all types of individuals play it, but the only one it rewards is the person who flirts with everyone.

  2. Honestly should just be glad they let you be gay in a video game tbh. I’m gay and i was glad that the option was available sense so many games just dont allow it. Your comforting Fenris or you helping Anders make his life better of course they might develop feelings and if you dont return them you not going to be “closer/friendship”. As for stereotyping im willing to wait a few more years.

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