Jason Tseng

Dragon Age: Origins and Buttsex

Filed By Jason Tseng | October 30, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: dragon age: origins, gay gamers, nerds, video games

I have always loved fantasy. Be it high fantasy a la Tolkien or Lewis, or B-list magic pony fantasy of the Tamora Pierce variety. I also love gaming... so, naturally wherever the two shall meet I'm so there. I was even a fledgling 10 year old D&D dungeon master... before my mother accused me of witchcraft and watched as I burned the manual.

da_sex_1.jpgSo naturally I have been chomping at the bit, awaiting the release of Bioware's new dark-fantasy RPG, Dragon Age: Origins. The publisher has a long history of extremely successful RPGs, including Mass Effect and the D&D-inspired Baldur's Gate series (which consumed roughly the entirety of my eighth grade existence).

Demian Linn of bitmod recently posted his spoiler-y run down of the steamy action your character can engage in. Evidently in addition to the standard hetero pairings with NPCs, there's also possibilities for gay, lesbian, and even trans relationships with NPCs.

Demian makes some great observations on the game design and Bioware's approach to sexual inclusivity:

"What you learn about the characters, however, isn't so interesting -- all of your romantic prospects adhere to parochial stereotypes. Both females seem wildly different at first, but are ultimately only interested in monogamous relationships, while the gay male character prefers a no-strings-attached open relationship."

"So what's the point of all this? Good question. Sex is a very difficult game design challenge, no surprise there, and Dragon Age does it right when it incorporates sex directly into the narrative (the aforementioned spoiler I don't want to reveal). But the casual sex, which could be used as a tool to deepen your understanding and empathy for the other characters, tends to reinforce the idea of women as alternately jealous, catty, smothering, and weak-willed (easily taking back a lover that has strayed), while perpetuating the stereotype of the promiscuous gay/bisexual man. I guess what I'm saying is...the sex could be better."

da_Sex_10.jpg

I find it interesting that even inclusive game publishers like Bioware find themselves playing into tired archetypes of sexuality and gender. Gender theorist Donna Haraway (the author of such works as The Cyborg Manifesto) wrote a lot about the exciting possibilities for video games and virtual reality to be spaces in which we are able to rewrite the rules of society as we see fit, i.e. without oppressive sex/gender/sexuality schemas. Granted, while Haraway is the bat-shit crazy bag lady of gender academia, I did resonate with the idea that virtual worlds were one such space in which gender and sexuality lines can be blurred and reformed. But when the creation of these virtual worlds are tied to profits generated by human social interaction, a truly revolutionary schema of gender/sex relationships is inhibited.

Problematic virtual sex schemas aside, I can't wait to get my hands on this game and get myself some hot elf booty. Way to go Bioware and satisfying me and every other fangirl who wrote Aragorn/Legolas slashfics!

crossposted from Scarlet Betch


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Anonymouse Me | October 30, 2009 1:51 PM

On behalf of slutty gay men everywhere... I'm totally fine with slutty interactions in a game. It would be nice if there were an ability to form longterm bonds... but let's face it, that's not reality for gay men. Sure, we like to pretend, but a gay male relationship that lasts more than 10 years is about as common as me shitting 14k gold.

Which I do by the way.

Good, because Jerame and I celebrated our 11 year anniversary this month. Now, does that trick involve gifts a la the Goose that laid the Golden Egg? Or do you keep all those 14k nuggets to yourself? :)

As a side note: I loved Baldur's Gate; Jerame and I would play it together. He was always the strong fighter while I was the little magician who always needed saved. *grins* I'm playing Elder Scrolls: Oblivion now and I've complained a few times that they could have stepped up the magic capabilities to match Baldur's Gate.

Great post, Jason. Now I want to see some buttsex in Oblivion. LOL

i was also always a mage in Baldur's gate. While we maybe soft clothies... the mages kicked ass! I remember clearing out whole rooms of baddies with a well aimed fireball.

My biggest complaint about Oblivion is that there's not a spell like Baldur's Gate that took out multiple enemies at one time. I remember some of those spells just made a big circle of death around you, but you have to go one-at-a-time mostly in Oblivion.

Beefy Bottom | November 8, 2009 3:17 PM

Anonymouse Me Wrote:
Sure, we like to pretend, but a gay male relationship that lasts more than 10 years is about as common as me shitting 14k gold.

Which I do by the way.

==============================================

Really? Is it because you dip your lovers wang in molten gold a la Goldmember? I would suggest that it would be pure gold, but on second thought 14k sounds right due to the impurities you put into the gold.

Cudos!

Interesting. I play EvE Online, where there's no sex at all. In fact, human player characters are shown only as head-and-shoulders portraits, and the actual representation of the player in-game is the ship they're piloting.

Yet despite that, there are gay and LGBT-themed player groups in the game (I actually used to run one of them a long time ago). It's not really very surprising to me that these games are still pretty inept at portraying LGBT characters correctly.

Remember that Internet-based MMOs are international in scope and many of the developers and players will be from cultures where negative LGBT stereotypes are considered the norm. I've seen this kind of cultural stereotyping in countless video games in regards to male versus female characters, and so it's not really very surprising to see it here as well.

Anonymouse Me | October 30, 2009 4:04 PM

Also, generally, the video game industry is run by a bunch of frat boys. If there is any segment of the Software Engineering career field that would appeal to frat boy types, it is game development.

I know this from first hand experience working for EA, and from friends who still work for EA.

Try working somewhere else besides EA?

Dismissing the entire industry simply because your cynical queen behind happens to bristle at people you deem "frat boys" is not putting you in any better a place.

The industry actually does very well; it's the gamer community that is far and wide homophobic. If anything, the industry's far more advanced when it comes to LGBT policies than most industries in this country, and it is foolish to believe that the gaming industry can single-handedly counteract homophobic culture that is reinforced in about every facet of a person's life.

Actually both of you have points.

A while back, I did a show featuring a World of Warcraft Game Master, who is a gay man and a personal friend, and we talked about how homo/transphobia and anti-LGBT bigotry is dealt with. One of the things he told us during the interview is that Blizzard, the company that owns WoW, doesn't issue very stiff penalties for these kinds of infractions because they're not perceived as serious.

On the other hand, a couple of years ago, I had an experience in EvE that involved anti-LGBT sentiment on the part of a volunteer forum moderator (i.e. a player).

I think a big part of the problem is homophobia is such an ingrained part of gaming culture and one that's going to take a while to eradicate. As long as that remains the case, I suspect we're going to be dealing with the stereotypes.

I guess it's better than pretending we don't exist at all though, I suppose.

I remember playing Mass Effect as a chick (I made the ugliest chick you possibly could) and having lesbian sex with one of the other ladies in the game- I think it was the first time I ever saw a video game sex scene, let alone a gay sex scene. Good for Bioware! More gay sex in video games, preez.

Why do you take the reviewer's words without question? The writers have clarified you can obtain a long-term relationship with Zevran.

It makes sense that a character that grew up in a brothel takes a frivolous approach to sexual encounters.

How much playtime did he dedicate to the game? What options did he take?

I'll test the game myself before calling the depictions stereotypical, given how it's the FIRST game to depict gay softcore. It vexed me to no end when Bioware released Mass Effect with only a lesbian option, so I'm glad to see they've absorbed feedback so well.

Both Fable games also allow gay and lesbian relationships and marriage, and as far as I can recall don't contain any stereotypes. In Fable II, Each NPC has his or her own individual personality - some of them won't have sex before marriage and some of them are easy, but both men and women fall into each category, and NPCs can be gay, lesbian, straight, and bi. (Fable I is a lot less nuanced and individual in terms of NPCs, and you can only have sex with your spouse or prostitutes.)

The only kicker is that it doesn't actually depict the sex to any degree - the screen just goes black for a few seconds. They're both still great games, though, and good examples of sexually inclusive games that don't contain stereotypes.

Computer video games don't interest me ...

... but do let me know if anyone releases a title something like White Boy Medicine Man Saves Earth From Ancient African Voodoo Curse After Setting Guinness World Record At Rimming LL Cool J.