Game designers can’t seem to win for losing when it comes to gay Dragon Age 2 character

Posted on 31 Mar 2011 at 4:48pm

I have two sons, ages 14 and almost-12, who are both huge video and online game nuts. They have a PS2, they each have a computer and they have a Wii. Ok, so I play on the Wii more than they do, but I am usually playing Wii Fit exercise games while they prefer games with combat and monsters and danger and all that. When it comes to those kinds of games, I’m really not interested. I don’t play those games mainly because the 3-D effects most have give me motion sickness.

And since I don’t play the games, I don’t know who the characters are or how you win or any of that. When they start talking about the games, I either pretend to listen while really tuning them out, or I go the brutal honesty route:”Guys, I have no idea what you are talking about. I don’t want to know what you are talking about. I don’t want to listen to you talk about it. Go away.”

One thing I do know is that their newest acquisition is a game called “Dragon Age II,” and that, at least for the moment, it is the greatest game ever created. Even though I have tried my best, I haven’t been able to avoid hearing “Dragon Age this” and “Dragon Age that” as they excitedly discuss the latest developments in their game play.

I have not, however, heard them say a single damn thing about “Dragon Age II” having a gay character. Maybe that’s because, having been raised by two moms and around innumerable LGBT people, the idea of a game including a gay character is so blase to them that it’s not worth mentioning. I hope that’s why. I’d like to think that “gay” is no big deal to my kids.

But apparently, a lot of gamers are not blase at all about the resident gays of “Dragon Age II.” In fact, at least one online petition is already circulating to get the game’s writer,David Gaider, fired over it.

According to Mike Fahey writing at Kotaku.com, the petition is being circulated by a gay gamer offended by the fact that the gay character is, well, kind of pushy. If he comes on to you and you reject his advances, you get “rivalry points,” whatever that means. I assume it’s not good. Anyway, some of the gay gamers are mad because they say this character plays into the stereotypes of gay men as sexually insatiable and unable to function around straight men without trying to get the straight guys in the sack. As the petition says:

“It felt very odd that my male companions kept making passes at me, when I never found any interest or even flirted with them. This sort of thing shows that gays are unable to be normal people and think nothing about sex. This is the type of garbage that has people believe that gays shouldn’t serve in the military. We are human beings that are the same as everyone else!”

As Fahey points out though, the persnickety gay character — I think maybe his name is Anders? — is just one of the LGBT characters in the game, the writers having filled it “with enough men, women, and elves to please any sexual leaning they could imagine. There are men for women, women for men, men for men, and women for women.” And Anders is the only gay one who reacts badly when his advances are rejected.

Of course, there are straight guy gamers who don’t like have the gays in “Dragon Age II” either, as Ben Kuchera writes at ArtsTechnica.com. He quotes from one gamer who wrote that the game is discriminating against the poor, ignored straight male gamers for whom it is very awkward to be subjected to sexual advances made by a male character. This one gamer felt the game should have a “no homosexuality” option.

Kuchera also shared Gaider’s response to the “no homosexuality option” gamer. Gaider said: “If there is any doubt why [catering to a broad audience] 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. … The person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least.”

That sounds pretty reasonable to me! But then, what do I care. I prefer to make passes at my real-life wife than at some make-believe character in a video game anyway!

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