Why Bioware’s Approach To LGBT Issues Benefits All Gamers

By Erwin Murillo – 15th August 2014
Why Bioware’s Approach To LGBT Issues Benefits All Gamers

With the upcoming RPG, Dragon Age: Inquisition set to release in November, Bioware is expected to deliver an epic, story-driven, role-playing experience rife with tactical combat and numerous locations to explore. The Canadian video game developer, known for critically acclaimed franchises such as Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and Mass Effect, among many others, has a lot on their plate with the recent departure of Casey Hudson, and the reveal of their new IP, Shadow Realms. Bioware has recently come under fire by the press due to the inclusion of an “exclusively” gay companion character, Dorian, in their next installment of the Dragon Age series, thus “catering” to the LGBT demographic of gamers. The company is no stranger to such contention, with other Bioware games (the Mass Effect series and Dragon Age: Origins, to name a couple) having a number of gay or bisexual characters to pursue a romantic relationship with. Similar accusations were thrown around back in 2008 by bloggers and news channels, stating that the (optional) gay sex scenes in Mass Effect contained full-frontal nudity and explicit acts of sodomy (The accusers apologized after EA refuted the allegations).

A picture of gay Dragon Age: Inquisition character, Dorian

Dorian, an openly gay character and potential romance option for a male Inquisitor, in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

The opinions of gamers are sure to be heterogeneous in relation to having the option of pursuing a homosexual relationship in Bioware’s latest Dragon Age game, with many for, and many against, the opportunity to do so. However, regarding a role-playing game, gamers should rejoice that Bioware is embracing a universal approach to their games that strives to meet the needs of the entirety of the gaming population (LGBT or otherwise). Many will ask why, but the answer is quite obvious. The RPG genre of video games is, ideally, about the freedom of choice. While many comparable RPG’s give players the option of choosing gender, race, abilities, statistics, and attributes, very few give the ability to specifically choose their player character’s sexual orientation, and if they do, it is often ambiguous in nature. Not every gamer is going to opt into that opportunity, but the fact that it is available exemplifies a mature step forward in terms of the sociocultural dynamics and gameplay systems of video games as a whole. It shows that Bioware is truly committed to allowing players to create a character that conforms exactly to who and what they want their character to be.

A picture of concept art from Dragon Age: Inquisition

Bioware wants to give players full freedom of choice

Look at it from this perspective: There are many reasons to play video games, but in terms of an RPG (provided it has full character customization), the majority of gamers desire to achieve some sort of vision with their created character, whatever that may be. Role-playing games are inherently about fantasy fulfillment. Yes, there are a multitude of other mechanics within RPG’s, but they are essentially about the character the gamer creates, the world they inhabit, and how their actions shape the world around them. Games shouldn’t cement players into a prescribed idea of their character (i.e. forcing players to be a specific gender or race). They should allow gamers to be completely free to create an character that harmonizes with the idea the player has in mind for them.

A picture of a vista in Dragon Age: Inquisition

In Dragon Age: Inquisition, you can go where you want to go, do what you want to do, and be who you want to be.

In truth, same-sex relationships in video games (and the public’s reaction towards them) are more of a sociocultural affair, rather than a gameplay/story issue. There is always going to be an opposing side, no matter the topic. The fact is, Bioware’s decision to indulge every type of gamer (LGBT, homosexual, heterosexual, it doesn’t matter) is objectively a good one. If you look past the social and cultural dynamics, and focus on how Bioware’s election to provide universal choice to players contributes to the comprehensive advancement of video gaming, the benefits are easy to see. As previously mentioned, role-playing games are all about the freedom of choice. You don’t have to be a male character, but you can. You don’t have to be a female character, but you can. You don’t have to be a warrior, but you can. You don’t have to be a mage, but you can. You don’t have to be a good character, but you can. You don’t have to be a morally ambiguous character, but you can. You don’t have to seek out a same-sex relationship if you choose not to, but those who do, can. You get the point. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below! You can follow Erwin on Twitter – @DesertFoxJr

  • Game Discussion

    I agree with the points in your article, and you often say that BioWare is “meeting the needs of LGBT etc.” However, I would not word it as such. I think their game is meeting the needs reality. Bear with me for a moment. In a sense, it’s not about what BioWare thinks is right. It’s not about including gays to satisfy them or show they’re equals. It’s about painting the reality they want to create in this universe! And gays ARE a reality! BioWare should be releasing statements just saying “it’s not even our choice to include them. We want a fantasy game that FEELS realistic, and gays ARE a reality!” Denying that would only limit the games realistic potential. The politics are trivial. In my opinion, BioWare didn’t have a choice. On a side not, people are fools. I remember the uproar over Mass Effect 1’s release regarding the Liara romance scene. People who hadn’t even played the game or seen gameplay were writing reviews condemning it for that. This world needs a bit of help and a touch more sanity.

    • Erwin Murillo

      That point is made in the article. It’s not meeting the needs of a certain faction of people. It’s striving for the best role-playing experience, which is Bioware’s specialty. They want to give gamers the most control over their player character, and that’s a good thing for every gamer.