This is a gaming rant, my friends. I love games like The Witcher 3, Skyrim, Dragon Age and also the Mass Effect series. Dragon Age and Mass Effect are known for weaving romance into their huge stories and doing it well (for the most part). They are also known for including LGBT options for love interests. This is my crack, because it’s a place where I get to live out my fantasies about being a space marine or kickass swordsman, and romance the gents or ladies, too.
Mass Effect: Andromeda just came out. It touted itself as porn in space, and loudly hinted that there would be a great deal of LGBT content …
It didn’t exactly go down that way. Check out this article on Kotaku: Underwhelming Gay Romance Options In Mass Effect: Andromeda Disappoint Many Fans.
While some understood LGBT fans’ disappointment (even though they didn’t care about the gay romance options themselves), there were others who felt we were asking for too much. They argued the following:
(1) Characters Aren’t Believable If They Are All Bisexual
The argument is that not everybody in real life is bisexual; therefore, it is more realistic and makes the game more realistic to not have every character available to be romanced by a male main character or a female main character.
There are loads of things wrong with this argument.
First, this is a GAME and, as such, should allow as much individuation and choice as possible.
Second, depending on what I imagine, the characters I romance could be gay in one play-thru, straight in another, asexual in another, bisexual in another and so forth and so on. I don’t know their inner lives UNLESS I relate to them in a certain way.
Also, you don’t always know what characters you’re going to fall for. There are plenty of times when I decided mid-game that I wanted to romance X character because they just won me over (Jaal is a good example in MEA, but Tali is another in the original trilogy).
But if the characters have a “set” sexuality, I may not be able to romance them. My choices are to give up hope of romancing that character, or begin the game all over with the “correct” gender of main character.
This makes simply no sense. This is a game where choice is supposed to be king. Let me choose!
(2) You Should Be Grateful For Getting Anything
This argument is that Bioware gave those of us who want LGBT romance options at least one romanceable partner in MEA, and that should be enough. After all, those of us who want the LBGT options are in the minority. We shouldn’t expect to get everything that the straight people get.
This assumes that those who want LGBT options are second-class gamers and shouldn’t be treated with the same thoughtfulness as white, straight guys.
There are actually a lot of people out there who do not fit that demographic, something over like 50%, who play Bioware games … but I digress. That’s their argument and it’s shit.
It also assumes that white, straight guys don’t want LGBT in their games either.
I can’t find the blog post right now, but one of the most thoughtful posts I’ve found about including gay characters was from a straight guy who just fell in love with one of the gay male characters in Dragon Age 2. That was the love interest for him, even though he had no interest in men in real life. But, in the game, this freedom of choice allowed him to pick the person who fit his main character the most.
(3) Why Can’t We Have Separate But Equal?
This argument is: why can’t we just have games that only have straight people in them (and maybe exclude all people of color, too, while we’re at it …) and have separate games for gay people (and all the “others” that don’t belong)?
There are actually tons of games that ARE just like that, where no gay characters and little diversity exists. Bioware is one of the only – if not THE ONLY – game studios that actually includes choosable deep romance with gay options.
Sure, there are yaoi dating sim games, but they are nowhere NEAR triple A video games like The Witcher or Skyrim, etc.
So really, those gamers who want “separate games” have plenty of choices. They don’t have to play Bioware’s games and could happily fill the rest of their lives with “non-gay” games. But those of us who look for such diversity in games have … much fewer choices. Bioware is the only one listening to us.
We paid our money. We support the games. We get to tell the studios what we want and don’t want, just like everybody else.
What are your thoughts about romance and gay romances in major media like games, television and movies? Do you think we have “enough”? Do you think we should have “separate” media? Tell us in the comments!
UPDATE: Bioware is in the next two months going to add a patch with MORE MALE ROMANCE OPTIONS! YESSSSSS!