Gamers get hella uncomfortable over male sexuality too. Can you imagine a “good male character who just happens to be wearing sexually exploitative outfits because he’s ok with his masculinity?” Constantly has the camera pan lovingly over his asscrack and firm glutes, and big ole dangly ballsack that is totes sweaty from all this MMA and soldiering. Time to hit the showers, and do you, personally, think it’s ok to have a long slow pan up the dude’s package (indiscreetly hidden in a jock of course), to his chiseled physique and erect nipples (pierced). He’s not even a Bond-esque confident man, he’s basically a weird Bowie caricature that’s constantly having near-dickslips in every single cinematic as the completely nonsexualized female characters do their business of being gruff and shooting dudes and advancing the plot. Finally, at the end he falls in love (out of nowhere) and/or is killed by the big baddie.
It’s finally here! In our premier episode, we talk about diversity issues in the portrayal of romances in the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series from BioWare. As to be expected, there are spoilers for these games in the podcast (though, if you haven’t played them, you definitely should!). We are more than happy to take feedback on how to better improve and fit our listeners’ interests, so feel free to comment about what you think.
I’m in this! We talk about a lot of stuff. You should listen if you’re interested!
IMPORTANT: This chart is social criticism and NOT a criticism of the female characters themselves.
I’ve had this chart sitting on my computer for a few weeks, but I had forgotten about it until now.
I based it on an askbox conversation Rawles and I had here.
Because it’s a game, all of the core components of gameplay are developed to appeal to the intended audience (traditionally hetero men only, though Bioware is definitely moving in a better direction). For example, anything to do with the combat system is there to make it fun for the intended audience. So they have to sit down and ask questions like, “Okay, what combat system will they most enjoy?” And then they go and develop the combat system mostly on that principle.
It’s the same deal for the romance part of the game. A huge part of the appeal of these games is supposed to be that you get to role play a fantasy in which “you” are the big bad hero. So the creatives at Bioware have to figure out what romance options would be the most appealing to their “main” audience. And then they design the lady characters accordingly. Obviously it’s more complex than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.
So think about it: why does Bioware think these two choices (of women) are the most desirable romance options (for a presumably male Shepherd/Warden/Hawke)? What does that say about Bioware, their intended audience, and/or the broader culture? Think about it!
The only thing I would add to this is that Jack is not none of the above, but BOTH after a fashion. She’s a confident and very sexually aggressive (and she wears no shirt! and the camerawork lingers on her boob harness), but it’s all just a front for how she’s a scared, damaged little girl inside. So they drop the innocent, but I would argue that her super gross classically Healing Cock romance with her crying during the sex scene is definitely infantalizing.
Q:A+++ description of thane and conversations that occured with him. What frustrates me about the writing of him is I suspect at least some writers were thinking that this was ~oh so romantic~ and that women would eat it up. and i was sitting there thinking this guy was a creepy loser. omg the story about his wife being his savior made me want to puke. ughhh.
YES TO ALL.
The un-posted essay I referenced was actually a deconstruction of some of Bioware’s male love interests for female player characters that examined what ideas the writers had to have about what players (who they’re pretty clearly assuming are heterosexual women or at least women who are attracted to men) find desirable and what roles they want to be in in relationships.
Which is something I am SUPER INTERESTED in as regards RPG romanceable characters since they exist specifically to be attractive to the consumer in a way that love interests in other fictional media don’t because the person playing the game actually has to CHOOSE to make that romance happen.
Thus rendering the way that they’re constructed extremely revealing of various assumptions about a ton of gender and relationship shit.
Oh man, this is HILARIOUS when you know exactly one person to fit in every single alignment. Chaotic Good, for the record.
My mother has gone from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Good.
I remain True Neutral.
I go between True Neutral and Chaotic Good. I am basically True Neutral on shooters and when I’m on Xbox Live and I am Chaotic Good at all other times ever. Ninety-nine percent of the time the asshole on which I am swearing vengeance is the game itself.