Are Bioware Games Being Viewed as Dating Sims?

“Permission to dock?”

Bioware games have always been ambitious. They always try to hit every entertainment base imaginable, from gameplay to story, from mindless action to dramatic moments, from mystery to romance… Even as far back as in their breakout success, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, romance has always been an element in their games. One small element, but an element nonetheless. Then a shift happened upon the arrival of their previous gen hits Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins. Bioware, being the Canadian and open-minded company they are, decided to really expand their romantic options in their games going forward. As a result, we’ve seen a rise of extremely divergent love interest options in videogames that we haven’t really seen in the past, and thanks the optional sex scenes, Bioware has created a veritable powder keg of controversy. The focus on sex and relationships in Bioware games has swelled to the point where it earns actual coverage from major news outlets. We are in the 21st century and people are still being scandalized by the idea of nudity, human-alien relationships, and homosexuality  in our videogames. Excuse me as a seriously contemplate whether or not I want to laugh or cry.

To be fair to the news media outlets, the gaming fanbase itself isn’t helping in that regard either since there is constantly a mounting amount of focus on relationships, or rather, “who you can bang” on discussion forums dedicated to Mass Effect or Dragon Age. Interestingly enough, Bioware has not made that many strides in relationships since Mass Effect, or at least not as much as you’d expect based on their coverage. You still have an array of characters you can romance based on your gender (and species depending on the game), and from there you can spend your free time talking with them. You have an option of initiating a romantic relationship with someone based on the dialogue options you choose, and that romance will progress based on your progress in the game’s story. Towards the conclusion there is usually a “climax” which often takes the form of a sex scene… and that’s all there really is to romance in Bioware games. Just a series of dialogue options followed by a short “sex scene”, and then maybe an epilogue of some sort. Of course there has been little improvements here and there about where and how you can converse with a love interest, but all and all it has remained largely the same; which makes it all the more baffling why the fanbase can be so hung up on them.

The most recent controversy surrounding romance in Bioware games comes from their latest endeavour, Dragon Age: Inquisition. The issue here comes from the amount of love interests available to who. Here’s a brief breakdown:

-Straight Male Romantic Options: 2

-Straight Female Romantic Options: 4

-Gay Male Romantic Options: 2

-Gay Female Romantic Options: 2

Apparently this has angered a large section of gamers who feel this is a major cause for concern. The issue for those who don’t see it (which is probably for the best) is not that the straight female romance options are high, but rather that the straight male romance options are limited to 2. Because of this, a large section of miffed male gamers feel that they are being slighted by Bioware in their efforts to appease those who they describe as “Social Justice Warriors” (a derogatory term guys on the internet use to describe people “overly” concerned with social justice and equality). Ignoring the more logical explanation (being that there are more male characters that join your party than female ones, so of course the straight male options are limited), they frame the entire decision like it is part of a conspiracy by feminist game developers to “further oppress” the straight males of society. They kick and moan and whine about something that really shouldn’t matter and create topics of discussion every other day about it, without realizing how largely irrelevant it is to the actual games. Bioware is just making an attempt to be more inclusive towards the wide range of people who play their games. Romances are largely superficial anyways, but this small gesture probably helps connect certain people to their games in a way no other games have done yet. It isn’t a huge deal, yet it gets far too much negative focus. Obviously, it’s getting this focus because people are afraid of change, things that are different, and things that challenge the dominance they once had. Fear is the culprit behind things like racism, sexism, homophobic behaviour, and apparently videogame love interest controversies too. Without devolving into a “good old days rant”, can we all just stop caring about whether or not your virtual avatar can have sex with so-and-so fictional character? Can we go back to a time where this didn’t matter, or at the very least, do what people who were gay did for most of gaming history when it came to love interests and just suck it up?

Quote of the Day:

“Someday, if you’re lucky, you will wake up and realize you are old. That pretty ass of yours will sag. Your belly will grow soft and your back will ache in the night and gray hairs will sprout from your ears. No one will want you anymore. Make sure you fucked your fill before that day”

– Oberyn Martell, Game of Thrones

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