Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Roleplaying Homosexual in Dragon Age 2

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 5 Apr 2011 21:00
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It was with some interest that I read that there were people complaining about there being too many gay people in Dragon Age 2, no doubt preceding their words with the phrase "I'm not homophobic, but." For all of Dragon Age 2's problems, that shouldn't be one of them. By my count, as a male protagonist, there are three girls you can mess around with, and only two boys who are up for sausage sandwiches. And it's easy enough to simply not pursue any saucy flirts with anyone you're not into. Are there men so insecure that they're offended by fictional gay men coming onto their fictional avatars? Surely at worst it's just a nice compliment and you can then politely set them straight, if that's not an unfortunate choice of words.

David Gaider's statement that the romances in DA2 are intended for "everyone" struck a chord with me, because I already intended to write a column about my personal experience with the romances in the game. I think David's statement goes deeper than he may have intended - any player of any sexuality can enjoy any of the romances in the game.

I'm going to repeat what I said to the developers of Silent Hill Shattered Memories: the person you are in a game is not the person you are in reality. You reinvent yourself for every new world. I know some people try to play their RPG protagonists as close to their own personalities (and even appearances) as they can, but I like to create a new character, building an image of their personality in my mind that grows with each dialogue and story choice. In other words, I like to role play. I assumed that was the point of a role-playing game. And while playing Dragon Age 2 my Hawke ended up being gay. Now, I am absolutely certain that I myself am into chicks. I like to joke about it but I'm secure in the knowledge that I like having sex with ladies best. I've thought about it and find little appeal in the idea of doing the various things one does with another man's old chap.

But that's just sex. I'm of the opinion that this societal notion that you can only have strong feelings of affection or romance for someone you want to bone is a severely restrictive one. Even though I've only ever stuck it into things that I've been 80-100% certain were vaginas, I will say without qualification that David Bowie was an extraordinarily sexy man in his youth. I could see myself becoming infatuated with another man, assuming we were all clear that I definitely wouldn't take it as far as horizontal spelunking. I mean, I was examined by a proctologist once and it didn't exactly set my world aflame.

So I like to think I'm sexually secure enough to role play as a gay man. But here's the part that I find most interesting. I didn't consciously decide going into DA2 that Hawke favoured the bologna over the clam chowder. It wasn't the first thing on my mind. Early on I took the flirty conversation options with everyone I could, just for a laugh, or because I suspected there'd be rewards later on if I got them all on my good side.

But then there was Anders. Anders, with his coquettish rosy cheeks and his slightly dodgy voice acting and his well-groomed hair that all the other characters say is blonde but is blatantly ginger. Oh, Anders, why did my spirit leap so when you revealed yourself, early in the game, to be a friend of Dorothy? Why did you quickly become an almost permanent mainstay of my regular adventuring party? Well, I can answer that one: because he was the only character with Healing magic, but shut up, I'm role playing.

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