Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Roleplaying Homosexual in Dragon Age 2

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 5 Apr 2011 21:00
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With no apparent conscious intention on my part my Hawke's relationship with Anders swiftly scooted all the way up to maximum affection on the Friend/Rival bar. And at one pivotal moment after an Anders-specific quest, I made some flirty talk and Anders complained that he never knew if I was serious or just teasing him. I once (IRL) had the same conversation with a girl, and we started dating very soon afterwards, so maybe this is what drove it home for me.

The option to plant a big wet one on his quivering pout popped up, and I thought to myself, yes. Thinking about it, there is nothing about this that doesn't make sense for my version of Hawke. The signs were there. The lengthy use of Anders as a party member, the immediate prioritization of Anders quests over all others, constantly running to Anders' aid before anyone else in battle (yes, he was just useful in combat, still role playing here). And Hawke's preference for using slightly hateful comedy quips was obviously a defense mechanism he was using to hide his burning desires. Plus, obviously gay floppy hairdo. So I gave the go-ahead and cheerfully watched two burly men make out on my big screen TV.

What's even odder, and this is virtually unprecedented in my experience with BioWare RPGs and most games with romantic options, is that I, the player, suddenly also had a weird attachment to Anders, once he and my avatar became bum chums. I delighted in his every embarrassed smile when the other party members brought up our relationship. I eschewed all flirty conversation options with everyone else, because I didn't want to break his little heart. I decided that Hawke was an old-fashioned, monogamous old queen.

At the end of the game, Anders played a rather large part in a significant story event that I won't spoil, but it tested our relationship to the limit, I tell ye that. I found it in me - I mean, Hawke - to forgive him, and then got the ending where the two of them ran away together, which was all the payoff I needed. Then, even having finished the game and moved onto Pokemon White, I named my starting Tepig "Anders" to keep the magic of his memory alive in some small way.

I suppose it's a significant point in a game's favor that it can provoke this kind of emotion, but I wonder how much of it was intended by the developers and how many blanks were filled in within my crazed mind alone. The long and the short of it is, if you honestly can't find something beautiful in the self-sacrificing devotion between two people just because they're both trouser-wearers, then I pity you, I really do.

By the way, if you also pursued the Anders romance in Dragon Age 2, then please don't tell me about it. I ... I don't think I'd be able to look at him the same way again.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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