If you’re not a gamer, perhaps you haven’t seen this post entitled Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer which complains about the romance options in Dragon Age II. [Warning: minor spoilers for Dragon Age II about which characters are romance options.]
In every previous BioWare game, I always felt that almost every companion in the game was designed for the male gamer in mind. Every female love interest was always written as a male friend type support character. In Dragon Age 2, I felt like most of the companions were designed to appeal to other groups foremost, Anders and Fenris for gays and Aveline for women given the lack of strong women in games, and that for the straight male gamer, a secondary concern. It makes things very awkward when your male companions keep making passes at you. The fact that a “No Homosexuality” option, which could have been easily implemented, is omitted just proves my point. I know there are some straight male gamers out there who did not mind it at and I respect that.
When I say BioWare neglected The Straight Male Gamer, I don’t mean that they ignored male gamers. The romance options, Isabella and Merrill, were clearly designed for the straight male gamers in mind. Unfortunately, those choices are what one would call “exotic” choices. They appeal to a subset of male gamers and while its true you can’t make a romance option everyone will love, with Isabella and Merrill it seems like they weren’t even going for an option most males will like. And the fact is, they could have. They had the resources to add another romance option, but instead chose to implement a gay romance with Anders.
When I saw this, I was torn between horrible gleeful schadenfreude at how hurt this guy was over not getting his preferred romance options… and wishing that *life* came with options whereupon I could flip a switch and not have people who I found sexually unattractive hit on me ever again. (In my case, the switch would specify “no otaku/japanophiles”) Oh, and wondering if I counted as an “exotic” choice in real life (again, see “no otaku”).
Man, I hope Duke Nukem has an option to turn heterosexual content off.
While schadenfreude might be fun, it’s hardly something to be proud of, much less something I’d feel a need to crow about here. What makes this a story worth posting about is actually the response from Bioware’s David Gaider:
The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.
And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.
And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.
You can scroll down on the forum post to read his full response. Given that we get so many stories about how game companies are just pandering to their supposed straight young male market, it’s really nice to see a company standing up for their choice to make a game that appeals to a wider audience, even at risk of alienating a few of the “majority” in the process.
More commentary here: “Straight Male Gamer” told to “get over it’ by BioWare.