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Dragon Age lead writer: "I dislike the idea of every character being sexually available" [Also some ME3 Spoilers]


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Initial post: Jan 15, 2013 6:52:06 PM PST
http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/01/15/dragon-age-lead-writer-on-romances-too-many-options-would-lend-itself-towards-their-objectification/

Dragon Age lead writer: "I dislike the idea of every character being sexually available"

T.J. Hafer at 01:00am January 15 2013

David Gaider, Senior Writer at BioWare and a major creative force behind the Dragon Age franchise, recently posted a frank essay on romance sub-plots in RPGs on his blog. The manifesto, spotted by Eurogamer, explores the issues romanceable party members present, and explains why he doesn't advocate too much openness when it comes to who can get with whom.

"I dislike the idea of every character being sexually available to the player," Gaider admitted. "Not that it cheapens them, necessarily, but it would lend itself towards their objectification. Take the first Witcher game, for instance-I enjoyed many things about that game, but the collectible sex card mechanic? Ultimately it rendered every female character in the game into a puzzle to be solved ... As soon as the player is aware it's possible, you are in fact encouraging them towards a certain type of behavior."

Despite this, he expressed his openness to exploring greater variety in romances through other methods.

"Adding an element of failure, for instance, or by having not all characters be available to all player characters (they're attracted only to certain types, for instance)," he wrote. "Adding different types of romance: tragic romances, romances where your partner cheats on you, romances where the character is already involved in another relationship, characters that don't know how to relate to someone else on a romantic level or aren't interested in such."

***Warning: MASS EFFECT 3 SPOILERS beyond this point.***

"Would doing romances in that way actually be popular? Probably not," Gaider concluded. "Take the resolution of the Thane romance arc in ME3, for instance. There are people who did (and still do) think that, having selected Thane as their romance, they should have been able to cure him of his illness and make everything better. Why? Because he's their romance, and they're entitled to have it be a happy one. Regardless of whether you think they are justified in feeling so, they do. I don't think plausibility is really what they're looking for.

"So that would leave us at an impasse... some might appreciate such an approach, and some might even enjoy the stories, but I suspect many who are looking for romance in their story are hoping for something more fulfilling... and would likely be put out if their choice ended up getting the short end of the stick (from their point of view) compared to some of the other romances."

We'll probably have to wait until Dragon Age 3 to find out just how this musing may affect the way BioWare romances are written. Until then, I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic about a certain red-headed Orlesian bard who lives about a 20 GB download away.
___________________

This makes a lot of sense.

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 6:53:06 PM PST
DVvM says:
Apparently the gaming media has started reading David Gaider's tumblr.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 6:59:34 PM PST
I've seen a ton of articles about this lately. Is it worth reading, or should I just read the snips that various gaming sites post?

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 7:02:54 PM PST
K Archer says:
I don't think every party member should be romancable. I also think a variety of different paths, each reflecting the character chosen, would be great. After all, not everyone is interested in everyone else, and not everyone is going to have a fairytale ending.

Variety also enhances the game, IMO...instead of everyone having pretty much the same story, just different dialog/small choices, everything is different. There's a sense of discovery and wonder in what happens next.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 7:10:10 PM PST
DVvM says:
He doesn't post very much, there's literally four pages of it: http://dgaider.tumblr.com/

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 7:10:45 PM PST
Ah, I'll check it out then.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 7:13:18 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 15, 2013 7:15:01 PM PST
DVvM says:
I honestly think that if you write it where the success or failure of the relationship depends on who you choose to romance is a bad idea. Since it ultimately gets perceived as "romancing character A is the wrong decision, but romancing character B is the right decision," which is kind of the wrong way to think about it (My favorite Romance in a Dragon Age game was when Allistair had to leave me to become King (as I was the wrong species) and then ended up sacrificing himself to defeat the archdemon, that was all kinds of sad.)

I do think that a variety of different romantic paths, for each potential romance, is an excellent idea. Having a romance with each romanceable NPC depending on what happens in the course of the game, become tragic, result in an amicable parting, result in an antagonistic parting, result in eternal love, etc. would be ideal. I don't know how much of the game they actually want to devote to this, though.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 7:14:50 PM PST
"I do think that a variety of different romantic paths, for each potential romance, is an excellent idea. Having a romance with each romanceable NPC depending on what happens in the course of the game, become tragic, result in an amicable parting, result in an antagonistic parting, result in eternal love, etc. would be ideal. I don't know how much of the game they actually want to devote to this, though."

Yes, this.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 7:19:49 PM PST
K Archer says:
I didn't say the success or failure of a romance, just a variety of different paths. Sure, maybe one or two (of dozens) won't turn out well, but definitely have people who have short, but easy romances, some dark, some light, some long, devoted ones, etdc.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 7:23:51 PM PST
DVvM says:
I think the problem I have with this idea is if you make some characters have short and easy romances, and other characters have long and involved romances, then some people will choose who to romance based on "what gives me the most content" rather than anything else. This would be especially problematic for people who really care about one character, and then feeling denied of anything deep with that relationship.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 7:25:22 PM PST
K Archer says:
There will ALWAYS be people like that. Some people make the hard choices for that reason. There are also those who do the opposite.

Give everyone options.

Posted on Jan 15, 2013 7:48:16 PM PST
Maybe if each relationship had at least two possible outcomes depending on your choices.

I mean no system will be perfect, but I'm all for writers trying new things.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 6:28:07 AM PST
LogJam says:
Maybe people should try having real-life relationships instead

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 5:14:08 PM PST
But those ALWAYS end in failure! I mean, I can't reload my quicksave when I say something stupid IRL!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 5:19:30 PM PST
DVvM says:
Some people are really good at Rock Band *and* they play real instruments.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 5:26:50 PM PST
Not all romances have to have a happy ending.

*Dragon Age Spoiler*

Even knowing how the story ends in the the base game, I wouldn't trade the experience of starting and building a relationship with Morrigan. Knowing that a relationship can fail or that you can be pushed away at no fault of your own is a fact in our lives, I see no reason that it can't be portrayed in games as well. While the conversations in Dragon Age were great, the way they dealt with non-platonic relationships is one of the reasons I place the game high in this gen. They showed others that games can have some emotional weight behind them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 5:28:13 PM PST
DVvM says:
Romancing Anders in DA2 when you don't know how it ends is pretty powerful too.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 8:26:25 PM PST
K Archer says:
Anders' romance was very good I thought...never really liked Fenris (probably because I'm a Mage-sympathizer), and the romance just never seemed as well-done.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 8:45:46 PM PST
I thought women loved Fenris.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 8:49:38 PM PST
Just substitute the f for a p and remove the r.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 9:37:16 PM PST
Heh. Someone's feeling frisky tonight.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2013 6:18:47 AM PST
Nicos says:
http://youtu.be/dG9Jw54v6wQ

Anyway, this writer has the wrong approach. Relationships in video games should be like Katamari Damacy. You should be able to get everyone in a big ol funk pile.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  7
Total posts:  22
Initial post:  Jan 15, 2013
Latest post:  Jan 17, 2013

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