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NSFW Video: Dragon Age Shines Equality On Gay Love (Spoilers!)

Attention: This is Not Safe For Work! With all the negative hoopla surrounding Infinity Ward's grenade spam video I was beginning to lose all faith in gays being shown in a positive light in the world of gaming. I got a treat when I spied this clip of Dragon Age: Origin's gay romance. Read: Spoilers! Here we have what has to be one of the most well-realized representations of gay sex in a video game to date. The scene walks us through a dialogue tree that leads to a graphically romantic tryst with the male protagonist and Zevran the assassin.

After hearing about BioWare's inclusion of a gay relationship, I'm sure many were prepared to be bored by some half baked, heterosexist pandering a-la Mass Effect's alien/lesbian rendezvous. Here it feels deliberate and respectful. In fact, while there are differences between the straight love interests and the gay male option, the romantic scenes of both orientations are given equal diligence.

With this bare-chested and unflinching portrayal, it feels as if the depiction of gay sex in video games has reached a new level of equal treatment. This is more than just a mincing gay pirate (Temple of Elemental Evil) or an evasive fade-to-black: there's choreography, tenderness, humor and even an element of sexual politics to Zevran's post-coital conversation. Kudos to BioWare for adding a bit of a gay storyline to their game and for dealing with gay romance as even-handedly as they do the heterosexual options.

32 Comments

Shade said:

It's a pretty dynamic treatment of sex and romance. I like that, at least according to the strategy guide, Zevran will stop having sex with you if he starts to fall in love with you. He cools things so he can figure out his emotions. Art imitating life?

ParsnipSoup said:

That video was yucky. To borrow a phrase, they look like stiff reanimated corpses. Is there nothing the uncanny valley cannot ruin?

BearyFun said:

I agree with ParsnipSoup, it was a bit creepy, and I prefer to see more of the irresistible dwarf, he looked like he was getting in a much more fun position in the Pearl >:D

Joe said:

LOL, the Pearl, which is the brothel in the game is a riot because you can go in and the madame lines up a group of guys, girls or a mixture of both to choose to have sex with. The line up of guys has someone to suit every taste. I cracked up when the muscular dwarf crawled on the bed growling "MMM...hardened warior...". The gam, happily, does not shy away from homosexuality - I've played thru once and found many examples throughout the game.

Mike Bear said:

I was really concerned about this before the game. I was really impressed that Jade Empire had a male/male romance option, but Bioware took a step back by not having one in Mass Effect. Like the author, I figured IF DAO had homosexuality it would be adolescent fantasy lesbians, and IF it had male/male, it would be handled really poorly.

But I was so so positively surprised.

Zevran's story is well developed, and his character is actually written as gay/bi-sexual. Despite what some of the other sites have said, other than another character telling me she wants me a threesome with me and "my Zevran," he hasn't been the promiscuous wandering character some sites have been talking about. Maybe he can be based on your conversation choices, but so far in my game, Zevran is just as dedicated as a lover as either of the females, in my opinion (AND that of the other characters, I love LOVE LOVE that they have comments about my relationship.) And I'm just. Wow. Really impressed. Really really impressed. So thanks Bioware! For one of the most well done, balanced, developed, and honestly pretty explicit (you do see the player character clearly BEHIND Zevran) gay relationships in any video game ever. I hope they continue this trend in ME2.

And sidenote, I wish Alastair was gay too lol.

About it looking creepy... it's a game. It's not supposed to be real or arousing. I think Bioware's accomplishment shouldn't be judged based on technical limitations. I thought it was wonderful and well done. I just wish it was't once and then just kissing. Everytime you say you wanna go to your tent they should show it! lol.

Nexus said:

Still sad you can't romance Alistair as a guy.
Where's the replayability?
What insentive do I have to do a romance the second playthrough, if the only opotion I have is to do the exact same one I did in my previous playthrough?
Straight people get two choices afterall.
Don't think I'm one of the Zevran-haters though. I'm looking forward to romancing him. I'd just like to be able to do the same to hunky Alistair.

Jon M said:

I think this says it all for me:

"Don't think I'm one of the Zevran-haters though. I'm looking forward to romancing him. I'd just like to be able to do the same to hunky Alistair."

/agree

mixvio said:

I know how Alistair truly feels in his heart and no one can take that away from me. :(

aTomic said:

I lol'd at the music though. Deliberate and respectful is one thing, but when your pick-up line is something like "I've got something in my tent that needs stabbing if you know what I mean wink wink" then I'm fairly certain bom-chikka-wow-wow is more appropriate.

I hope it's as cold, stiff, and disturbing as the sex in Mass Effect!

I'll stick with my Fable 2 sex thanks.(That's right, I WILL show you my curly mustache)

Joedivision said:

omg do I really want o play a game and get blown off by a scrawny elf bottom. geese lol

SZK said:

Awww, I didn't know that you couldn't romance Alistair as a guy. That's disappointing. They really should have made that "licking lampposts in winter" conversation path go somewhere. :(

Well, here's to hoping that someone uses the PC toolkit to remedy that problem!

mick said:

OMG quit bitching at least there is sex this time. People bitched cause there was no gay male sex and now there is bitching cause there isn't enough god if I wanted hours of gay sex I would watch a porn not play a game.

DJS said:

mick said:
OMG quit bitching at least there is sex this time. People bitched cause there was no gay male sex and now there is bitching cause there isn't enough god if I wanted hours of gay sex I would watch a porn not play a game.


good point. all I have to say is holy shit

Ry-Guy said:

Funny. I didn't see any actual BITCHING anywhere in this comment section. Except for yours, mick. May wanna keep to yourself unless you have something constructive to say. :]

LordoftheAvenue said:

Wow. Just wow.


Now I'm buying that game.

Mr. Bubble said:

Well, at least the uploader of that video made a hunky player character.

Stone K said:

If you start as a human noble you can seduce the male son of your mother's friend (at least with the rouge, not sure about the warrior).

Oh and if you pick "a little of both" at the pearl you get a "elf 'female'" obviously a trans-gender elf.

ROCsteady said:

Yes. I'm "In Bed" with Bioware right now ;-)

Nexus said:

I'm hoping the same thing about the PC toolkit SZK.
It's part of the reason why I'm playing my 'evil' character first. He'll probably alienate Alistair anyway.

Corwin Kelly said:

I'm just disappointed that the achievement for romancing Zevran is called "Easy Lover" and he's bi. More unfortunate stereotyping bi-sexual individuals as easy sluts.

Still, it's a step forward in gaming!

Rudyru said:

...D: This is so gay (Stay away from me, Hilary Duff.). Crappy Enya music while we romp is not my cup of tea...

tibi said:

anyone else got the tranny dwarf at the Pearl when asking the owner to "surprise you" ?

JeffreyOSU said:

SPOILERS ALERT...





A couple of interesting things... Gramma Wynne initially disapproved of my relationship with Zevran, but eventually came around and said that it seemed we had something special. It was very sweet and touching.

On the other hand, the ending was handled somewhat clumsily by Bioware. At the end, I chose to leave and I asked Zevran to go with me. In the slides during the ending telling what became of everyone, it talks about Zevran going with me but refers to my male main character as a woman a couple of times. After all of the effort they put into the same-sex relationships, it was very jarring and disappointing to see such a clumsy mistake at the very end.

Uberdude said:

AAALLLLISSSTTAAAIIIRRRRR!!!!!!


*Hunky redheaded Dalish Warrior pines as Alistair leaves to be king.*


We could have been sword mates...


;)

David Gaider said:

JeffreyOSU: Sounds like you got a bug in the epilogue. My understanding is that there's quite a few, and they're slowly being worked through now. Rest assured that the epilogue (like everywhere else) very much takes into account your gender.

As for the fact that you can't romance Alistair as a man, brought up by a few commenters here, I will say that some of the reaction has been... interesting. There's even been a few posters on our forums *furious* that they can't romance Alistair and stating that the fact that the romance they *can* have is Zevran is tantamount to discrimination. It's an opinion that I find a little baffling.

It's as if the mere inclusion of any romantic content suddenly makes it an issue of fairness and rights, rather than an additional story included for a select audience. Normally we create content geared towards something that the majority of players will see -- content of this sort is *expensive*, after all -- and the smaller the audience for a piece of content gets (perceived to be smaller, anyhow, whether or not you agree), the more difficult it becomes to get support to include it.

So if us including some extra content for that small audience suddenly brings up cries of discimination because we didn't include *enough*, or because the character we chose wasn't deemed satisfactory, then the likely end result of that is probably not to include any at all. That would be sad, for sure, but I suspect that if we're going to take flak we'd prefer that it be for something we simply didn't do as opposed for content we went out of our way to provide.

The other possibility, of course, is simply to make all romanceable characters romanceable by everyone. This wouldn't be simply making all such characters bisexual (that's hardly realistic) but rather a subjective reality where such characters are either gay or straight depending entirely upon your player character's gender. It also means that any *recognition* of that gender would have to be minimal. The more differences there are between a character's gay romance arc and straight romance arc, the more it becomes two seperate romances entirely-- which goes back to the issue of resources, which while I'm sure no player wants to consider we certainly do *have* to think about.

So I'm not sure this is the better solution, either. Obviously we as a company would like to be more inclusive of all sorts of players, but we're not making romances-- the resources allowed for that part of the game is pretty small, and you need to think of all of your audience and not just your minorities. As I've said many times, we're not in the business of making social statements in our games. Anything we can do, however, to allow more of our players to find something they can enjoy in our games is hopefully beneficial for us all.

Hope that all makes sense.

Dave

Nexus said:

Just be sure to include a hot hunky tough guy as a romance option in the sequel. ;P

TBH I would have prefered to have NPC's sexualities not be set from the go.
Nothing against bisexuals, but I'd rather not be with guys that have been with women. And I feel the same about my character.
I can see how this might make story-telling somewhat more challenging. But surely the whole point of the kind of games Bioware makes is that a lot of thought and care goes into the story and lore of the game?

David Gaider said:

Nexus: I appreciate what you're saying, but consider it for a moment. If the character has an undefined sexuality, then either he never refers to any previous relationship ever or, when he does, we are required to provide two different versions of the line (which makes it more expensive).

You also have to ask yourself if there are any differences between the way a woman is approached romantically versus a man. Do you compliment another man the same way you would a woman? Do you seduce them the same? Again, we could simply avoid any overtures that would entail some kind of difference, but at some level wouldn't it start to feel as if the fact that you were having a same-sex relationship at all was being glossed over? Or rendered "one-size-fits-all"?

Perhaps it could still be done even so, or done with very minimal variation (Zevran required some variation, for instance, but I wouldn't call it a completely different romance -- primarily *because* he is bisexual for women as well as men) but I will say it's the sort of challenge that makes me wonder if it's worth attempting at all.

Dave

mixvio said:

Well speaking just for myself, I've always appreciated the way that Bioware has attempted to be inclusive in an industry that usually does not. I had some frowny faces hearing stories about things before the game's launch but actually having context behind all the romance now, my initial concerns have been removed. I do appreciate what you and everyone else have done on this, though.

I will never forgive you for keeping Alistair from me, however. :P

Nexus said:

I get your point David. And there probably aren't any easy solutions.

I'd like to put forth another suggestion, though this will be more expensive I suppose.
Namely adding a sexuality option at character creation and then adding more varieties of scenes to the game.
For example, if you gave your sexuality as homosexual at the start, the game would take this into account and make both same gendered romantic interests available.
A gay male character would then get a diferent version of a scene involving Alistair for instance that a straight female would have.

Doing this would require more work of course, so it would cost more. But money aside, I think it would be the easiest way to appeal to everyone.

Michael said:

Yes it would be nice to have such a option.

But aside that, why are the chars all so hairless exapt the face/Head? That looks realy odd espacially at this ancient Time. Not even legs and arms have any hair not to mention the chest.

But it is nice to have a homosexual romance at all.

tekbear said:

i am really happy with the level of attention the developers have put into making the game a wholesome experience for everybody. it is really a very nice move to give gay gamers the same options as they do to everyone else where they don't have to do this at all.

it's silly and childish to whip up the discrimination card of all just because you didn't get the guy you want - especially if you are complaining about stereotyping. i really do hope bioware does not get so offended by these few people that they kill the whole gay issue all together on the next dragon age episode - that would really suck.
i am pretty sure they already succeeded with that on SW:TOR which had some pretty annoying discussions in that regard.

dragon age is an absolute masterpiece and outruns even mass effect in terms of storytelling and immersion - by far!

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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tekbear on NSFW Video: Dragon Age Shines Equality On Gay Love (Spoilers!): i am really happy with the level of attention the developers have put into making the game a wholesome experience...

Michael on NSFW Video: Dragon Age Shines Equality On Gay Love (Spoilers!): Yes it would be nice to have such a option. But aside that, why are the chars all so hairless...

Nexus on NSFW Video: Dragon Age Shines Equality On Gay Love (Spoilers!): I get your point David. And there probably aren't any easy solutions. I'd like to put forth another suggestion, though...

mixvio on NSFW Video: Dragon Age Shines Equality On Gay Love (Spoilers!): Well speaking just for myself, I've always appreciated the way that Bioware has attempted to be inclusive in an industry...

David Gaider on NSFW Video: Dragon Age Shines Equality On Gay Love (Spoilers!): Nexus: I appreciate what you're saying, but consider it for a moment. If the character has an undefined sexuality, then...

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