This morning I woke to a message from my friend Kate, directing me to this Beefjack article concerning a petition. Internet petitions are often the stuff on which dreams are made, and seem more a rallying point that fizzles in inaction than an actual call for accomplishment, but this one was curious. Curious in that it stemmed from this BioWare forum post, and ended in this petition calling for BioWare to fire David Gaider, senior writer on the Dragon Age team--which at first I thought might be an attempt at trolling, or a poor attempt at irony. The former seems more likely than the latter, though gay gamers are being lumped into a single hive-mind.
Why might one desire to see David Gaider fired? After his response concerning the 'straight male demographic,' I believe many in our community would be cheering for him, in fact. No, this gay gamer claims that the fact that Anders can hit on people perpetuates a stereotype that men who sleep with and romance other men are after nothing but sex.
It felt very odd that my male companions kept making passes at me, when I never found any interest or even flirted with them. This sort of thing shows that gays are unable to be normal people and think nothing about sex. This is the type of garbage that has people believe that gays shouldn't serve in the military. We are human beings that are the same as everyone else!
In my estimation, considering one male companion does this (Anders) and yet another does not (Fenris), this shows that the 'gays' in the game are capable of being normal people after all. They are capable of flirting and not flirting. You know, as people do.
As regards the portion about the military, let's look at it this way: the stereotype of homosexuality needing to be something that is shoved back into a closet because it makes other people uncomfortable is one about being tolerated on other peoples' terms. It is not about being accepted, and politely denied. It also mistakes that all gay men want to have sex with straight men, and cannot take no for an answer--an erroneous assumption, and it is that assumption that should be combated, which Dragon Age 2 does not perpetuate.
The petition writer does bring up the fact that the in-game mechanics do have Anders gaining rivalry points if you rebuff his advances. There are two ways I would like to respond to this. The first, from yesterday's post on such, is directly from David Gaider himself: "I doubt I would have Anders make the first move again-- at the time, I thought that requiring all romances to have Hawke initiate everything was the unrealistic part." Second, from the demo of the game, we already knew Isabela would shamelessly flirt with us.
Some have made the point that the self-proclaimed straight male gamer to whom David Gaider responded now knows what it's like to be a woman in our society: someone who receives unwanted and unsolicited passes. This is only partially true, and only on the most surface level. Anders might earn rivalry points, but one can earn friendship points afterward. Had he been overjoyed at rejection, I would likely be in a more critical mindset (if anything, the time details of losing his lover and not really addressing his grieving would bother me more...). After that rejection, Anders does not call you a 'whore,' 'slut,' or any other colorful epithets women in our society can expect from turning down an advance. Even rivals in the game respect Hawke.
Therefore, while I doubt the internet petition would really gain much traction, I did wish to offer an opposing viewpoint. There are many things to criticize in the game, but a game that solely depends on stereotypes to conduct its same-sex relationships? With that I will strongly disagree.
Furthermore, on the behalf of the GayGamer staff, I would like to state we firmly support David Gaider and his efforts to stand up for us.
P.S. We also support giving Anders kitties, preferably a basket-full.