on Aug 18, 2016
Let the record show that all three of the deaths so far this week have been from explosions. Like I’ve said before, explosive damage vs. the player is OP relative to all other damage types in the game.
You can’t bring up gender or sexuality these days without being dragged into the ongoing culture war. Even when you’re dancing on the edge of these topics, all it takes is one person with an axe to grind to send the whole thing spiraling out of control.
But we’re going to try anyway, because I have faith that you folks are reasonable and level-headed, even though you come from a lot of different points on the political spectrum. Just be cool and remember that the people who disagree with you aren’t villains. Also remember that a lot of us are coming from part of the internet where people are not so nice, and that tends to make people defensive.
Anyway, preamble over. The question Rutskarn presents is this: What do we think of games where your companions have player-oriented sexuality? People aren’t “gay” or “straight” but instead “attracted to whatever the player is”.
I can see both sides, here. On one hand, there’s something to be said for a fixed world that you “discover”. When you pick a race in Dragon Age, it doesn’t make YOUR race the dominant race and some other race the oppressed minority. The politics of the world don’t change based on the decisions you make at character creation. Instead, you discover the world and then make choices and live with the consequences. If I play a dwarf, then I can’t be a mage. End of story.
Note how much it annoys people that you can be a blood mage and the game doesn’t punish you for it. They want their choices to have consequences, even if the end result is that they have fewer options. The fact that – as the player character – I can mess around with the supposedly scandalous and dangerous Red Lyrium without causing outrage or harm feels lame, even if I’m not currently doing anything with Red Lyrium. When characters make a big deal about it, it rings hollow because I know my character could rub Red Lyrium all over their naughty bits without hindering their quest in the slightest. Taking the edges off of my choices or clumsily pandering to my every desire can feel kind of patronizing. It cheapens the experience.
On the other hand, I’m not here to play as someone with no agency. This IS supposed to be entertainment and a game where you play as the hero is sort of pander-y by its very nature. I want to play a game where I’m a ripped young stud who vanquishes evil through force of will and strength. Is asking that I be able to hook up with my favorite companion really a bridge too far at this point?
So it’s more of a question of where we draw the pandering line.
As a matter of personal taste, I sort of lost interest in romance stories over the last decade or so. Maybe it’s because the stories feel too indulgent and shallow. Or maybe a “romance” just feels too hurried and perfunctory when it’s part of a 5-hour story as opposed to the huge, mostly-text 40-hour stories of yesteryear. Or maybe I just liked it better when a romance plot culminated with a verbal expression of love rather than an awkwardly animated sex scene. Or maybe – and this is the most likely answer of all – I’m just getting old and don’t know how to have fun anymore.
It’s a shame the debate has so much culture-war baggage associated with it, because it’s an interesting problem that requires a lot of nuance and patience to untangle.