Why Shouldn’t All Dragon Age Romances Be Available to All PCs?

Let me outline the point made again and again in the Dragon Age portions of the BSN that has spawned this post. “The sexuality of an NPC should be set, not something the main character influences. Knowing I can romance the same person with both genders ruins my immersion!”

My response? Quit meta-gaming. If you can’t do that simply restrain yourself and don’t romance the same character with both genders. Unless the companion in question makes his or her sexual preferences explicit, your player character does not know what they are. If you think that person should be straight don’t initiate a homosexual relationship and vice versa.

Then there’s the sub-argument that BioWare’s games are too player-centric in general and the move to variable sexual preferences is a further step in the wrong direction. All I can say in response to that is to ask why you’ve chosen to play an RPG if you don’t want to influence the game universe. Is that not what they’re for? Go play Halo if you want an exciting game with a good story with characters you can’t change.

How, in fact, does a player who did not attempt to romance a character because they assumed they knew his or her sexual orientation know that they could be successful? You couldn’t rely on the presence of the flirt indicator in DA2 because you could flirt your head off with Aveline and she never even considered you.

I see three possible answers to that question: people assumed that the little heart option meant something it didn’t, necessarily, and have never seen the actual romance; people could not resist the flirts and chose them whenever they appeared (oi, the charges of ninjamancing that has created); or they found out on the boards or via YouTube that their favorite LI would sleep with Hawkes of another gender and it ruffled their head-cannon feathers.

If you’ve convinced yourself that a character holds a certain trait and you’re firmly convinced that the PC shouldn’t be able to influence it then don’t do things that will result in changing it. You’re already metagaming by applying the events in an alternate universe (as each play of the game is) to the one you’re currently playing so why not keep doing it and block yourself off from content you don’t like.

Why must other people who don’t see the same trait as deeply inherent miss out on content simply because you can’t resist it? That reads as though I’m pretty frustrated, but it goes much farther than the “playersexual” debate, for me.

All companion interaction is optional content. Players have been clamoring for more. They don’t object to the friendship and rivalry system changing a character’s beliefs or behaviors, in fact they support it as a way of making in-game choices made during that wholly optional content relevant and internally consistent. When it comes to choosing a bed partner, however, some people balk at allowing all players to make the same choices.

If sexuality is set in stone and cannot be influenced, why not other aspects? Should Isabela never change and run off with the book every time, since she’s a me-first pirate and has been since long before Hawke came into her life? Should Merrill never give up trying to fix that damned mirror because she’s an elf first and their heritage means more than this single human ever could?

No one seems to object to other companions changing world views based on a few conversations with our beloved hero but for some this one aspect of a character should be immutable while others are open to influence. I, on the other hand, see this as an either/or proposition. If I can’t use my winning personality or utter badass reputation to sway someone to my point of view then I shouldn’t be able to do so, period. If I can treat Anders like crap and make him hate me—but he still helps me slaughter mages—why can’t I treat him well and convince him to love me no matter my gender? If I can convince Fenris that my mage is worthy of love despite the experience of his entire life to that point what does it matter what particular parts he or she has under those robes?

People who choose an NPC’s sexual preference as the sole sticking point have no valid reason for doing so that I’ve ever seen articulated. I’m sorry, but “it bothers me/grosses me out that I think he or she is straight/gay/bi and the devs said it could be different if I chose to play it that way” isn’t a valid reason. In your head cannon you can believe any character desires anyone you want and would never be interested in whoever you don’t. Hell, you can make Fenris pine for Denarius if that floats your boat.

When you try to enforce the world state you choose on my PCs, however, you go a step too far. That applies to sexuality and anything else BioWare has chosen to make flexible in their games. The more choices I have the better, as far as I’m concerned, including with whom a particular character would choose to sleep.

If I make a gay male and a straight female and choose to have them romance the same person in two saves that in no way intersect then how does that affect the game you’re playing? The only way it can is if you make it matter in your head. Your PC cannot acknowledge that, half an hour ago, he was a she in bed with the same person any more than he can remember what happened in that horrible battle that caused a wipe and re-load. Each PC lives in a separate and distinct version of the Dragon Age universe and none of them has any effect on any other.

The ability of one of the other people in the game to make a choice you don’t like, even though he or she doesn’t tell you that it’s an option and doesn’t make it while you’re playing unless you bring him or her to it, should have no influence on the role you choose to play. If you choose to make it matter then it’s your problem, not something by which other players who don’t even know you should have to abide.

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