When a forum poster decided to criticize the developer for neglecting the core role-playing game market – straight male gamers – when developing romance prospects for Dragon Age II, BioWare writer David Gaider’s response was swift and elegant.
BioWare forum poster Bastal obviously feels strongly that the supporting characters in Dragon Age II were more geared towards women and homosexuals than they were straight males. In a forum post titled “Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer”, Bastal spoke his peace.
When I say BioWare neglected The Straight Male Gamer, I don’t mean that they ignored male gamers. The romance options, Isabella and Merrill, were clearly designed for the straight male gamers in mind. Unfortunately, those choices are what one would call “exotic” choices. They appeal to a subset of male gamers and while its true you can’t make a romance option everyone will love, with Isabella and Merrill it seems like they weren’t even going for an option most males will like. And the fact is, they could have. They had the resources to add another romance option, but instead chose to implement a gay romance with Anders.
Even from that brief excerpt you can see the main issue with the post. Bastal speaks for straight male gamers as a whole. Being a straight male gamer myself, I Isabella and Merrill were the two romantic encounters I experienced during my play through of Dragon Age II, and I was far from disappointed. Of course I am one and not most, but I wouldn’t dream of speaking for most straight male gamers, especially when it comes to matters of romance.
But Bastal felt it was his place to post this topic not once, but several times, the forum equivalent of jumping up and down and shouting, “Hey, look at me!”
BioWare lead writer David Gaider looked, and found the topic wanting. First he addressed the multiple postings.
To the OP: doing the same act repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. What you hope to achieve by posting the same thread over and over again I can’t honestly say.
He followed that statement up by calling out some of the other posters for calling the original poster a troll, discounting his opinion. Bastal case was eloquently presented, after all, even if it was scattered about a bit liberally.
And then Gaider got into the meat of the issue.
The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.
The problem lies, as Gaider further explains, if the perception that the majority must be catered to.
And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.
And suddenly I feel bad for being a straight male gamer. This wasn’t Gaider’s intent, of course, but after reading the words of someone claiming to speak for my demographic turned about in such a fashion, I can’t help but feel a little bit dirty.
While I deal with straight white male guilt, I leave you with Gaider’s sharp and poignant parting words.
And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.
Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer [BioWare Forums via Phyrra]