The Border House Podcast – Episode 1: Lewd-onarrative Dissonance

FemShep looking at Tali with some distance between them.

FemShep looking at Tali with some distance between them.

 

It’s finally here! In our premier episode, we talk about diversity issues in the portrayal of romances in the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series from BioWare. As to be expected, there are spoilers for these games in the podcast (though, if you haven’t played them, you definitely should!). We are more than happy to take feedback on how to better improve and fit our listeners’ interests, so feel free to comment about what you think.

The Border House Speakers

Host- Mattie Brice

Editing- Kim

Alex Raymond

Anna

Rawles

Guest Speaker

Kate Cox

 

Opening & Closing Credits – Was that away message for me? by 8bit Betty

 

Transcription: http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=6665

 

 

 

 

About Mattie Brice

Mattie Brice is a game critic, designer, social justice activist, and student at San Francisco State University. She focuses her writing on diversity initiatives in the video game community, often bringing in the perspective of marginalized voices like transgender and multi-racial women to publications like Paste, Kotaku, The Border House, and Pop Matters. Mattie also consults and speaks at gaming related conferences like the Game Developers Conference and IndieCade. Her studies have led her to explore narrative design and plans to push the borders of how we think of the medium. Tweets at @xMattieBrice.
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56 Responses to The Border House Podcast – Episode 1: Lewd-onarrative Dissonance

  1. Kate Cox says:

    Naturally, of course, I am convinced that my voice sounds NOTHING like that and that I’m not sure I said any of those things, hehe. ;)

    • Mattie Brice says:

      Same here! Kim was telling me that mics pick up your voice without any sort of interference from anything else, while the sound of your voice is affected by coming from your own body as well as the environment you’re speaking (which is why we sound better in the shower when we sing ;)) It’s surreal listening to myself! :P

  2. Jobias says:

    Excellent! Will there be an RSS feed or iTunes link so that I can pull this down in my favorite podcast aggregator?

  3. Kimadactyl says:

    hey mattie, remeber to credit the author of the music :)

  4. Aaron says:

    This was a great first episode! I’m excited for the next one.

  5. Corbiu Geisha says:

    This has happened. Yay!

  6. Tom says:

    Well done — a lot better you tend to expect from a first time podcast. You guys have great energy and a lot of great things to say. The only downside was that I lost track of who was who pretty quickly after the brief introductions.

    What I found most interesting were Rawles’ (was it Rawles?) observations on many player’s inability to handle NPC autonomy, and on the unusual nature of the Alistair relationship — so: bonus points there!

    Great job all around.

    • Rawles says:

      That was me, and thank you!

    • Dan says:

      I agree with Tom’s point; I too frequently lost track of who was speaking. This probably had more to do with the sections where back and forth replying took over and I had to mentally attach attributions in my head — and notes.

      I absolutely second the need for some type of RSS feed or iTunes link. I look forward to listening to more episodes in the future and would love for them to be delivered via a more convenient method than visiting the site each time to download.

      Something I do not see mentioned but was a concern for me was the amount of material covered. I was taking some notes on ideas to research — examples of more autonomous romance characters and games that allow polyamorous relationships — and ended up with a long list of things covered. It might be worth narrowing the topics more in the future, or possibly extending the show. Basically: too much good, too short.

  7. Southpaw says:

    Hey, just curious: Where did you get the info that the voice actor refused to do the FemShep romance bits?

  8. Southpaw says:

    ^Tali’s voice actress, that is.

    • Sif says:

      Downloading the podcast now, but I just want to say I’ve never heard about Tali’s VA refusing to do femshep romance lines. Was that substantiated by an actual developer ?

      • Mattie Brice says:

        We’re unsure and treat it like a passing rumor on the podcast. Someone brought it up to reveal insight on the complexity on the issue, but says that they are unverified. We don’t spend more than a couple seconds on it.

  9. linar says:

    Hey all,

    Will there be a transcript released on this for those of us with less-than-stellar hearing and oral EN comprehension?

    tnx
    l

    • Mattie Brice says:

      We are working on getting transcription work done; however, it’s going to cost money because no one on the podcast staff has the time or resources to transcribe. So until we get money, we won’t be able to do it. Since we’re doing it bi-weekly, we’d be looking to about a $100 bill a month, and I’m not sure if the site gets any revenue. That’s all up to the editors either way. We definitely care about all of our readership, and will try our best to accommodate everyone.

      • linar says:

        Ah well. I’ll just assume that it was a great discussion. :)

      • kiturak says:

        Hi, just listened and loved all of it, especially since I just bought played ME2 nonstop.

        Probably you’ve already considered it, but as to the transcript, what if you tried to split it up into pieces of, like, 10 minutes and crowdsource it?

        I’d be okay with doing 10 minutes every two weeks – I’d need proofreading, though, as this is not my first language. I find transcribing podcasts or interviews somewhat tricky, since I never really know what to write down word by word and what to leave out/”correct”, but I think it’s really sad that there’s such a lot of podcasts and videos out there that are basically inaccessible to such a lot of people for different reasons, so.

  10. Opal says:

    Thank you, that was a very insightful discussion.
    I look forward to the next podcast.

  11. 0thello says:

    The opening track is pretty boss. I am a big fan of the old midi beats and that was the shit. Whoever made that deserves a raise.

  12. Doral says:

    Great job! Question though, who goes under the artist tag? I’m just a little meticulous with my ipod.

  13. Ivan says:

    Re: Shepard being treated like a “White dude”.

    It’s more the case that Shepard is treated, first and foremost, like a human. In the setting as it’s presented your gender is, largely, irrelevant to the universe at large. Lines of consideration and bias are drawn along your species line

    If you have any specific questions about the romances and such in ME2 I’d be happy to answer any questions I can, as I worked on them for about 2 years ;)

    And with regards to anyone refusing to do romance lines, I wouldn’t give any credence to that whatsoever. From conception, Tali was always a hetero romance option – that wasn’t changed, to my knowledge, at any point.

    I can’t say the same about the other characters though ;)

    • Mattie Brice says:

      Hey there Ivan, I definitely have a lot of questions about the romances; how are you affiliated? Do you have an e-mail or other way I can contact you?

    • Considering the number of times ME2 made me as a female player feel downright uncomfortable, I’m dubious of statements suggesting that the writers thought they were making gender irrelevant. :) Of course, there are an awful lot of writers involved, no? It may have varied.

      (I never played the first game, so I can’t compare them.)

      • Mattie Brice says:

        I believe that the writers were doing their best to have gender neutrality, however, when we think of the “standard” person, especially in gaming, we tend to think of qualities associated with white, heterosexual man culture. So while BW was aiming for it, without an understanding of gender politics they inadvertently made everyone react to Shepard as if they were a hegemonic man. The biggest indicator of this is what we mentioned on the show, how Miranda acts towards Shepard only applies to the hegemonic man, and the camera work and dialogue support this analysis.

        • I’m thinking of things like women-as-decoration which comes up with the endless dancing girls, and the way that the mercenary recruiter reacts to a FemShep, which totally blindsided me in-play.

      • Ivan says:

        @Whine:

        You’re right of course, on both projects (ME2 and DA) there were more than a couple of writers involved ;)

        I can’t presume to speak for said writers, for while I’m still good friends with some of them, I don’t work at the studio any longer. What I can tell you is this, as a games writer myself one of the challenges, when writing dialogue for a character who has randomizable characteristics (whether that be race, gender, age, etc.) is (at least in part) one of minimizing/mitigating cost.

        If you only need to record one set of audio, addressing the player character as their rank, a nickname or surname, you halve the cost of that particular VO component.

        It’s also, in some cases, downright impossible (or more work than it’s worth) – this is why you never see games refer to you as your customizable first name (at least VO wise).

        Personally It my belief that ME 1 handled gender and sexuality a lot better than ME 2, and that’s, at least in some part, due to the change of writers.

        @Mattie:

        I’m a little confused by something you mentioned in your Podcast – you refer to feeling somewhat alienated (my term) from your Shepard as a trans person, but where I’m confused is how the npc behaviour would be different in that regard?

        If I’m playing a trans man or trans woman character, how would you have them treat you differently than the way they’re already scoped (assuming the default treats you as though you’re cis gendered)?

        Wouldn’t NPCs treat a trans man or cis man in the same fashion, ideally?

        • Mattie Brice says:

          Ideally, yes, definitely! However, being transgender doesn’t mean everything about you is exactly the same has being cisgender. As well, not everyone may perceive you as cisgender, and when sex comes around, there’s an extra conversation you’re going to have most likely (not all transgender people get SRS). Not all transgender people are passable, and not all want to ‘go stealth.’ And from personal experience, the way people act towards you is definitely different when you are perceived to be anything but a heterosexual cisgender person. A heterosexual man will act differently to a transgender woman if they perceive them as a gay man, gay woman, androgynous, transgender, or a cisgender woman, because a lot of interaction is negotiated implicitly by sexual interest. For example, the hegemonic man will most likely make sure there is no mistaking himself as homosexual if he is with a gay man and will posture himself in a way to achieve that.

          So the short of it is, in reality, people don’t only perceive me as a cisgender woman, and up until recently, reactions really ran the gamut. I work in customer service, and I have different reactions all the time, especially in the past. One of the largest burdens of transgender people is trying to convince others to treat them the way they want to be treated, because people react to what they see rather than knowing the person.

          • Ivan says:

            I’m lucky enough to have had an incredibly accepting and open-minded up bringing (my parents were woodstock hippies). Couple that with the 12 years I spent as a make up artist and a partner who majors in feminist philosophy (who shares my passion for matters of identity and sexuality as well) – I like to think I’m as open minded as any one person can be about these sort of things. That being said, you’re absolutely right. As a 6’6″, 280lbs white cismale there’s never been a risk of my gender identity being perceived as anything other than what I present. If anything, there’s a risk of people getting swords thinking that vikings might have landed nearby…

            As a Developer, though, I hope I can appeal to you from a purely logistical perspective.

            Consider that for most game studios the *ideal* is probably shipping a game that fits nice and tidily on one disc. This, by and large, means cutting. Cutting precious iterated work, cutting “optional” features and scoping back things that were, at one time, on a wish list.

            I’m hard pressed to think of a reasonable way (with current technology) that you could feasibly present the option in an RPG to have the player be treated in a fashion other than straight or gay that wouldn’t fail to meet someones expectations on some level.

            I’d point out that you do highlight the burden of trying to convince others to treat you the way you want to be treated, but you don’t *specifically* indicate what that would be in this case. I can circle back to the “ideal” situation that we both agreed upon, but it sounds to me like one possible solution for what you’re bringing to light here would be a third option for character identification.

            The very pragmatic reason why this option seems incredibly unlikely to me is a purely mathematical one – an increase of options by 33% means an increase in production cost aspects by 33% – and at that point you’d need to demonstrate to your publisher that that 33% cost increase for production would be recouped by an increase in profitability by 33% (or likely more).

            Thoughts?

            • Mattie Brice says:

              One reason why I think Women Studies exists is to show that the minorities are often sacrificed for convenience in many situations; the development process isn’t unique in this manner. Take, for instance, the small amount of hubbub there was about Brink having so many customization options for your avatar, but they only have male avatars. Their response was they wouldn’t have had time to offer so many choices if they had female avatars, so the decision was to axe female avatars. It shows pleasing minorities is a side dish and nice when it can happen instead of including them by default. By saying you’re making a business decision when you decide to leave out minorities, then you’re saying they aren’t equal and they are just “nice to have” but in the end, impractical. It’s the design way of discrimination and affirmative action instead of assuming game design to accommodate everyone. There isn’t an easy solution, I understand, but first you have to admit that the solution at the moment is treat minorities as second-class because we’re not thinking up design solutions or spending the time/money to include them.

              I have a complicated relationship with my transgender identity not able to be represented in games. For one, I get to have characters who treat me much closer than how I am in reality without any hesitation, and I can experience something I can’t in my life. On the other hand, this isn’t a purposeful design, as I can’t project the unique qualities of being transgender onto my character. And really, all characters, no matter how the avatar is created, is blanketed treated like a hegemonic man, until situation specific circumstances make that obviously inappropriate. Take for instance Rawles’ example of gay men who wanted to have a gay BroShep; the game wouldn’t allow them to be because it assumes BroShep is heterosexual in all of his reactions.

              This obviously can go on longer, but hopefully this was enough to clarify what I mean.

  14. Ivan says:

    Yup, I’ve attached my LinkedIn profile ;) You can message me there, or message me directly through this site (does this site even support private messages though?)

    Ivan.

  15. Talking about other games allowing you to explore romance and living out kinds of romance, it would be interesting to have this site take a look at story-heavy dating sims and visual novels – some of which force you to be a terrible romantic partner in service of the plot, others of which allow you more opportunity to explore multiple outcomes for the relationships. (They don’t always make SENSE, but there are options.)

    • Mattie Brice says:

      Do you have any suggestions or leads? I’m personally interested in this and would like to go and research this, but I haven’t been able to find many that are of good quality, in English, and free/cheap.

      • Because I make a living selling them, I feel a little awkward making direct suggestions. Conflict of interest. :)

        • Mattie Brice says:

          Well, if you’d like to find my personal contact information through my various social network links in my profile, you can send me venues or suggestions in private, as it’s a intellectual pursuit and I’m not looking to necessarily buy anything :)

  16. Korva says:

    Interesting starter episode. Although I’m not at all a fan of romance and have played neither DA2 nor ME2 nor much of ME1, I found myself smirking and agreeing with a lot of what was said — especially the widespread desire that we as players are entitled to utterly control the NPCs and the narrative, and how weird that is. I’m forever clamoring for both more NPC autonomy and for tangible consequences for player choices, up to and including failing/losing the game if the player pisses everyone off (too much). That subject probably deserves articles/podcasts all of its own.

    The observation that Alistair is a little “subversive” hadn’t occurred to me, but it is actually quite spot-on. Maybe that is one reason why certain people hate him? (Then again, certain male gamers ALWAYS hate the obligatory male “love interests” apparently on principle and call them “another whiny Carth” even when the personalities are totally different. I call it sour grapes for seeing a man who *gasp* isn’t them or the ultra-macho He-Man Hulk we’re all supposed to swoon over be popular with the hetero ladies.)

    Personally, I just hope that romances will never take too much of the spotlight. It is incredibly frustrating when you suddenly get “locked out of” interacting further with the characters because the friendship paths are stunted compared to the romance dialogs — and just as frustrating for an asexual when “just friends” pops up again and again as if it isn’t ever possible to have a lasting, meaningful and even primary relationship with someone without bedding them.

    • Mattie Brice says:

      Thank you so much for listening, and I so agree with you! I realized in the middle of production my own privilege I was exercising by focusing on the relationships, but as you mentioned, this podcast barely covered the depth of this topic. I am so on board with more development on the friendship axis, which I think DAII attempts and does pretty well. What you’re saying is progressive in the sense of “Not everything revolves around banging someone,” as in Mass Effect 2, your conversations cut off after a certain point if you can’t be sexually interested in them by the game’s design. Room for deep and diverse friendship along with asexual relationship are definitely do-able and I hope to have the topic come up again :)

  17. Henson says:

    I totally disagree with the ‘all romance-able characters should be bisexual’ comment.

    Yes, I’m sure it’s nice that players of all sexual orientations get to have their cake with whoever appeals to them, but this approach also undermines character building. When every character can be romanced for any orientation, you are establishing that either: (A) everyone in the world is bisexual, or (B) sexual orientation doesn’t matter. If it is the former, the world not only is starkly divorced from our own reality and history (major disadvantages for Dragon Age, a game based on our medieval society, and Mass Effect, a game based in our near future) but it seems as insulting to unisexual people like myself as a 100% heterosexual world is insulting to homosexuals. If it is the latter, then the game is telling us that sexual identity is unimportant, which is ridiculous. The only way this could work is if it were clearly established that the game world is either completely unlike our own or is one where sexuality is largely bisexual (e.g. the Asari culture).

    I believe that Bioware would be best served by clearly establishing sexual orientations for all of its characters, because frankly, this is how people are; some straight, some gay, some bisexual. It allows players to explore sexuality with those who are open to it, and it allows players to confront rejection by those who aren’t. These are both valuable experiences.

    • Mattie Brice says:

      While I don’t think every game should have all characters available to all genders necessarily, I do take the angle that once you’re in fiction, there’s little obligation to be “realistic” in one aspect while everything else is wildly not so. The difference here is that BioWare isn’t exploring what it means to have different sexualities through the romantic involvement of the characters.

      • Henson says:

        I understand where you’re coming from, and I certainly don’t think fictional worlds should consider realism as a rock-solid, do-not-pass-Go barrier, but the idea that we shouldn’t be hung up on realism because a world has fantastical elements strikes me as a slippery slope. Dragon Age has magic, darkspawn, dragons and spirits of the fade, but it also has feudalism, mercenaries, marriages, religion, racism, prostitutes, a temperate climate, etc. It all depends on the setting, but for me, the societal and biological structures in these Bioware games just don’t support an overwhelmingly bisexual world.

        • Rawles says:

          But there are, at most, in games like Dragon Age four romanceable characters (six counting in ME2 which had a dozen party members). Which makes the very common objection you just raised that all romanceables being bi or pan would result in an unrealistic world where “everyone” is bisexual empirically inaccurate. Four NPCs out of dozens does not “everyone” make. Non-romanceable characters could all be as unisexual as they wanted, but if they’re going to offer romanceable characters the only equitable thing to do (IF they are unwilling to make every character have a defined sexuality, which they are not as Bioware has explicitly stated that they will not make same sex only romanceable characters; and this was mentioned in the podcast during this conversation) is to make them romanceable regardless of PC gender.

    • Ivan says:

      I hate to nitpick, Henson, but there’s a glaring point of speculation in your comment that I can’t not pick at…

      >If it is the former, the world not only is starkly divorced from our own reality and history >(major disadvantages for Dragon Age, a game based on our medieval society, and Mass >Effect, a game based in our near future)

      I don’t know what history you’re looking at, but Dragon Age has absolutely nothing in common with medieval earth society other than incredibly vague aspects (there are humans there, the humans use tools, and they generally act like humans are thought to have acted.)

      There are no Dwarven Kingdoms or Elven Forests in Earths history, not is there documented conflict between Wizards and Demons… to try and claim that Dragon Age (oh lets not forget the Dragons…) is based on our historical society is, well… completely unfounded.

      The setting for Dragon Age is complete fantasy, and as fantasy is entirely up to the design and whim of the writers. And yes, in this particular fantasy setting sexual orientation seems to be incredibly unimportant – but when you’ve got hordes of monsters killing people, demons piercing into your dimension to possess people and gathering armies battling for domination – who you choose to sleep with seems a little inconsequential, at least from my perspective.

      The same can be said of Mass Effect – the game is set in 2183 CE (and no attempt to define when “CE” time begins is made – therefore we can assume it’s *at a minimum* 172 years in the future. For comparison, that would be like saying 1839 is our near past.

      I think you’ll find the number of changes that have occurred, across all spectrum’s, since 1839 is staggering. And again, I’m willing to bet that if we’ve made contact with numerous alien races, established ourselves as a spacefaring civilization, and are on the brink of obliteration from some overwhelmingly powerful outside force, who you choose to sleep with will be incredibly inconsequential.

      BioWare does a fine job creating realistic characters, because despite your desire to have everyone clearly labeled, _that_ isn’t how people are.

      • Henson says:

        See, I just don’t see these worlds as drastically divorced from our own as you do. Dragon Age has fantasy elements, but many are simply stand-ins for parts of our world. Dwarves are clans of Scots mixed with a caste system. The Dalish are nomads. City elves are any non-white, non-Western European, non-Christian group you can think of. The Chantry is Christianity, the Qun is Islam. Ferelden is England, Orlais is France, and the Tevinter Imperium is the Roman Empire. The details have been changed, but the basic structures are remarkably similar.

        It’s possible that I’m being a bit hard on Mass Effect, as not only could sperm donation, cloning, and research into Asari reproduction over 200 years make our species no longer use heterosexual mating to propagate the species, but bisexuality, which is becoming more and more socially acceptable, seems like a sufficient means of reproduction in itself. On the other hand, if homosexuality and bisexuality are something you’re born with, and not a ‘choice’, then it is determined by genetics, and I find it unlikely that the genes of the human race would change so drastically within a mere two centuries.

        But these things are pretty moot; Bioware isn’t really creating bisexually-dominated worlds, it’s trying to appeal to every aspect of its audience: hetero, homo, bi, trans, whatever. I find the malleable nature of these characters’ sexualities to be not only divorced from reality and effectively weakening each character’s personal identity, but also a mark of rather lazy design.

        • Ivan says:

          Beware of making claims about other peoples creative work! Yes, if you want to you can force whatever pattern recognition onto a story – but the fact still remains that that is your choice to do so, not the choice of the game creators.

          I worked on both ME2 and DA: O, and I don’t remember, at any time, seeing any documents that indicated X was filling in for Y in this fantasy setting.

          The need many people demonstrate to be able to compare and familiarize one thing to another (What does it taste like? Who does she look like? Who do they sound like?, et al.) is an inherent weakness with regards to willingness to accept original concepts.

          Yes you can pigeonhole “Vulcans” as the “Elves” of Star Trek, but what is served by doing so? If anything you close yourself off to accepting the possibility of the different, in favour of insisting on enforcing a familiar (safe?) paradigm.

        • Alex says:

          What character in any of the Dragon Ages has a “malleable” sexuality?

          • Henson says:

            “Malleable” in that, if not all the romanceable characters are bisexual, then their sexuality is determined by the sex of Hawke.

            Perhaps not the best choice of words?

            • Alex says:

              But their sexualities aren’t determined by Hawke’s sex. Fenris, Merrill, Isabela, and Anders are all bisexual. Sebastian is straight.

              David Gaider addressed the issue in this comment.

              Believing that it’s possible that four of your seven or eight party members just happen to be bisexual is just as easy as believing that your closest friends just happen to form a well-balanced combat party where every person fills an important niche. It’s something that’s perhaps a bit unlikely, but the benefits far outweigh the cost to suspension of disbelief.

            • Laurentius says:

              @Alex

              “Believing that it’s possible that four of your seven or eight party members just happen to be bisexual is just as easy as believing that your closest friends just happen to form a well-balanced combat party where every person fills an important niche. It’s something that’s perhaps a bit unlikely, but the benefits far outweigh the cost to suspension of disbelief.”

              This is true, but i am weary of this arumantation as it is a double edged sword. I practicly heard it before when discussing while so many video game characters are white and /or Americans. (bah don’t get me start on ME).

            • Mattie Brice says:

              I actually don’t think the characters are bisexual. I think they are whatever-sexual that happens to accommodate romancing your character (besides Sebastian if you’re BroHawke). By this, the only character who’s actually bisexual is Aveline during FemHawke’s playthrough. For instance, Anders’ relationship with Karl is not at all mentioned or hinted at during FemHawke’s playthough, we only think he’s bisexual because we’re aware of the meta-narrative and design. On the other hand, Leliana and Zevran ARE bisexual because they announce as such and act as the exotic no matter what gender you’re playing.

              There is something liberating and disturbing with this. For one, no matter who you play (again, except with Sebastian), you can fully explore any character you like, and not feel alienated from the character you’re playing while doing so. I would feel a different dynamic romancing Merrill as my initial FemHawke than if I played BroHawke.

              At the same time, it assumes the player to be the center of the universe and that everyone is attracted to them. DAII subverts this by being able to flirt with Aveline but failing, however that’s a beginning rather than a start. This method makes their sexuality divorced from their character, again making it more of something to achieve rather than part of their character design. This is complicated in DAII, especially with Anders, because it’s really hard to ignore the Templar/Mage conflict being an allegory about the contemporary conflict with sexuality and religion.

              I personally think that having a plurality of sexualities is a preferable idea, however, I still don’t think DAII did it wrong at all. I prefer how DAII handled sexuality over DA:O, it showed that the developers weren’t ready to write seriously about sexuality in the context of the game. Leliana’s and Zevran’s bisexuality can only really be linked to the exotic aspects of their characters and little else.

              There’s prolly so much more I could add, but it most likely would be too much rambling :P

            • Alex says:

              Fenris, Merrill, Isabela, and Anders all being bisexual is Word of God… just because Anders doesn’t mention the nature of his relationship with Karl if you’re playing F!Hawke doesn’t mean the relationship wasn’t romantic (Karl is the REASON Anders is in Kirkwall, after all). In the comment from David Gaider I linked, he specifically mentions that making characters have different sexualities depending on the gender of the player character is not something he’s interested in doing because of the concern you brought up that divorcing a character from their sexuality isn’t really a good thing.

              I think it would be interesting to see a game address actual fluid sexuality in a nuanced way, but that’s not what’s happening here, and I don’t think characters having different sexualities in alternate universes is the way to do it.

            • Alex says:

              I mean, I think that the lack of explicit confirmation that the LI characters (other than Isabela?) are bisexual probably has more to do with concerns about biphobic players than any experimentation with changing a character’s sexuality.

            • Henson says:

              @Alex

              “Believing that it’s possible that four of your seven or eight party members just happen to be bisexual is just as easy as believing that your closest friends just happen to form a well-balanced combat party where every person fills an important niche. It’s something that’s perhaps a bit unlikely, but the benefits far outweigh the cost to suspension of disbelief.”

              Since combat is a core element of the game, I’m willing to give the game some leeway in breaking believability in order to facilitate a ‘fun’ experience. Dialogue and interaction are also core to the game, but romances, specifically, are not; not only are they optional, but only a small fraction of the game’s dialogue relates to said romances. By comparison, if you choose Liliana to be an archer-type rogue (an optional character with optional skills), you’ll likely be dealing with her archer skills for the majority of the game.

              At least, this is how I see it. There are likely many who disagree and see romances as integral to the entire story/dialogue experience, perhaps even the main reason they play the game. In this case, your comparison may very well be a fair one.

              It seems this issue is much thornier than I originally thought.

              Oh, and thank you for the including the link. I never would have caught that.

  18. FlyingSquirrel says:

    One small point re: the scene in Mass Effect where you have to choose between Kaidan and Liara – I’ve never actually had one of my female Shepards get to that point, but I’ve seen it on YouTube. I’m pretty sure that Kaidan does not just walk away in response to the “why do I have to choose” option, but just says no (to the three of them being together) and tells Shepard to make a choice. So you don’t just end up with Liara by default if you say that, I don’t think.

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