According to the statistics, less than 1% of all games released in 2013 let us play as a gay (or LGBTQ) character and the crux of that is because although the majority of gamers are a fairly progressive lot and wouldn’t mind gay characters right in there with the rest of the heterosexual ones, plenty of publishers and developers are guilty of shying away from the subject in fear of the vocal, ignorant minority coming for them with pitchforks and torches aflame. Developer BioWare are actually one of the few developers to embrace queer characters wholeheartedly, with all three Mass Effect games and both Dragon Age 1 and 2 allowing same-sex romances. Dragon Age: Inquisition is set to include same-sex romance too and, BioWare say, they have plans to keep putting gay characters in their games in the future.
Why ‘The Gay Issue’ Is So Important to BioWare
Speaking at gamescom, BioWare Producer Cameron Lee discussed the issue of gay characters in games, calling it “an important topic”.
“It goes back to fantasy fulfilment. Your fantasies may be different to mine in terms of gender, sexuality, race, class, how you look, all these things. We’re not going to force you to be a fixed character, that you have to be this male guy that runs through the world and looks a certain way, walks a certain way. We even give you choices of voices.
“So why picking a gender or sexuality is an issue is beyond me. We have the technology to do it, and we have for a long time, so why not let your fantasy be different?”
And Lee is right. RPGs let us play as wizards, rogues, thieves, orcs and fantastical beings who can shout at dragons to kill them and fling bolts of light from our fingertips to thwart any enemy who crosses our path, but why is it so hard for developers to let us play as women, gay people or people of colour?
It’s brilliant that BioWare as a whole is following the progressive footsteps of Mass Effect Gameplay Designer Manveer Heir who spoke about the industry’s “negative stereotypes” and offensive nature at GDC and BioWare have previously announced one of Dragon Age: Inquisition‘s gay characters too too. It’s also refreshing to hear about their commitment to diverse characters when fellow game makers Capcom and Ubisoft have been guilty of offensive missteps in recent months.
So when Lee adds that “at the core of RPGs, and I think it’s a shame that more games don’t allow you to have that freedom” I really couldn’t agree more.
Dragon Age: Inquisition will be released on November 18th for PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360. Click here to pre-order it.