Tag Archives: Dragon Age Origins

Along came Zevran: LGBT characters in modern video games

When the topic of LGBT characters in modern video games pops up, it is not uncommon to hear issues players find in them…

  • They are a minority in real life; therefore, the LGBT representation should stay at an equal ratio. We don’t need every game to have gay characters
  • I can’t relate to a gay character, so why would I play one?
  • Why must their sexuality be shouted to the four winds? You are just pandering to the LGBT community.
  • You don’t need to be straight to identify with your straight character anyway. That’s the idea of a role playing game: You are PLAYING A ROLE!

And I’m sure if I think hard enough, I can come up with a lot more, but these reasons will do for now. Of the four points I mentioned, I suppose I can totally agree with number 4. The beauty of many games is that you get to see how characters develop through the story or as they interact with other characters. You get to love them or hate them, based on their personalities and you get to understand them as you know more of their background story. Just like a book.

The way I see it, that is the point: to understand the character despite their origins, actions, or sexuality. Then, why is it so important to people like me to see more LGBT characters in game? The reason didn’t hit me until I began playing Dragon Age: Origins.

Typically, when I had the chance to create my own character, I made a female character. My Dreamcast memory cards were full of Phantasy Star Online female characters with monosyllabic names like Jay, Jo, Jess and Jinx. I couldn’t relate to them, but it didn’t matter at the time. I just wanted to live the game’s story through my avatar. Some of these characters became favorites that I tried to recreate in every other game.

Fast forward several console generations, I found myself trying Dragon Age: Inquisition. Jess, my lovable chubby mage was going to make the jump from Pioneer 2 to Thedas, and I was ready to make her a kick ass Grey Warden, and romance Alistair and all that jazz. That was until I learned there was an elf named Zevran that could be romanced by any gender. That was an option I never had in a video game, and I got curious.  Jess got shelved, and a male elven mage named Guarionex took her place. For the first time, I could identify with a character I created, and it felt nice. I wasn’t aware I wanted that; it just happened. Dragon Age is the kind of game that gives you the liberty to do what you want, and it’s these kinds of games that benefit from having more diversity for the players.

It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant that part of the population seems to the majority, the feeling of inclusion is awesome. It’s not a matter of pandering a sector of society, but of including them. My character creation process PDA (Post Dragon Age) now consist of mainly male characters, because  now I can imagine some part of myself in them.

Also, if we can just play along the role of a straight main character, we could do just the same for an LGBT one, no?



Face the consequences, or Reset.

In the real world, every action we take, as small as it might seem, has a consequence. A remember when I was in high school, there was a basketball near my, and I just kicked it away; a simple action. The ball rolled away a few meters, where a little kid picked up the ball and started playing with it. Not too long after that, one of the bigger kids wanted the ball back. They took the ball from the kid and he started screaming and crying. I just stood there, feeling little bit responsible since they kid wouldn’t have gotten the ball if I hadn’t kicked it.
The simple action of kicking a ball, as harmlessly as it was, was the first step to a chain of events that made the kid cry and I had to live with it. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t personally traumatized by this, but I guess that if I had known what would have happened, I wouldn’t have kicked it. I can also think of more serious and recent events that lead me to these very thoughts.

When it comes to video games, however, we don’t necessarily need to deal with this guilt, no matter how big or small it is. Or should I say that we do have an additional option to deal with the guilt? If we are not satisfied with the outcome of an event, we can just reset or reload our game file. We can even just start the game from the beginning to make sure we take the “right” decisions. Our persistence in the getting what we want makes us go back in time and rewrite history as we see fit. But why are we persistent enough to try and retry? Some of us do it to get the “Best Ending” or get the best weapons, or to get that specific missable character or item that will make the rest of the game that much easier. What tickles our persistent bone?

I recently began playing Dragon Age: Origin, and so far, I have noticed that any decision I choose can greatly alter the fate of the other characters. Your teammates react differently to your decisions, and it will be hard to please all of them. I wanted to overcome my persistence in trying not to mess up, my urge to reload my game file anytime I felt I took a bad decision. I wanted to face every single consequence of my actions. And I fail terribly. At one point of the game, I ended up threatening a priestess to kill her if she didn’t give me the key to free a prisoner. She gave me the key angrily, and one of my teammates greatly disapproved, But I did have the key and I would get a new party member soon enough. However, this series of events left me a bitter taste. I reloaded my file and tried to persuade the priestess in many ways; I gave her an overly generous tithe and asked for her blessing, I hid who I was, I told her who I was, but I ended up threatening in the end, and reloading my file. Sometime later I found a way to recruit the prisoner without violence, but I already broke my decision to face all the consequences of my actions.

There is also a point where I faced the option of killing a possessed child or sacrificing his mother to save him. I didn’t want to do any of those, and trying to find an alternative to saving them both, I ended up enraging the possessed boy and hurt him pretty badly. Then I had to face another 2 options, kill the boy myself or let his mother kill him. I ended up doing the deed. I didn’t even wait for a chance to reload the game, I just reset the game instead. The crying mother kind of reminded me of that crying kid, of how helpless I was against the some of the consequences of things I’ve done. I can’t say I just learned this, but instead, I could say that this game helped me reaffirm the fact that I’m just a people pleaser. If there’s a thing I do persistently in life is try to make everyone feel better be it in real life or on a video game. It doesn’t always work and sometimes I’m I’m hurt in the process. The only difference in both of these is that real life doesn’t have a reset button. And it’s better that way. That button would very badly overused.