Unconventional romance in video games

Unconventional romance in video games

Video games are getting increasingly unconventional with their romance. We’re allowed to hook up with African Americans, same gender partners, drells and elves. And now Dragon Age 2 may let us get it on with a suave dwarf. Good! Let’s crack the glass ceiling!

Bioware videogames are quite popular for their great storytelling, witty humour and of course, the existence of believable romance. This started off in the less popular (but nonetheless good) Jade Empire. Then later, in both Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins, two of their most successful game franchises.

At first glance, it is quite obvious they played safe with the love interests (also known as LI in among fans or “romancable” characters) in the two games; the LI are mostly straight and Caucasian, with the exception of Liara (bi female (?) asari), Zevran (bi male elf) and Leliana (bi female human, still Caucasian though). It is possible they were just going for the “default” and “playing it safe” the first time around. Kind of reminds you of racebending in the majority Caucasian casting of the Asian-influenced The Last Airbender, doesn’t it?

In the second installment of Mass Effect , they listened to the fans in the official Bioware forums then thankfully, broke the glass ceiling. Actually, cracked, more like. They introduced 3 alien romance options and a (deliciously hot) African-American male LI. Unfortunately, there were no homosexual or bi choices this time around, apparently due to budget constraints. Nevertheless, they delivered.

It is refreshing to see an African-American character like Jacob Taylor who isn’t a stereotype “tryin’ to get into da hood”. In fact, it can be said that he is the only sane man on-board! Tali’Zorah and Garrus on the other hand, are fan favourites and were brought back by popular demand. Both are hardly humanoid (quarian and turian, respectively) but have incredibly lovable personalities. So what if your very much human PC (playable character) needs to erm… adjust to their biological build? Resident doctor Mordin Solus will give you a consultation! Then there is Thane Krios… a reptile-like alien (drell) who, according to my big sis, is hard not to fall for.

Now that Dragon Age 2 is coming out in 2011, many fans are looking forward to more… ahem, variety in romances. Some of the requests include strictly homosexual romance, dwarves, elves and even qunari. Despite homophobic and racist (or speciesist?) protests from a few people here and there, complaining that dwarves are “ugly fat midgets” or that homosexual/bi is gross, there is no doubt there are plenty of fans that say a character’s sexual orientation or physical appearance should not be the basis for the quality of a romance. After all, even in real life, rejecting someone because of their race or even height is just plain bigotry! Truth is, most of the time we end up falling for is one’s personality instead of looks.

I believe it is time we embrace inter-racial romance, welcoming this species and racial integration. Right now as I am typing this, many fans in the Bioware forums are hoping for the main narrator of Dragon Age 2 (a suave rogue dwarf named Varric) to be confirmed as a Love Interest. If he really is one, there may undoubtedly be protests but even more fans who will be overjoyed. It would be another step closer to truly breaking the glass ceiling.