Wednesday, January 5

Dragon Age and the Tea Cups

Whenever you make a character for a roleplaying game, it's a part of you. You pick a name, you generally pick the appearance, and you might even go so far as to pick the personality or profession of the character. This means you are emotionally invested right out the gate, unlike a movie or book where you have to learn to care about the characters involved.

So when I played Dragon Age: Origins (yes, I'm a cheapskate and waited until Steam had the "Complete Edition" for $25) and my male elf mage was able to choose to have sex with a male elf rogue, it effected me more than I thought it would.

I mean, a part of me chose to have sex with a virtual male. That is a pretty big deal for me. I mean, I have no choice when the dudes in Brokeback Mountain get in on, because I'm a passive observer, but here I am, actively choosing a virtual homosexual relationship. Here's an analogy:

Say we are at Disneyland. I don't like the Tea Cups. Don't get me wrong, if other people ride the Tea Cups, that's fine with me. That's their business. It doesn't hurt me when they ride the Tea Cups, and it doesn't seem to hurt them, so I respect it. I don't hate the Tea Cups, I just don't like them. Vice versa, if I like the Matterhorn, I wouldn't expect the people who like the Tea Cups to absolutely like the Matterhorn, but I would expect them to respect that I do.

So here I am, playing a game, and bam, a part of me chooses to ride the Tea Cups. (Of course, it's not the same thing, since it was more akin to watching a home video of someone who snuck a camera on the ride, but you get the picture.)

While I was watching two male elves have sex (one of whom was me!), I felt aversion. Now don't get me wrong. This wasn't hatred. I just didn't like it. In the same way that I would get nausea from riding the Tea Cups, and not like that experience, I also did not like this experience.

However, I am not the type to start carrying torches and berate Bioware and Electronic Arts for putting homosexuality in their game. Far from it. I'm self-reflexive enough to wonder why I felt the way I did. Here are the two points I took away from that experience:
  • If a part of me chooses to be homosexual, and I don't like it, then that means I'm not homosexual. Which sounds obvious, but we are treading into the future, and these virtual spaces we have set up can blur the lines, and it is better to explore these concepts, rather than ignore the elephant in the room. Especially when other fellow heterosexuals often turn their aversion for homosexuality into hatred, which is counterproductive to society.
  • Second, I wonder if homosexuals feel the same aversion whenever they make an RPG character and choose to have a heterosexual relationship. If that is the case, then I'm sorry that there are an overabundance of heterosexual relationships in RPGs, and I wish for a future where there are more games like Dragon Age, not less.

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