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Dragon Age: Inquisition lead writer calls romance options a “pandora’s box,” discusses challenge of equality

Thursday, 23rd January 2014 11:06 GMT By Dave Cook

Dragon Age: Inquisition will continue the series’ trend of enabling players to romance their allies, and lead writer David Gaider has penned a blog post explaining why romance is often a “pandora’s box,” capable of whipping up controversy, hard-feelings among gamers and on the other hand, a lot of enjoyment and appreciation.

It follows this new gallery of Dragon Age: Inquisition art, showing off landscapes, characters and more.

Over on Gaider’s blog, the writer explained, “I can easily imagine a time when the romances in Inquisition are revealed (whether that will be before or after release, I have no idea). There will be an inevitable reaction from people who are disappointed they couldn’t romance someone with their character of choice, and some of them will rant at length as to how they were only deprived of said romance because of some agenda.

“We took away that romance because we’re mean, or because we’re boring and couldn’t we see that the romance they wanted would be so much more interesting? And that romance we actually put in is not only terrible but is homophobic/biphobic/racist/pedophilia/etc., which their romance pairing would not be.”

Gaider revealed that the conversation of why BioWare even bothers with romance options has and will come up again, but each time the studio remembers that there are a lot of gamers out there who really do enjoy the freedom to pick a love interest of their choosing. He added that some gamers take the whole ‘romance’ thing to a very “angry place,” and give the team a lot of flack for it over various reasons.

He continued, “I know some fans would be happy if we just abandoned the effort altogether. Generally those are people who don’t use that sort of content in our games anyhow, so us not pursuing it naturally wouldn’t bother them. I’ll just ignore the element who see romances as a thing that only “fangirls” like, and which is thus of lesser value to a “real game”.

“To me, the thing that BioWare does best is not story but characters—I think our characters are done to a level that few other games even attempt, with an element of agency that strikes a chord in our players…and romances have been a natural outgrowth of that. Sure we could stop, but that would be turning our backs on something we do which almost no-one else does. The question would be: “why?” And what do we replace it with?

“It’s possible we could answer that question. We’ve made a few games without romances before, and we could do it again. Perhaps, if we made a new IP, we might decide it’s best not to open that particular Pandora’s Box (which, yes, romances have always been) and go with something else…but that “something else” better be something damned good, as there are a lot of people who enjoy that part of our games immensely and who might not be willing to buy into a new series which didn’t have it. Some folks might be eager to write those fans off, but I’m not really sure that BioWare feels the same.”

Are you fond of romances in BioWare games, or could you do without them? Let us know below.

Via OXM.

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8 Comments

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  1. unacomn

    “To me, the thing that BioWare does best is not story”
    I’ve been saying the same thing for years, good to know someone at Bioware is aware of this fact.

    I’m OK with romances in games, as long as they’re properly handled. Like the one between Boots and Fatima from Anachronox, that was fantastic, non interactive, but fantastic.

    Bioware rarely properly handles one.

    #1 6 months ago
  2. TheWulf

    Whilst I don’t care for Dragon Age, and I think that Obsidian are better at character pieces than BioWare (especially Travis Stout, whom I believe deserves all the praise that that poseur Avellone is getting), I will say that Gaider is a pretty awesome guy and I tend to agree with whatever he has to say when he does speak up.

    #2 6 months ago
  3. The_Red

    @2
    Why? I think Avellone is a great writer. Of course sometimes he is given more credit that should go to the whole team but his work on the likes of Torment and Fallout 2 does deserve some praise. Stout is also showing some serious potential as seen in New Vegas and DS3.

    #3 6 months ago
  4. absolutezero

    Theres something distinctly off with the idea that “Romance” has become an almost tick mark on the back of Bioware boxes.

    Even if it does not fit into a games story or World it still somehow makes its way in. Its bizarre that they now think that its mandatory.

    #4 6 months ago
  5. Luciferous

    I really enjoy the romance options in Bioware’s games mainly because they offer a chance to get to know certain characters who I am more interested in.

    I want to see the other characters forming relationships amongst themselves outside of my input – for example – Cassandra and Varric, there is obviously some tenderness between them as we saw in the gameplay demo of DA-I when Bih V is upset by the dead villages and she reaches out to him. The Cassandra of DA2 would never have done that, but it makes sense if they have been travelling together that she would have seen that he was a really nice chap and not a stinky criminal dwarf.

    #5 6 months ago
  6. Prometheus

    The whole romance option thing in Bioware games is just a game within a game, you don’t need to romance anybody and yet the whole game is unaffected by it.

    It is not even slightly relevant to the actual game. The whole romance thing is just for your own pleasure, it’s more or less fanservice.

    #6 6 months ago
  7. fihar

    Well, I liked the romance in ME2 because it opened up a potentially hilarious dialogue between Mordin and Shephard but other than that, I’ve always felt ambivalent about these things.

    I suppose it’s a neat feature but I won’t lose much sleep if it was gone.

    #7 6 months ago
  8. Hawk84

    The main reason I buy dragon age games is because of the romance options and the exciting fantasy world that encompasses them. It gives me the opportunity to live out my age old fantasy of sweeping the girl off her feet and saving the world. I believe that the option with Morrigan in Origins was one of the best experiences in video games I’ve ever had and I was actually saddened we she told me that she had to leave, yet it was bittersweet.

    The fact that Bioware has actually been brave enough to put nudity in video games, has been a big plus for them in my book. It makes the relationships feel more genuine. This is not to say that every scene with nudity was done well, or even “hot”, but I would hate to see nudity completely thrown out of games made for adults. Our culture has made it clear that nudity is harmful and violence is good. But I digress, I am very pleased to hear that there will be romance options in Dragon Age Inquisition, and I will be pre-ordering a copy in the near future. Thank you Bioware for making such an amazing and imaginative series, it will always have a place in my heart.

    #8 3 months ago