First things first - Check out Episode One 'Going Pitbull' on TheGameRev.Com. It is now a fully operational battle station. Kiss your Alderaans goodbye ;)
Second. The interwebs are abuzz today with the ire of unsatisfied lovers. I'm speaking of course about the romance options in Dragon Age 2.
So we have someone putting forth this notion that somehow Bioware neglected their main fanbase - "Straight Male Gamers" (Bioware Social Network). Now, in a game where females of all races are more often than not a) attractive and b) well endowed, this premise seems to me a bit farfetched. Not to mention that nestled in the heart of his rant, our poor angsty, hetero protagonist makes the concession that there ARE in fact two options for him but he doesn't appreciate the fact that they are "Exotic" options. LOL. This meaning Isabella is NOT WHITE and Merrill is.... AN ELF. I don't want to call Elf Racism, but I have spent an awful lot of time running around as a sexy Blood Elf Paladin, and that comment cuts me to the quick. Ok, so what. He's not into elves and dark skinned chicks. But way to dismantle your entire thesis. The Bioware rep makes, I think, a good rebuttal to his post on the forum link above.
We all know that I on the other hand tend to side a bit more with http://www.penny-arcade.com/'s Tycho in that I primarily play RPG's as a female. And as a female, I take joy in flaunting my virtual sexuality every chance I get. Every time the option to hit on someone comes up I'm on it like green on orcs. It's fun to explore your options. Yes, I would like to see if the Brooding Elf ex-slave would take me. I know my mother disapproves, but he reminds me of Wolverine, and simply I can't STAND that everything I do somehow racks up rivalry points against him. At least if I get him to sleep with me I'll have THAT to lord over him. But NO. He DID sleep with me, and then he broke things off. What, I'm not pretty enough for you?? Is it my face tattoos? My red hair?? You're just not into humans, WHAT?! JUST LOOK AT ME WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU IS THAT TOO MUCH TO FREAKING ASK???!?!!! Then there's Anders the slightly fem demon possessed Mage who just can't take a hint or Merril who I quite frankly find annoying as hell, but hey she's a chick and that's kinda hot. Of course there's always Aveline who's butch and totally unappealing as a woman, but she's into that templar dude and that just makes me jealous.
What strikes me most about this dialogue is that it is happening at all. People are experiencing the real world perils of romance in the comfort of their own homes. This is a new age of voyeurism, of experimentation that allows us to see and feel things we never would on our own. Have I ever hit on an insecure elf girl moments after helping her kill her mentor and entire elven village IRL? Nope. I'm not even sure I've actually ever hit on a girl before, unless you count that one time I asked a cute girl for directions to the post office while I was standing DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE POST OFFICE. Then I tripped on my shoelaces and fell on an old lady with a walker and an oxygen tank. She was fine. I was so upset I got the hiccups for an hour and started playing FrontierVille. Oy.
If Bioware can create a game that causes a person to experience the kind of hopelessness and frustration that real life romantic endeavors do every day, I think they deserve a slowly building golf clap. Well. Done. We've all had our hearts broken. When Aerith died in Final Fantasy VII, who amongst us did not rend our garments, gnash our teeth, and search desperately for the mysterious WHITE MATERIA that would return her to us for the entire remainder of the game? Years later I still feel compelled to search www.Gamefaqs.com from time to time in the hopes that someone, somehow figured out to bring her back to us. So sweet. So pure.... The point is this. I care. I care about fake characters in a fake world and I care about their fake feelings towards my fake avatar. And while all of this is, well, FAKE.... It feels REAL. And that means it's working.
Straight male gamers?? Let me tell you something about straight male gamers. Some of us are cool, some of us are not. Some of us are kids, some have wives and kids and jobs. Some of us play as straight male dwarves, others as bi female humans. But if we can experience something in a game that causes us to grab our keyboards and reach out to the electronic universe to shout publicly from our virtual windows, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!!" Then it's working. They are doing something right.