With the release of Mass Effect 3 just around the corner, speculation abounds on who the s/s romances are going to be, and criticism is once again pointed to Bioware’s last game, Dragon Age II. For those who don’t know, Bioware made the decision to open up all four major love interests for either gender. The biggest complaint from fans and gamers was that it ruined the realism when every LI wanted to bang your character regardless of personality, gender or appearance. However, I argue that by making all the love interests Hawke-sexual as the case may be, was the perfect fit for Dragon Age II.
Granted, not everyone you meet in real life is going to love you regardless of your gender or appearance, but it’s not real life. It’s a game. Furthermore, with the way Dragon Age II was structured, it only made sense to open up the love interests for all characters. There are a lot of rumors about Hawke; only Varric seems to know the real Hawke. But the stories vary, from what gender Hawke was to who they were having a fling with while becoming the Champion of Kirkwall. The point of the framed narrative structure is that the player gets to sort through the rumors and decide which are the truth and which are fiction. Keeping in mind now that Hawke’s gender is up for debate, lets say that there was a rumor that during the start of the war, Hawke was romantically involved with a former slave or with a Pirate queen. Now, it’s up to the player to decide which rumor is true, but if you say, well, Hawke could only have been with the former slave if Hawke was a female, you’re limiting the player’s choices. And quite frankly, that just doesn’t fit into the game’s structure. If all options have to be able to both Hawke’s given that Hawke’s gender is an unknown variable, that includes the romantic options as well. Is it unrealistic? Probably. But from a narrative standpoint, it’s possibly the best choice they could have made for the game.
Now, I’m not arguing that Mass Effect 3 should open all romances up to both genders. It just wouldn’t work. You’re unfolding the story in real time, not going back and unraveling truth from fiction. In the Mass Effect universe, it makes perfect sense for romantic options for Shepard to include straight, gay and bisexual exclusive options. Personally, this gamer is holding out for Kaidan for a male Sheppard since he was originally supposed to be an option in Mass Effect 1. Steve, however, is looking like a very good alternative.