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Dragon Age Sex Controversy Examined

Editorial By Dana Massey on December 09, 2009

I confess. I boinked the elf and I did it for the achievements.

Recently, as videos circulated online, conservative website WorldNetDaily kicked off a controversy about Bioware’s Dragon Age. The video in question shows (and I am quoting WND) “dirty gay sex” in a video game.

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Naturally, people freaked out.

The problem is that the original WorldNetDaily report was quite clearly based off a YouTube video, not any actual experience with the game itself.

If they had played the game, they’d probably be far more upset. Dragon Age also features digital prostitutes, lesbians, rather clean three way sex, inter-species erotica, war, decapitation, thinly veiled social commentary, alcohol, drug addiction, slavery, racism, sexism, sexual harassment, genocide, the death of children, demons, and more blood than a vampire drinking game.

Hetero and Lesbian kisses look almost the same.

I mean, clearly, only children play video games and thus Bioware, EA and Wal-Mart are involved in a radical agenda to pervert the nation’s youth. To quote Helen Lovejoy, “Won’t someone think of the children!?”

Newflash. Someone did. The ESRB rated the game “M” for mature, although I’d hope the blood, gore and decapitations had more to do with it than who your character might choose to have a very PG cut scene with.

Dragon Age was promoted as a game of choices and grey morality. It is supposed to make people think, and not just present black and white options.

That aside, the game rewards people who do the right think, like not cheating on people they’ve committed themselves to. And, God forbid Wal-Mart sells a video game that educates people about not cheating on their significant others.

Unfortunately, it also included an achievement system and that achievement system is what caused me to morally stray from the straight and narrow path.

I say it again: I boinked the elf and I did it for the achievements.

Without the achievements, my female Arcane Warrior would have conducted a mature, long-term relationship with her girlfriend Leliana, a vaguely French sounding bard. Unfortunately, there is an achievement for sleeping with the bi-sexual elf Zevran and the power of this achievement compelled me. I cheated on Leliana for a pop-up window.

Leilana, Zervan, Alistar and Morrigan. All possible love interests

I’d probably have slept with Alistar, the goody-two-shoes Templar, had he not been so offended by my slaughter of innocent children, scholars, and affinity for werewolves.

Ok, so maybe I wasn’t on the straight and narrow path to begin with.

The fact is Dragon Age doesn’t really promote one agenda over another. You’re not going to end up in bed with a bi-sexual elf unless you start flirting with him. If homosexuality offends so deeply that you need to put Dragon Age on the most offensive Christmas present list, you’re probably not going to be walking down that road in the first place. The game doesn’t force you to sleep with the elf unless you choose to.

The good news for the gay community is that apparently social values have progressed far enough in the last few years that lesbians are now OK. Mass Effect, Bioware’s last game, got banned in Singapore for a lesbian storyline. No one so much batted an eye about that in Dragon Age.

Not that there’s anything to bat an eye about. Everyone keeps their underwear on. All six possible love scenes are basically a series of brief shots faded from one to the next and none show much of anything. In fact, the gay and lesbians scenes, although different, are played out in surprisingly, shall we say… heterosexual positions.


You quite literally pick from
a lineup of prostitutes.

Heck, you even arrive at them through virtually the same dialogue.

Dragon Age does have its own biases built in though. Try as you might, the old female cleric Wynn is in a relationship no fly zone. You also cannot sleep with the dwarf, the golem (ouch!), the large Klingon-esque creature, or the dog.

At least Wynn is human! If you play as a human in the game, of the four people who you could possibly sleep with, only one is human. If you play as an elf, there are three opportunities to cross pollinate. As a dwarf, you have no chance at all for long term love among your own species.

The game does feature an array of fling options. There are digital prostitutes – male and female regardless of your character’s gender – for the low price of 40 silver, a ship’s captain who is open to a ménage-a-trois, a young elf who can be “taught a few things,” and many others.

There are so many things to possibly be offended by in Dragon Age, that it shows the honest agenda of groups like WorldNewsDaily. It’s homophobia, plain and simple.

Bioware and EA took a lot of risks in this game and produced a very mature, but entertaining video game. While a few wingnuts will only see a few YouTube videos, it was good to see someone push the genre forward. They presented elements of our world in a way that wasn’t sensational or done for the press. The game caused players to consider their moral positions on various issues that while presented through a fantasy world, have major real world implications.

Regardless of your position on the various issues Dragon Age explored, we want to know what you think of the idea as a whole. Do you think video games are the appropriate place to explore hot button social, religious and political ideas? Or do you think games like Dragon Age push the envelope too far?

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