Sex and free choice in the age of dragons

Gaming, PC, PlayStation 3, RPGs, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Xbox 360

dragon_ageBioWare and Electronic Arts have sparked another stir with their depiction of sex in video games.

A couple of years back, Bioware’s Xbox 360/Windows PC roleplaying game Mass Effect was the subject of a (right wing) media firestorm for the briefest hints of a sex scene that results from the game’s complex romantic subplots, which The New York Times then called “no more risqué in its plot or graphic in its depiction than evening network television.”

The game was even briefly banned in Singapore — Singapore! — for its depiction of human-on-alien physical affection, which some described as a “caress” and others as a “lesbian love scene.”

The sexual encounters depicted in Mass Effect were all consensual and limited, but the people making noise on evangelical blogs and Fox News didn’t care about such details — they had never even played the game. Yet they leapt to conclusions about “virtual orgasmic rape” and “full digital nudity and sex.”

They were rapidly discredited.

BioWare has made waves again with the simulated social interactions possible in its newest RPG, Dragon Age: Origins, which was released in November for Xbox 360, Windows and PlayStation 3.

Like Mass Effect, the game is rated M for mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board:

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

As noted again by The New York Times, players who create male characters have the potential, through their dialogue selections, to engage in a romantic encounter with an NPC (nonplayer character) male elf.

Lead game designer Mike Laidlaw told the paper Dragon Age “is designed to celebrate player choice and create a story that is reactive to the way you choose to play it.”

This leads to the question, posed by the webcomic Penny Arcade: Is it really gay if it’s with an elf?

You decide.

da_sex_8

Full disclosure: I have never played the games mentioned above. Also: I did not have sexual relations with that elven assassin, Zevran Arainai.

Related and recommended