Dragon Age: Inquisition lead writer calls romance options a “pandora’s box,” discusses challenge of equality
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 stirring up controversy and real emotions amongst it's players. 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.”