Friday, March 25, 2011

The good and the bad: Dragon Age and the Akira movie

The two Hawkes
First, the good news: Dragon Age II is out on a variety of platforms, and the RPG game is flying off the shelves. While the game's main plot is mostly pre-determined, following a whole lot of destiny hoo-ha, the player's choices can greatly affect their character's appearance, actions, and even their sexual orientation.

The game's creative team at Bioware have not only made it an option for the main character to be male or female,  as pictured to the right, but they've also made it possible for male Hawkes to flirt with male team members, and female to flirt with female, leading to in-game romances.

It's a first for mainstream gaming: while the Mass Effect series allowed players to choose the gender of their main character and had female-female romances, male-male options were noticeably verboten, which is unsurprising given the historical stereotype of gamers as being single young white men punching at buttons in the half-light of basements, munching on Cheetos. But times have changed. 40% of gamers are now women, and the average age of a gamer has risen to 35.

One could cynically brush off the move as Bioware's effort to capitalize on this new market and that's definitely part of it; but more than that, it seems to be based on a genuine desire to make the game more inclusive. When a player predictably complained on the Bioware forums with an eye-crossingly privileged post, lead writer David Gaider brought the smackdown in a truly enlightened way:

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as "political correctness" if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They're so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don't see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what's everyone's fuss all about? That's the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.
Freaking awesome.
On the less-awesome side, the script for a live-action version of the classic Akira has apparently been finished and been sent out to several actors for the parts of Kaneda and Tetsuo. Wanna guess what all of these actors have in common?
First person that steps in this joint saying that "it's about finding the best actor for the part, regardless of race" gets punched in the mouth.

Racebending's got a campaign up. Go check it out.

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