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Default BioWare - Interview with David Gaider @ RPS on Sexism and Sexuality

March 30th, 2013, 22:11
RPS talked to Lead Writer David Gaider from Bioware about sexism and sexuality in games. Here's Gaider's thesis:
RPS: So what's the basic thesis of your GDC talk? I know you're discussing sex and sexism, but what conclusion are you ultimately trying to draw?

Gaider: Basically I'm saying that, from the perspective of a writer and a designer who's had to deal with a lot of romance in games - romance and sex - which brings me directly into confrontation issues and sexism and sexuality… Until we had broached that topic, it was kind of a side issue. I guess back in the day, when we were first starting with it, it wasn't something that the industry kept in mind at all. But the fact that we have charged directly into that field, that means… Sexism and sexuality issues are things that I end up having to deal with on a regular basis. I thought I could offer some feedback on that.
Gaider on diversity in games:
RPS: For you personally, is that the next step: to discuss more and create awareness? I mean, clearly, that's what your doing here.

Gaider: That's something that we've always done, at least on the BioWare side. I don't know that it's an agenda of mine, per se. I have an actual game to write. That's not my first concern. But it is a concern. If we're talking about how we need our big-budget games to sell to more people and have a larger audience, to say that that larger audience should only be 18-25 males exclusively… So, what, we're all going to fight over the same demographic? There are actual reasons why having diversity in your games and being inclusive of a larger audience has sound financial backing. If you're talking about that, maybe that's the only way the industry is going to listen. It takes somebody to do it and do it well and prove that this is something that makes financial sense before the industry will accept that maybe it's a thing.
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March 30th, 2013, 22:11
I couldn't be the least bit interested about a game dealing with sex and sexism.

If I'm right but there is no wife around to acknowledge it, am I still right?
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March 30th, 2013, 22:32
If you want to use writing in games as a statement, I'd recommend using good games that have a real impact instead of recycling the same crap over and over.
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March 30th, 2013, 23:11
This is actually a two part interview. I really don't care about sexism and sexuality in games. I know it's the latest hot topic as every week there is some new scandal in the industry.

I recommend the second part as it deals with Dragon Age and Boware instead.

Link-http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013…ragon-age-iii/

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Last edited by Couchpotato; March 31st, 2013 at 07:32.
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March 31st, 2013, 03:42
I can't bring myself to actually read it. Does he admit Bioware uses this as a gimmick to mask his company's hackneyed and banal writing?
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March 31st, 2013, 06:53
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
If you want to use writing in games as a statement, I'd recommend using good games that have a real impact instead of recycling the same crap over and over.
damnit man, stop forcing me to agree with you more than once in the same week. We might create a time space anomaly or something…

Seriously, this guy has the worst case of first world problems I've heard in a awhile. So he supports equality because it may be financially sound? I'm always so impressed by the ethics of popular media…
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March 31st, 2013, 12:23
I think that any attempt to incorporate other types of interaction than combat into an RPG is commendable. Combat makes up the meat of most games partly because it's much easier to implement than almost anything else. The default mode is aggression and the outcome of most encounters are that you kill or get killed. It's safe and simple as far as game desing goes and developers know how to do it.

The problem with Dragon Age II, arguably BioWare's worst game to date, was not story, themes, romances or any such thing. It was a bland, generic and repetitive game world.
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March 31st, 2013, 23:02
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
I couldn't be the least bit interested about a game dealing with sex and sexism.
Agreed. I also have zero interest in anything that comes from the mouth of David Gaider nowadays.
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April 1st, 2013, 04:14
Great, I can play as a gay black dwarf if I want to. Now please work on making the rest of the game not suck.

No pun intended!
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April 1st, 2013, 09:46
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
I couldn't be the least bit interested about a game dealing with sex and sexism.
I am a little cocerned about the lack of interest in really relevant topics here. I also remember a prominent forum user making a anti-gay hate post about Tim Caine.
These two facts make me wonder about the question if all these discussions come way too late and still are too late.
In short: These things matter. Thanks D. Gaider

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April 1st, 2013, 09:55
Originally Posted by Sir_Brennus View Post
I am a little cocerned about the lack of interest in really relevant topics here. I also remember a prominent forum user making a anti-gay hate post about Tim Caine.
These two facts make me wonder about the question if all these discussions come way too late and still are too late.
In short: These things matter. Thanks D. Gaider
Not everyone shares the same opinion about what's "really relevant" for a crpg.
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April 1st, 2013, 09:58
Absolutely. Sex is a central theme in life. But I'm afraid that many people equals the theme with pornography. And I doubt most developers could handle it in a mature and tasteful way. Still, if games are to grow up and be taken seriously, they need to be about serious, grown up stuff.
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April 1st, 2013, 10:44
Originally Posted by TheMadGamer View Post
I couldn't be the least bit interested about a game dealing with sex and sexism.
Seems a dumb and very limiting stance to me. Any medium that pretends to tell stories would do well to keep one of the key drivers of human behavior in mind. That's not to say that every game should do so, or that Bioware did a good job (to the latter: imho - mostly no, but there are some interesting bits nonetheless). But yeah, I would be very interested in a game that incorporates these themes in an interesting way, or even makes them a central theme.
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April 1st, 2013, 11:00
There are no aspects of human behavior that are implicitly irrelevant for games, in my opinion.

It's just that Bioware are among the worst in the AAA segment when it comes to writing plausible characters. The way they incorporate gay characters, for instance, reminds me of the token black guys in movies years ago. They're there for cheap points rather than serving a story.

I don't remember any part of the actual story of any Bioware game that couldn't have worked in an identical way with exclusively straight characters. Maybe I wasn't paying attention?
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April 1st, 2013, 11:08
The worst? They are not great, but at least they actually do something that resembles writing and developing characters. Most of the AAA segment (even outside the RPG genre) has none of that, and there are few examples of AAA RPGs that have really done better- and then usually on a much smaller scope. Say what you want about Bioware, but they are one of the few developers that take character interaction seriously.
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April 1st, 2013, 11:13
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
The worst? They are not great, but at least they actually do something that resembles writing and developing characters. Most of the AAA segment has none of that, and there are few examples of AAA RPGs that have really done better- and then usually on a much smaller scope. Say what you want about Bioware, but they are one of the few developers that take character interaction seriously.
You mean you like their way of writing characters and I don't

I do believe they take character interactions seriously - but that doesn't mean their writing style will appeal to everyone.

I'm not saying they're not focused on writing, because they are. They just happen to be really bad at writing characters that appeal to me.

It's true that most AAA games don't have that much writing or character interaction, but I'm more engaged by characters in Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider, Alan Wake, Skyrim and so on.

I think it has to do with how Bioware is obsessed with making their characters stand out and scream "I'm special!" at you through the screen. I just hate that.

They also have a REALLY unfortunate tendency to write contemporary and modern characters into their fantasy or sci-fi settings. It's like they don't care about the context of the environment and they want to appeal primarily to young people who watch a lot of TV.

They also use modern humor and references all the time, and I find it to be inappropriate if you overdo it.

That said, I think they're good at writing story in general - and I was particularly fond of Dragon Age and Mass Effect lore.
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April 1st, 2013, 11:26
I've enjoyed some characters, and I note that they tend to remain in my memory far more than characters in most other games. So I guess they do some things right ( for me). But I agree that there are always parts that feel heavy handed, and unfortunately their romance plots often fall prey to that as well.
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April 1st, 2013, 11:34
It all comes down to personal preference.

Personally, I enjoy characters that don't scream for attention. For instance, most people seem to love Tyrion from Game of Thrones, and I find him to be among the least compelling characters. To me, it seems the writer is so in love with him that he can never make his flaws as real as they should be - and as such I find the writing to be corrupt.

Bioware seems to focus on characters that draw attention to themselves almost immediately. They also seem to want to incorporate deep trauma into every single one of them. It would be fine if some of them were like that - but almost everyone in their games feel like that to me.

It's just not what I consider plausible characters.
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April 1st, 2013, 11:46
Originally Posted by Sir_Brennus View Post
I am a little cocerned about the lack of interest in really relevant topics here.
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Seems a dumb and very limiting stance to me.
It's not that I find the topics irrelevant. It's just that human sexuality is pretty much THE focus of discussion everywhere these days. So I don't really desire these topics as a focus in a videogame.

Notice that I don't say that if 'you' happen to want these topics as a focus in a videogame that I think it's somehow dumb or indulgent. May the gaming gods (and D. Gaider) shower you with the contents of your heart's desires.

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April 1st, 2013, 12:53
Fair enough. And sorry about using "dumb" in my first post.
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