Dragon Age series
- Developer: BioWare
- Publisher: Electronic Arts Green Ronin Publishing
- Year: 2009 – 2014
- Genre: RPG Tabletop
- Platform/s: Various
The Dragon Age series is one of the go-tos when discussing representation of sexuality, gender, and relationships in games. Although by no means perfect, Dragon Age has made some of the most meaningful steps forward in terms of representation that we've ever seen, particularly in triple-A titles.
The Dragon Age series explores sexuality in an interesting and realistic way within its relationship system. Although Dragon Age II features many playersexual characters. However, in Dragon Age: Inquisition, characters have their own preferences and sexualities, and will only date your player-character if certain conditions are met.
The romance options in the Dragon Age series can be found in the wikia page. Dragon Age: Origins features four romance options: Alistair (heterosexual), Leliana (bisexual/plurisexual), Morrigan (heterosexual), and Zevran Arainai (bisexual/plurisexual).
DA II features five options: Anders (playersexual), Fenris (playersexual), Isabela (bisexual/pansexual), Merrill (playersexual), and Sebastian Vael (heterosexual, requires The Exiled Prince DLC). DA II also featured Varric and Aveline, who the player-character could flirt with but could not romance.
Anders can have a conversation with the player-character about romantic feelings for Karl if the player-character is male, but will not reveal this information if the player-character is female; David Gaider has been quoted as saying that this is deliberate, so that players of female player-characters can think of Anders as straight if they'd prefer to do so.
Isabela makes explicit references to her bisexuality regardless of the player-character's gender. This includes lines explaining that she has been with 'men, women, elves...'. However, her representation could be considered problematic as it leans into the stereotype of promiscuity.
Dragon Age: The Last Court is a text-based interquel that features two romance options: The Elegant Abbess (playersexual) and The Wayward Bard (playersexual).
DA:I features several romance options, with unique preferences, not just in terms of gender, but also in terms of race: Blackwall (heterosexual), Cassandra Pentaghast (heterosexual), Cullen (heterosexual, human and elf only), Dorian (gay), Iron Bull (bisexual/plurisexual), Josephine Montilyet (bisexual/plurisexual), Sera (lesbian), and Solas (heterosexual, elf only).
One of the most commonly discussed examples of diverse sexuality in DA:I is Dorian, a very explicitly gay character. Some respondents to the Queer Representation (2016) survey loved the explicit approach, with his overtly flirtatious personality and his sexuality-centric questline, while others prefer a more subtle approach and therefore disliked this particular type of representation.
Despite varied representations of many sexualities, Dragon Age lacks representations of asexuality. DA:I features Cole, who was initially positioned so that it was believed by the asexual community that he was asexual, but in the Trepasser DLC, this potential representation was quite harshly revoked. Kyra S speaks more about this issue on FemHype.
In addition to DA:I's varied sexualities, the game also features Dragon Age's first transgender character, Krem. The positive (although not completely flawless) representation of Krem shows how Dragon Age has progressed from poor representation of diverse genders in their earlier titles, particularly in relation to characters working in brothels. Some respondents to the Queer Representation (2016) survey had issues with how gender and pronouns are handled with Krem, concerned that Krem can be spoken to by the player-character with seemingly limited repercussions. However, Krem was also a favourite representation of gender for one FtM transgender respondent, who said that they related to him and loved the way that he was portrayed.
The Dragon Age series was the most discussed game series within the survey. It was marked as the favourite game or series for representation of sexuality, gender, and relationships in three separate questions, as well as being marked second for its use of pronouns and fourth for its character creation systems. But there were mixed feelings: Dragon Age was also the second most discussed in terms of least favourite representation of sexuality, fifth most for least favourite representation of gender, and third highest for least favourite relationship management system, as well as second highest for least favourite use of pronouns and highest for least favourite character creation system. More than anything, this shows how difficult it is to please everyone in terms of representation and that a character who one person identifies with and adores could have issues when viewed through the eyes of another.
In addition to the above videogames, there is a Dragon Age tabletop roleplaying game that follows the openness in terms of sexuality establsihed in the Dragon Age universe.