GWJ Conference Call Episode 248

Conference Call


Alice: Madness Returns, Morningstar, Gun Mute, Steel Battalion, The Romantic Side of Video Game With Special Guest Roger Travis, Your Emails and more!

This week special guest Roger Travis is joined by Allen, Lara and Julian to talk about romantic relationships in games.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Morningstar
Gun Mute
Alice: Madness Returns
Steel Battalion

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

cosmos - (b-sides) - workbench-music.com - 0:21:37

metro - (b-sides) - workbench-music.com - 0:56:30

Comments

Grady wrote:
I recorded a response to the DA2 conversation on the podcast. It was just easier.

Do you mind giving a short version of what you said, rather than spreading the discussion to the four corners of the internet.

I'm not spreading anything. It's an unlisted video, linked only here. It's just me talking about my experience in DA:O (not 2) and the homosexuality thing. It was mostly directed at Lara, really. I'm not sure if anyone else would find it interesting or not (it's possible). If you're unable to go to youtube, or just don't want to, that's fine.

Grady wrote:
I'm not spreading anything. It's an unlisted video, linked only here. It's just me talking about my experience in DA:O (not 2) and the homosexuality thing. It was mostly directed at Lara, really. I'm not sure if anyone else would find it interesting or not (it's possible). If you're unable to go to youtube, or just don't want to, that's fine.

No need to get defensive, it is just that is an odd response and most of us are hesitant to click links from coffee grinders.

I only got mildly defensive due to the tone of Scratched's post. This is really silly. Please return to your discussion.

To be fair, I see it from long terms members too.

The way I read it is "Hi, nice discussion going on, lets divert it over onto my site/other forum I post on/blog/channel too". If you've gone to the trouble of producing your comment over there and then posting to advertise that your comment is available there, then at least give us a taster. Kind of like an article on most websites will have a summary before you go and read the whole thing.

I really didn't intend it as hazing the new guy, and you're not even new. It's just one thing that gets my heckles up.

NotCoffee wrote:
I don't get how an off-week, weak podcast WITHOUT Certis or Elysium gets so many listens and 75 comments while no-one had anything to say about podcast greatness with Ken Levine.

NERDS.

Certis wrote:
I think someone like Ken delivers such complete thoughts, there's not necessarily a whole lot to do but nod in appreciation. If you read through show comments, most discussion is begun with polite disagreement with one of the hosts.

Thanks, Certis for making clear what I was trying to figure out. Last week's show was full of interesting discussion, but now I understand the lack of comments.

Then again, Ken didn't spoil a crap ton of Dragon Age 2.

Fable 2 has, I think, a different goal than romance. To get maximum impact from the story, you have to go all the way towards the 20th-century concept of family - spouse, baby, dog, house - and then lose it all. It portrays relationships less as romance and more as work - you have DO all these things to woo your spouse, buy a house, keep your baby happy, etc. It's a pretty smart way to get you invested in your family so that you feel something when they're gone. In some ways, if you strip away the specifics of the dialogue trees, the same is true of Bioware romances - they involve investment and work.

(I just wrote the entire last paragraph and then realized that Lara was talking about Fable 3 on the podcast, not 2, so I guess it was apropos of nothing).

A question for Lara regarding Anders and the Bioware writers' decision not to have him disclose his bisexuality to a female Hawke: Given the politics of homosexuality - particularly the debate over whether it's "natural" or a "choice" - do you feel this omission was a responsible one? What about the idea of "choosing" whether Hawke is gay or not in the first place?

Tanglebones wrote:
Also, was it Pyroman who liked the romances in Planescape? Hell yeah! Annah, Grace, and even Deionarra - it wasn't a mini-game to get in their pants - it was a chance to explore relationships with varying degrees of power, maturity and responsibility.

Totally agree (don't forget Ravel ...ewwww). The fact that you have absolutely no chance at Grace made her all the more attractive. Heck, she even has a diary in her inventory whose only purpose is to be left unread. Really brilliant psychology there, for me at least.

Sorry for the delay in response. I've been away from the Internet for a few days.

Grady wrote:
I'm not spreading anything. It's an unlisted video, linked only here. It's just me talking about my experience in DA:O (not 2) and the homosexuality thing. It was mostly directed at Lara, really. I'm not sure if anyone else would find it interesting or not (it's possible). If you're unable to go to youtube, or just don't want to, that's fine.

I listened to your audio comment; thanks for sharing it! For those for whom it's tl;dl, the gist is: he wanted to romance Alistair with his male Warden, but that wasn't an available option, so he romanced both Leliana & Morrigan. A game-breaking bug, however, prevented him from completing either romance, so it came off as if his male Warden really WAS in love with Alistair, and trying to cover up his feelings with one of the girls. A cool take on what could've been an irritating situation, and one consistent with the role-playing aspects of the game.

DA2 has much more believable and complex gay relationships available, IMO, because the characters themselves are so much more believable and complex. I played DA:O for the first time after DA2, and I was struck by just how flat I found all the characters, save maybe Alistair -- despite DA:O offering several more hours of interactivity and quests with its characters than DA2 did.

I think it's because I felt the characters weren't flawed enough; they weren't broken enough as people to be truly compelling -- we like people for their strengths, after all, but we love them for their flaws. They were heroes being heroic, and most of the DA:O characters -- Leiliana, Wynne, Zevran, etc. -- made their most life-changing transgressions or mistakes well before they ever met the Warden. Contrast that to Fenris or Merrill (or Anders), who not only make their biggest mistakes in plain view of Hawke, but ask Hawke to participate in committing them. You can see these characters live and grow before your very eyes.

To amend something I said on the podcast: Both the Warden and Hawke collect broken people. But whereas the Warden improves the people he/she touches, helping them fix their own problems and thus making them better, stronger, richer characters, Hawke merely enables his companions, either helping them make their mistakes or protecting them from themselves:

Spoiler:
The choice to kill Variana or not? That's Hawke's, not Fenris's. The decision to spare Bartrand? Again, Hawke's decision, not Varric's. Fixing the Eluvian or not? Getting Castillion's ship or not? Avenging the murdered Vael family or not? These are all other people's goals, but their completion rests solely on Hawke's shoulders; you can complete the game either way. And as for Anders blowing up the chantry at the endgame... well, who got him the sela petrae and the drakestone in the first place?

To me, that's just one indication that Hawke is just as broken as the people he surrounds himself (or herself) with -- really, moreso, because Hawke tries to fix other people's problems so he/she doesn't have to focus on his/her own.

Unlike DA:O, DA2 isn't the story of a bunch of regular people turning as one into storybook heroes. It's the story of a bunch of regular people making mistakes and fighting and falling in love, and sometimes becoming better people and sometimes not. It's a different type of story than DA:O, and one that a lot of people didn't like. But it's one I vastly prefer.

Don't get me wrong. I do like Leliana, Alistair and the rest. Especially Alistair. #teamAlistair

A question for Lara regarding Anders and the Bioware writers' decision not to have him disclose his bisexuality to a female Hawke: Given the politics of homosexuality - particularly the debate over whether it's "natural" or a "choice" - do you feel this omission was a responsible one? What about the idea of "choosing" whether Hawke is gay or not in the first place?

I think the omission isn't "responsible" or "not responsible"; it was just how his character was written. As Gaider told me when I interviewed him, Jennifer Hepler (Anders' writer) thought it just wasn't something that he, as a character, would admit to a woman he was interested in. I tend to agree. He's just met Hawke. He's definitely attracted to her, and despite what he knows about himself and Justice, he doesn't want to shoot her down completely.

Now imagine it: If a man who've just met -- one think is cute, and thus you're looking for reasons to rule him out as a potential romantic partner-- tells you he has slept with another man, what will you assume about him? That he's gay? Or that he's bi? Most will probably tend to assume the former unless explicitly told otherwise, no? I think it's mostly just societal training -- we still tend to view sexuality as this binary option, a gay/straight on/off switch, rather than the fluid spectrum it really is. And maybe that assumption reveals a lot more about the writer's environment than Thedas.

Still, I think it makes sense in context, and I honestly can't see Anders behaving any other way.

KaterinLHC wrote:
I think the omission isn't "responsible" or "not responsible"; it was just how his character was written. As Gaider told me when I interviewed him, Jennifer Hepler (Anders' writer) thought it just wasn't something that he, as a character, would admit to a woman he was interested in. I tend to agree...

I'm asking this as someone who still hasn't played the game (and I'm now totally spoiled!) but what about later in the relationship? I can imagine all sorts of reasons for a person not to reveal these things about themselves, but I can't help but wonder if just a little bit of the reason might be to avoid unnecessary controversy? (E.g. straight, somewhat homophobic people feeling ewwww)

I don't think I really realized how important a romance system of one sort or another is to modern RPGs until I played Fallout 3. I was fresh from knocking blue alien boots in Mass Effect and getting all polyamorous and raising a house full of children in each town in Fable 2, so when I stumbled onto the side quest in FO3 that lets you decide whether to help or hinder a thug's nefarious plan to get into the pants of the comely young Nuka-Cola addict, I kept searching in vain for the option to get into her pants myself. It was a disappointment to learn that there was no such option.

I love Bethesda games and the well-realized worlds they give you to explore, but the fact that the character I'm exploring with is this bland, voiceless, sexless nobody feels decidedly last-gen.