Patience, Your Characters Will Speak

Jan 12, 2015 by

My Inquisitor, Nirwen, and Solas.

My Inquisitor, Nirwen, and Solas.

This piece contains no spoilers.

I appreciated this piece, “How I Realized My Dragon Age: Inquisition Character is Gay” by Mike Rougeau at Kotaku. It spoke to me, since this is how I play BioWare RPGs. Since the company’s games are full of choices, yet framed by story and circumstances, I create outlines in my head of the type of character I’d like to play and weave more threads into the fabric of her (nearly always a her) existence as events unfold and I make choices. This also includes any character romances I might pursue.

“My in-game alter-egos always romance the characters who I actually feel attracted to. In Dragon Age: Origins that meant I flirted with Leliana and ultimately wound up with Morrigan, her inner darkness impossible for me to resist. Throughout the Mass Effect series my Commander Shepard maintained an on-again/off-again, sometimes long distance love affair with the blue alien Liara. I loved her attitude and her squishy tentacle hair, and I felt a connection with her “

Like Rougeau, I play and let myself simply be drawn to whoever I am drawn to. I usually know who the options are from the start, but that’s all. In Dragon Age: Origins (tiny spoiler warning for those who haven’t played it) my Warden, Amaya, wound up marrying Alistair, newly crowned king of Ferelden, but whom she recalled as an awkward, shy young man with the spiky hair and compassionate, kind personality. It felt right to consider Amaya heterosexual. My Hawke paired up with Anders in the end. In Mass Effect, I too felt a connection to Liara. I related to her, agreed with her much of the time, found her charming, pretty, passionate, nerdy, and again, was drawn to her. If Liara were a real person and I were a single woman, this would be someone I’d be interested in. It felt right to consider my (canon) Shepard lesbian. That wasn’t solely based on deciding to pursue a relationship with Liara (whose people, in lore, are monogender and look like blue humanoid women), but based on ideas, feelings, experiences, and imagination. I built further backstory utilizing the blocks left to me by the Mass Effect writers, my class choice, the two choices for her background (Earthborn and Sole Survivor), and my own imagination. Part of who she was included running away at a young age, struggling to survive, being a bit of trouble early on, being kind to animals, learning she had a sharp eye that was later honed into Infiltrator class training, finding it almost impossible to trust others out of a mix of fear and inexperience, and yes, liking women.

In Dragon Age: Inquisition, I play an Elf I named Nirwen. An elven female Inquisitor who is open to any gender has the most romance options. I chose not to play yet another human because I didn’t feel like playing nobility once more, and in doing so, inadvertently wound up with six potential options (Blackwall, Cullen, Josephine, Sera, Iron Bull, and Solas). This time, I feel right to call my Inquisitor pansexual or fluid. I decided to approach my Inquisitor in a similar manner, to get to know the other characters and see who stood out to me; who I felt a connection with. Ultimately, I decided on Solas. Solas’ personality, who he is, what he stands for, his concern for the world, both material and immaterial, all of those are attractive, even magnetic qualities, to me. He surprises me, the player, with the depth of his experiences and each new fact.

A screenshot of my Shepard and Liara.

There’s something to be said for feeling your characters out, taking your time, and listening to what they say to you. I don’t usually create characters to look like myself, but somewhere deep down, there is a part of me in them all. Each character, even when existing in the same world, as my three heroic women of Thedas do, should have their lives, speak for themselves, tell me who they are. I talk about feeling right, but that’s the best way to describe when details, identities, personalities, even reasons behind decisions slide into place like puzzle pieces. Whether the piece placed is one that will grow out into a whole when others are added or the final element, each brings a certain thrill. What is it worth living multiple lives if they’re all mirrors?

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