Dragon Age series
- Developer: BioWare
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Year: 2009 – 2014
- Genre: RPG
- 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. Many of Dragon Age's characters are not 'playersexual'—which is a common complaint when a player-character is able to date any character from a pool, regardless of the player-character's gender or other traits; instead, they have their own preferences and sexualities, and will only date your player-character if certain conditions are met. Looking at the options for romanceable characters in the Dragon Age wikia is the easiest way to see how diverse this is, particularly in the latest release, Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Inquisition not only features an interesting range of characters in terms of sexuality, but 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.
Another imperfection within the series that is worth noting relates to Dragon Age: Inquisition's representation (or lack thereof) of asexuality. The character Cole 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.
The Dragon Age series was the most discussed game series within the Queer Representation (2016) 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.
For example, most of the issues with gender and pronouns in the Dragon Age series that respondents voiced were in regards to the previously mentioned Krem and the way 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.
Another example can be seen in Dorian, a very explicitly gay character in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Some 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.