BioWare and Romance DLC

So, David Gaider tweeted (will look up link on a computer that will actually let me access Twitter later) something vague about romances being DLC only. And I was all, “I don’t care, gimme gimme gimme!” And a short conversation with a fellow BioWare fan followed, which was less than an eyeblink in the life of Twitter. And maybe no one will care, but I feel like I have more to say about this. And wait! I have a blog. Yeah.

Here’s how I feel about the entire thing.

IF BioWare were to choose to go the route of offering their famous romances as DLC-only, then I will wholeheartedly support them. This is the long version of why.

I had heard of Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights previously, but not being a PC gamer, and not having a ton of funds (growing up lower middle class, y’all), I didn’t really get into gaming, let alone BioWare, until my future husband was all “You love Star Wars? You should play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.”

He bought me my very own Xbox 360 after getting me addicted to Guitar Hero and Oblivion when they came out. (What a catch, right ladies!?) I had a Gamecube and an Animal Crossing addiction prior, so he figured he had me pretty well pegged. He wasn’t wrong. So, for a week or two when he was out of town on business, I picked up his old Xbox copy of SW:KoTOR and jumped right in. And it was glorious!

I will never forget the very first time Carth Onasi flirted with my smuggler. Romance storylines in games was a completely foreign concept to me. No, not even foreign. It was something to which I was completely oblivious. Because a dating sim? Totally not the same thing.

Anyway.

The first time he flirted with my smuggler on Taris, I was all “Wait. Did he just flirt with me?” When I realized I had the option to flirt back, I went (hear my voice pitching higher and higher with every word) “Oh my God! He did just! and I just! and OHMYGOD! I LOVE THIS GAME!” Sold. Hooked. I loved every minute of that game. Even after I got to the end and had to completely re-roll my character because I roleplayed a Consular with no Force Push or Lightning. (Shut up!) And I replayed the entire game in 24 hours. And I was so sad that there was no ending credits kissy-kissy with Carth.

Then I immediately picked up my husband’s copy of Jade Empire and fell in love with Sky.

At this point in time, Mass Effect had already been released. My husband had played about half of Eden Prime before getting sucked into Assassin’s Creed. (I think. It is possible he went back to Oblivion because I was giving him hell for not even having completed the main quest line when I’d already logged well over 200 hours into my two characters.) Needless to say, I jumped right into Mass Effect. And fell in love with female Commander Shepard so hard that I turned into rabid BioWare fangirl. Umm, no, seriously. I can still converse for hours on end about how awesome Mass Effect is.

The romance between femShepard and Kaidan Alenko is so simple and genuine and makes it all so real for me. I played Mass Effect all the way through at least 10 times. I tooled around with multiple looks and personality types for femShep. I gave dudeShep a try (meh). I developed a canon femShep. I refined her over multiple runs. For the first time in my life I collected every single achievement for a game. *I* beat a game on Insanity. All because of female Shepard and Kaidan Alenko.

As much as I love sci-fi, I’m really a fantasy girl. So, when I heard about Dragon Age: Origins, I was exuberant and followed the news closely. I really enjoyed it. And I still harbor much love for Alistair and Zevran. And Sten, and Leiliana, and my Mabari, you get the picture. But it didn’t quite feel the same as femShep.

I went on to Mass Effect 2. It was dark times for Shepard without her Kaidan, but I still really liked the game. None of the romance options could tear her away from Kaidan, the original romance so thoroughly had its hooks in my heart.

Dragon Age 2 hit and, though it took me some time to get around to finishing my playthrough (I had a baby), I saw a glimmer of what I felt for Shepard and Kaidan in my Marian Hawke and Anders romance. It was more raw and visceral, but it was strong. And life was really good.

Then Mass Effect 3… Oh, Mass Effect 3. It’s been months but there are still wounds there. And I am not ready to write about those. But Kaidan was back and Shepard was more real than ever. Oh God, it was so good. And then the ending wasn’t so good. The extended cut did a little to kiss and make up, and I feel better about it, but that is not the point. The point is that BioWare is really fucking good at writing romances. They are good at writing characters that I feel for, whether it is like or dislike. I mean, I really, really like Liara specifically because I did not like her personality at first and then she grew as a character and now, well, I have super warm fuzzies for her friendship with Shepard by Mass Effect 3.

I know there are people out there that will agree with me that BioWare is known for their romance options in games. A small part of me cries at the thought that they could take a step back from that and offer these options as something available only in extra (read: paid) downloadable content. But you know what? After the shit I went through, that Jennifer Hepler (Anders’ writer) went through, and that numerous fans went through on the BioWare Social Network, I will happily fork over my money. My only caveat being that the romances need to run the course of the game, “extra” or not, and be the quality we’ve come to depend upon.

What “shit” you may ask? Well, I can’t talk about these people nicely, so you have been warned. But the gist is that a bunch of immature jerkwads became fans (or came out of the woodwork) and joined the BSN at some point after the release of Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age 2. And these idiots didn’t know how to tell which dialogue options were flirting. And then they freaked the fuck out when NPCs macked on their Shepards and Hawkes. Then they came to the boards and bitched and whined and complained and trolled and were general scumbags to the rest of us. They belittled the women for enjoying the romance options. They bashed the homosexual and transgender communities that had made homes for themselves there. And they begged BioWare to make romances heterosexual only, if not take romances out of their games entirely.

And you know what? I don’t want to play games with those assholes. I don’t want to communicate with them on the forums (where I used to be a regular). If offering romance storylines as DLC that those shitheads won’t bother to pay for means that they won’t be around bitching about it and completely ruining my experience, then SIGN ME UP.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love BioWare fans. And I fucking hate BioWare fans. But I will pay my hard-earned cash to retain what I love so much about BioWare and their games.