The Dragon Age Fandom Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Please welcome back guest writer Ness!
One of the greatest things about BioWare games is how easy it is for the player to become immersed in the story and the world they’ve created.
You can become Shepard or Hawke or the Inquisitor. You determine what she looks like, what she’s good at; hell, in Dragon Age: Inquisition, you even have a choice of what she sounds like.
It means we get invested in the worlds and the characters—sometimes more than we should.
That has a fairly obvious downside, one that was brought into sharp focus this week.
A U.K.-based gamer named Nat—better known to those of us on Twitter by her handle, AndrastesTits—created a mod for DAI that allowed a female Inquisitor to pursue a romantic relationship with Cassandra Pentaghast, in essence making her bisexual. Without the mod, Cassandra can only be romanced by male Inquisitors.
Because it apparently needs to be said, mods are optional. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to download it, don’t have to install it on your game. There’s no one wandering around, forcing shrieking PC players to engage with it against their will.
But you could be forgiven for thinking that was the case, given the vitriol Nat found herself on the receiving end of after she posted the mod.
If you want to spend the next few hours hating yourself and this fandom and everyone in it, pop “Cassandra bi mod” into the search bar on Tumblr and see what jumps out. It’s horrifying.
It ran the spectrum from cries of “straight erasure” (and, seriously, guys, that isn’t even a thing so stop it) to likening her to a rapist, which is so patently ridiculous it would be funny if it wasn’t so hate-filled and hurtful and ugly.
Cassandra being bi takes nothing away from her character: It just allows more people to enjoy a frankly delightful romance with a fictional character—a fictional character. Cass’ defining characteristic is not her cheekbones or her straightness. Making her bi is not a big deal—but if, for whatever reason, it is for you, then just skip that mod on the Nexus. It’s not difficult.
The hate Nat received as a result of creating that mod led her to pull it down and delete her social media accounts, and I have all sorts of words for those who spewed the toxic sludge that made Tumblr and Twitter unsafe spaces for her. (Editor’s note: she is back on Twitter!)
If you want to spend a few hours getting lost in how amazing people can be, this is a better bet. Kelly (a Can’t Talk contributor and fellow nJoystic editor) created an awesome avatar you can use to show your support for #
Nat says she has spent time going through the hashtag herself, reading over all the kind words people have for her:
Gaming and fandom should bring people together. It’s terrible that we keep showing over and over how spiteful we can be.
But there are some bright spots—and Nat herself is one of them.
In case it needs to be said: #TEAMNAT 5 EVA.
(image: screenshot from Dragon Age: Inquisition by Bioware and EA Games)