Last year, Bioware introduced an updated romance mechanic in Dragon Age II which allowed players to flirt, date, and couple with whichever NPC they wanted regardless of gender. This unparalleled freedom allowed players to envision their Main Character (MC) as gay, lesbian, heterosexual, or any stripe of bisexual. For obvious reasons, this inclusiveness resonated quite well with the LGBT gaming crowd. Sadly, this updated mechanic also caused a good bit of controversy to which Bioware famously responded that "The romances in the game are not for 'the straight male gamer'... they’re for everyone."
The controversy in question started when a troll presumed to speak on behalf of straight male gamers and complained that they were being neglected by Bioware's new inclusive romance mechanic. As a straight male gamer myself, I am quite confused by this point because I happily admit that I like my relationships in games to be as gay as possible. The problem I usually face in these circumstances are games that hint at gay or lesbian relationships through 'ship tease and never give you the chance to actually realize them. Persona (Shin Megami Tensei), I'm looking at you here...
Yeah, it's way more innocent than it looks. Unfortunately...
While playing through the first incarnation of Persona 3, a truly excellent RPG with an interesting social dating mechanic, I was forced to play a male MC and was upset that I couldn't make him date another guy in the group. When the update P3P version was released, I was excited to experience the game as the new, coquettish FeMC and was quite upset that I couldn't find her a girlfriend. This wasn't for a lack of trying, mind you. I avoided male relationships throughout the game and only spent time with female NPCs figuring someone would catch the hint. I thought I had something with the reclusive girl who worked in the library with me (above) but it turned out that when she confided that she had fallen for a "forbidden love" she was not referring to my "Bewitching" FeMC, but rather her uncle. This left my character sexually frustrated and me extremely creeped out.
Yet there was an intriguing life lesson in this for me as a straight male gamer. When my FeMC learned that this tease was simply lonely and used her bi-curiousity as a ploy to lure my character into a friendship with her, I found myself more than a little bi-furious that she would manipulate my character's feelings in such a manner. Sure, later in the game the lesbionic android disrobed and asked me to fondle her most sensitive of interface ports (how I wish I was kidding...), but that was too little too late. For the first time in my gaming experience, I think I understood one of the most common dating frustrations that gay and lesbians endure- and that's something I could never experience for myself in the real world without a divorce and some fairly extensive lifestyle changes.
This is the reason why- given a choice- I will always play a Female Main Character and opt for gay or lesbian relationships in a game. In reality, I am a straight male. When it comes time to indulge in a bit of fantasy- Final or otherwise- I like to step outside of my own skin and challenge myself to see things from another perspective. Being 6'5" and hairy as a bastard, I can't easily pass for a woman in the real world, so I welcome games for giving me the chance to do so if only for a little while.
As for the romantic side of the equation, I find myself preferring yaoi and yuri relationships in games that feature any sort of dating mechanic, simply because they are (usually) portrayed in a far more romantic and personal light than heterosexual relationships are. So, kudos to Bioware's David Gaider in telling homophobic straight male gamers to "get over it".
The world would be a better place, and we would all understand the dating frustrations of lesbians, if more of us were to follow suit.