alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
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Again I found myself writing a novel in repsonse to a link on tumblr, but this time I actually agree with it, I just got too wordy :)

BIOWARE MAKES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: SEX & CONSENT IN RPGS

I find it a bit odd she gives Dragon Age as an example of a series where romance always leads to sex, and uses Solas the the headline image, when there isn't any sex in the Solas romance. There's none in Josephine's either, and apparently the developers did this deliberately for asexual players (though I have no source for this).

But I agree with her overall point. There's no reason romance has to lead to sex, and the fact it almost always does, and that the player may find their characters having sex when all they explicitely agreed to was love, is really unfortunate.

(spoilers for various Dragon Age romances follow)

I had a really unpleasant experience in Dragon Age 2 where I flirted with Merrill once early on then got together with Fenris, then later on Merrill came to my house upset so I chose what looked like the most supportive option...and watched helpless and horrified as my gay male Hawke who was in love with Fenris had passionate sex with Merrill and then had her offer to move in. They have made "THIS OPTION LEADS TO A RELATIONSHIP" a lot more explicit in Dragon Age Inquisition but there's still the problem of "yes I would like to date" leading to a sex scene without any option to say "I would like to date you but not have sex".

There are some romances where sex is part of the plot so making it optional would require a lot of extra writing, eg all the characters where you start out having a casual fling and feelings develop later, or the aliens in Mass Effect who start flirting by discussing your biological incompatibilities. But there's some where the sex scenes could easily be replaced by a hug or something with no major effort. In fact this happens with the second sex scene in the Blackwall romance, where you can choose to 'spend time alone" (have sex) or "spend time with friends" (talk in the bar). You've already had sex at that point, but a similar approach could have, say, made Merril's romance in DA2 sex-optional (as far as I can tell. I never managed to bring myself to play it on purpose) It would be nice if you could be explicitely asexual in Solas or Josephine's romance, too, even if it was just a dialogue choice.

You could have every romance have an explicit choice whether or not you want to have sex: Some LIs are asexual (or effectively so, eg Solas, who keeps going "BUT WAIT THIS IS A BAD IDEA" before things have the chance to progress beyond kissing) and you can break up with them or accept you're never having sex. Some roll with your preference, though you may or may not have sex onscreen. Some apologetically reject you if you're asexual, which would have to be carefully written (much like the times a straight/gay LI rejects interest from someone of the wrong gender) but seems like the only in-character reaction for, say, Isabela. You could also have romances which step around the issue and let players headcanon things as they like: like Josephine's where you never have or discuss sex on screen, or like Blackwall's would be without the first sex scene where you can avoid sex without rejecting the LI explicitely.

I think it would also be interesting to make romance and/or monogamy optional for some of the "romances" that start out as flings. The sex=romance assumption cuts both ways! I was a bit sad you couldn't stay friends with benefits with Isabela, either you push for committment or the relationship stops. I think the relationship is implied to be non monogamous but again you don't get the chance to express a preference either way. A poly relationship with two or more LIs would require a lot of extra writing, but they managed ok giving Isabela&Hawke the option to have a threesome with Zevran, and if there's only one poly LI then it makes sense none of the others will date you when you're with them.

There's always the option not to date or flirt with anyone, but it could be cool to have the option to explicitely roleplay an aromantic asexual, and it would only require a dialogue choice during some relevant conversation. And of course it would be cool to have some variety amongst the companions, too. All the non romanceable companions in DA:I had partners (or potential ones in Leliana's case) or were a spirit.

EDIT: Oops I meant to post this to [personal profile] sqbr! Well, it's here now, and not completely inappropriatte :)
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