Why BioWareâ€™s Games Inspire a Unique Kind of Fandom
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The editors at PC Gamer have editorialized about the fervent fanbase that BioWare enjoys due to the studio's story-crafting abilities, the interactivity they present in each of their titles, their inclusion of homosexual romances, and their focus on character customization. A handful of paragraphs to get you started:
The chats between Shepard and Tali or Hawke and Aveline are so fun and sweet and relatable that it pulls you that much deeper into the narrative. With Dragon Age: Inquisition (BioWare's most successful launch ever), the game featured gender-neutral box art; developers ensured gender balance in background characters; a major supporting character is a trans person; when you stand around the War Table as a female Inquisitor, making big, game-changing decisions, you stand with three other women and only one man. And, of course, there's the variety of romance options available to any player, allowing you to enter into relationships with characters from every corner of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
(The more recent crop of romances makes BioWare games resonate with me like nothing else,) said Becky Chambers, author of the upcoming book The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and my fangirl mentor in the world of Mass Effect (she was the first to tell me that this intense obsession I was feeling was completely normal). (Shepard and Liara's relationship was, honest to God, the first time I'd ever seen SF/F with a fully-fledged, trilogy-spanning love story between two women. That meant the world to me, because it's so incredibly rare elsewhere.)
Part of this enthusiasm stems from the fact that gaming fandoms, because of the nature of the medium, are inherently interactive to begin with; but BioWare games take that interactivity to the next level, and so do their fans. In part, it's due to the way decisions in these games are so much more affecting than they are in other series because of how much you're drawn to the characters. I don't even want to talk about how much time I spent sitting on the floor in a state of shock and tearful terror as I contemplated the forced choice in Inquisition between killing my love interest from Origins or my player character from DAII. How dare you, Dragon Age.
That profound kind of interactivity is an important part of what drives Meg Smitherman's love for Mass Effect. (It doesn't just feel like a story I'm watching from a distance. I'm saving the galaxy right alongside Commander Shepard,) said the host of Roundup Podcast, my aforementioned ECCC roommate, and proud bearer of a half-sleeve of her custom Shep. (BioWare has this magical ability to bring characters to life and make people fall in love with them, which is probably why I started planning a tattoo of Shepard before I even finished the game. She won my heart without even trying.)