Things Solas is:
- Interested in elves
Things Solas is not:
- A beacon of homophobic sentiment
- Any less of a good character
- The death knell of LGBTQ+ representation in video games as we know it
- An anti-human racist (not that we know of, anyway)
- A collection of pixels meant to pander to your every whim
I am disappointed that Solas was revealed as straight, however, I do believe that Bioware does a good enough job in writing characters that it wouldn’t matter anyway.
I understand why people are disappointed, I know I’m one of them. But the devs do not deserve a slew of hate mail and abuses hurled at them. Neither do I think he’s character is ruined or compromised or whatever; we hardly know anything about him.
Opinions are allowed to change, of course, and I’d rather wait until we get the game before anyone anywhere makes any assumptions.
I think Bioware could do better, but considering what they’ve delivered in the past, DA:I has certainly proved that the writers, devs and the rest of the team have listened to its fans and have taken every one of our thoughts and words into consideration.
- Another Straight Romance - not only is Solas race-gated, but he is also female inquisitor only. Bioware is often viewed as ‘progressive,’ but continues to limit options for marginalized groups. As well, while it makes sense for oppressed/marginalized people to date within their own group, it does have some other implications.*
- This Makes Sense in the Story - this reasoning is often used to excuse many problematic things, from making overly-revealing outfits to how characters interact with the world. In the end, the writers have control of the story and made a conscious choice with this. A character’s sexuality, especially, shouldn’t be a plot device, as it perpetuates the idea that all people are straight unless an LGBTQIA+ sexuality is plot-important.
- No Reliable News - Many big names in Bioware continually talk about how disappointed they are that fans are so focused on Love Interests, while at the same time rarely giving any information that isn’t dropped accidentally, effectively stringing those players along. The mechanic is one they implemented in the game but continually mock, so it should be no surprise that those who were hoping for X feel personally attacked when they are given Y. Devs are often seen mocking such fans between themselves on Twitter, as well.
- *What This Means for the Last Love Interest - Since we have been told there is one more race-gated love interest, we have been left to speculate (see above: no reliable news) on the last love interest. If this love interest follows in Solas’s footsteps, it can mean one of a few things: if it is Vivienne and she is race-gated, this can lead to the problematic portrayal of a black woman as either racist against elves, or fetishizing them (if, for some reason, she chooses dwarves, it may be a different matter all together). As well, it’s highly possible she’ll be Another Straight Romance, further tipping the scales. If Blackwall is the last LI, not only will there be a disproportionate amount of men in the LI pool (please remember, not all women are straight and so this being excused as ‘pandering to women’ is erasing a good portion of the population), but it will also leave Vivienne in the problematic position of perpetuating the ‘don’t-need-no-man’ stereotype constantly forced on black women.
Should devs really get hate mail for this? No. But we should still alert them to problematic elements in the game and its presentation. That is the only way they can improve. We hold Bioware to a higher standard than many other companies because they (usually) listen to us and learn, and want to be progressive, and so we should continue to inform them of when something is problematic.
Does that mean it will be changed before game release? Probably not. Does that mean we shouldn’t buy the game? I’m not going to tell you what to do with your own money, but I do know it’s been shown that ‘voting with your wallet’ only tells EA and Bioware what games they shouldn’t make, not what games they should. Being vocal is important.