For the last month and a half, I have been playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. It is pretty much the first video game that I've played all the way through in a long time. Years, maybe. The first time I played through the game was really a rush through the main story quests, with just enough side quests to level up and not die immediately. My Inquisitor (character) was a female elf, and like all Dragon Age games, there is the possibility for the main character to have a romance with one of the other characters, some playable and some not. My Inquisitor was swept away by Commander Cullen's fortitude and steadfast adorableness. It was a sweet, endearing romance that did not disappoint. However, there was a small part of me that, like many gamers embarking up a play through of Dragon Age, regretted being unable to romance the character Dorian.
Dorian was, by far, my favorite character in the game. The overly confident mage swept in like a storm, saving the members of the Inquisition without really asking for anything in return. He was attractive, dashing, and oozed a sexy confidence, but those weren't the only reasons that I wished multiple times that I had created my character a little differently.
I should premise by saying that Dorian is a character that 100% gay. And this fact isn't just an afterthought for the character. It is a major part of his personal story line. That is an aspect of the game that really stood out to me. All of the characters have some sort of internal struggle that makes them imperfect and easily relatable. You have a recovering drug addict, a girl with an overwhelming dislike of her own race, and a few characters pretending to be something that they are not in order to escape some previous hurt or misdeed. It shouldn't be surprising that they added a character struggling with their sexuality. Of course, in a game series that often dips its toes in the world of bisexual or homosexual characters, having a character struggling with this aspect over all others was a bit of a surprise.
It isn't long into the game that we find out just how deeply his sexuality has affected his life. We discover that homosexual relationships aren't unheard of in Teventer (where Dorian is from), but they are hidden and only allowed to take place behind closed doors. One is expected to tow the line and create the perfect heterosexual family unit. Dorian was unwilling to compromise on his deep desire to not only be with someone he loved, but be with the MAN of his dreams. The soul crushing moment of the game comes when we discover that Dorian's father planned to use magic to alter his mind. The Inquisitor can influence him to speak to his father, giving Dorian a chance to heal and forgive. There is obviously a strong battle between the love Dorian feels for his father and the heart breaking disappointment of the older man's desperate actions.
While it might not seem like a big deal to have a gay character in a game, especially one like Dragon Age, the writer in me is drawn to the way that the man is depicted. He is arrogant and has an over-the-top personality, obviously brought about by years of being forced to love himself when no one else seemed to be capable of it. He forces his way into the Inquisition so that he can do good for the world. He demands that he be allowed to fight alongside people that he knows will dislike him based simply on where he was born. He has been hurt and is scared to let anyone past the wall he has built around his heart. When the main character actually starts a relationship with him, the mind reading character Cole describes the deep pain inside of Dorian by saying, "Glittering to gloss a hidden hurt, unlearning not to hope for more. Stumbling steps where they wall used to be."
Even while the walls are crumbling down and the Inquisitor is winning Dorian over, there are still hurdles to get past. Dorian's pride will not allow him to ask for help. He doesn't want people viewing gifts from the Inquisitor as further proof of his "undo" influence. He tells the Inquisitor, "You have too many people asking you for everything under the sun. I won't be one of them." He doesn't want to take advantage of the Inquisitor, and asking for help would be seen as such, to him and everyone around him.
There is something deeply revealing to me about his character when I listen to what he says or the tone of voice when he says it. I suppose this is good voice acting, but it is also a sign of good writing. I enjoy reading a story that involves deeply faceted characters; characters that have a new layer to discover every time they are present in a scene. Dorian's perfect exterior, mixed with his emotional damage and pained outbursts have made me start writing again. Although he isn't the main character, and there are only a few main scenes given to us with Dorian's background and romance with the Inquisitor, I find myself writing damaged characters looking for hope for the future. I mean, who wouldn't want someone to look at them like this:
There is hope in this romance, a sudden realization that they have found something wonderful in a world that is practically crumbling apart around them.
And in the end, even distance couldn't keep them apart.
Who wouldn't want to write a romance like that?
(All pictures are screen captures from the game. They do not belong to me, although they have a very special place in my heart. They belong to Bioware, and I will gladly give them credit, as well as my money).