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Romances are a 'side show,' should not make all characters potential partners, says Dragon Age writer

Making every character in a game a potential romantic partner will change how players relate to them and encourage their objectification, Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights writer David Gaider wrote on his personal blog.

In response to a question on whether he would support having all party members be potential romantic partners, Gaider said that he would not, as "romances are a side show, not the main game." Gaider admitted that in-game romances can be "gratifying" and sometimes interest in them can reach an attractive "fever pitch," but BioWare has chosen to keep its romance plots separate from the main storyline.

"Romances are a nice extra, and naturally we're always going to struggle with how to do them right, but they're well down the list on things I need to concern myself with," he added. "I could, in fact, happily have a game without any romances at all... or spend an equal amount of time developing relationships with followers that are non-romantic."

Gaider also wrote that making every character sexually available to players can lead to their objectification, citing the sex card mechanic in The Witcher as one that pushes players to approach every female as a "puzzle to be solved."

"As soon as the player is aware it's possible, you are in fact encouraging them towards a certain type of behavior," he wrote. "Even ignoring the awkwardness of doing that solely to female characters, doing it to all characters equally would still make them be viewed as potential romances and thus change how the player related to them.

"But were I to cross the threshold of making all followers possible to romance I'd at least want to change the approach into something more plausible," he added, noting that he would want romances to cover a wide range of styles and sexualities, and for not all pairings to have happy endings. "To me, the idea that a player should get their followers and then simply select one or more companions to be their romance, and that romance is their cuddly bunny for the entirety of the game and plays out exactly as they wish, would be the worst of both worlds."

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