i woke up early to do things but accidentally spent two hours reading articles on women in comics and their comments and i am officially done with people for the day going back to bed now

Grey Warden / Warden-Commander Elissa Cousland

age headcannon under the cut

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when did sweatpants even become a normal part of my outfits?

hello are you a ufo

On Transgender Characters


If it were in your power, would you feature a trans* character as a lead, or do you think that that would be putting too much on the writing team’s shoulders? As someone who is highly involved in the game industry, do you think there would be a backlash from the industry or fans if a trans* character was a lead? Is video game culture ready for a trans* companion? — venak-hol

No, I don’t think video game culture is ready for transgender characters— not as major plot characters, and certainly not as a lead. It’s not ready for major characters that are gay, either. Heck, it’s barely ready for ones which are female.

Does that mean the industry should wait until it is? Probably not.

Yet I am also not the one whose money is being put on the line when it comes to making a major game. With hundreds of millions of dollars now sunk into your average video game title, it could perhaps be viewed as understandable why publishers would be risk-averse. The tried-and-true is safer. The audience they already have, and have had since gaming’s inception, is safer. Or is it?

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If it were in your power, would you feature a trans* character as a lead, or do you think that that would be putting too much on the writing team’s shoulders? As someone who is highly involved in the game industry, do you think there would be…

What a bunch of bullshit.

“The industry is not ready for” is just code for “I’m scared to do the right thing.”

“The industry is not ready for” is just code for “I’m scared to do the right thing.”

While not excusing the entire essay, I feel the above is a mischaracterization of Gaider’s words and of Bioware’s efforts at inclusivity.

This is the thread he mentions, where the Bioware writers are rightfully taken to task over the portrayal of a trans character.

These are the responses from Mary Kirby, who wrote the offensive scene:

Mary Kirby:

“To the OP and others offended by this scene:I am deeply sorry. It wasn’t my intent to make Serendipity the punchline of that conversation or to depict her in a negative light. But my intent as the writer doesn’t matter. What I was trying to do failed, and ultimately, what came across to you was hurtful, and that does matter. And for that, I cannot apologize enough. Again, I’m very sorry.”

“The scene plays differently if Hawke has slept with Serendipity. In that version, she greets Hawke familiarly, and hints that everyone at the Blooming Rose is looking forward to Hawke’s next visit. That’s what Tallis and Hawke are responding to, because I thoughtlessly did not write an alternate version of the middle or end of the conversation in the event that the player hadn’t slept with Serendiptiy. I just linked around the familiar part of the conversation to the same ending. So yes, in this version, the most reasonable assumption would be that the source of the awkwardness is not a discussion of Hawke’s popularity at the Rose in front of both their dates, it seems to be Serendipty herself, because no conversation has occured in this version of the scene. Tallis’ line doesn’t even make sense in this case, because there’s no topic to change. There’s nothing else for Tallis and Hawke to be reacting to. It’s an absolutely terrible scene, and I can see why it offended.Again, I’m very sorry.”

That is a no excuses apology for an offensive misstep. Sadly, a rare thing.

This is Gaider’s take:

It’s always interesting to see how someone else will interpret something you’ve written.

Mary’s already apologized, as I don’t think she intended it to be taken the way it was by the OP. But I’ll add my two cents, here:

1) We love Serendipity. If we didn’t love her, we wouldn’t bring her back for any reason. While I understand someone might want us to have characters that they can personally identify with other than ones that are played for laughs, having a character that we adore and who we think is hilarious is no small feat. I’d hope that she would be taken in the spirit which she was meant.

2) Despite the above, the request for other kinds of transgendered characters is reasonable enough. We’ve even discussed it in the writer’s pit from time to time. If anything, we’ve avoided it because it’s a hard sell (in terms of it not coming across as a “gimmick” for a major character), it’s not altogether setting-appropriate (cross-dressing perhaps, but that’s not the same thing) and because unless a trangendered person somehow made themselves stand out (which someone like Serendipity would purposefully do) they’re not going to come across as anything other than the gender they’ve chosen. More subtle nuances of appearance aren’t something we’re really set up to do, engine-wise (not without creating content specifically for that reason).

With either point, it would otherwise be really easy to dismiss the idea as being overstated— easy because I (and no doubt most others) have no idea what it’s like to live in a world where such stereotypes are constantly reinforced and have personal significance. Really, until very recently, gay people were in the same boat when it comes to videogames. So I’ll add my apology to Mary’s and we’ll try to keep this in mind in the future. Thank you to the OP for pointing out something that would otherwise be overlooked.

This one’s more explanatory, I am not thrilled with some of the excuses (it does not matter that the writers love the character if it perpetuates stereotype and he’s showing some ignorance re trans identity here, though the essay shows he’s since worked on that), but it was a sincere apology and he acknowledged his privilege.

The result of a trans consumer voicing his hurt and disappointment to the writers was the creation of Mae Tilani, a competent, high-ranking, kick-ass trans character.

This is not like Star Trek, where minority inclusion in the novels or comics is less significant because they’re conditional canon. The comics are official continuations of the game story arcs, which means that Varric, one of the more popular characters from the last installation of the franchise, has a trans sister-in-law whom he cares about deeply and is awesome in her own right. Full stop.

This is being “scared to the do the right thing”? For my money, directly addressing minority concerns by providing broader representation does not merit an accusation of cowardice.

(Unless there’s been a sudden agreement that choosing to not put Barbara back in the chair and damn the professional consequences is tantamount to cowardice, I also think it’s a particularly awful accusation for Gail Simone to make.)

Gaider is not saying that greater efforts shouldn’t be made to oust default white cis-dude protagonists or that it’s up to other people to take the risk of making greater efforts at inclusivity. He is acknowledging that, at the end of the day, he does not have full creative control, that he works in an industry where a large portion of the audience is actively hostile to the idea of inclusivity in gaming, and that, whatever his own thoughts on the matter, he’s accountable to EA, aka: the people holding the purse strings. And he still goes on to say he thinks greater inclusivity re: a trans character in a major role is worth the financial risk, and that “the clubhouse” should either accept more diversified casts in their games or start shouldering a greater cost if they insist on being exclusively catered to.

I am not denying that Gaider’s essay is problematic (though he clarifies himself a bit here). It’s got AAA tunnel-vision. It positions the cis-het dudebro POV as the most important. It conflates “video game culture” with “video game industry”.  And yes, Bioware can be absolutely tone deaf when it comes to minority concerns (the Planet of the Gays wtf-ery in the Star Wars MMO springs immediately to mind). But making it sound as if Gaider thinks the gaming industry isn’t ready to accept more minority leads and thus he’s going do nothing to push back against the situation is unfair.

That said, I sincerely do hope folks keep calling Bioware out when they misstep and pointing out why these things are an issue because, if nothing else, Mae’s existence and the slowly-increasing diversity of their stable of characters proves that they’re actually listening and making an effort. If that all adds up to being scared to do the right thing, I still much prefer it over fair-weather creative “allies” who are happy to take our backpats and accolades when their work hits the right notes, but who also, upon being called out on their ignorance, queer-baiting, etc., revert to their egos being more important than the feelings of actual members of the minority groups they’re depicting.


wow i just got offered a job at a small web design company that’s starting up what is happening today like everything’s coming up nicole.

a $20 note just blew across the ground to me while i was walking to work and there was no one around so i took it and i feel bad for the person who lost it but on the other hand it’s a 50% increase on what i earned today.

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