"… And, at any rate, you can already see what he looks like in-game. I believe his in-game model was posted on the BioWare blog in the December update. That still doesn’t tell you what he’s about, or gives you any better impression of what kind of LI he would make (as this is evidently the only purpose of characters)…
…But not every character is a LI. And, even for those that are, the art team is going to design their appearance to be interesting and tied to the actual character themselves…they’ll go for presence before they go for attractiveness... but if the idea is that all characters exist to first be pretty no matter their role in the game…then that’s simply not the case. Even for a character that’s a LI, if they’re someone you don’t personally find attractive…oh well? Guess you’ll have to find someone else or go without.”
Lead Writer, David Gaider, on the appearance of the new elf character. [x] [x]
I find Gaider’s irritation with people’s expectations of the Love Interest characters to be really frustrating, and I can’t quite pinpoint why. I think it’s because a lot of the conversations over the romance-able male characters in Dragon Age Inquisition are coming from straight female gamers, and their negative comments are usually along the lines of “this character is reeeeeally fugly.” There’s a lot of “I want a hot dude romance option” in the fandom, and the reaction against that by Gaider and many of the other creators smacks a lot of “how dare women judge dudes by their looks!”
And sure, there’s an argument to be made against objectification of characters — but Bioware can’t really make that argument. The Dragon Age games have Morrigan (who runs around DA:Origins in a string bikini top) and Isabella (who runs around DA2 in an amazingly impractical corset and hotpants) and Vivienne (who will be running around in DA:Inquisition in a canonically-retconned-justified boob-window dress). All three of these women are incredibly beautiful by video game standards — they’re also interesting characters, but both in-universe and in reality, they are meant to be considered attractive. And they are meant for a straight male audience to consider attractive — there aren’t any Love Interest characters who aren’t. On the other hand, the character that almost every female gamer I’ve talked to who’s played DA2 wants as a Love Interest? Is a hairy, snarky dwarf with a really bad haircut, ie not someone who is charming people by his looks alone. If Varric had been a female dwarf, I sincerely doubt any straight male gamers would be clamoring to romance her the way straight female gamers (a lot of them, anyway) want to romance Varric. Yet while any mention of “gosh I hope there are some hot dudes in this game” are chastised with a finger-wagging lecture about seeing the inner value of the character, people who brag about modding Isabela in order to make her look white are never given any kind of set-down. It’s almost like the male gaze is expected and accepted, while the female gaze is bewildering and offensive just by dint of proving the existence of female sexual agency.
My point is that straight male gamers aren’t kicking up a fuss about attractiveness of female characters in Bioware games because they don’t need to — Bioware is very careful to make almost all major female characters attractive on some level. So when Gaider or someone else protests against the demands of some fans that there be more hot dudes at the expense of making them “interesting,” it’s pretty hypocritical, since so few of the female characters in the games (that we’ve seen so far) have had their “presence” rated over their attractiveness.
In short: make Baldy Elf a female elf, or a trans elf, or something other than a dude elf, and then see what reactions you get.