Hello! Once again Eurogamer is marking Pride Month – on this, its 50th anniversary year in the UK – with a week of features celebrating the intersection of queer culture and gaming. This afternoon, Bertie talks to the veteran BioWare writer who created Dragon Age and the studio’s first exclusively gay party member, Dorian. World, meet David Gaider.
And while we have you here, if you’ve been eagerly awaiting a restock of Eurogamer’s Pride t-shirts, we’re happy to report that more – in two ravishing variants – are now available for purchase. All profits will be split between LGBTQIA+ charities Mermaids and Mind Out.
I don’t think David Gaider needs much of an introduction. He, affectionately, is mister Dragon Age. He was the one tasked with dreaming up the entire world. We talk about it in this episode of One-to-one. BioWare’s James Ohlen apparently gave Gaider a historic atlas and an “off you go”.
But how did he go about creating it – where do you even start with something like that? And what did the original vision for Dragon Age look like? Well, I can tell you it didn’t have any Darkspawn in it, which is wild, considering Darkspawn were the main threat in the game and featured heavily in the series thereafter. And get this: originally, you weren’t going to be able to cast any offensive magic spells in the game either – imagine that!
Gaider was also a key figure in the rise of LGBTQ+ representation and same-sex relationships in BioWare games, and is the creator of arguably the studio’s most famous characters in this regard, Dorian. Curiously, though, it wasn’t Gaider who started the same-sex relationships push but someone else, in Jade Empire – he doesn’t remember who. ‘Whaaat – we can do that?’ he remembers thinking when he saw it and the rest, as they say, was history.
But being gay was a side of himself he kept pretty quiet at BioWare, feeling it wouldn’t gel with the “frat boy” atmosphere he felt around him. It wasn’t until Canada legalised same-sex marriage and a wedding email thread went around, garnering many enthusiastic replies, that he realised he’d maybe worried more than he ought to.
Gaider has had a remarkable effect on BioWare and its games. To think that he initially turned down a job offer there because it seemed like a scruffy company with an uncertain future, compared to his managerial post at a hotel nearby! He wasn’t even working in games before BioWare. But he did live in games, having played Dungeons & Dragons since it began and writing parlour LARPS of his own.
BioWare and Dragon Age were quite a long time ago for Gaider now, though. He talks me through his reasons for leaving and, fast-forward a few years, his reasons for moving to the other side of the world, to Australia, to co-found a studio of his own: Summerfall Studios. A studio making the brilliant-sounding role-playing musical Stray Gods: An Adventure Musical. Funny story: Gaider and others tried to get a musical add-on into some of BioWare’s RPGs for years, apparently, but never managed. How, though, does a musical RPG work? David Gaider tells me about Stray Gods in our talk.
It’s a real pleasure to say this special Pride Week episode of One-to-one is now live to everyone and on all podcasting platforms (please let me know if you can’t find it somewhere). Here are some handy links:
The recording quality isn’t brilliant and I apologise, but we’ve tried what we can. I hope you enjoy the conversation nonetheless.