Bi Cassandra Mod Backlash: The Creator Speaks

Dragon Age

[Trigger warning: Mentions of sexual assault.]

I’ve done as much research as I can in order to feel comfortable enough to write this out. I’d like to start off by saying that I am a straight woman who benefits from the current society in which we live in today. Although I am not white (I’m half Japanese), I look the part of a white person and therefore I benefit from that as well. I am represented everywhere—my sexuality, my skin color, the gender that I identify as … it’s plastered in every major media outlet, and video games are no exception.

If you’re unfamiliar with the bi Cassandra mod, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A user created a mod in which the player could romance Cassandra as a woman and, for lack of a better term, it seemed like the fandom lost its shit. To be quite honest, this is the first I’ve been hearing of it. I had heard of the straight Dorian mod a couple months back and that was infuriating. (I’ll come back to that, though.) The creator of the mod reached out to me, and out of respect for their privacy, I will have them remain nameless. When I asked about why they created the mod, it was because:

I always kept an eye on the romance thread there, and nobody had done the Cassandra edit yet, so I gave it a go. It worked. I was pretty happy because wowzas I did the thing. All it required was removing one flag for gender. I was honestly surprised nobody else had done it yet.”

The creator of the bi Cassandra mod had their content deleted and was harassed so badly that they then deleted all of their social media accounts. I want to point out that it is in no way okay to harass someone. It is not justified. Being upset is reasonable, but being so angry that you effectively cause someone to flee from an environment that promotes equality, fairness, and community is wrong. I understand that a lot of the Dragon Age fandom was upset about this mod, but they were in no way justified to react by harassing a user from the community into leaving.

When I asked the mod creator about the backlash, they responded:

At first I found it hilarious. Considering there are free love mods for Origins, they certainly took their time to complain. Unless they haven’t played Origins … In which case, they should. Then the rapist accusations started. The Cassandra BSN thread even had people calling me a sexual deviant. Others outright said that I was insulting the writers.

I’ve spent many years trying to get my life on track after rape, but here we are. I am now a rapist because a woman can date another woman in a video game. Others outright said that I was insulting the writers.”

They accompanied their statement with this screencap of David Gaider apologizing for the reaction the mod produced, citing that he, himself, was not offended on Cassandra’s behalf.

Dragon Age

I, personally, do not have a problem with the bi Cassandra mod. There’s apparently a bi Cullen mod and I’ve heard nothing but good things about that. Sexuality is fluid and is in no way rigid. If the character’s sexuality is not essential to their personality, then I don’t see a problem with making a mod.

I also mentioned a straight Dorian mod earlier. That’s different. A straight Dorian mod would be completely erasing a part of his character that is essential. His sexuality is engrained in every fiber of his being—he even has a personal quest about it! To take that away is to take away what Dorian is about. He is not just his sexuality, but it’s definitely a very big aspect to his personality. By contrast, Cassandra’s sexuality is not.

There are arguably worse mods out there that I’d rather have a discussion about as opposed to bi Cassandra. What about whitewashing? I’ve seen mods that make Isabella from DA2 fair-skinned. I just saw one recently that has Josephine’s moles removed. How about incest? There’s a mod out there to be able to romance Bethany in DA2. I don’t remember the fandom causing a stir over those mods. When I asked the mod creator about the other bi mods on the Nexus, we shared almost similar opinions. They said:

“I don’t really give a toot what people do in their games. That’s the long and short of it. I’m a lesbian, but it doesn’t hurt me or my game if people want to romance Sera as a man. It’s gross, but it’s a video game. […] But I also think these mods allow people to create all sorts of characters that represent who they are. That’s what Bioware games are all about, pretty much. If somebody wants to make a ‘feminine’ male character, but romance Dorian, who the hell are we to police that? Not everyone is comfortable playing as Beefy McDudebro, and they shouldn’t have to.

I think people need to really have a sit down and think about their actions before they attack others over a bunch of fictional characters. Especially over mods that add/take away NOTHING in their game since they’re entirely optional.”

The bi mods that users have created remind me of DA2 where you could essentially romance whoever you wanted. If you didn’t want to romance Anders as a man, you had the option not to. I feel like that’s the same mindset I have toward the bi Cassandra mod. If I don’t want to romance Cassandra as a lady Inquisitor (but let’s face it, I’d be lying) then I don’t have to download the mod. It’s as simple as that. Don’t like it? Then don’t download it. It won’t be in your game.

You know what I’d rather talk about? The improved eyebrows from the Nexus. You know, important things.

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24 Comments on “Bi Cassandra Mod Backlash: The Creator Speaks

  1. Pingback: No Love, Me: Geekery Edition | Seriously?!?

  2. I think any romance mods are kind of entitled and silly. I get that it’s a fantasy, but just like you cant take certain plot actions, you can’t romance everyone. Not everyone is interested in everyone else.

    That said, if you want to create a mod and do your thing that’s your business and not mine. Have fun. 🙂

    Like

    • Well, when the game first came out, a female inquisitor COULD romance Cassandra. This mod is only fixing a change that developers made way after the fact.

      Like

  3. My favorite comments so far have been about those people claiming it somehow betrays her close ties to the Chantry. Like… “the Chantry doesn’t give a good goddamn about sexuality. Maybe you’re getting confused with Christianity. Have you even played the games?” Fake geek boys I swear.

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. Guys. The Mod is back on the Nexus. All is well.

    I’m shocked of reading this article. I’ve seen mods enabling Bi features for DOZENS of games. The fact that some would be so outraged by it is crazy. Disturbing really.

    Anyway. Its back. here’s a link to save some of you some time.
    http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonageinquisition/mods/543/?tab=1&navtag=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nexusmods.com%2Fdragonageinquisition%2Fajax%2Fmoddescription%2F%3Fid%3D543%26preview%3D&pUp=1

    Keep modding, fellas. Makes the world of gaming better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Emm,

    First thing Thank You for not only posting a response but for how you responded too. I wouldn’t have been so gentle.

    I’m the other side of this coin – I think. I play straight male and female LI themes in my games – I don’t do gay romances. If I can’t find a mod that allows me to change the game dynamics then I miss out. It’s ‘my’ choice on how to play – not anyone else’s.

    So to all the modders who manipulate the game in any way – textures, LI swapping, etc. – you have my deepest, heartfelt thanks! Please keep up the good work.

    I’m with Ben. The reaction to this is disturbing, extremely so.

    Like

  8. Sexuality is a very fluid thing indeed. I don’t feel that someone should get upset over a mod. You either purchase it or you don’t. There is no need to get upset over it. .

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. I know this is an older article, but as I’m actively playing DAI right now, it’s completely relevant.

    I’m with many of the others here. Mods make the game more enjoyable, on a personal level, than the original game. Bioware has NEVER attacked modders of their games; mostly in part because so many modders end up making the original game better than it had been.

    There are mods that update the textures of the game for new and better technology. There are mods that add quests, quest areas, etc. so that a single game can have a longer playthrough and be enjoyable for years to come.

    There are relationship mods to give more options for players during playthroughs. There is no “emotional rape” taking place within these mods. A player isn’t suddenly forcing a game’s character to have sex with them. The options that are already built into the game are still there and used. Yes, on a personal level I think it would be wrong for a player’s female character to have a relationship with Dorian; but that’s purely for the same reason as the author. Dorian defines his entire self by his sexuality. His life’s struggles are due to it, thus it’s integral to his being. Cassandra, however, is defined by her beliefs. Her personality is driven by doing right, acting when action is called for, and holding fast the belief that the Chantry should be for the people. Honestly, sexual relationships are the last of her concern. That she’s only a male love interest in the game was more for balance than character personality. So many gay, so many straight, so many bi. She just happened to fall into the statistics.

    Now, like Dorian, another character whom I would state sexuality shouldn’t be messed with would be Vivianne. Why? Because she’s above the player in her eyes. She doesn’t feel you’re ever worth her time. That would be a forced relationship in my eyes. And still? If a mod does it, that’s the downloader and modder’s choice.

    I’ve never heard of backlashes to DA mods in all the years it’s been out. It throws me for a loop that Cassandra’s mod would be the one that causes a stink.

    What about Morrigan? Aveline? These were the Cassandra’s of their games, yet no stink was given with their mods. It’s just odd.

    For the modder in question: I salute you. Modding games enhances and extends our time with them. The non-profit work you folks do gives me another year or two of life in my games. That anyone would try to reduce that gift into something vile is, in my eyes, disgusting. Please don’t stop, please don’t let them get to you, please keep loving your games enough to share your talents with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As a gay man playing a game, I just enjoy it more if my character is male. That’s why they make these games and allow you to pick the character details. I also like being a mage, and having white hair, and a scruffy beard. None of this is a moral issue. I enjoy romance in the game. This doesn’t seem to be any kind of issue either because it comes with the game. I would like my male mage to romance a male partner. Like hair color, it’s just something I enjoy in the game and it is not going to make me any more likely to romance a male, or try to cast balls of flame at people, in real life than I already am.

    Now let’s look at my romance options.

    DAO – Zeveran, who betrays you. That was it…

    DA II – Fenris, a psychopath, or Anders… a sweet, loving, guy who wants to move in after we have sex and likes cats… who turns out to be possessed by a demon as well as a domestic terrorist… Two options, but I’m not feeling it…

    DAI – Dorian, a mustache with a cocky man attached, or Iron Bull, a BDSM top if there ever was one…

    That’s it. So… yeah, I downloaded the mod to romance Alistair, I had the child with Morigan (I closed me eyes during the naughty parts) but killed the Archdemon myself to make sure Alistair lived. I romanced Anders and supported the mages and then him him. Then I downloaded the mod for Cullen … and he is a recovering addict.

    MAYBE instead of worrying about gender mods, we ought to be worried about the relationship health of the game programmers at Bioware…

    Like

    • ‘…we ought to be worried about the relationship health of the game programmers at Bioware…’ (rofl) You are so right!! BTW, if your approval is high enough with Zev, he’ll stick with you.

      Like

  12. At the risk of sounding judgemental (it’s not my intent, but I can’t deny there is a tint of it in my comment), but – isn’t it a little hypocritical to only selectively support bi-mods based on the preference of the person making the statement?

    I quote an older comment from Jillian:

    “We need to recognize the distinction between giving characters with normative sexualities an additional romance to make them more friendly for non-normative players, and taking characters with marginalized sexualities and erasing that representation to give the illusion of a normative romance.”

    In any instance, the player is re-writing the drives, beliefs & physical desires of a (fictional) character to suit their own preferences, without said character having any ability to object, or even be aware of what had happened. Saying it is acceptable one way but not the other, simply based on your personal belief, seems wrong. If the act itself is wrong, then it should be wrong for all, not just for the minority characters.

    Having said all that, this is a game and the characters are fictional represententaions, so these mods are not really any different than say, slash-fic. Games exist as escapism from the real world.

    Like

    • All other things being equal… yes, you are right.

      But all other things are not equal.

      For Cassandra and Cullen (and I have not romanced Cassandra so I may be wrong) there is no plot or storyline that hinges on being straight. Thus, when you make them bisexual, you are adding something to them.

      For Dorian… there is a significant storyline that includes his father being unable to accept him, and wanting to use blood magic to change him from something he was to something he wasn’t. While I don’t think I know anyone who has been victim to blood magic… I assure you, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of gays and lesbians who have families who will not accept them for who they are, who want them to be something they are not, and will resort to abusive and damaging “ex-gay therapies” to change them. Thus… this storyline hits home in a painful way for the LGBT population in a way that the vast majority of heterosexuals really cannot understand. They simply have never faced any experience that is anything like it.

      Thus, when you make Dorian bisexual, you are removing something from him, something that he was proud of, and something that echoes abuse and violence in our real life society today.

      You might be thinking “No – Dorian could still like men, but he would like women too.” No. If he had been bisexual, he could have found a nice girl his parents would have accepted. The whole family rejection would not have happened.

      All other things are seldom equal.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I bought and played DA:I when it first came out. I have played through it a few times. Only recently did I buy the DLC packs. I was kind of surprised by the fact that my female inquisitor couldn’t romance Cassandra anymore. I had been able to before. It doesn’t make sense to me that Bioware, a company who historically has been willing to give people a good variety of love interests made a change after the game was released that says you are either all straight or all gay. I can’t fathom why someone somewhere decided that having a “bi” character was a bad idea.

    So now I guess I am going to have to hit up Sera.

    Like

  14. I’m gay and I don’t have a problem with the heteroDorian mod, each player can make the canon who most pleases them. My gay Warden romanced Alistair (in my canon he was demisexual only with me without losing his heterosexuality, just like Xena and Gabrielle, even Gaider said this “That said, I don’t have an issue with Alistair being made into an option for male characters. As someone pointed out, Alistair has no sexual experience with *anyone* by the time the game starts — that doesn’t necessarily make him gay, but it certainly doesn’t indicate that he’s strictly straight, either. Alistair received conservative teachings at the hands of the Chantry, I imagine, but it’s an institution he’s rejected. I’d say overall he’s a fairly open-minded, sensitive guy. A relationship with someone he trusts is not that over the top. “) and now he is dead because is an impossible love story, in the plot and future games, so so sad.

    THANKS MODDERS

    Like

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