Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, an expansion for Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition developed by Beamdog, marks the first new entry in the beloved RPG series in over a decade. So what better way to celebrate than by a pack of gamers revealing their deep-seated fear of otherness?
Siege of Dragonspear debuted on assorted PC digital platforms on March 31. The expansion adds 25 hours of new content ranging from 70 new areas and four new companions, to the option to import your characters from the base game as well as a new class, the shaman, who can summon monsters to his aid. Another addition, and a major point of contention for some players, is the presence of Mizhena, an NPC who reveals that she was born and raised as a boy but later gave herself a new name after realizing she was meant to be a woman.
The revelation occurs during dialogue with Mizhena, who provides players with her background if asked. And that's the key phrase: if asked. "I would like to start out by saying I don't hate gays or transsexuals in any way," wrote one user. "What I do care about is when this is shoved down my throat and I am forced to mingle with it instead of letting me discover it for myself."
Another user chimed in by asking Beamdog to "please keep your ideology out of a classic game. Don't force us to buy into controversial topics. We are trying to ESCAPE that crap."
Mizhena doesn't flaunt her orientation, and to be fair, Siege of Dragonspear is a brand new expansion, not a port or remaster of a "classic" game with altered content. A few clicks of the dialogue tree that shows the player's willingness to learn more about the origin of her name, and Mizhena will tell you how she created it from a hodgepodge of syllables gathered from various languages to show "the truest reflection of who I am."
Amber Scott, writer and creator on Dragonspear, responded to critics on Beamdog's forums, stating that it is her purview to decide who and what to write about. "I don't like writing about straight/white/cis people all the time. It's not reflective of the real world, it sets up s/w/c as the 'normal' baseline from which 'other' characters must be added, and it's boring. I consciously add as much diversity as I can to my writing and I don't care if people think that's 'forced' or fake. I find choosing to write from a straight default just as artificial. I'm happy to be an SJW [social justice warrior] and I hope to write many Social Justice Games in the future that reach as many different types of people as possible. Everyone should get a chance to see themselves reflected in pop culture."
There's some concern from the Beamdog camp that the onslaught of negative reviews, which as of this writing have mired Siege of Dragonspear's ratings on Steam, Metacritic, and other outlets, may hinder the success of future Baldur's Gate games. Beamdog founder Trent Oster asked players who are enjoying the game to "please consider posting a positive review to balance out the loud minority which is currently painting a dark picture for new players."
Source: Crave Online