Lae’zel From Baldur’s Gate 3 Sparks Debate On How We Treat Female Characters

Lae’zel From Baldur’s Gate 3 Sparks Debate On How We Treat Female Characters

Baldur’s Gate fans – including former BioWare writer David Gaider – discuss whether fandoms are more forgiving to male characters.

For the most part, everyone loves the Baldur’s Gate 3 gang. Whether it’s Karlach’s contagious enthusiasm or Astarion’s bad-boy charms, most players can find something they like about their companions. The exception to this rule is Lae’zel, who appears to be the most unpopular party member by far.

However, some in the community feel that Lae’zel – and all of the female companions for that matter – are being held to a higher standard than their male counterparts. Some argue that Lae’zel wouldn’t be as hated if she were a man, saying she would be seen as “badass” rather than “difficult.” The debate has even attracted the attention of former BioWare writer David Gaider, who says he noticed the same sentiment among Dragon Age fans.

“I’m confident if Lae was a guy people would be swooning about him being so edgy,” says Twitter user @BlackSalander, responding to a viral negative tweet about Lae’zel. They argue that the popularity of Astarion is proof that fans hold female characters to a higher standard, since he also has villainous traits.

David Gaider, who was a writer on Baldur’s Gate 2 before leading the creation of Dragon Age, agrees that this is an issue in fandoms.

“The Dragon Age fandom consistently gave WAY more latitude and forgiveness to male characters as opposed to female characters, in every game,” says Gaider.

While he doesn’t explicitly state which characters he’s referring to, there are many examples of this phenomenon among Dragon Age fans. For example, violently anti-mage characters such as Cullen and Fenris are among the most popular romance options. Vivienne – a Black woman who is also pro-circle, anti-mage independence – doesn’t enjoy the same popularity.

In a follow-up tweet, he confirms that he doesn’t feel that this issue has got any better: “It was the same way for DA2 and DAI, not just DAO. Fandom has always treated male characters with more forgiveness – full stop.”

Others disagree with this interpretation, criticising Lae’zel’s ongoing hostility, and defending Astarion as “damaged” rather than purposely hateful. They also point out her racism and the fact that she only sees value in her own set of beliefs.

However, the argument that some are making, including Gaider, isn’t that Lae’zel is a good person. Instead, they claim that she would have more apologists for her worst behaviour if she were a man, just as Astarion does. Baldur’s Gate 3 certainly isn’t the first game to spark this discourse. Infamously, the loudest The Last of Us Part 2 players unanimously hated Abby, while defending similar actions from Joel in the first game.

That being said, fandoms change. Astarion is certainly a fan favourite for now, but that might change as more people explore the game and get to know their party members. We’ve also got the PS5 launch coming on September 6, expanding the playerbase even further,

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