One element noticeably lacking from roleplaying games over the years has been the issue of sexual diversity. The Mass Effect series offered players the opportunity to pursue an array of characters irrespective of species, but with the strict proviso that they be female, and in Dragon Age: Origins the singular effort of the developers had seemingly been concentrated on satisfying that ever burgeoning segment of gay society – the elf fetishists.
Bethesda’s follow up to their 2008 hit Fallout 3, and second foray into the popular post-apocalyptic RPG series, Fallout New Vegas, includes a new addition to character customisation designed especially to appeal to the oft overlooked gay audience.
The “Confirmed Bachelor” perk – which plays on a euphemism befitting the 1950s motif that inspired much of the game – can be taken by the player character after level 2 and presents a number of unique dialogue options to be had with NPCs of the same sex. Aside from this main draw, it also affords the player an additional 10% damage bonus against male targets, an advantage which might convert even the most staunch heterosexual, as he finds himself traversing the Mojave Wasteland in Hardcore mode, with an empty canteen in hand and Legionnaires hot on his tail.
Along with its female variant, Cherchez La Femme, Confirmed Bachelor is the natural same-sex counterpart to the Lady Killer / Black Widow perks introduced in Fallout 3, which operate along the same principle. What distinguishes the game is the practical asexuality of the character at the outset, in contrast to the typical presupposition of heteronormativity observed elsewhere. It’s up to the player to decide if they’d like to be familiar with men, women, or both, and then, through a perk, endue their character with an orientation no differently to how one might augment eyesight with improved night vision.
The first opportunity to use the Confirmed Bachelor perk, and probably the most extensive one, can occur quite early into the game by paying a visit to the Mojave Outpost. Here in amongst the many soldiers of the New California Republic can be found Major Knight, a specialist in repairs, with whom you can discuss the possibility of being more than friends. In a tongue-in-cheek look at the “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy of the present day United States, Major Knight will respond with a degree of reluctance to any such advances being made, expressing to the player that in the Republic the military frowns upon such “friendships.” While coy, however, you’ll find he’s more than happy to service your pistol in exchange for a few caps.
If you find yourself tempted to work for the NCR then you’re likely to arrive in Camp Forlorn Hope sooner or later, where you’ll meet resident doctor, Alex Richards. Having the perk doesn’t enable any new dialogue options in this instance, but you will find him making reference to you as his “little buttercup”, commenting that he’s “always a sucker for a pretty face” and exclaiming “getting hot in here!” upon initiating conversation.
The game even happens to feature its very own gay nerd, the enigmatic medical researcher and member of the Followers of the Apocalypse, Arcade Gannon. With the help of the perk you can recruit him as a companion and learn more about his past, but you won’t get far; unfortunately Arcade suffers from self-esteem problems and regards himself as a bore, occasionally sarcastically quipping “why hasn’t some lucky man scooped this bachelor off his feet?” In a blow to gay nerds everywhere he isn’t far wrong, and the temptation to send him on his way surfaces almost immediately, but his handling of a plasma rifle does go some way to make up for what he lacks in charisma.
For the majority, the remaining applications of the perk tend to boil down to aiding one to pass speech checks or obtaining a discount on goods and services, rather than greatly expanding the dialogue tree in character interactions, but some amusing lines are sure to be found, whether you’re looking for a discount on a gigolo or just trying to skip a side quest.
The downside of this perk is that it’s somewhat narrow in its scope; it doesn’t have an effect on that many of the characters that you can interact with, and even then the dialogue options are increasingly limited. The upside is that it does help the game to feel more inclusive, and to a degree more immersive; the point of a roleplaying game is, frankly, to play that role, to be that character in the game as you go around making decisions that shape the game world in a way that makes it uniquely your experience, and the option to have a cheeky flirtation with the occasional man here and there does help to reinforce that. Whereas before some gay players may have felt the need to create female characters in order to play games their way, it’s now possible to make the move from femme fatale to fag fatale, with fierceness intact. With any hope the move that’s started here will act as a precedent that encourages future developers to follow suit.
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Tags: Bethesda, Bioware, Confirmed Bachelor, Dragon Age, Fallout, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Gay, Mass Effect, Obsidian Entertainment, Perks, Vault Boy