An Inquisitive Gaze: Exploring the Male Gaze and the Portrayal of Gender in Dragon Age: Inquisition

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Engelska institutionen


This paper provides an account of how a normative male gaze is produced and upheld even in a video game famed for its inclusive nature, Dragon Age: Inquisition. The analysis originates in content studies concerning the portrayal of gender in video games in relation to in-game physical gender portrayal. It is followed by a contextualization of specific video sequences and certain game mechanics in relation to Laura Mulvey’s feminist film theory about the Male Gaze. Mulvey’s film theory approach, while useful as an intellectual tool, is not developed to be applied to video games and thus it is also necessary to consider any implications related to the interactivity of the game. As characters are subjected to a gendered male gaze in relation to both their physical appearance and attributes they are made to uphold the normative status quo. The Gaze is evident in how characters are portrayed, how the main character becomes a default male character regardless of actual gender and in the construction of women as something other. But most importantly, in the actual game mechanics through which all characters become objects for the player to use either in combat or to own in the guise of offering romance to the narrative.

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