Tag Archives: dragon age

‘Dragon Age: Origins’ and a Few Notes on Class

Brosca by jenn-y @ deviantArt

Brosca by jenn-y @ deviantArt

Reposted from PopMatters Moving Pixels.

My first attempt at Dragon Age: Origins fell short before I left the prologue. I was bothered about having rolled a dark-skinned city elf only for my family to all be visibly white, and I was further bothered by the city elves’ oppression compounded by the casual rape and murder exacted by our human “betters.” I closed the game and re-rolled as a rough-and-tumble thug within the dwarven underclass of Orzammar. My sister was still a prostitute, but at least this opening lacked the tinge of endless rape and degradation of the city elf origin.

I really enjoyed playing that casteless dwarf. I wore my Dust Town brand with pride when I crushed the best warriors in the city beneath my armored heel. On the surface, no one noticed my class, and often enough tended to forget I was even a dwarf by the time I was running them through with a blade. Dwarven merchants Bodahn and Sandal never commented on my tattoo, which I thought was plum nice of them. In no time at all, I was wooing prince’s hearts, running around in King Cailin’s armor and converting to Andrastianism, so satisfied I was that the game gave me openings to defy the constraints of the dwarven caste system without shunting me back into another system of oppression.

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Okay, that took longer than expected.

Hey. You were all thinking it.

Take Your Damn Rivalry Points Like a Man: The Non-Dialectic of Dragon Age II

Reposted from PopMatters Moving Pixels.

So, in case you haven’t heard, they’re all bisexual.

You may also have heard that the romantic subplots of Dragon Age II are somehow dominating the discourse surrounding the game, presumably directly after whether it’s any good or not. (To which the answer is no, and yes. See my review for more.) This, too, might have been predicted considering the extent to which BioWare RPGs often get discussed with respect to their romances, but in this particular debate we find a curious intersection between issues of systems and mechanics and issues of writing. To whit, is Dragon Age II “punishing” the player for rebuffing a romance he doesn’t want, and do we as players need to get over our search for happy, equitable solutions?

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My new wallpaper

Found here!

Dragon Age: Origins Lets Me Celebrate Girl Power (And Doesn’t Make Me Self-Conscious)

Reposted from PopMatters Moving Pixels.

As with about half of PopMatters’ Moving Pixels contributors, I’ve been replaying Dragon Age: Origins and its accompanying DLC and expansion recently in anticipation of the sequel’s release. Admittedly, this is as deeply as I’ve ever gotten into it and I was surprised at the extent to which the writing emphasizes the female warrior as not secondary or conditional.

It’s important to not conflate the idea of “woman warrior” with “feminine strength,” because strength and femininity both take a variety of forms. That being said, I’m not very traditionally girly, and I like it when a video game character is able to communicate that mixture of gendered ideals without becoming a caricature. I found it in Dragon Age.

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Dragon Age II: Making the Case for “Quality” Games

Reposted from PopMatters Multimedia Reviews.

At this point, I am uncertain there is anything I can really say about Dragon Age II that isn’t found half-buried in my deluge of running commentary to my friends made over the course of my two playthroughs. It’s fantastic, it’s horrible. It’s brilliant, it’s ridiculous. This is the best thing I’ve ever played. I want my money back.

It isn’t particularly often that I feel a game should be forgiven for its monstrous shortcomings, but if one did, it would be this one. For that reason I am going to ask that you take any criticism here with a grain of salt, as this really is one of the most awe-inspiring play experiences I’ve had in some time– but not at all for the conventional list of reasons.

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsless Rogue: Dragon Age II’s Isabela

Reposted from PopMatters Moving Pixels.

I’m admittedly cynical about the phrase “owns her sexuality.” Not the concept, but rather the application of it, which I seem to find ascribed to any female character who fits the “girl who kicks ass” cliche irrespective of how she is otherwise objectified and depowered. I have listened to the arguments for why Bayonetta, for instance, is empowering and pro-feminine. Some, such as that by my blogmate G. Christopher Williams, are quite well-argued– but I still don’t agree. My view of the situation is perhaps best articulated by the likes of William Huber, who contended: “I had found it difficult to explain the inadequacy – even the wrong-headedness – of this approach, my perception that these depictions still ultimately served male vanities and played on female anxieties, and that the male game player – his needs, desires, and qualms – still was being overwhelmingly served in games that were supposedly being targeted to both men and women” (“The perpetuation of a misguided notion.” zang.org, 12 January 2010).

As a game designed by men and targeted to men (as most games are), Bayonetta does not particularly convince me that it is either profeminine or empowering in its cartoonish portrayal of the female figure. I’m open to differing opinions on this matter, but I’m not certain that the weaponized sexuality of Bayonetta or Atlus’s upcoming Catherine are the same as women “owning” their sexuality at all, not when they seem to simply play on male anxieties of emasculation and continue to serve moderately conservative, heteronormative social views.

Dragon Age II doesn’t break down doors or revolutionize women characters, of course, but it still has some positive characteristics that I like. I’ve spoken previously about my adoration for another Dragon Age II character, Aveline Vallen, and my appreciation for the Dragon Age universe’s gynocentric dominant religion, Andrastianism, which features a woman Christ figure. I’m not saying Dragon Age is a safe haven of liberalism and positive diversity representation in an industry sorely lacking it, but… Well, okay, so I am, but that isn’t to say Dragon Age is absolutely free of problematic representation. Indeed, it certainly issues aplenty. But if there’s one thing I never expected a game to do, it would be to teach me self-respect– or use its blatant sex appeal character to do it.

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