Sylvia M. a fellow Bioware fan that loves to get into the meta weeds wrote this amazing piece on Dragon Age 2 as an Immigration & Identity story at FemHype. I wanted to share it with you!
you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.
“IMMIGRANT” BY NAYYIRAH WAHEED
Dragon Age 2 is the story of immigration. It’s dressed up in the high fantasy that defines the series, but it portrays the struggles of forced migration, acculturation, and xenophobia closely and honestly. In fact, the strengths and weaknesses of the game’s design are far more harmonious when viewed through this lens. The themes of fate and choice, of defining your place in the world of Kirkwall, are the heart of the plot and an immigrant’s journey. In much the same way, you could view the limitations in scope and content as a reflection of the harsh realities of forging a new life from precious few resources.
From the first moments of the game, Hawke is characterized by their migrant status. We’re given precious little information about their life before, because all that matters now is that they must start a new one. In the game’s prologue, narrative and mechanics conspire to push Hawke and their family into the unknown, far away from their home. Fires block paths, a horde of monsters lurks just behind, and the only company on the road are other survivors, just as desperate and lost. Hawke has no choice but to keep moving, further and further away from everything they have known. And they must pay a terrible price for this journey, one that they didn’t even want to take: a sibling; an ally, one that they may even have to kill with their own hands; and their agency, as they are forced to enter a deal with a potentially malevolent force in exchange for safe passage.
Even though this prologue is packaged for the player as a tutorial on controls and an introduction to the game’s larger story, it reflects so much of an immigrant’s struggle. It’s The Blight that drives Hawke away, one of those faceless, generally evil plot devices that you find in fantasy stories like these, but it could have easily been corruption, violence, hopelessness, or one of the many true evils that we find in our world (see: “How This Happened” by LatinoUSA). Worse, the sudden and horrible trauma of the journey is true to life as well (see: The Beast: Riding The Rails And Dodging Narcos On The Migrant Trail by Óscar Martínez). Even Hawke’s precarious deal with Flemeth, a mysterious being that offers aid at an uncomfortable cost, mirrors reality (see: “El coyote” by Radio Ambulante).