Via @femhype Long Way Home: ‘Dragon Age 2’ on Immigration & Identity Posted

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!

Long Way Home: ‘Dragon Age 2’ on Immigration & Identity

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). 

Read the rest over at Femhype, where it was originally posted on Aug 6, 2015.

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#Datenight with The Dialogue Wheel – Part 2 where we continue the convo about Diversity in DAI!

The random musings of a 1973 Original

So when I was on The Dialogue Wheel podcast, we had a lengthy convo that wound up being a part 2 episode! So here’s the second half of that great convo. Part 1 is here in case you missed it.

Date Night with the Dialogue Wheel #26: Diversity in Dragon Age Inquisition 

Welcome to Date Night with the Dialogue Wheel episode 26, “Diversity in DAI.”

Chachi, Tyler, Evan, and guest Tanya D (@cypheroftyr) discuss diversity in the Dragon Age series of games. This is the first of two installments.

Tanya D’s art is done by the wildly talented @KivaBay as part of her #FeministDeck series. The article mentioned in our podcast can be found here:http://boingboing.net/2015/03/23/in-f…

Tonight’s cast includes Chachi (@ChachiBobinks), Tyler (@Remilbus1138), and Evan (@KllrMannequin).

The Dialogue Wheel theme song is “Please Mind the Dubstep” by Bit Basic. Channel art by Chachi. Original cast art comissioned by @Dinomyte203…

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I got to hangout with the fine folks over at the Dialogue Wheel Podcast!

Adding a reblog from my personal WP since this is Bioware and Diversity related.

The random musings of a 1973 Original

I recently had a chance to join the folks over at the Dialogue Wheel podcast to talk about #diversity in #DragonAge. This is a short episode, Part 2 will be about an hour long.

Welcome to Date Night with the Dialogue Wheel episode 25, “Diversity in DAI.”

Chachi, Tyler, Evan, and guest Tanya D (@cypheroftyr) discuss diversity in the Dragon Age series of games. This is the first of two installments.

Tanya D’s art is done by the wildly talented @KivaBay as part of her #FeministDeck series. The article mentioned in our podcast can be found here: http://boingboing.net/2015/03/23/in-f…

Tonight’s cast includes Chachi (@ChachiBobinks), Tyler (@Remilbus1138), and Evan (@KllrMannequin).

The Dialogue Wheel theme song is “Please Mind the Dubstep” by Bit Basic. Channel art by Chachi. Original cast art comissioned by @Dinomyte203. All other Dragon Age-related information is property of @BioWare.

A big thanks to Allan Schumacher for pointing me to…

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“In fantasy worlds, historical accuracy is a lie” by Tanya D. via Offworld

In fantasy worlds, historical accuracy is a lie

The mythical realms of Dragon Age grow beautifully with the telling, including their representation of Earthly minorities. Even so, something’s missing…

I’d like to welcome you to Thedas, a fantastical place lots of us have lived in since BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins launched in 2009. The borders of this lush fantasy world have sprawled ever outward through the release of Dragon Age II, and welcomed ever more players. With the most recent game, Dragon Age: Inquisition we can end up a leader, whether we’re a human, an elf or a dwarf.

But though almost anything’s possible within Dragon Age‘s beloved world of Thedas, something feels off. Although Dragon Age is a fantasy roleplaying game, Thedas is overlaid with a faux-European sociopolitical landscape — and that means there are few people of color among its citizenry. Why do the sinister old arguments of “historical accuracy” still apply to this fantasy world?

Elves, magic, dragons, shapeshifting and ancient powers of world destruction are somehow totally believable, but the idea that brown people might exist is somehow not. My colleague MedievalPOC‘s blog uses art, history and other resources to regularly debunk the broad but rarely-questioned misconception that only white people were around in medieval times. So if we know brown folks definitely existed in actual Medieval Europe, why are they absent from a made-up fantasy world only loosely inspired by Medieval Europe? Where are the brown folks in Dragon Age‘s Thedas?

Let’s have a look at the history of representation in my favorite game series.

Read the rest of the article over at Offworld

Why the Backlash for ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition?’

Interesting thoughts on how people like DAI or rather don’t.

FemHype

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I am aware this game came out months ago. As it stands, Dragon Age: Inquisition currently holds an aggregated score of 85 on Metacritic from critics and a user score of 5.8/10. Why is this? In order to explain the strange discrepancy, I will have to take you back to December 2011 when Bioware stated that they were “checking [Skyrim] out aggressively” in order to inform their ideas for the next Dragon Age game. For some, that marked the beginning of the end.

In my opinion, the vast negativity directed at Inquisition largely comes from fans of the preceding games. Dragon Age 2 also received a huge amount of criticism from some people who loved Origins. Dragon Age: Origins has good user scores. Is it therefore a superior game? Well, I think so, yes. Still, that’s only my opinion. I personally prefer a more contained story and a more…

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A World in Which Race Matters – N.K Jemisin

A world in which race matters – Posted at Epiphany 2.0 ~ N.K Jemisin’s blog 2/24/15

A world in which race matters

I’ve been thinking about this article for the last day or so. I posted a link to it on my Twitter feed yesterday, and saw a few reactions to it that seemed… confused. Part of the problem is that the article gets a little muddled at points, I think because it’s talking about a complicated concept: race as identity, versus race as socioeconomic marker within in the modern (racist) political structure. But part of the problem, IMO, is the misconceptions that readers were bringing to the article themselves. A couple even asked (paraphrase, since I didn’t ask them about posting their comment), does this person actually want racism added to their Dragon Age? Which is when I realized that, to a lot of people, race should only exist, or matter, where there is racism.

Which… yeah, OK, no. I mean, I get where this comes from, especially from folks who, like me, live in racist societies. When I say I’m proud to be a black American, it’s in spite of racism, while a white supremacist would declare themselves proud to be white because of racism. (Paraphrasing many people; not sure who originated this way of framing racial pride.) But I’m also proud to be black because blackness is fucking awesome. I am part of a people, and I revel in our collective uniqueness. Why wouldn’t I?

– See more at: NK Jemisin’s blog

God is Real and it wants us Dead – Originally posted at Polygon, by Tauriq Moosa

God is Real and it Wants us Dead: The Religious Terror of Bioware’s Biggest Games (originally posted at Polygon, 12/12/2014)

By Tauriq Moosa

OPINION text didn’t translate from copy-pasta on original article.

OPINION

Games are often better at conveying horror than most other mediums, due to our direct and real-time responses.

This year, we’ve experienced the constant dread of Alien: Isolation and the grotesque physicality of The Evil Within. Overlooked, however, is the cosmic horror in BioWare games.

“We impose order on the chaos of organic life. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it.” These are the words of Sovereign, the first Reaper you encounter in Mass Effect. At this point, you discover that all life has been essentially created and guided by these godlike creatures. Now the Reapers are coming to end what they created.

The entire Mass Effect trilogy is preparing for war against beings who are more powerful than anything in existence because they, essentially, created existence.

Here, all of life is told their creator wishes it to end. This isn’t nihilism written in the stars, it’s death row on a cosmic scale as everything marches towards the gallows. To fight seems futile; as Harbinger puts it in Mass Effect 2, creation seems to be “dust struggling against cosmic winds.” The entirety of existence is little more than the ant farm for uncaring gods.

BioWare’s love of cosmic animosity toward creation found a new twist in Dragon Age as well.

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Over at Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig digs into DAI from a writers perspective

Originally posted on Terrible Minds 1/20/2015, all content by Chuck Wendig

Dragon Age Inquisition: – A Writer’s Perspective

[Note: some spoilers below. Mostly light. Comment section may be a spoilfest.]

As you may have noticed before, I like to take the stories I have in some way consumed with my grasping psychic tendrils and then I like to rip them apart like warm bread to see what seedy, grainy bits lurk within. The purpose of this is just to think a little bit about stories, their power, their mechanics — and since story is somewhat universal across all media and formats, I’ll do this with whatever crosses my path (example? My post on Prometheus: In Which The Gods Of Plot Punish The Characters For Their Precious Agency).

And so we come to Dragon Age: Inquisition.

For those who haven’t played a current era Bioware game like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, it’s important to realize that the thing you think is the game (level up! get weapons! punch dragons!) isn’t really the game. The game is the story. By which I mean, Bioware has done a very cool thing where the actual characters and plot are moveable. Throughout your gameplay you have choices that actually modify the course of the story — something that is a little bit putting together a narrative puzzle and Choose Your Own AdventureMass Effect in particular ensures that the changes you make in early games actually cascade to later ones (DAdoes this a little less successfully, I think, but it’s still there). Which means both game and story are neatly, if sometimes inelegantly, merged. It’s a wonderful effect and you don’t see a lot of it in gaming.

So, what lessons do we learn from DA: Inquisition?

Read the rest at Terrible Minds

I just don’t buy Vivienne as Divine (snagged from w4rgoddess on tumblr)

(originally posted on tumblr by w4rgoddess, 1/20/2015)

I just finished my second playthrough of DA:I. Yeah, despite all my complaining, I enjoyed the game enough to put in another 100+ hours, but that’s also because I’m a raging completist and Ineeded to finish all those damned quests, however boring. So I did. Go, me.

In the process I accidentally made Vivienne the new Divine. I say “accidentally” because I’ve so far managed to avoid most real spoilers for this game, and I didn’t realize this was even an option. I turned down the chance to support Cassandra for variety’s sake (I made her Divine in my first outing); I was going to make Leliana the Divine in this game just to see if it made a difference in anything. But clearly I did something wrong in how I played Leliana, and at the end of her personal quest she was all, “I’ll improve the Chantry by killing anyone who gets in my way, mwahaha,” which left me all D:, so I didn’t support her either. I tried to go back to Cassandra but the option never came up again. And suddenly Vivienne was on everybody’s lips. I kind of laughed and thought, “Yeah, right”, but then the endgame coda started to roll and… yep, Vivienne was the new Divine.

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#Spawn4Good || #BlackLives Matter Charity Game Streaming schedule

BLACKLIVES-blue

#BlackLivesMatter Streaming Schedule for this weekend!

My twitch channel: twitch.tv/cypheroftyr

Important Note: Twitch by default is to only let someone with a twitch account participate in the chat box. So if you want to jump into chat, then you will need an account. Easy to make one, even if you never stream yourself. Unfortunately that’s a default and not something I can change.

Ok, so realistically, I will not finish this Inquisition run in one weekend even with non-stop streaming. So I will hit on major plot points and le-gasp! I will be on voice chat with those who drop by the stream.

There will be links and info in the chat box during the event, and even if you can’t join in all day, I welcome the company and a chance to talk with folks as I run this instance of #DAI

So based on the outcome and to make it easier rather than trying to run a hasty, half-assed tie breaker I’ll be playing an Elven Mage, specializing in Rift Magic. I’ll use the default name. Only thing I’m doing w/o input is playing a female and making her brown as I can in this game.

Major plot points will be decided as I play by those in the stream. I.E mages or templars, etc etc

Here’s the schedule as it stands*: (with one modification to the start time)

Saturday 1/17/2015

  • Begin stream 11am CST/1 pm PST
  • Break for dinner/snacks 5pm CST
  • Resume streaming at 6pm CST until I’m too tired to keep playing 😛 CST

Sunday 1/18/2015

  • Resume streaming approx 9:00 am CST
  • Break for lunch 12pm CST
  • Resume for 2-3 hours
  • End stream at latest by 4pm CST

Don’t have all the facts? Wondering why a bunch of brown folks are gaming as a way to raise awareness about why #BlackLivesMatter? Here, have an FAQ

As to why this is happening, and why it’s important, here:

For more info, see the Spawnpoint blog post about this event.

We at the SpawnPointBlog & Spawn On Me Podcast have been inspired by what we’ve seen in the activism spaces with #icantbreathe and #BlackLivesMatter. We’ve discussed these topics on our show and we want to continue to amplify the messages these communities have been sharing. Whenever we can, we want to put a spotlight on injustices and give people a space through gaming to have their voices heard.

On Jan 17-18, 2015, we ask you to join with us and stream on Twitch. This happening will provide a deliberate space for you to have fun with the community, and to reflect on the unequal way people of color, and specifically African-American people, are treated by law enforcement. We will support the families of those that were lost by donating to the Eric Garner Fund, and The New York Lawyers Guild that continues to organize protests and bail funds for those imprisoned for exercising their 1st Amendment rights on this matter.

All funds donated will be deposited to our CrowdRise fundraiser and then equally distributed to the organizations and families listed above. If you have information about or suggestions for additional organizations involved in work regarding police brutality, or scholarship funds that are collecting donations around this issue, please share those notes in the comments or tweet us @spawnpointblog and @spawnonme

We will be streaming from our respective channels on Twitch (SOM) (SOM2) We’ll also be hosting other streams as well. Please share this event at anyone you think would be interested, affected or has a platform to signal boost. Share this with POC and Non-POC alike!

If you’d like to stream with us here are suggested stream rules that we’d like you to follow and also a of picture you can use to help promote.

Please signal boost, and if you stream, consider participating in this event. If you don’t stream, join in to watch and donate.

Thank you in advance for your support with this event.

* = subject to change, technical issues, streamer needing a break, etc.

Please signal boost, if you plan to participate, tweet at the Spawn Point blog @spawnonme and let them know you’re in!

If you can’t dip into this stream or any of those going on for this event but would like to donate, you can get more information and leave a donation via the links above.

Welcome! Here are some upcoming posts… any requests out there?

Hi y’all!

Thank you for wandering by this little blog. Sorry for the quiet but your metacritiquer works in higher ed and the beginning of term means not a lot of free time 😦

But there are posts in the can that need a little editing and then they can fly free. So far, I’ve got some brewing on:

Ser Delwin Barris

Dragon Age™: Inquisition_20141202131801

Vivienne De Fer

Dragon Age™: Inquisition_20150104143414

Josephine Montilyet

Dragon Age™: Inquisition_20141125211056

  • Cassandra as WOC? Yes/No (a follow up from a tumblr post I did on this topic)
  • The whole issue with lack of POC hair options in Inquisition (by request)
  • Slavery, Tevinter and why it seems to be a non-issue for Dorian
  • Why are are the brown folks seemingly from Antiva? (more on prior games, not so much DAI)
  • Fandoms insistence on whitewashing, prettifying and otherwise changing characters to suit their whims

Other topics  you want to see covered? Just drop me a line at the email address over in the right or leave a comment here. The aim is 1-3 posts per week, pending my free time to write.

Thank you for reading!

A break from our meta & critique for an announcement of a special gaming event

BLACKLIVES-blue

#BlackLivesMatter Streaming Schedule for this weekend!

My twitch channel: twitch.tv/cypheroftyr

Ok, so realistically, I will not finish this Inquisition run in one weekend even with non-stop streaming. So I will hit on major plot points and le-gasp! I will be on voice chat with those who drop by the stream.

There will be links and info in the chat box during the event, and even if you can’t join in all day, I welcome the company and a chance to talk with folks as I run this instance of #DAI

As a reminder, I’m using the default name, and race, class, and specialization will be by pre-populated community vote. Major plot points will be decided as I play by those in the stream. I.E mages or templars, etc etc

Here’s the schedule as it stands*:

Saturday 1/17/2015

  • Begin stream 10am CST/12 pm PST
  • Break for dinner/snacks 5pm CST
  • Resume streaming at 6pm CST until I’m too tired to keep playing 😛 CST

Sunday 1/18/2015

  • Resume streaming approx 9:00 am CST
  • Break for lunch 12pm CST
  • Resume for 2-3 hours
  • End stream at latest by 4pm CST

As to why this is happening, and why it’s important, here:

For more info, see the Spawnpoint blog post about this event.

We at the SpawnPointBlog & Spawn On Me Podcast have been inspired by what we’ve seen in the activism spaces with #icantbreathe and #BlackLivesMatter. We’ve discussed these topics on our show and we want to continue to amplify the messages these communities have been sharing. Whenever we can, we want to put a spotlight on injustices and give people a space through gaming to have their voices heard.

On Jan 17-18, 2015, we ask you to join with us and stream on Twitch. This happening will provide a deliberate space for you to have fun with the community, and to reflect on the unequal way people of color, and specifically African-American people, are treated by law enforcement. We will support the families of those that were lost by donating to the Eric Garner Fund, and The New York Lawyers Guild that continues to organize protests and bail funds for those imprisoned for exercising their 1st Amendment rights on this matter.

All funds donated will be deposited to our CrowdRise fundraiser and then equally distributed to the organizations and families listed above. If you have information about or suggestions for additional organizations involved in work regarding police brutality, or scholarship funds that are collecting donations around this issue, please share those notes in the comments or tweet us @spawnpointblog and @spawnonme

We will be streaming from our respective channels on Twitch (SOM) (SOM2) We’ll also be hosting other streams as well. Please share this event at anyone you think would be interested, affected or has a platform to signal boost. Share this with POC and Non-POC alike!

If you’d like to stream with us here are suggested stream rules that we’d like you to follow and also a of picture you can use to help promote.

Please signal boost, and if you stream, consider participating in this event. If you don’t stream, join in to watch and donate.

Thank you in advance for your support with this event.

* = subject to change, technical issues, streamer needing a break, etc.

Please signal boost, if you plan to participate, tweet at the Spawn Point blog @spawnonme and let them know you’re in!

If you can’t dip into this stream or any of those going on for this event but would like to donate, you can get more information and leave a donation via the links above.

He’s just such a white guy (w4rgoddess on tumblr)

(And before anyone gets started, I know Dorian is superficially a person of color. This is meaningful in the representational sense for players, simply because people with brown skin are so damn rare in video games. In-universe, though, it’s pretty much irrelevant, since it’s not like Tevinters are a marginalized group, nor do they [or the Rivaini, or any other dark-skinned set of people in Thedas] suffer in any systemic way due to colorism. His identity as a Tevinter mage isn’t even visible, ‘til he opens his mouth or does magic.)

I’ve been noodling my aversion to Dorian in Inquisition.  He’s pretty, charming, fun; I was tempted to romance him because it seemed like the romance might be more satisfying than others in the game. But he’s got one character trait that just stops me cold: he’s a slaver. I can’t overlook that. It’s literally repulsive to me.

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Inquisitioning While Black (Troy. L. Wiggins)

Inquisitioning while Black ( reposted with permission from Troy. L. Wiggins over at afrofantasy.com) Originally posted at his blog on Nov 23, 2104.

I’m going to assume that everyone here has seen the second movie in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit,generously titled The  Devious Cashgrabination of a Beloved Story. Do you remember the scene in Laketown, where we find out that this sleepy harbor area is actually the most diverse place in all of Middle Earth? Here, allow me to refresh your memory:

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