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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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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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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