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
Ok when we met Mother Giselle, I thought cool, a Chantry mother that was going to see through all the bullshit and not protect the status quo, especially regarding the dialog you get when you pick mage/Dalish/Qunari specific answers when you first encounter her.
Then we get to Dorian’s quest…and it really bugs me that she shifts into this version of “black people are religious and homophobic”. Her motivations seem to stem from concern over who the Inquisitor’s association with Dorian will be perceived by those who come in contact with the Inquisition.
I also don’t buy that Dorian’s father/his agent contacted her. It just seems really out there, like why would someone from a country where the Divine in Orlais and the Chantry is held in disdain, contact a Mother in that same organization? Regardless of whether the Chantry has disavowed the Inquisition as heretical?
How would he even know she’s there and what level of access she has to the Inquisitor or to Dorian? Why would she even consider the request?
It’s from 3:00 – 6:00 in this clip (starts at 2:55) where we see Dorian confront her after the mission to see his father. It’s the whole BUT TEVINTER and the assumption they are involved (even if you aren’t trying to/have started a romance with Dorian) that gets me annoyed.
Also the refusal to repeat the rumors, it just…I don’t know it bugs me. Like she’s the walking archetype of nosy old black woman. I know, she’s supposedly doing things for the right reason, Dorian even says as much but why would she even stick her nose in the Inquisitor’s business like that?
It seems like Leliana, Cullen or even Josie might be better suited to address these rumors with the Inquisitor rather than a Chantry mother that doesn’t seem to do much after Haven but wander around the garden in Skyhold and give you updates.
There’s no real fall out from this action, and it just seems like it was stuck in because hey why not, rather than having an advisor be the one contacted since they are publicly known as part of the Inquisition.
So that’s why Mother Giselle bugs me in DA:I.
So the other day while chatting about Dragon Age Inquisition with friends, it occured to me that the NPC’s are all blue/grey/green or otherwise light eyed. Not a dark eye colour to be had in the land. Above is a screenshot of Vivienne De Fer. Who is clearly POC but has blue/grey eyes.