The Land of Little Problems

 Critique, Role Playing Games  Comments Off on The Land of Little Problems
May 262014

Dragon Age II feels like the prequel to a really interesting series of games. The game seems to feel the same way, given its frame story of an agent desperately trying to find Hawke in the midst of a crisis. At some point after DA2, Thedas faces a Big Problem that only Hawke seems able to solve, but the game itself is just a string of little problems. This is somewhat unusual for fantasy generally, and especially rare for fantasy games. Fantasy works from the latter half of the 20th century on tend to resolve around a single, existential threat to [Read more…]


 Current Events, Role Playing Games  Comments Off on Demo-lition
Mar 032011

I think I should start with the reason I placed the pre-order in the first place, which is that I enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins a great deal. I didn’t particularly care for the combat, which suffered from having continuous time and lousy AI. I also thought that much of what BioWare did to make the game seem gritty, especially the blood spattering, was unintentionally comical. However, I thought the game had some interesting ideas hiding behind its surface pageantry of turgid Tolkienism, and the writing for some of the characters (Shale!) was really great. So, when I heard Dragon Age [Read more…]

Nov 272009

Last post, I mentioned that the tendency to choose segregation as a means to solve problems was a feature of many societies in the world of Dragon Age. Another, related motif appearing in many Thedan societies is the existence of a rigidly-defined social order in which a person’s status and even his occupation are set at the moment of birth. To varying degrees this kind of social rigidity appears in almost every social group in the game (except the elves). Through its dialogue and plot, Dragon Age: Origins repudiates these systems, but in its mechanics it supports them. The most [Read more…]

Nov 252009

Playing Dragon Age gave me a relatively frequent sense of déjà vu. Although the game portrays a number of different nations and societies, there are recurrent features that speak to underlying ideas about the psychology of its inhabitants. One such motif is the tendency for its denizens to solve their problems through segregation. At several levels, the people of the continent of Thedas like to resolve issues by pushing problematic groups into isolated areas and pretending, as much as possible, that they no longer exist. The most obvious manifestation of the segregation impulse appears in the form of the elven [Read more…]