A quick break from srs metaphysical bsns to talk about ladies and kitchen appliances.
When is a woman in a refrigerator not in a refrigerator?
Dragon Age: Origins offers the player several ways of beginning the game, several “origins”. Each one provides your character with a home, a history, and a reason for joining the elite fighting force of the Grey Wardens, thus setting up the rest of the game’s story. This about one of them. Trigger warning for rape and violence; spoiler warning for the City Elf origin.
A look at how character origins contributed to narrative themes of blood and identity in my playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. Spoiler warnings apply, both for Dragon Age as a whole, and the Dwarf Noble origin in particular. Self-indulgent character babble warnings may also apply. Part 1 of 2, part 2 being here.
So… I played a game called Dragon Age: Origins last year, and I really rather liked it. To the extent that some people are probably utterly sick of hearing me talk about it, but as it’s got me writing again, they’ll just have to deal with it a while longer.
I want to talk a little about my first playthrough, and one of the reasons it was such a compelling experience for me, which was the story. I’m not talking about the story everyone played through, the generic but servicable enough fantasy yarn about defeating armies of darkness and so forth. I mean the story of my player character and her movement through that framework, how she changed (and was changed by) the world and the people around her. Now, that in itself is hardly unusual for a role-playing game of this type. Dragon Age allows for a large amount of meaningful choice, and no two playthroughs are likely to be identical. What really struck me, however, was the way that not only did the story of my character feel unique, it felt uniquely meaningful. A strong theme emerged, one that came to define the entire playthrough and leave me with a moral, of sorts. The theme was “blood”.
To be fair, there’s a lot of blood in Dragon Age whatever you do. Quite apart from the comical fountains of it you see in battle, splattering the faces of your party members, it appears all over the game as a stylistic device – spreading over loading screens, splotching across the map as your party moves. “This is Dark, Realistic Fantasy”, it seems to be saying, and it’s a bit silly, to be honest, but it’s not the only kind. Let’s focus on the kind of blood that stays, with luck, in people’s veins – and how it functioned within my game as a metaphor for identity and allegiance.