Feb. 12th, 2014

elana: (squishy)
A PhD student in anthropology at the Australian National University is doing her dissertation on the Dragon Age fandom. I record here my final comments on her survey. You can fill it out yourself here.

I think Dragon Age, along with Bioware's other masterpiece, Mass Effect, are in the strange position of being critiqued at a very high level compared to other video game franchises. Their games are so excellent, so nuanced, and so culturally progressive compared to most games, that they gain the attention of people who may not be interested in games that cater more obviously to the standard gaming market. (I wonder, for example, what inspired you as an academic to choose Dragon Age for your dissertation.) Ironically, this opens them up to criticism from, for example, feminists, simply by virtue of there being more feminist eyes on the product, who wish to engage with it on the same level as any other feminist work, etc.


Another interesting feature of Bioware games is how highly they value player agency and player choice. This is what produces the compelling 'branching narrative' style of their games, but also evokes expectations from their fans; rather than the voyeuristic relationship with protagonists of linear games, players of Bioware games expect to have the entire breadth of the options produced by their imaginations available for them to implement within the game, and for their decisionmaking to pan out in a highly realistic manner. This can sometimes lead to disappointment when these expectations are not met (due to the constraints of the medium); this disappointment is, in turn, transformed into artworks, where imagined or expected storylines inspire creative works.

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elana

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