Friday, November 6, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins - How good are you at relationships?

For months now BioWare has been telling us how they are bringing story telling in video games to new levels with ‘Dragon Age: Origins’ and the forthcoming ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic.’ The main way they set about doing this is to have relationships be central to the story and therefore drive the game. That is a good plan because, let’s face it, ‘Dragon Age: Origins’ may have dirtied up high fantasy but that’s about it and we’ve been playing around in the Star Wars galaxy for three decades now. Those wells have long run dry. Having said that, BioWare most certainly accomplished what they set out to do with relationships and story telling. However, I don’t think they realize how well they succeeded or how close they came to the real thing.

Think back to your first ‘adult’ relationship. You know the one that endured the first disagreement, survived beyond the first fight. That first fight that you lost. The honeymoon period was over and the both of you realized the other wasn’t perfect either and that at times this was going to take some hard work.

At this point in a relationship it is very tempting to compare your new love to past flings. Don’t do this. ‘Dragon Age: Origins’ won’t ask how many other RPG’s you’ve played. Return the favor. Don’t think back to the glory days of Baulder’s Gate. Don’t make troublesome comments about how it kind of looks like World of Warcraft. Do not mention Gambits and Final Fantasy XII. Instead, look at the game in the context of itself and appreciate what it is offering to you – and your relationship.

After the fight when apologies are exchanged and the temptation to compare has been defeated your eyes are opened and able to see the value of the game. For example not only is the music a wonderful highlight it is amazing that it doesn’t get repetitive in a game this long. The first time you figure out how to set up effective orders and switch control in the heat of battle and realize the necessity buffs and win a hard slough is a rewarding feeling of accomplishment. Dragon Age won’t even say, “See, I told you so.”

But like in other mature relationships sometimes it will say, “Not right now,” or, “Not tonight, honey.” Many a time you will want to get back into that action but a prolonged conversation stands in the way and with conversations come more codexes. Talk talk talk, words words words. Now here is the secret: pay attention to the talk, read the words because when you do the action is that much sweeter and more meaningful.

In order to win over and ultimately win the game you must give of yourself. Don’t bring the baggage of your gaming past to the table and blame it on Dragon Age: Origins. If you do that the relationship is doomed to failure from the start. Conversely if you get over yourself and start anew you will enjoy many long hours together.


Wolf said...

When do you get you talk show? I'm ready for "Dr. Tim" on G4 TV.

But seriously, it sounds great.

w1ndst0rm said...

You might be on to something.

"Dear Tim,

My girlfriend keeps talking about this one guy in class and I can't figure out one of the puzzles in Jak and Daxter.

What should I do?"