I have never been more a part of a story…

There are a handful of things I’m thinking and want to talk about today, surrounding the fact that I JUST finished Dragon Age Origins.

First of all, the important newsy news for those of you who witnessed the aftermath of my messy breakup with Alistair. I went back in time, way back to the earliest save I had, and played it again. I’m happy to report that this time I did better, I put Alistair on the throne and pretty much told him he’d be marrying me. And he fell in line, the way he’s supposed to, which is really so much more in character for him than the disaster that happened before.

I had a bad moment of deja vu there. The Landsmeet went so much better. No big battle and bloodshed in the hall, just the duel with Loghain, the other guy grabbing for power who was responsible for the death of the previous king. This time I was so badass that I hardly took any damage before Loghain yielded. That was cool.

Anyways, after the cut found me back in the same room as last time with Alistair bursting through the door. And I was like, oh no, not again! Cringing, waiting to get dumped again. But it was cool. He was like, so, we just got engaged? And he seemed pretty happy with that. So whew. That was awesome. See, real Alistair doesn’t mind me telling him how it’s going to be. Alistair likes that. I don’t know what that was about before.

“If I could turn back time

If I could find a way

I’d take back those words that hurt you

and you’d stay” —Cher

So I really loved playing it through again, not only because I understood the game better, was better at it, saw more of it, but because the going back in time part kind of blew my mind a bit. It was like that thing–okay, YOU probably don’t do this, but–where you go back in your head and do it all over again, with full knowledge of what you did wrong the first time, yet no one else has any idea that all of this has happened before.

As soon as I can figure it out, I’m totally plotting a book where this is a Talent. Our heroine, with some kind of ability to travel the timeline, must go back and do things differently. Of course, before traveling back, she will have been heinously dumped by her asshole boyfriend, whom she now despises. But when she goes back, he’s got no idea how things turned out between them. And he’s that guy again, that guy she fell in love with. He’s not the same guy who treated her so appallingly. Everything can be different this time.

Because it was really kind of fascinating to me to be playing this role, to still be pissed off at Alistair, and still charmed by him all over again. Reminding myself that this wasn’t the guy, and I can’t hold this guy responsible for what that guy said.

There’s a reason time-travel romance was a thing. It’s fascinating. Though we’ll just all agree, up front, that the Terminator will always rule.

Anyway, by now I shouldn’t have to actually tell you how epic this game is and that you should all play. And the last thing I want to mention today is an article in this month’s Game Informer magazine, an opinion column on “The Future of Media,” written by Brandon Sanderson. I wish I could find the article online to link you to it. I’ll give you the intro quote from the article:

“I remember how I felt when I first played Final Fantasy VII. I suspect my reaction was not unique–I came out of that game feeling, for the first time, like I’d played a movie.

“I think that’s the first inkling I had of what was to come, what is still coming. More and more, it seems that traditional lines between entertainment media–film, book, game, song–are blending together. I think that video games hold the future of what we might call the ‘uber-media’ form. The combination of all traditional arts into a single experience, mixed with the new art of the 20th century–the art of guided participation.”

Lest you brush off Sanderson as some gamer yahoo who couldn’t possibly know anything about books, if you follow the link above you’ll see that he was the author chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, amongst his other works.

He’s not talking about the end of the world as we know it, though. He states, “the book works as it is.” Yay for that. But it’s a really interesting view of the possibilities of telling stories to the gamer audience, both through games and beyond the games. Sanderson calls for these stories to expand on what’s in the game, rather than tell the same story over and over. He suggests, “We can release a super-package, where a fan can buy–in one download–a film, a parallel book that shows the story from another character’s viewpoint, a game that lets you play the prequel to the film, and the soundtrack.”

Sounds pretty interesting to me, especially having been totally wrapped up in my first “playing a movie” experience when I came across the article. If the subject of hybrid media and where it’s going is of interest, you might stop by a Gamestop and read it. Bring your glasses, the print in this thing is appallingly tiny.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t bought this game yet, you’re a huge slacker. What are you going to do for Thanksgiving, watch sports, the dog show? Come on.


Filed under writing

11 responses to “I have never been more a part of a story…

  1. I’m a huge fan of the first Dragon Origins game (mixed feelings on the 2nd) & I LOVE FF7!! You have good taste 🙂

  2. Having never really played role playing games, I’m not sure how the whole thing works. Like I can’t understand how you can make the character relate to you differently in the replay. Or do you just take a chance that he will based on saying or doing something different to him? Please explain. I’m used to playing games where the character interaction will always be the same.

  3. Omg, I’m a slacker! I’ve never played this game. That’s probably in part because my husband works in the gaming industry and tries to keep me away from anything too addictive. Zelda comes out on Sunday and if I even get one blog post written next week, I’ll be happy.

    Brandon Sanderson is so nice! I’ve met him a few times at Comic-Con and he couldn’t be sweeter. Well, maybe a little. He was kind of snarky to Patrick Rothfuss.

    Back to my husband. Yeah, since he works in the industry, he’s been telling me for years that I need to make my book into a game. I keep saying, ‘you’re the gamer, make it happen’. We’ll see, but that would be so cool to have a book and game.

    Oooh, I so want to check out Dragon Age now.

  4. heather

    check out misfits – (it’s probably on hulu). These are a group of kids in community service that get a random bunch of powers. One of them does exactly what you said – he goes back in time, repeatedly, to try to fix a mistake…

  5. @taureanw- I’ve seen a lot of reviews where people didn’t care for DA2 so much. But I’ll probably have to check it out for myself anyway. Thanks!

    @LL-In a game like this, the story/game changes based on choices you make, whether those choices are actions you take or choose not to take, or sometimes just things you choose to say (there are a lot of conversation and you’re given a choice of dialogue options). In a lot of games there’s only one right answer that will advance you in the game. In this game there are some choices that just make things happen differently. When I chose not to enter the tavern in the first town I came to, I didn’t meet a certain character who was not only helpful but became a dear friend to my character when I played it the second time through. I missed out on that entire interaction based on one decision. The first time through I didn’t check some rooms during one mission, so I failed to meet/rescue people who would have helped me a great deal politically. I still would have gotten to the final battle and could have won it, but it wouldn’t have been as awesome.

    @Tameri- A while back I wrote a post doing a little comparison between Zelda Twilight Princess and Dragon Age Origins. The basic difference, for me, is that I’m more invested because DA is game about choices. Zelda is more like find the right path, make the right moves to kill this stuff to advance, but it seems like there’s really only one way. I like the idea that there’s a story being told and that my decisions have a role in shaping it. I think that was more engrossing for me. Plus, there was romance! Yeah, let’s face it, I was all about the romance. Forget all that other stuff. I’ve heard really good things about Skyward Sword and I’m interested, but I never did go back and finish Twilight Princess, so I don’t know…

    @Heather- cool! thanks!

  6. Squeeee! Oh me, oh my, I love talking Dragon Age with people who appreciate the game. Spoiler warning, for anyone who reads my comment, however.

    I played it through once without looking at any spoilers, and decided pretty quickly that I’d rather have Anora remain queen. My city elf Warden and Alistair rode off into the sunset together (because we took Morrigan up on her offer), because I decided that Alistair would be a lot happier cutting up darkspawn and eating lots of cheese and cracking silly jokes. I’ve played it through 3 or 4 times since then, and in my last round, I decided to do everything possible to piss Alistair off (this was really darn hard, because he hands you that rose, and his eyes are all puppy-like and precious, and I breaking his heart was like kicking that puppy).

    I was on the fence about DA2 (bought it the day it came out; beat it after 3 days of non-stop gaming), but it must be a combination of fantastic fan fiction, and my own immersion into the game that has sold me on it. As far as battle mechanics go, I prefer it to DA:O — the animation is less clunky, and mages are so much more badass, especially with melee attacks. But DA2 also has its own cast of interesting companions (although they are have way more flaws and hang-ups than the original DA:O crew).

    As a final note, I love the idea of a heroine with the power to manipulate time. And have you played Braid? It’s a throw-back to the 2D, scrolling games like Super Mario and Donkey Kong, a puzzle game that involves time-manipulation and whatnot. I haven’t played it (puzzle games make me want to throw things at the tv), but I think the premise is really cool.

    • You. Are. Killing. Me.

      Now I totally want to play this game! Which should I start with? What platform do you think is best ~ warning, I can’t play games on the PC. I get serious motion sickness.

      We have all the systems, so whichever you think is more fun, I’m all for that one.

      If my husband asks, I’m playing this for research. Got that? Research! That’s my story and you have to help me stick to it.

  7. @Lena- Now you’re making me want to play it again. I made Alistair king mainly because I read that he could be king and we could stay together. But if Anora wants to rule and we can go off and do our thing…you’re right. He’d rather camp out and eat cheese. Plus, I know where to get Olaf’s cheese knife, so….

    I definitely want to play DA2 at some point and you make it sound a lot better than some of the reviews I’ve seen. I still have DLC to check out from Origins, though. And I’m really trying to spend a little time in the real world before I get sucked in again.

    I haven’t heard of Braid. Sounds interesting. In the time-manipulation department, I was sort of interested in Radiant Historia for DS. But Amazon had it on sale for $20 last week and I thought that was going to be on for while. Apparently not. So now I’m all turned off.

    @Tameri- I don’t have any opinions about systems. I played on my laptop and really liked it. A bunch of the recommended games in this category seem to be for XBox, so that might be a good choice?

  8. asraidevin

    We have DA2 on PS3 and it’s so awesome. I haven’t played origins yet, we say 2 first so we grabbed that. I guess there are several characters from origins in the game. I love the dialogue, has us laughing our asses off. Plus the whole romance options. My character flirts with everyone. I did get in a romance with someone which shut down romacne options with anyone else.

    Fun times. Can’t wait to get origins.

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