By themangalist 1 Comments
Dragon Age: Origins at first glance, is generic fantasy. I remember the one-and-only Mr. Ryan Davis doing his "The orcs are storming the castle!" impression in regards to the reveal trailer. But then upon finishing the game and looking back, it's the choices you have made and the consequences on the story that made DA:O shine. Games throw the line "Your choices matter! They really do!" around a lot, and DA:O is one of the few games that are justified in stating such.
So you are a badass solving all the world's problems, sealing the fates of entire peoples, and potentially, choose to unleash a greater evil unto the world or not. There are some very tough decisions to be made. But the hardest of all for me concerns how I would treat a virtual girlfriend.
Leliana is a (not so) ordinary church girl. Loving and optimistic. Believing in a faint hope amidst a world of turmoil, she chose to walk the pilgrim's path to serve her faith. She also has a funny accent.
Religious people in popular media seemed to always been mocked for their blind beliefs, and the religious institution is always the conspiratorial evil order. For a game to portray a religious character who also has a strong sense of self was sort of refreshing. Religion showed her the beauty of the world, and she is grateful for it.
This deeply resonated with me. I am not really religious but I respect those who are, my approach to my friends was always "if being religious made you a better person, kudos to you." That also seems to be the theme surrounding this character. She simply tried to embrace a more positive, innocent and righteous way of living. Something I strive towards as I grew older.
So instead of falling in love with Morrigan's side bewb I went for Leliana. And then everything came crashing down when she reveals she used to be an assassin.
Here's the thing: I hate this trope. I hate the "innocent girl with a dark past" trope so much. I am absolutely tired of this supposed "character depth". Leliana, the same female character I felt a connection to for the reason that she is in fact a simple person, is the "innocent girl with a dark past". The reason why she put on the facade was to escape her past. I rolled my eyes at Dragon Age in disappointment.
At this point in her character quest you could make a choice: To "harden" her, encourage her to be the violent badass lady she once was; or to suppress her disturbed self and walk a righteous part.
I was torn.
My disappointment wasn't only in the developers for using a tired trope, but also in Lelianna, the person/character I chose to be with. Her personality was fundamental to why I was "attracted" to her in the first place. Knowing that's not who she really was kind of upset me. I'm not going into my personal dating history here but let's just say in the real-life game of courtship, the attraction fades the better you know someone. When you first meet someone, your first impressions always leave some room for imagination. The good kind of imagination. You think about all the beautiful qualities that that person may have. You fill in the blanks with your hopes and dreams for that person. And when reality kicks in, you realize it's not a bed of roses. You accept the good, you accept the bad. That's kind of how human relationships work.
Dragon Age: Origins is a video game. You make choices, and although the game world doesn't really revolve around you, it technically does. Here I have to make a choice regarding this relationship, and for as much as I know, this choice will stick. This will be a turning point for Lelianna the character.
Does it matter for an NPC what choice I make for her, that I choose to make her an assassin with better stats and harsher banter? No. But it matters for me, the player, and my gaming experience. Now, for once in my life, I get to make a life decision for someone, to change a person for good. I get to keep Lelianna as MY Lelianna: The nice church-going girl fascinated with life and all things in the world... the Lelianna I actually liked
This sounds awfully creepy typing this out but just imagine if we could do that in real life. Imagine being able to force a loved one into being the person you want them to be, the person you thought of them to be. You don't even have to think about how they feel, because they have no say in this. Your world revolves around you. It's a powerful thought. It's tempting. It's also immoral.
In the end I chose to let her be who she wants to be. Or rather what she was coded to be if I choose that option. It doesn't matter. For a short moment I realized the real choice was not in game. It was if I chose to accept who the person was/is or not.
I can live forever in an illusion that Lelianna was the sweetest girl on the planet. The game won't punish me for it, or at least the game wasn't coded to punish me for it. But I can't live it down that it was I who forced her into my world view. Maybe, it was I who needed to change my world view.
I guess this says a lot about my arrogance, my nonacceptance, and my selfishness deep inside of me. I wish to change the people around me and in real life you can't. Having that power in a video game, I could have lived my own fantasy, but I chose to learn something from it instead.
To learn to accept the people I love.
Thanks for reading guys! I just managed to get my opinions in before Origins no longer matters and all the talk in town would go to Inquisition, coming out next week! Honestly I cannot wait, and that game looks amazing. Before I say goodbye, dear reader, might I interest you in my personal fan comic for Dragon Age: Origins to remind you of how great DA:O is! Alright, thank you and goodnight.