Picking at the bloated carcass of geek culture...occasionally!!!

Dragon Age II: My Second Job

In Video Games on March 11, 2011 at 2:16 am

Nothing like finishing a long day of work, commuting a couple of hours home, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and barely having a moment to say hello to my wife before punching into my second job. That job, of course, is the new Bioware epic game Dragon Age II. And while the long hours I pour into the game might seem excessive to the average person, it is a necessary labor for a certain breed of bad-ass for whom I can muster only one label. Hero.

Okay, so Dragon Age II has consumed my life in a way that Bioware always seems able to do. But as I stumble to bed, as I have in the last few days, wiped out by a day of labor and a night of obsession, the incoherent semblance of thought runs through my addled brain. Why does this activity, more than any other, compel me to keep going? Why do the hours slip away into days or weeks? How does Bioware, the studio behind some of the best games I have ever played, do this to me in a way no other form of media can? To start, let’s look at other forms of entertainment.

Modern video game narratives are often compared to movies. Often, in action games especially, the plot is a scripted, fixed entity that requires the players play through to reveal the narrative. The use of cinematic storytelling, whether in directed cut-scenes or professionally voiced performances, is employed to communicate to the audience in a way familiar to it. Despite my love of movies, certain video games will hold my attention far longer and with greater intensity than a movie. Even a mediocre story in game form can engage me in a way that the greatest cinematic narrative seems unable to do.

The difference, I imagine, is the work being done. Films are a passive medium. Even the greatest, most thought-provoking, and most challenging film is something you just need to watch. Games, on the other hand, have to be worked through. If I am going to see the next scene, the next story development, or the next conversation, I have to make it happen. And that investment of energy and effort creates a sense ownership impossible to experience in other mediums.

Sleep is for cowards! Or...um...people who have a healthy relationship with video gaming.

Or maybe Bioware is a company of evil fucking bastards who hate my spare time and love depriving me of sleep.

  1. as always, posts about modern video games interest me and completely fucking terrify me. I need to stay far far away….forever….

  2. Oh boy, I missed out on the last one and I really can’t wait to play this one. However, I still have Arkham Asylum, Red Dead Redemption, and Halo: Reach to play, all of which are awesome and I already don’t have enough time for.

    So, tell me about the character creation. Is it endlessly, needlessly, wonderfully complex and in depth?

    • Well, there is a decent amount of customization in this one, but much less than the first one. Your character’s background is a lot more defined but that’s because family is a huge part of the overarching plot, so there is a need for consistency in that regard.

      It’s kind of a weird sequel, actually, because you are not playing the same character or even playing on the same continent as the first game. But, the specific choices from the first game can be downloaded from a save game and implemented. So, it’s kind of cool that the large scale ramifications from Dragon Age: Origins affect the world in Dragon Age II. I’ve read some comments that the story is less epic than the last game, and that is a generally shallower experience, but I am really enjoying the hell out if it

  3. Hmmm…. Maybe you should let me know which one you prefer when you’re done.

    By the way, the current Fantastic Four run by Hickman is awesome.

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