Dragon Age: Awakening

Awakening is an expansion for Dragon Age: Origins (DAO), a single-player fantasy RPG released by Bioware in 2009. DAO takes place in the imaginary world of Thedas, a medieval and highly magical setting with a long and bloody history, where humans, dwarves and elves find themselves united before the threat of a Blight – an invasion of Darkspawn, creatures corrupted by the disease called the Taint, who emerge from underground in massive numbers following the telepathic summons of the Archdemon Urthemiel, a tainted dragon-god of old. The game follows a small group of Gray Wardens, who are an ancient order dedicated to eradicating the Darkspawn, through their efforts to stop the Blight before it reaches catastrophic proportions.

The main qualities of DAO are its engaging, tightly written and well executed story, the cast of interesting and believable characters and exceptional quest design, offering meaningful choices and delivering significant consequences. The game has been well received by both hard-core and casual players and has gained a large fan community, whose hunger for more stories about the Blight, Thedas, the Gray Wardens and the characters of DAO has been amply sated with numerous downloadable extensions, fan-made mods, and a recent announcement of a sequel.

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Mask of the Betrayer

Had it been a book, I’d have read it in one sitting. Had it been a movie, I’d have watched it without blinking. As a role-playing game, the story was infused with a sense of immediacy unique to the medium, gaining much and losing nothing. There are very, very few games in my not so modest gaming experience for which I could say the same. Even in the face of considerable expectations I had, based on the surprisingly positive reactions of the RPG community, Mask of the Betrayer stood its ground as a rare and superb experience.

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Dragon Age II

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about this game. I struggled with the dilemma for several days. The conflict revolves around the strange kind of guilt I often feel about the time I waste (or invest in) playing games. The choice of words, “waste” against “invest” is important. When I play a very good, worthy game, it’s clearly an investment and I don’t feel bad about spending such and such hours with it. When I start playing a bad game, I usually just give it up before the issue of wasting time comes up at all. But then there are games such as Dragon Age II, that simply make me feel guilty for enjoying them.

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Quests – Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narratives

by J. Howard

A bridge-building book that connects the literary genre of the romantic quest narrative (exemplified by the Arthurian legends), and the wide category of “quest games” that includes, but isn’t limited to, RPGs and action-adventure games. The parallels are undeniable and familiar to any person who enjoys playing such games, but it’s a real pleasure to see someone publish a book filled with good arguments and examples to use in debates with game critics who dismiss games as an art form and just a “waste of time”.

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