Date: 2011-09-09 09:05 am (UTC)
Hey! I got linked here by a friend. This is such a fabulous write-up of one of the major reasons I love the Dragon Age games and why I'm constantly trying to get my friends to play them. Yeah, the story is good, the world is surprisingly imaginative for an elves/dwarves/wizards fantasy setting, but the ladies you guys the ladies, don't you understand, you can have MEANINGFUL FRIENDSHIPS WITH OTHER WOMEN. And the male (recruitable) characters aren't misogynistic towards them, either! Some of the inter-party conversations about Isabela's pursuit of all the sex, everywhere make me want to break out into song. Good-natured teasing, where her appetites are seen as part of who she is and nothing to condemn? Be still my heart.

For me (as for you, I imagine), the Warden and the Champion are women. I've played a male Warden, and a male Champion, but I couldn't finish the game with them, because for me, it's just not as cool when a guy does this kind of crazy shit. And being able to make an entire party of ladies and feel like all of us are completely badass is...not a feeling I'm used to in videogames, to say the least. I tend to pursue the straight romance options (hey, I'm straight), but my characters' friendships with Morrigan and Isabela come out feeling like some of the most important and personally meaningful in the games. And to actually have a woman's friendship with another woman be given the same kind of emotional clout as The Male Love Interest is...really, really wonderful.

This was actually one of the things I liked best about the shift in format from DA:O to DA2 (which, like everybody, I do have reservations about): your party members had lives outside of you. It's made clear that Isabela is dragging you around on her adventures, too. Aveline has a career. Merrill is doing things beyond your ken. Obviously this is true of the male characters, as well, but it means a lot to me for the female characters because it's like the game writers are reassuring me that these ladies have agency to spare. You don't just earn their unending, slavish devotion in Act 1, and then they'll wait around in camp for you to call on them for the rest of the game. While that never precisely made me uncomfortable in DA:O--hey, it's how RPGs work, or at least 'worked back then'--I did sometimes look at, say, Leliana, left behind for the last four missions because I'm currently playing an archer and I need another DPS in melee instead, and think "...You know, if you want to go get in trouble on your own while I'm scuttling around the Deep Roads, that's okay? Leave a note, or something, I'll come and find you when I get back. You look so bored!"

In DA2, I can leave Isabela behind for a while, and feel confident that her life is no less meaningful or exciting just because I'm not currently in it.
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