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Old 28th Jun 2010, 11:24   #1
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Atheism in Dragon Age: Origins

http://www.bit-tech.net/blog/2010/06...n-age-origins/

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Old 28th Jun 2010, 11:37   #2
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"claim that the Maker watches over all things, then with the other condemn anyone born with magical aptitude. " she'sawitch! Burn 'er!

Nice post. The game probably does more to reflect the hypocrisy & assumptions present IRL. I guess.you could side with the game by saying that RPG world reflect an essentially medieval ethic so religion is omnipresent, unlike today's more advanced societies.

It's always the same archetypes rolled out for RPGs eh? I want a steampunk scientist/ engineer
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 11:41   #3
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I've never played a game that has given such scope to being an atheist. You never have to say "Amen" to anything. You can say "It's all hogwash in a variety of situations. I have to say I disagree with this article.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 11:43   #4
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Sorry, to clarify, I meant I've never played a game that gives you such an opportunity to play an atheist as Dragon Age.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 11:43   #5
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Originally Posted by Spiny
It's always the same archetypes rolled out for RPGs eh? I want a steampunk scientist/ engineer
Try Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magic Obscura

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcanum_(video_game)

And let me know if you do. I've always wanted to try that out.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 11:55   #6
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Spiny brings up a good point. It's set in a medieval time, or at least it appears to be. Go back a few centurys and you wouldn't be an athiest.

That said, as a character trying to unite the lands and fight a horde, it might just be easier/better to nod and smile for the time being.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:01   #7
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That said, as a character trying to unite the lands and fight a horde, it might just be easier/better to nod and smile for the time being.
To clarify, I've nothing against the fictional setting and the idea that in that situation everyone would be religious, but the dialogue and most of the portrayals don't support that. The Chantry isn't at the stage where it's regularly burning non-believers, just as it isn't questing against the Quanari or the Dalish. If you read some of the supporting fiction, like The Stolen Throne, then there are main characters (like Loghain) who are vocally anti-Chantry on a regular occasion. Atheism obviously exists in the world.

What's more, you are occasionally given the chance to refute the Chantry - but never in a major way. It's nearly all in conversation with Leliana, the bard. I've had quite pointed debates with her about it and said that I think her visions etc are nonsense...and yet, when I talk to the Chantry or Templars themselves (or even Alistair most of the time) then it's all, as you say, nodding and smiling. It's that which I find grating; the nodding and smiling. If there's room for a Nice/Nasty approach (if not outright Good/Evil) everywhere else, then why not here?

That said, it's not grated enough to stop me playing - it's just something occurred to me, as it's always a little annoying when you find a game won't let you play the role you thought you could create for yourself.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:01   #8
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This isn't second life?

It's a game, it's made up - and you play a character in it, not yourself.

You have no trouble with magic, or dragons, or wearing silly clothes, or being a different race/sex so why worry so much about this?

To try and force your religious (un)beliefs into it makes you sound more like a religious zelot then all the religious zelots you almost certainly make fun of if they'd got upset because the maker wasn't Christian/Muslim/Buddist/whatever - although as far as I know none of them have got so upset as to bother blogging about it.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:34   #9
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Seeing that the game is set in a medieval fantasy, and most of (our) world is religious, it's only sensible to have religion throughout the game. If you can shoot fire out of a stick and have ashes cure a dying man, there'd be very little scepticism.
Just because Loghain has anti-Chantry view does not mean he lacks belief in the Maker.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:34   #10
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I didn't notice any of this religious stuff in the game lolz O_o
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:35   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
This isn't second life?

It's a game, it's made up - and you play a character in it, not yourself.

You have no trouble with magic, or dragons, or wearing silly clothes, or being a different race/sex so why worry so much about this?

To try and force your religious (un)beliefs into it makes you sound more like a religious zelot then all the religious zelots you almost certainly make fun of if they'd got upset because the maker wasn't Christian/Muslim/Buddist/whatever - although as far as I know none of them have got so upset as to bother blogging about it.
Equally then, why bother with a character creator, or choosing a class, or even being able to choose what armour or weapon you use? Why not just bark "Shut up & play with what you've been given" & give the player no mutiple choices or customization options at all.
Probably because that would be a bit **** in an RPG. People enjoy imposing personal preferences on their characters. Sometimes you want to be a Barbarian, sometimes a thief, sometimes a goody goody, others a *******, why not sometimes religious evangelist & others an athiest?
I don't think it's the most important of multiple choice options & it didn't really effect my gameplay, I played as an overly cool, dismissive, berserker. But it's an interesting criticism & something I could genuinly see them, or other writers, considering in future games.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:47   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mighty_pirate
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
This isn't second life?

It's a game, it's made up - and you play a character in it, not yourself.

You have no trouble with magic, or dragons, or wearing silly clothes, or being a different race/sex so why worry so much about this?

To try and force your religious (un)beliefs into it makes you sound more like a religious zelot then all the religious zelots you almost certainly make fun of if they'd got upset because the maker wasn't Christian/Muslim/Buddist/whatever - although as far as I know none of them have got so upset as to bother blogging about it.
Equally then, why bother with a character creator, or choosing a class, or even being able to choose what armour or weapon you use? Why not just bark "Shut up & play with what you've been given" & give the player no mutiple choices or customization options at all.
Probably because that would be a bit **** in an RPG. People enjoy imposing personal preferences on their characters. Sometimes you want to be a Barbarian, sometimes a thief, sometimes a goody goody, others a *******, why not sometimes religious evangelist & others an athiest?
I don't think it's the most important of multiple choice options & it didn't really effect my gameplay, I played as an overly cool, dismissive, berserker. But it's an interesting criticism & something I could genuinly see them, or other writers, considering in future games.
I remember reading on RPS recently about a man who played Deus Ex as a hardcore vegetarian - only healing himself with water and soy food.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:49   #13
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It's always a choice of choosing to say either "Praise the Maker!" or "The Maker exists, but I don't want to praise him right now." I want the third option which says flatly "Actually, I don't believe in the Maker and would prefer it if you just told me how many Deep Mushrooms you want me to collect and spared me the rhetoric, thanks."

For me, this is a problem because it directly affects some of the larger quests in the game. I don’t want to tell the Chantry to leave the Mage’s Circle alone for a bit; I want to tell them they have no more right to monitor the Mage’s Circle than the Dalish Elves or the Quanari. I want them to realise the hypocrisy of the situation when they, with one hand, claim that the Maker watches over all things, then with the other condemn anyone born with magical aptitude.
A bit like real life. Insult someone about their religion and Im sure they would be less likely to help you or ask you for help. Take Muslims, theyre hardly gonna get a certain Danish cartoon illustrator to do work for them are they now? I could argue that the maker is very centra to how everyone in the game thinks, yes you can take the view of I don't believe anything religious, but characters in the game are very religious that their day to day lives and actions are effected by what their maker thinks. I highly doubt that a group of people who think that if someone insults the maker and that his continued favour is needed to even exsist is gonna take kindly to "Libral"views of "everyone is entitled to their opinion". Would it be nice to see more options, actually yes it would, I would love to see that. I put it down to karma systems tho. Three options seems to be the limit of designers and maybe if designers do spend more time on even more dialogue options rahter than focusing on story and the action element of gameplay we may see it one day. I almost wonder if including all those options is possible just from a logistical point of view. Having to have each option effect not just "good" or "bad" but some other "meter" and a group of meters effects people attitude and other dialogue options. As great as it would be I just don't think it is possible due to the logistical nightmare. Maybe a basic scale it would work tho. Just my thoughts on the subject.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 12:54   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Metal_Guitar_ View Post
That said, as a character trying to unite the lands and fight a horde, it might just be easier/better to nod and smile for the time being.
To clarify, I've nothing against the fictional setting and the idea that in that situation everyone would be religious, but the dialogue and most of the portrayals don't support that. The Chantry isn't at the stage where it's regularly burning non-believers, just as it isn't questing against the Quanari or the Dalish. If you read some of the supporting fiction, like The Stolen Throne, then there are main characters (like Loghain) who are vocally anti-Chantry on a regular occasion. Atheism obviously exists in the world.

What's more, you are occasionally given the chance to refute the Chantry - but never in a major way. It's nearly all in conversation with Leliana, the bard. I've had quite pointed debates with her about it and said that I think her visions etc are nonsense...and yet, when I talk to the Chantry or Templars themselves (or even Alistair most of the time) then it's all, as you say, nodding and smiling. It's that which I find grating; the nodding and smiling. If there's room for a Nice/Nasty approach (if not outright Good/Evil) everywhere else, then why not here?

That said, it's not grated enough to stop me playing - it's just something occurred to me, as it's always a little annoying when you find a game won't let you play the role you thought you could create for yourself.
Fair enough. I just kept telling myself that city my elf was very manipulative. Telling everyone what they wanted to hear, doing everyone little favors, gifts here and there. Little does Alistair know that I play to kill him and take the throne. Ferelden will burn.

That is some DLC I would be interseted in.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 13:04   #15
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Joe, you make some good points, particularly that Dragon Age goes some way to opening up avenues for scepticism but then closes them off before they can become truly interesting.

However, I think that if games go down the route of offering players more opportunity to express potentially controversial opinions within the game, then the games ought to be made so as to accommodate those opinions in a more-of-less neutral way, unless they're willing to be seen as projects in social engineering. For example, if I were to choose to play as a Christian in a game, it would be nice if the game didn't keep prompting NPCs to tell me that I'm an idiot.

I think a good example of this done badly is Fable 2, where if you choose to eat meat you get fat, whereas vegetarianism is rewarded. It's a moral statement on something that many people don't necessarily see as a moral issue.

Personally, I would like to see opportunities in games to support companies who are trying to turn a profit. It seems that in so many games (and films, etc.) today, big companies are always "the bad guy" - invariably corrupting or oppressing someone or something. Wonderful, perhaps, if you're inclined to believe that companies often commit evil acts, and in real life you're sitting in the Gulf of Mexico holding a "BP must die" banner, but if, on the other hand, you have a more capitalist disposition, it would be nice to have in-game opportunities (beyond, say, Civilization) to find yourself in a position where companies and profit are not the root of all evil.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 13:19   #16
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I did notice that a lot in playing dragon age as well. My main problem with RPGS with a good/bad morality type thing, is that often being evil means being a complete arse to everyone.
There is a lack of lawful evil options, and when i think of lots of great villians (especially from sci-fi) quite a few of them are lawful evil. Palpatine, Lex luthor, Scorpius (or commandant greyza).

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Old 28th Jun 2010, 13:23   #17
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 14:12   #18
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Interesting read Joe. I too am playing through this atm (Steam sale cheesecake), and I must admit I never noticed there not being an atheism option in the dialogues. While I am a believer in there being a God, it does seem like a good idea to have that extra option for people such as yourself to have a more immersive experience. Looks like a missed oportunity on Bioware's part.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 14:16   #19
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And Joe, don't forget that the Ashes ARE special. They heal Arl Eamon. You can't write them off as non-magical ashes.

The game hints later that, instead of being the Maker's bride, she may just have been a powerful mage. (Ironically, that fact is in a book that is a special gift for the Chantry member, Leliana).

You can spend time ahlting the spread of the Chantry into the Dwarven kingdom, too.
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Old 28th Jun 2010, 14:56   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mighty_pirate
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
...
Equally then, why bother with a character creator, or choosing a class, or even being able to choose what armour or weapon you use? Why not just bark "Shut up & play with what you've been given" & give the player no mutiple choices or customization options at all.
Probably because that would be a bit **** in an RPG. People enjoy imposing personal preferences on their characters. Sometimes you want to be a Barbarian, sometimes a thief, sometimes a goody goody, others a *******, why not sometimes religious evangelist & others an athiest?
I don't think it's the most important of multiple choice options & it didn't really effect my gameplay, I played as an overly cool, dismissive, berserker. But it's an interesting criticism & something I could genuinly see them, or other writers, considering in future games.
For the same reason you don't get the option to fly a space ship and use a blaster pistol. They don't fit within the context of the game. Joe's Atheism is almost certainly based on his knowledge of science - a knowledge that not only does not exist, but has been replaced by magic in the dragon age world. It's a world where everyone believes in the maker and the rules of science are trumped by magic. It wouldn't make sense to have a strong atheist dialogue choice.
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