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Dragon Age: Origins and Gender

Dragon Age: Origins portrays gender in a whole new way.

Mallory Wynn

on 9 December 2010

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Transcript of Dragon Age: Origins and Gender

Gender ...is a role-playing game that allows the player to manipulate decisions based on his or her preferences. Though there are many choices to make, when thinking about gameplay, one in particular will not yeild separtate results no matter how the player chooses. Dragon Age:
Origins It allows hundreds of decisions from race, to hair color, to responses in dialogue. Choices "portrayed as helpless, incapable of violence." (Dickerman 22) Depictions of women Usually depicted as having smaller hips and waist than the average women in reality. "damsels in distress"
(Dickerman 22) in games other than Dragon Age Depictions of women
in Dragon Age: Origins Human Noble Dalish Elf Female Protagonist Cast Characters Male versus Female "I don't understand. You look like a woman." Sten, a Quarni warrior questions the leadership of the female player character. His ignorance is echoed throughout the gaming world as, typically, the protagonist of video games is a male character. Why? This may be for marketing reasons: men, the most popular buyers of video games, rather play someone they can relate to. This may be for gameplay reasons: males are typically stronger, faster and physically more capable of doing things than a female. Dragon Age: Origins quickly refutes these claims. On the character creation screen it states: Characters coded into the game that the player interacts with but are not the player character. What does this mean? The game developers made these characters to look the way they do and the player cannot, in most cases, change how the character looks. This is optional. If the player so chooses, he or she can play a male protagonist though it does not effect gameplay Though you do not begin dressed like this the Human Noble can spend a great deal of time fighting in only her undergarments. The player does not have a choice; his or her character, at one point in the prologue level, will be in only her undergarments. However, the player can dress his character in proper armor as soon as he wishes. This scene does, however, depict women in a sexual and stereotypical way, accentuating her chest and revealing as much of her body as possible. The Dalish Elves do not reveal as much skin as the Human Nobles during the prologue level. They do however, put more emphasis on the curves of the female Elves and reveal a bit more skin. The femal Dalish, Left, has a bare midriff, a tighter top that accentuates her chest, scooping lowon the top and ending right beneath her breasts. The male Dalish, Right, is nearly completely covered. A few gaps in his armor are found only between peices: where his gloves end and chest and shoulder piece begin and between his boots and skirt. Relatively unassuming areas of the body. The Lady of the Forest Is covered only by the growth of the forest. What is covered, hides only the areas of greatest importance, and even then, they are barely covered. The majority of her chest is revealed, leaving little to the imagination. After being confronted by the Lady of the Forest, player may make gameplay decisions based solely upon her body and sexual appeal. The Desire Demon Morrigan Morrigan is one of the player's party members. She is forced into the party and can be a vital part of the party. Because she is a cast player, her clothing is not optional; it is made for Morrigan and it enhances her magic. The developers of Dragon Age sexualize Morrigan primarily by her revealing top. The low cut and body-less "shirt" cover just enough so that she is not showing her chest but at the same time, leave little to the imagination. The Desire Demon is one of the most sexualized characters. It is apparent here that the developers wanted to personify the word "desire." To say that the Desire Demon is clothed at all would be an understatement. Her lack of clothing and the strategically placed body jewelry emphasize her sexuality and can manipulate the player. Players may choose to engage in the controversial blood magic based only upon the appearance of the Desire Demon. Depending on the player, how the characters are depicted can influence the player's choices. During the ending sequence, the player can choose to have a baby with Morrigan in order to save himself and others. This decision, and other descions that have to do with Morrigan, can be influenced by her attractive-ness A male, human warrior will begin with a strength attribute of 15. In order to wear leather armor, a male warrior needs a strength of at least 12. However, his fatigue will decrease at 2.10%. Longswords, a one-handed melee weapon and the primary weapon for a warrior, requires a strength of 11. A female, human warrior will begin with a strength attribute of 15. In order to wear leather armor, a female warrior needs a strength of at least 12. However, her fatigue will increase at 2.10%. Longswords, a one-handed melee weapon and the primary weapon for a warrior, requires a strength of 11. What does this mean? Does the description of women in other games fit that of the women of Dragon Age: Origins? A female protagonist in Dragon Age has the same chance of succeeding as her male counterpart does. A female protagonist, along with some cast characters, can wield the same weapons and wear the same armor as the men. However, Princess Peach, from Nintendo's best-selling Mario Bros. series, has had to be rescued a plethora of times by the infamous Mario, personifying the "damsels in distress" (Dickerman 22) motif in video games. (Martins 829) All screenshots were taken by the author and are from Dragon Age: Origins (BioWare.)

BioWare. Dragon Age: Origins. Electronic Arts: 2009. Video Game.“
Creature – Desire Demon.jpg.” JPEG. “Desire Demon.” Dragon Age Wiki.
Wikia, 12 Oct. 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2010.

Demononstrings. “Princess Peach.” JPEG. “Princess Peach.” Photobucket.com,
n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2010.

Dickerman, Charles, Jeff Christensen, and Stella Beatríz Kerl-McClain. "Big
Breasts and BadGuys: Depictions of Gender and Race in Video Games." Journal of Creativity in Mental Health 3.1 (2008): 20-29. Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Oct. 2010.

“Lady of the Forest.jpg.” JPEG. “The Lady of the Forest.” Dragon Age Wiki. Wikia, 16 Oct. 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2010.

Lewis, Melissa L., René Weber and Nicholas David Bowman. “‘They May Be Pixels, But They're MY Pixels:’ Developing a Metric of Character Attachment in Role-Playing Video Games.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 11.4 (2008): 515-518. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.

Kalla, Riyad. “Dragon Age Origins Character Creator.” 2009. JPEG. “Dragon Age: Origins
Goodies.” The Buzz Media. WordPress, 16 Oct. 2009. Web. 30 Oct. 2010.

Martins, Nicole, et al. “A Content Analysis of Female Body Imagery in Video Games.” Sex Roles 61.11-12 (2009): 824-836. SpringerLink. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.

Trinity. “Morrigan.jpg.” JPEG. “Dragon Age Origins: Oh Alistair!” Female-gamer.com. WordPress, 16 Nov. 2009. Web. 16 Oct. 2010. Works Cited ("Lady of the Forest.jpg") (Trinity) ("Creature - Desire Demon.jpg") (Demononstrings) (Kalla) Though playing a female protagonist will not yield separate results from playing a male protagonist, the female cast characters found throughout the game can influence the actions of the player by the characters' stereotypical portrayal as sexual beings. "You expect me to believe that one woman did all of that?" (BioWare) The developers and art directors of the game do present the women in a stereotypical way. They have small waists, large, revealed chests, and little body fat. The clothes that the cast characters do wear reveal the most sexual parts of the female body.
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