Dragon Age II

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Name: Dragon Age II
Abbreviation(s): DAII, DA2
Creator: BioWare
Date(s): 2011
Medium: PC, Xbox360, PS3
Country of Origin: Canada
External Links: Official DA2 page
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Dragon Age II is a role playing game created by BioWare in the Dragon Age series and is the sequel to their successful Dragon Age: Origins. The majority of the game takes place after the events in DA:O and features new cast as well as some returning characters. It was released on March 8, 2011 in North America.

Gameplay

Plot

After the collapse of Fereldan forces at the battle of Ostegar, Hawke and his/her family flee from the on-coming darkspawn. To escape the Blight, the Hawkes and their companion Aveline Vallen travel to Kirkwall; there Hawke and his/her sister or brother (depending on the player's class) become involved in quests in an attempt to regain their family's fortune. As Hawke travels in and around the city, s/he meets and befriends a variety of characters: Varric Tethras, a dwarf and the narrator of Hawke's story; Anders, a mage from Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening; Isabela, a stranded pirate from Dragon Age: Origins; Fenris, a former slave; Merril, a Dalish mage who also appeared in Dragon Age: Origins; and, if the player purchased the DLC, Sebastian Vael, an exiled prince.

The story follows Hawke's adventures over 10 years. As s/he rises through the ranks, Hawke becomes involved in the warring factions in the city. His/her decisions affect not only the fate of Kirkwall, but as the tale comes to an explosive conclusion, the destiny of all of Thedas.

Links to Dragon Age Origins

Characters

  • Hawke:The player character. Because the player chooses the first name, characters in the game use the family name "Hawke" to refer to him or her. Hawke can be male or female, and his/her appearance can be customized by the player. Through dialog choices, Hawke's personality can also be determined.
  • Varric Tethras: The narrator of Hawke's story as well as one of the companions.
  • Bethany Hawke/Carver Hawke: Depending on Hawke's class, one of the Hawke twins will accompany Hawke from Ferelden to Kirkwall and be available as a companion for a portion of the game.
  • Aveline Vallen: The first companion to join Hawke. Aveline is a warrior and can function as the party's tank.
  • Fenris: A former slave. Like Aveline, Fenris is a warrior and can serve as a tank.
  • Merrill: A Dalish mage who leaves her tribe to move into Kirkwall. She appeared in the Dalish opening of DA:O.
  • Isabela: Another import from DA:O. Isabela is a ship captain grounded in the Free Marshes.
  • Anders: A companion from DA:O-A. He is a renegade mage and can serve as the party's healer.
  • Sebastian Vael: The Prince of Starkhaven, available only as DLC.

Romances

See also: List of Dragon Age Pairing Names

Hawke's relationships with his/her team members is an important aspect of the game. Depending on the player's dialogue and choices, Hawke can form either friendships or rivalries with the playable characters. A Hawke of either gender can also pursue romances with four characters: Merril, Anders, Fenris, and Isabela (and, if the player purchased the DLC and is playing as a female Hawke, Sebastian can also be wooed). If Hawke has rivalries with the love interest, their relationship is referred to as a "rivalmance." Conversations and cut-scenes are different depending on the status of the relationship.

Discussion

Social Justice Discourse

"Straight Male Gamer" Controversy

In March 2011, a user named Bastal posted a long essay on the BioWare Social Network regarding his anger that BioWare neglects the straight male gamer. David Gaider's response was noted for being polite and thoughtful, despite the homophobic tone of the original author.[1]

The romances in the game are not for "the straight male gamer". They're for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. ...And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as "political correctness" if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They're so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance.[2]

In April 2011, popular video-game critic Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw wrote his own response on The Escapist, an online magazine, in defense of the gay romance options.

The long and the short of it is, if you honestly can't find something beautiful in the self-sacrificing devotion between two people just because they're both trouser-wearers, then I pity you, I really do.[3]

In September 2012, a discussion on Tumblr arose after a post regarding sexuality was made on da3prophecies:[4]

I would like to see a return of more diverse romance options when it comes to sexual orientation. Having ALL the romance options be bisexual just feels lazy to me. Not everyone you meet will be bi, so it stands to reason that some of character will be straight, some will be bi, and others will be gay. This will force the player to play through more then once in order to experience all the romance options. I would also like one of the romance options to be gay, either a female character who will only sleep with another female, or a male who will only sleep with a male. -da3prophecies
> ...Besides, there was plenty of diversity in sexualities in DA2. It’s just that there’s more to a person’s sexuality than just plastering the “straight”/”gay”/“bi” (oh who am I kidding, it’s not like bisexuals really exist) label on. If you think Isabela and Merrill have the same sexuality just because they’re both capable of falling in love and enjoying sex with men and women, then you’re…IDK you’re just pretty stupid, there’s no nice way to say it. This whole neverending complaining about “everyone” being “bi” in DA2 is like if 4 out of the 9 companions in DA2 were ginger and people bitched how all the companions look exactly the same, and how inexcusably unrealistic having 4 gingers in one group is for over a year after the game came out. Just stop being so stupid already, or stop showing your stupid at least. -meronym
> While exclusively queer LI’s would be a neat thing in the DA universe, arguments like this always feel unfair to me. I suppose I could be reading too much into it, but I didn’t feel like anything was lost by making the bulk of LI’s romanceable by a PC of either sex. They still had the same character depth, implied preferences, individual experiences and histories, and overall, very firm impressions of complex sexuality. -metasexual
> Oh ffs, not this again. More ‘diversity’ = less bi characters, and more straight characters now? I mean, you’re playing a game with dragons and blood magic and you think it’s unrealistic to meet four bi people at the same time? It’s not ‘lazy’, it’s called being inclusive. Also, in DA2 you still can’t have poly relationships so you still have to play the game 4 times to experience each romance properly so I don’t understand the 2nd part of your complaint. -gointotheforest
> I’m going to post something that David Gaider responded to, because I think it’s worth reading and worth thinking about, but honestly the writers and even the devs that are not writers have adequately responded to this issue. "I get why some folks might not like the “subjective sexuality” of some of the characters, even if that subjective nature only becomes evident on multiple playthroughs (or if you spend a lot of time on the forums, first). For some, it’s an issue of verisimilitude… because once they understand that this character might also romance different genders in alternate realities (other games) they have difficulty wrapping their minds around which neat little box they can put that character into...." ...I understand that the romances are one of the biggest aspects of BioWare’s games, and honestly I think it’s awesome that they spend the time and resources implementing and developing romances in their games. But what rankles me more than anything else is when people simply only judge a character’s worth by whether they are romanceable and if they are, then by their sexual orientation. I believe you are doing the writers, and the characters themselves, a disservice. -naiadestricolor

Fandom

Fandom Hubs

  • BioWare Social Network: official forums: troubleshooting, discussion, user profiles; most importantly: contact with producers/writer
  • Dragon Age Nexus: for game mods
  • Dragon Age Wiki: gaining-on-comprehensive info Dragon Age Wiki
  • On Livejournal: mainly Swooping is bad; specialized communities (e.g. [gnawed_noble]: German language fan community)
  • DeviantArt: ca. ~50 groups[5]; tens of thousands of fanworks.
  • It also has a major presence on Tumblr and Ao3.

Fan Activity

Modding
Although not as extensive as DA:O's modding community, DAII's fandom does participate in modding. A controversy arose when a mod lightening NPC Isabela skin color; see her character page for more information. Other companion NPCs have been altered as well, including Aveline Vallen, for whom there is a mod to make her appearance more "feminine," and Anders. An example discussion about these mods can be found on Tumblr:

I really don’t like all these “Make (INSERT CHARACTER) HOT!” mods for DA2. The Aveline ones disgust me because they’re always given with the line “Well.. she is just flat out butch and ugly”. So you’ll sit in your bedroom making her look like all the other none descript “supposedly hot” computer game females? Way to go. Then making Isabella white? Really? What? And my personal annoyance - “Make Anders hot”. And it isn’t even just a simple texture cleanup. - vanguardofyourdistraction
>I’m with you on that. I didn’t even know they made mods like that until I recently saw a screenshot with a modded Aveline (I play on Xbox, so I don’t get to use mods anyways). :/ I was so confused, because I think Aveline looks beautiful the way she is. She’s unique. AND DEAR GOODNESS WHY WOULD YOU MOD ANDERS? D: Leave him alone, strange people! ;-; -denirae
>She is beautiful. I love her cheek bones and her freckles. She’s kick ass and I think people making mods saying “I wanted Aveline to be pretty in my game” says more about them then the character itself. AND YES. I cannot agree with you more on the Anders thing. It breaks my heart. -vanguardofyourdistraction

Fic Events
Hightown Funk, modded by meggannn and damalur, exchanging fic and fanart for the Hawke/Varric ship.

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Notable Fans

Notable Fanworks

Fanfic

References

  1. Dragon Age Writer On Characters’ Bisexuality. Posted March 25th, 2011. Accessed Aug 09, 2011.
  2. Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer. Accessed Aug 09, 2011.
  3. Extra Punctuation: Roleplaying Homosexual in Dragon Age 2. Posted April 5, 2011. Accessed Aug 09, 2011.
  4. meronym-da3prophecies-i-would-like-to-see-a. Accessed September 29, 2012.
  5. Search for Dragon Age groups. Accessed 6 May 2011.
  6. Crisium at ff.net; rec at TVtropes; recs at spellhold studio forums