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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Dragon Age - Of Elves, Archetypes and Derivative Fantasy

Default Dragon Age - Of Elves, Archetypes and Derivative Fantasy

December 4th, 2009, 16:28
A second Dragon Age examination today with fansite Grey Wardens writing a piece called Of Elves, Archetypes and Derivative Fantasy. As you'd guess, the article tackles the accusation that Dragon Age is too derivative:
One of the major criticisms of Dragon Age: Origins has been that the game draws on ‘derivative fantasy’ in its plot and storyline. Now, staying away from the debate over whether or not DA:O is ‘dark fantasy’ as marketed, or ‘Tolkien-esque epic fantasy’ , the whole discussion leads me to ask why is it that anything in the fantasy genre is immediately under fire for being self-referential.
What I want to know is when does something stop being cliché and become, instead, archetype?
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December 4th, 2009, 16:28
To me it doesn't matter whether elves are a literary archetype or cliché. The problem for me was rather the utter lack of surprises the races of Dragon Age gave me. They basically took the archetypes and gave them some cultural twists: oppressed, but otherwise regular, elves.

When I play games I love the feeling of something being new and surprising, especially in fantasy and science fiction games where they have such amazing freedom with the world.

The story was decent as well, but it was once again not much imagination behind it. The storytelling, though, was really solid in my opinion.

Edit: Sorry. Didn't really see it as a spoiler considering it is all shown within the first few hours of play. Changed now.

Edit 2: Or did I understand you correctly Alrik?
Last edited by SveNitoR; December 4th, 2009 at 16:44.
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December 4th, 2009, 16:37
Originally Posted by SveNitoR View Post
The story was decent as well, but it was once again not much imagination behind it: an underground corrupting evil, lead by an evil dragon, surface to kill the world for some unexplained reason and the only one capable of saving the world is the hero. The storytelling, though, was really solid in my opinion.
You don't like spoilers, do you ?

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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December 4th, 2009, 22:37
I think the fact that the "spoiler" in question is accurate and yet so cliched that it would be a great starting point for a parody of derivative fantasy games makes a fine point on its own.

And I'm dumb enough that I missed it: were the Dwarves inverted/subverted/slightly changed from Tolkien somehow too? Beyond the way my Dwarf warrior starting with dual-wield for some reason?
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December 10th, 2009, 14:27
What I want to know is when does something stop being cliché and become, instead, archetype?
Never, as you've confused the terms. The question is: when can an instance of an archetype be regarded as clichéd? The answer is: when it has been overused to the extent it's universally recognised.

For example, in the first Star Wars film Darth Vader is an archetypal evil wizard. However, he isn't clichéd. A lasersword-wielding cyborg is a fresh take on the archetype (to the extent that most people would not have even recognised the archetypal template). The Emperor, on the other hand, is an extremely clichéd representation of an evil wizard - right down to the sinister cackle.
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December 10th, 2009, 15:23
I just think, since they created the whole DA universe from scratch, they should have created new races. I'm certainly tired of the same old 'lean elf, stocky dwarf, human-do-it-all' paradigm.
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