The Inkwell


Spoilers, I suppose it is only fair to advise, for Dragon Age: Inquisition.

I was thinking tonight as I leapt off the Skyhold balcony and dove the the massive heights that assuredly would have killed me if I were of a sort to be killed about the first time I played the game.

I have wanted over the past few days, when the boss has been away and the holidays have begun to loom in their congenial way, to have a big game to play.  Dragon Age: Origins, when it first came out, was one of those event video games where if you let yourself go all in and immerse yourself in the story, you could be gone from life for a week.   That, I think I’ve mentioned before, has its appeal.  However, it is also delightful to watch a character progress through a story, to hit those carefully crafted story beats as intended and feel the joy you were meant to feel.

I remember being curled up in my bed, the lights were out, I’d been playing way too long, but I knew that there was a scene.  Or I expected there would be given what I know about how Bioware companions work.  Clicking there and finding my little Inquisitor up on that balcony, contemplating just what this odd elf was actually meaning when he was asking her about the impact of the mark on her hand, completely unaware of what this actually meant, I was enthralled.  I was learning just as she was learning in a way that obviously, I cannot replicate now.

When he grabs her to kiss her, one of his knee-knocking, earth-shaking, rend the world in two brand of kisses, it feels as though they’re unexpectedly creating something together.  It feels remarkable and urgent and tangible.  All the more tragic, of course, in light of what happens to tear them apart.  But that visceral quality, that fresh, unvarnished and brand-new sense of story engagement, I both want to experience that and want to learn how to create that for others because it is such a gift.

When the room is dark and you feel so unsure, to know there’s a path, there’s a process, there’s a change you can affect within the game.  I mean, that’s compelling shit.  You can’t just give up on reality for it, though, because eventually the game does end and eventually the Inquisitor’s heart gets stomped on for reasons that we as players know, but she is oblivious to.

If this life is a game, a sim, a treat for some girl in some other world to look in on as we look in at our hamsters, then I apologize.  It’s a dull as dishwater soul you got stuck with.

Still, if she ran my life, she also knows what it is to hear music and raise my arms in the air, what’s joyful about spinning in the living room, why spending an hour cleaning the bathroom can feel as rewarding as a $100 bill.  If she runs this life, I think she’s alright in my books.


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