I Want To Feel Important

It'd be an understatement to say 2014 has been a downer for me. In January and February, I felt myself stagnating. In March, my mom died. In April, I got rejected from a job I had pursued with all of my (remaining) energy. In May, things have settled into a routine, and I've been able to trick myself into having a good time on most days with some success.

Books, TV shows, movies, and games all make me feel things. Games in particular stand out as a way for me to feel good because they place me into a larger world. I've written before how Animal Crossing has been my go-to game when I feel sad and overwhelmed since New Leaf's release because it is simple and cute. That's good in short bursts, but when I've been sad for this long, a band-aid of adorableness doesn't cut it. What I need is to kill some dragons.

Blood, guts, weapons, magic, different races, a deep history, and customizing my own character. This is what I needed.

Dragon Age: Origins had enough material for me to chew and forget about my world for a few hours. Not all games need to be, or even should be, about escapism. Some games should reflect the world and comment on personal experiences. But other times it's great to jump into a fantasy world and be someone else for a change. Instead of being the freelance writer still trying to get into the thick of things, I was a hero capable of summoning large fire tornadoes and blizzards, taking on dragon hordes, and solving political disputes. I will never be that important in my real life. Some games make you feel good by making you feel important. After all, the protagonists of many stories were either destined for greatness or got roped into things and ended up becoming great; either way, they were heroes by the end.

Players can customize the protagonist's appearance in Dragon Age, choose what to say from a list of dialogue options, and influence people ranging from companions to leaders. The game takes place in a well-established place -- a country that recently regained its independence, but it's a country with complicated politics, and plenty of racism. A part of what makes me feel good when playing Dragon Age is being able to persuade and intimidate other characters when they make racist comments. Playing as a disenfranchised race feels so good when you get to point out the hypocrisy of people in power. It's the triumph of the underdog and the destruction of power structures that favor those already in power. This is often a dream in the real world, which is why I find it so important in media.

Ferelden is vast, and among your travels, you encounter humans, elves, dwarves, men, women, templars, mages, opportunistic merchants, refugees, and nobles. Each place has its own culture that you learn about by discovering documents and speaking with the people living there. These vast worlds within games remind me of my childhood glee of getting wrapped in Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings, two very different series with a lot of world building. These pieces of media are so fascinating because they are different from our lives.

But let's be honest here -- sticking a sword through the archdemon's face is exhilarating. There's a lot of joy to be had in taking down twenty as many enemies as you have characters in your party.

Many of us are not powerful. We are victims of illness, circumstances, poverty, power structures, and loss. If killing darkspawn makes you feel important, go slaughter as many hordes as you can.