Tag Archives: Zelda

Watch the First Tropes vs Women in Video Games Video

The first Tropes vs Women in Video Games video is here! It covers the history of the Damsel in Distress trope and the classic games that make use of the trope (over and over and over…). There is a transcript available at the Feminist Frequency blog. You can also see a staggering collection of examples of video game damsels at the Tropes vs Women tumblr.

Dad of the Year Changes Pronouns in The Wind Waker for his Daughter

A screenshot from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker showing Link holding a sword up high with the caption ‘On a certain island, the custom is to dress young girls in green as they come of age.’

Mike Hoye has been playing through The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker with his daughter Maya and got tired of making the pronoun translations on the fly while reading the game’s text aloud to her.  This was the motivation for creating a mod for the game that will automatically change all the pronouns to female.

It’s annoying and awkward, to put it mildly, having to do gender-translation on the fly when Maya asks me to read what it says on the screen. You can pick your character’s name, of course – I always stick with Link, being a traditionalist – but all of the dialog insists that Link is a boy, and there’s apparently nothing to be done about it.

Well, there wasn’t anything to be done about it, certainly not anything easy, but as you might imagine I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers.

There definitely aren’t enough games for young girls to play where they can do something truly heroic.   Tom Abernathy from Microsoft Game Studios noticed the same thing while his daughter was yearning for more games to play.

This is a pretty complicated mod to get set up and working, so I’m not recommending you all go out and try playing his version of the game unless you have a lot of time on your hands.  But I still wanted to give kudos to a dad who recognizes that little girls want to be heroic and that it’s not aspirational to play male characters all the time.

(Via Flip all the Pronouns)

[Video] Young female gamer plays Zelda to escape bullying

Disclaimer: I haven’t had a chance to watch this video yet.  From reading comments briefly, it appears that a trigger warning is in order for bullying, child abuse, and potentially domestic violence between her parents.  Others have mentioned that it’s hard to watch in places.

Escape is an emotional short film (under 10 minutes) about a young gamer who suffers through bullying at school and a traumatic life at home who turns to playing Zelda as her way of hiding from what’s going on in her life.  I suspect this will resonate with many of us who might have had similar experiences in our lives.  I think we can all agree that gaming has the ability to do powerful things and can be a wonderful escape, which is why I personally fight for video games to exclude people less.

Created by Baruch Films, this short video won in the Student Shorts category at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas 2012.

(via The Mary Sue)

My Super LE3T Feminist E3 Review

The following is a guest post by Zaewen:

Zaewen is a white, straight, cis woman and avid feminist gamer, with MMOs being her favorite genre. She has a degree in psychology, a Texas accent, and spends most of her free time playing games, reading blogs, and very occasionally doing some blogging herself. Zaewen hopes to one day get a PhD in awesomeness (or sociology) and do her best to help change the culture we live in.

E3, the gaming convention and showcase for gaming professionals, wrapped up late last week. I was a bit busy elsewhere, so this is going up a lil late, but hey it’s my blog and I do what I want :D So here are my reactions and thoughts to some of the games I saw in the coverage of the convention.

First, though, a word about the convention itself. Having booth babes is not in any way professional and is both degrading and alienating to the women who attend the expo and to the women in the gaming audience looking on from home. Having them there is a very loud and clear signal from the game companies themselves that says women only matter to them as a pair of boobs they can dress up in skimpy little outfits to sell games to hetero-men. And to the game journalism sites that exert a huge amount of effort to take photos and write articles about these women, almost as if they were a game to be bought and played with like the merchandise they’re hocking…. way to stay classy. It’s no small wonder that there is still such an entrenched atmosphere of open sexism in the gaming community with professionals and journalists like y’all.

With that said, onto the games!

Fable: The Journey

Apparently its a rail shooter type game that sounds absolutely boring and counter-intutive to the idea behind an Action RPG. I’m getting really tired of the male as default character too. You see it in almost every game that gives you the option to have a male or female character. The gaming companies apparently think that no one will want to play a game that has a female hero as default/canonical, so we get stuck with the white dude being the hero for the umpteenthillion time. Also, they never seem to like really advertising that you have the option between male/female even though it would probably get them a much larger audience if they really pushed that edge. Add to that the decline in progressiveness from Fable 2 to 3, and I am not optimistic for this one at all.


A screenshot of a roaring dragon perched atop a column of rock with a snowy mountain as a backdrop.

Pretty dragons!!

OMG pretty. So pretty. They’ve pretty much done everything they needed to do to make Oblivion 100x better and then they introduced DRAGONS. So much win. Only thing I need to know now is how the female Khajitt look so I can be even more psyched about playing the game. Yes, I want to be a cat dragon-born hero, leave me be.

3DS games announced: Star Fox, Zelda, Mario Kart, Smash Bros

All my favorite Nintendo games on a 3d handheld to be played whenever/where ever I want? Yes please! Now I just need to get my hands on a 3DS…

Batman: Arkham City

A screenshot of Catwoman. She has a sly smile on her face, her head slightly cocked, and is wearing a leather jumpsuit with the front zipper undone enough to reveal enough cleavage for us to be able to see the bottom curve of her breasts.

Holy Cleavage, Batman!

I love Batman and I love the first game, butwhat they’ve done to Catwoman in this game borders on making me not want to play the game. Their outfits and body proportions are absurd. Seriously, how do you get a leather catsuit that is so tight it gives you butt cleavage, and how does she managed to keep her breasts in with that huge slit down the front? I’ll still end up playing this (just because I’m such a huge Batman fan) and enjoying all the awesome combat, but I can guarantee you that I will be fuming every time the camera strays over Catwoman’s butt. She’s not an object to be lusted at! She’s the most badass woman in the Batman universe!

Zelda Skyward Sword

This looks great, the windwaker art style but sans boat and wind. Though it does have bird riding in it…. so we’ll see. Can’t we just recapture the awesomeness that was Ocarnia of Time again? Ooh, maybe they should just totally redo that game in awesome graphics mode (I know they’re doing it over in 3d, but just think of it the game with the graphics of Skyrim or something, that’s going on my gamer wishlist)

Mass Effect 3 (Trigger Warning for talk of rape in this section)

A screen grab of the Krogan Princess from the gameplay demo. It's hard to make out but she appears to be wearing an intricate metal headdress that covers most of her face, only leaving her mouth visible.

I'm not sure why she's wearing a veil... or why she's a princess that needs rescue...

This series has only gotten worse with the more exposure I have to it. When I first played Mass Effect it was awesome in its scope and story… then I got into the details of the races and background cultures (the Asari and Salarians) and it was suddenly not as cool. Then I heard tell of all the ‘goodies’ tucked away in ME2 (Miranda’s butt cleavage, Samara’s chest cleavage, the Krogan breeding/rape camp, the rape city mission, just all sorts of not good stuff) and the game lost even more of its luster. Now, ME3′s coming out and I’m just really hesitant to get excited about it at all. Especially since there’s some hubub going around about a Krogran princess from the game demmo(lemme guess, a mushroom tells Shephard that his princess is in another castl…err…breeding camp?)

Kingdoms of Amalur

This game looks and sounds like it could be either super awesome or super horrible. A game whose story is written by R.A. Salvatore, visuals done by Tod McFarlane, and the game dev behind Morrowind and Oblivion could be the most amazing game ever to grace our medium, or it could be one really polished and great looking piece of misogynist crap (niether Salvatore or McFarlane or particularly known for the feminist views). So far, I know that there’s the option for female avatars (not that they’re used in promotional material and not that this is specifically a problem with this game… like I said earlier, it plagues almost all games of this genre like Fable and Mass Effect), we’ll just have to see how it all works out. This is a game I will definitely be keeping tabs on.


When I first heard about the game I did an *eyeroll*, then after seeing some stuff about it I was a lil interested, then after seeing some more stuff about it I have reverted back to *eyeroll* status. The IP is not known for its progressive attitudes towards women in their universe. And tho Bioware has done some good things with the IP in the past, they’ve not been particularly good lately with their handling of gender, especially when it comes to character models or lore (just check out the huge racks and tiny waists on the women of DA2 or any of the backstories for the races of Mass Effect). None of the screenshots I’ve seen of the game give me a confidence that they’ll be giving us reasonable body proportions on the women, nor do the three trailers they’ve released. It is amazingly, disturbingly sad that the aliens and people with half their faces blown away look more human and normal/right (i.e. not smack dab in the middle of the uncanny valley) than all of the women in the trailers. It’s something about their eyes, the facial features, the airbrushed skin, and heavy amounts of makeup that just make the women look like amateur renders compared to the detailed and realistic looks of the men’s faces. Also, the fact that in all 3 of the trailers there’s only like 4 women compared to the roughly 100 men in each trailer. Ok, yea, that’s a slight exageration, but seriously… the ratio is very skewed and the women are very much tokens (of the ‘oh crap, all the jedi are men, guess we’ll make the bounty hunter you see for half a second me a woman) or scenery for the oodles of men to leer at.


The trailer for this looks pretty awesome but the same thing I said for Kingdoms of Amalur and SWTOR hold up here. The IP and lore is not exaclty renowned for its feminist ideals, but it could either be great or horrible, depends on the route they took. It seems like it’s going to be good, both in the gameplay and the not causing me to *headdesk*

Saint’s Row The Third

I’ve always preferred these games to the GTA series, probably because I get the option to be a woman (which is such a big plus), they’re not so full of white guys, and I like their humor a bit more. We still have to put up with quite a lot of sexist crap from them (see the link up above with the car wash booth babes and the numerous panty and boob shots in the trailer) but they usually give us more options to subvert it than other games. In Saints Row 2 I was a gang leader who swaggered and cursed like a sailor, but had a posh voice and was overly fond of cleavage shirts. Apparently, in this new game we get even more control over our character creation, and they add in a sex appeal slider. This, on women, is a boob slider all the immature boys in the audience can have huge boobs on their characters. This would usually get a gripe from me, but they went one step further, and made the slider on men affect how large their ‘package’ is. When I found this out, I could not stop laughing for a good 5 minutes. We usually only joke about this when people bring up boob sliders, the fact that it is now being given to us as an acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of boob sliders, is so unbelievably awesome.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

This trailer surprised the heck out of me when I saw it. I played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune just recently (yay gamefly!) and loved it…. minus the zombie parts, that scared the crap out of me. The characters were great and even though she was the only woman, Elena kicked major butt and didn’t take any shit from the guys (not that the guys gave any shit, they treated her more or less like an equal). The third apparently has three women in it, one of which is the bad guy and the other is what appears to be an even more badass Elena. I’m definitely down with that, so I’m going to have to sneak Uncharted 2 up on our queue and try that out asap!

Tomb Raider

A bloodied and dishelved Lara Croft, holding a torch aloft as she searches through a cave.

They really like beating her up in this game...

Ah, Tomb Raider. The *only* game with a female lead protagonist that I saw in all of the E3 coverage (if I missed some, please let me know, I’d love to be wrong about this), which is quite fucking sad. Pardon the cursing there, but seriously, that is some sad ass shit right there. We’re half of the population and 44% of the gaming audience, yet we only get one game that focuses on our stories out of a whole slew of games? Pathetic. Anyhoo, besides that BS, I’m not entirely sure that this reboot of the franschise will be a good thing. When watching the trailer and gameplay demo, I got a distinct Other M vibe from it. Maybe it was Lara simpering while she ran away from her chaser or the naive baby face they gave her, I dunno, but something about it is giving me the impression that this is not the badass Lara we all know and love. I know its a reboot and origin story for her, set in her first (mis)adventure. She’s just a kid, fresh out of college, and that what she goes through in the game are the events that make her into that badass we all know and love. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is going to be another Other M. I’m just going to have to hold off on making a judgement about it (again, would love to be wrong about this) till I play through the game.

Battlefield 3

Don’t have too much to say, other than this game is so realistic that its slightly disturbing to me as the wife of a combat vet.  ’Course he thinks its bloody awesome and is eager to get his hands on it, but I keep getting this image in my head that he’s one of the soldiers getting gunned down.  Also, when are they ever going to start adding in women soldiers to these military games that are set in the future like B3 (its set a couple years in the future, which at the rate things are going its quite possible we’d have them on the frontlines) is or MW3 will be (which is definitely set in the not-so-near future and has no excuse to not have women in them)? Come on, if Bungie could do it with Halo, certainly these games can manage it.

Assassin’s Creed 3

Love this series, can’t wait to try out this new one and the trailer is all sorts of epic. I’m kind of sad, though, that they decided to stick with Auditore’s tale throughout the last three iterations. I really liked the idea that the second game presented us with: that each new game would follow a different assassin from history, and thus that we’d get to see and be a female assassin, but alas that was not the case. Maybe after this one we’ll get to have the protagonist be a woman, pretty please Ubisoft? That would be totally awesome.

Rift Patch 1.3

Four Ascended heroes stand in front of Rift's new raid zone. A human woman wears a mage robe with ample cleavage showing and a belly window, a high elf woman wears an intricate plate two-piece set that leaves her midriff and legs bare, a human man wears a leather armor set that cover every inch of skin, and a dwarf man wears a long chain robe and pants ensemble that covers all but his face and neck.

The second to the left is plate... seriously, it is. Don't ask me how that's supposed to be good tanking armor. And yes, it actually completely covers men when they wear it.

Rift announced its 1.3 patch and I’m rather excited about it. We’re getting a new raid zone, guild banks, and a new type of rift event thing called slivers. The only thing I’m upset about is the new armor models that will be released with the patch (yes, I care more about the armors than class changes, class changes I can learn to deal with, sexist armor models I cannot). Apparently they either did not have the time to or decided not to take under advisement the plethora of criticisms they got about the female armor models. The new male armor models cover the men head to toe in really badass looking armor.  Meanwhile, the new female armors are all some form of bikini bottoms with chaps or leg warmers and tops that have some form of cleavage or belly windows involved. The female plate model has so many cut outs and is so short, I had trouble identifying it as plate armor at first *headdesk*. At least the designs on them still look pretty awesome, even though there is a whole lot less surface area for those designs to be displayed. It’s rather upsetting that there is the high probability that they saw the complaints about the female armor models (especially since they have been going on since the beta started back in December long before this patch was being developed) and decided to say ‘fuck you’ and made more of the same anyways. If they keep this up, the wardrobe function will not do us any good because there will be such a limited amount of non-revealing armors to choose from that the ability to choose becomes almost meaningless.

Dragon’s Crown

The Sorceress poses for her biographical picture in a low cut dress with high leg slits. She is contorted so that both butt and breasts are in view of the camera. She is pushing the skull of a skeleton into her ample cleavage and has her staff nestled very close to her butt crack.

She's got a skeleton shoved into her bosom and her staff is nestled between her butt cheeks....

Yea, this game gets a seriuosly big WTF from me. Its an animated, side scrolling dungeon romper…. with BOOBS. Lots of boobs that jiggle… and, as Wundergeek pointed out in her E3 review, because its aniamted the jiggle had to be drawn in…seriously WTF. And its not just a lil jiggle, the Amazon and Sorceress jiggle so much it made my chest hurt with sympathy. Also, talk about crazy ass proportions, they’ve both got hugely exaggereated body parts (butt on the Amazon and breasts on the Sorceress, although the Amazon still has quite a large rack and the Sorceress is well endowed in the rear too). Now, to be ‘fair’ the men are exaggerated too, but I’ll give you a guess as to whats not exaggerated on them…. that’s right it’s definitely not their penis or balls. No, its their biceps and shoulders which is tooootally equivalent to women having GG boobs or a butt the size on Montana. Men having exaggerated muscles != women having exagerated sexual body parts because the men are not being sexualized, they’re having their strength and power exaggerated. The women are having their status as sexual objects to be lusted after exaggerated which is not the same. At. All.

So that concludes my E3 roundup. I didn’t cover everything, no where near in fact, and most of what I covered was sadly things that caught my eye for being *bad* or *not good* from a feminist standpoint. Trust me, I would really, really love to see the day where I can pick out the things that are doing great on that front.

(Originally posted here)







3DS: The Border House guide to Nintendo’s new handheld

Nintendo held a press release today, finally releasing lots of juicy tidbits about their new portable.  The 3DS is the next installment in the DS line of handhelds, and looks to be an expensive way to get your gaming in on the go.  We have been pulling together the details from around the web and have a full guide here for you.

Release Date:

The release date for the 3DS is February 26, 2011 (Japan), March 25, 2011 (Europe) and March 27th, 2011 (U.S).


The 3DS will be priced at $249, making it an expensive option for handheld gamers.


Like its predecessors, the 3DS features two screens.  The top screen is a full 3D screen with a resolution of 800 x 240.  It does not require 3D glasses in order to see the 3D effect.  The bottom screen is a touch screen without 3D, and has a resolution of 320 x 240.

The 3DS has three total cameras, all of which are 0.3 megapixel.  Two are located on the outside of the device with the ability to take 3D photos, and one is facing the player on the top of the device with the ability to take 2D photos and video.

In addition to the standard directional pad, there will also be a new analog circle button similar to other home consoles.

It also contains a gyroscope, pedometer, and accelerometer, capable of making games more interactive but potentially more difficult to play for those with disabilities.  At this time, it’s not clear whether these features will be required for some games or if they will be able to be toggled off.

The battery will last 3-5 hours while playing 3DS games, and 5-8 hours for regular DS games.

Color options will be either Aqua Blue or Cosmo Black.

Here is a video preview of the 3DS hardware:

Major Features:

The 3DS will be backwards compatible with all DS and DSi games.  You will also be able to transfer your digital purchases made on other 3DS’s or DSi devices to the 3DS.  There will be extensive anti-piracy technology that will supposedly prevent gamers from using flash cart modifications to pirate 3DS games.

A Virtual Console service will allow players to download old Gameboy and Gameboy Color games via built-in wi-fi.  There will also be 3D games available on this service.

The multiplayer features of the 3DS are upgraded from the previous DS models.  The device features multiplayer over local network connections or over the internet.  Unlike the DS which required a friend code to be exchanged for each game, the 3DS will have only one friend code which will work for all games.  The 3DS features sophisticated wi-fi hotspot seeking connectivity, and the ability to passively download and share gaming information with other 3DS players (such as your Mii avatar).  These features do have the option to opt-out for those who are uncomfortable with realtime sharing of gaming information.

The 3DS will be capable of playing 3D movies, and Nintendo has worked out deals with Warner Brothers, Disney, and DreamWorks to bring 3D movies to the device.


The 3Ds comes with a wealth of preinstalled and downloadable software.

The first is the ability to view the online status of your friends and know what they’re playing at any time.  If a friend is playing the same game as you at the same time, the light at the top of the device will glow orange.

The 3DS features multitasking, in which you can have multiple applications open at the same time.

A full video walkthrough of many of the built in software including photo merging, friend status, augmented reality, and Mii creation is available:

Game Releases:

There will be three titles available at launch: Nintendogs + Cats, Steel Diver, and Pilotwings Resort.  There will then be a launch window in which games will be released each Tuesday starting on March 27th and ending on June 7 (coinciding with E3).

The following games will be released in North America during the “launch window”:

Asphal 3D (Ubisoft)
Bust-a-Move Universe (Square Enix)
Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D (Ubisoft)
Crush 3D (Sega)
Dead or Alive Dimensions (Tecmo Koei)
Dual Pen Sport (Namco Bandai)
Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars (LucasArts)
Madden NFL Football (EA Sports)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D (Konami)
Rabbids Travel in Time (Ubisoft)
Rayman 3D (Ubisoft)
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D (Capcom)
Ridge Racer 3D (Namco Bandai)
Samurai Warriors Chronicles (Tecmo Koei)
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked (Atlus)
The Sims 3 (EA)
Super Monkey Ball 3D (Sega
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (Capcom)
Thor: God of Thunder (Sega)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars (Ubisoft)
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell 3D (Ubisoft)

Nintendo is also working on the following first party titles: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, Paper Mario, Star Fox 64 3D.   These games do not have a release date yet.  More than 30 3DS games should release by June. Here is a video preview of Zelda:

Will you be buying the 3DS when it launches?

Characters Done Right: Midna the Twilight Princess

Midna rides on the back of a wolf

A few years ago, on my personal blog, I started a series called “Characters Done Right” to highlight positive examples of women in video games.  I hope to revive that series now, and invite other authors to write their own-characters-done-right posts to highlight positive character design.

*This post contains spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess*

The first subject of my praise is Twilight Princess’s namesake, Midna.  She is a small, imp-like person who meets Link when she rescues him from prison after he has been transformed into a wolf by Shadow Beasts.  It is fitting in a game where almost all the major supporting characters are women that Midna is an example of how to make the princess-in-distress plot-line empowering.  Midna’s world, the Twilight Realm, is under assault, so she actively goes out in search of a hero to fight with her, not for her.  When Link is in wolf form, she rides on his back and fights with him, not for him.  When Link is a wolf, I really feel like I’m playing Midna and Link is merely her mount.

Midna is smart, cheeky, and initially ambiguously motivated.  She’s feminine, but not sexualized, and still a woman even though she is petite and imp-like.  Her rich characterization works well with Link’s blank slate to make the game really about Midna.  Link is a tool to achieve the ends of power women.

Midna is so important that she’s the game’s namesake, the Twilight Princess; the game is about her, and she’s definitely worthy of the spotlight. Three years ago I predicted that Midna is going to become the descendent of Beyond Good and Evil’s protagonist Jade as an iconic feminist videogame hero.  I don’t know how widely recognized she is as a feminist figure, but there is a huge fan following of Midna demanding her inclusion in future games.  I hope to see her again.

The only thing that bothers me about Midna is that at the end of the game, she turns into a sexy lady.  Nothing against conventionally beautiful women, but I couldn’t help feeling that I “liberated” Midna from her “ugly” imp body.  For me, what is so great about Midna is that she isn’t a stereotype or even an archetypical hero.  For Midna, being a princess and powerful does not mean she has to be sexy and super-feminine.  Revealing she’s really a beautiful princess underneath it all detracts a bit from that.

Midna from Twilight Princess in imp and humanoid forms

Midna in her imp and humanoid forms. On the left, she wears a U-shaped mask that covers one eye as she snarls at the camera. She is nude, pear-shaped, with green hieroglyphics twirling around her limbs and pointy ears. Her skin is black and gray. She has point ears, a yellow and red eye, and spiked orange hair. On the right, Midna is a tall, thin woman with gray-blue skin and long orange hair. She wears a cloak and partial skirt. Her belly and one thigh are bare.

What Makes a Game Epic?

Contains minor spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

What makes a game epic? Dragon-slaying? Not necessarily! (Pictured: a group of four fantasy heroes battling a large, electric-white dragon from Dragon Age: Awakening.)

What makes a game epic? Dragon-slaying? Not necessarily! (Pictured: a group of four fantasy heroes battling a large, electric-white dragon from Dragon Age: Awakening.)

A great many games, particularly in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, seek to be epic in scope, or evoke a feeling of epicness. It’s an elusive quality because simply making a game very long or very large isn’t usually sufficient, and what makes a game epic may vary from person to person. One thing that I associate with epicness is not only the passage of time, but physical and emotional journeys, as well as change. Change is the key thing there: spending fifty hours in a static world doesn’t feel epic to me, which is why most of the Final Fantasy games that I’ve played don’t quite work for me on that level.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the first game I played that truly felt epic. And the epic moment wasn’t sealing away Ganondorf, or the heartwarming and fairly silly montage of happy Gorons and Kokiri at the end. That first real moment of awe came when I stuck the Master Sword back in its pedestal and left the Temple of Time as a ten-year-old child once more. What was so epic about that moment was the reminder of how much had changed over the course of the game. Ocarina of Time is one of very few games that has the guts to create a beautiful world, introduce the player to it, and then completely destroy it for the bulk of the game–and unlike Okami or Ocarina‘s successor, Twilight Princess, things don’t get magically all better once you finish a dungeon or defeat a monster. But going back in time in Ocarina is bittersweet: it’s wonderful to see Hyrule whole and happy once more, but upsetting to know what will become of the beautiful land and its people, with small hope of preventing it. Ocarina gracefully sets up the stakes of this epic quest, something few games accomplish.

But change doesn’t have to affect the entire world to be meaningful–it doesn’t even need to be physical. The change can also be mental or emotional, a sense that the character you inhabit has evolved or grown. No game I have played accomplishes that as well as Dragon Age: Origins. In the world of Dragon Age, Mages are dangerous and feared, and so have to go through rigorous training, which is capped off by a trial where the Mage has to prove she or he is able to resist the control of demons, or die. My first character was a Mage, and the beginning of the game involved overcoming her trial (called a Harrowing). At the time she was sheltered and naive, a wide-eyed idealist, talented but knew only a few spells. Over the course of fifty hours of play time, she changed, not only becoming more powerful as in most RPGs, but growing in character and personality: she made friends, broke a curse, slayed a dragon, fell in love, executed a war hero, been to hell and back. She saw the world in its beauty and brutality, grew up, became more cynical. So toward the end of the game, when someone mentioned her Harrowing, I had a real sense of scope for a moment, of how long ago and, more importantly, different things were at the beginning of the game. Everything had changed.

For me, in order to invoke that sought-after “epic” feeling, a game has to work to show me its scope; for me it is not so much badass moments of slow-motion Ogre slaying, but in quiet moments where the game shows me something or a character says something that makes me think, “Wow, that was so long ago and so far away, and so much has changed since then.” I think a game has to go beyond simply being long, and put players on a real journey. What about you? Do you enjoy “epic” games? What games live up to this label for you, and why?