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Trevor Teichert

UWRT 1102
Professor Grant

The Exploratory Essay

You awaken to find yourself in hand cuffs and your body chained to the ground. The
camera pans across the room to show youre in a holding cell of sorts, and youre not alone;
guards watch your every move. You notice a faint glow emanating from your hand; upon further
inspection it explodes with color, sending a sharp pain up your arm. You have no recollection of
how this magic appeared on your hand and even more confusing is the fact that youre chained
up; what could you have done wrong?
As your arm begins to cool down and the pain fades, you hear the door in front of you
slam open as a woman marches into the room. The guards watching you draw their swords in
what looks to be preparation; maybe youre in more danger than you thought. She examines you;
by her composure and facial expressions its clear that shes not new to this interrogation of sorts.
She leans in close and asks you one question: Tell me why we shouldnt kill you now?
A variety of responses appear on your screen; you can choose to respond with surprise
and ask why youre here, you can demand to be released and to be shown respect, or you can
remain silent and let the scene play out to get a better understanding of whats going on. Your
choice on what you say will matter; the woman will take note of how you responded and will
continue to take notice of your choices as you progress throughout the game. You two could
eventually become the closest of friends or view each other as hated rivals.
And so begins Dragon Age: Inquisition, a game where you must discover the meaning of
the eerie green glow that flashed across your palm. The world of Thedas has ripped open, and the
mysterious realm known as The Fade has spewed into the real world, causing chaos across the

lands. The Fade is an afterlife that holds spirits, demons, and even darker entities; worse is the
fact that you were seen at the scene of the crime with the mysterious glow coming from your
palm. People believe you are linked and its your job to give them hope; youre the key to
closing the tear that is connected to the fade before the malevolent spirits within change the
world as you know it.
Your choices will change your story as you progress; youll find yourself having to
struggle with political and moral decisions as you adventure across Thedas. The game offers
unforeseeable twists and turns, and the amount of backstory and lore put into the world that you
discover is endless; hundreds of books could be written about what has transpired to create the
land of Thedas. With enough dialogue and backstory to justify over hundreds of hours worth of
game content, why wouldnt Dragon Age: Inquisition be considered a form of a literature?
We constantly hear of the great classics in writing, as well as successful books and stories
that have become renowned in recent times. Depending on who youre asking, youll also find a
large portion of people who consider various movies to be a form of literature or works of art in
their own way. So why is it that videogames arent brought into these types of conversations?
The only time you hear of videogames is when its the next violent game that upsets
parents and makes the news or other forms of media. Your Grand Theft Autos and Call of Dutys
are shown without a hint of dialogue; in its place are the violent acts that are committed during
the games most grotesque moments. Delve deeper into the world of videogames and youll find
games that focus on story, character development, and the world it creates.

Game developers are able to create expansive worlds where they will have to create
backstory for each of their characters. Do they want their world to have gods? What kind of era
do they want their game to take place in (Modern times, Futuristic, Medieval)? Will the
protagonist be a central power in the land, or will they have to work their way up the political
ladder? Game developers start their world from scratch, much like a writer would do for a
potential novel. Recently videogames have even begun to delve into the concept of morality and
choosing right and wrong from the gray areas that inhabit the natural world.
Videogames are able to explore mature concepts and bring across creative ideas just as
successfully as a movie or book can. Developers such as Bioware have even gone as far as to
give gamers the option of eliminating the action/combat gameplay and skip to the story in their
games. One of Biowares more successful games, Mass Effect 3, gives the player the ability to
choose between three pre-set modes for the game: Action mode, Story Mode, and RPG Mode.
This gives the player either to have a more action driven experience, skip the majority of the
action and have the game be mostly story/interactive cut scenes, or a normal experience that
balances both. Bioware is trying to cater to their wide variety of fans; their games are sought
after for their complex storylines and theyre trying to let any type of gamer play it with ease.
If this much effort is being put into the production of a videogames storyline, why do
they not get any recognition from media? Why can novels and movies reach the literature hall
of fame but videogames cant? Videogames are definitely a new form of entertainment; theyve
only been around for a few decades, but they seem to have a barrier around them. People seem to
be against the idea of accepting videogames as a form of literature and culture, despite the
achievements theyve made in the entertainment industry. The lengths game developers go to
create the world and the characters that live in it is extraordinary; when I think of my favorite

stories, over half of them are videogames. If videogames are able to write such compelling
stories, could they eventually be considered a form of literature?