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Decision-making, emergence and narrative in Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2

Date

2010-04

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Type

Degree Level

Masters

Abstract

This article focuses on digital role-playing games produced by BioWare in which the decisions made by players can have a profound impact on the narrative of each game. My approach relies heavily upon the dissection of examples from Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, and Mass Effect 2 as I found that scholarship about video games focused heavily on theory rather than analysis of in-game content, at least compared to the size and popularity of the genre. I work with key concepts such as narrative, simulation, and sideshadowing in order to analyse the dialogue options and scenarios presented to the player in these games. I claim that we can compare decision-making in real life and decision-making in role-playing games in order to examine the emotions and thoughts that go into the decision-making process. I task myself with discussing the implications of choosing one’s own narrative and analysing the mechanics of these games that urge players to make morality-based choices. I consider the ideas of Gary Saul Morson and Mikhail Bahktin as a way of using literary theory to deconstruct the complexities of navigating through these unique game worlds. My aim is to show that the multi-linear structures of modern, digital role-playing games represent simulators through which players can explore their own decision-making processes. BioWare constructs emotional and intellectual decision-making opportunities that entice players to consider their own morality in the face of life or death decisions. I argue that these role-playing games urge us to consider the ways we make decisions in our everyday lives and allow us to simulate how we might act given the chance to play hero or villain.

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Keywords

Role-playing games, Narrative, Video games

Citation

Degree

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

English

Program

English

Advisor

Bartley, William

Committee

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