Monday, April 18, 2016

Tackling Social Issues With Dragon Age

Post oleh : Candy Sim | Rilis : 7:24:00 PM | Series :
The magician in Dragon Age series is compared with some ethnic minorities in modern Western society because other wizards with major population by natural ability to manipulate occult magic. Owning a talent can be replaced with modern differences in race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political trends and what they want. For this comparison, I want to focus on sexual orientation and race. Earn to die 3
The stereotype against blood magic can be compared to the homophobic stereotype in America's past, that claimed homosexuality as a mental disorder (DSM II-III, removed in the DSM III-R in 1987). Though most might say we have moved past this kind of homophobia, I think the very existence of this camp and other similar institutions of conversion therapy proves otherwise. Blood magic is a school of magic that uses the power inherent in blood to fuel spellcasting and also to twist the blood in others for violent or corrupting purposes. Earn to die Blood magic is not inherently evil, nor does it equal immediate possession by demons - in fact Tevinter mages use blood mage with ease. Though their method of bloodletting is quite questionable, it is entirely possible for a blood mage to move away from this method and be very successful. In fact, Solas states that blood magic is no worse than any other magic if properly used. Mages such as Dorian and Merrill also see no harm in the discipline so long as blood is tapped from one's own blood or a willing participant that doesn't lead to the sacrifice of another's life. In addition, in the first two games, the player is permitted to specialize in Blood Magic.

Before 1987, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality as a sexual deviance from the norm, the norm being heterosexuality. Indeed, just as with blood magic, there were plenty of people who believed homosexuality to be inherently evil, an opinion often informed by their religion or political beliefs. Conversion therapy became quite popular to such people, another version of the Circle of Magi. The Circle essentially controls the teachings that mages receive about their magic, where they live, and what they do. Conversion therapy is a term used to refer to any of a number of pseudoscientific practices which claim to produce a fundamental change in an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices vary greatly, but are generally religious in nature and typically consider homosexuality and transgenderism diseases or disorders. The Dragon Age “success story” of such would be a Tranquil. The Tranquil are a group of mages who went through the Rite of Tranquility. The Rite cuts off the connection to the Fade, and the Tranquil can no longer dream nor draw on the Fade to perform magic. As a side effect, their emotional center is utterly removed, which makes them undesirable to be possessed by demons in the first place. You can see the parallels drawn to somebody who has learned to deny their sexual orientation in order to gain acceptance in mainstream society.

Changing to the issue of racism, Dragon Age's templars can be compared to the American police force, especially when you compare the consequences of Knight Commander Meredith's rule in Kirkwall to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Templar Order is a military order of the Chantry (the main religious institution in the Dragon Age series) that hunts down rebel mages and watches over the normal mages in the Circle of Magi. The templars are officially deemed a force of defenders by the Chantry, established to protect the communities of the faithful from magical threats. Just as in our world, there are plenty of incidents where templars abuse their authority within the Circle they are in charge of. Kirkwall is the location of most historically significant of such, with Knight Commander Meredith being corrupted and instigating a series of conflicts between the templars and the mages. She would often employ the Rite of Tranquility or employ torture as punishment for petty offenses. Not far off from such harsh punishments are the police abuses protested by the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter regularly organizes protests around the deaths of unarmed black people in killings by law enforcement officers, and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the US criminal justice system. You can see that Ferguson, Missouri, with its large number of reported police abuses against the African-American community, is a real life version of Meredith's Kirkwall.
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It is clear that the mages in the Dragon Age series are comparable to some minorities in modern Western society, especially racial and sexual minorities. The stereotype against blood magic is much like the homophobic tendencies of America before 1987, while the abuse of the templar authority is quite like the police brutality that is protested by the Black Lives Matter movement. Kudos to BioWare for giving us the opportunity to think about these social issues through the lens of fantasy in the Dragon Age games.