Dragon Age: Origins – Swimming in the Dangerous Waters of the “Mature” Rating

Updated Mon, Sep 21, 2009 by Dalmarus

In its exalted history, BioWare has proven from the beginning they're not afraid to take chances on something they believe in. When the PC RPG genre was on the verge of taking its final, rattled breath at the end of 1998, BioWare single handedly revitalized it with the critically acclaimed release of Baldur's Gate. It was an important step in the history of computer RPGs. Rather than rehashing the same ideas and content that had been bandied about for years by various companies (mainly SSI at the time), it pushed the boundaries of what anyone thought was possible and by doing so, threw the player base into a frenzy. The current field of good RPGs isn't quite as barren as it was then, but it's about to receive that same shot of adrenaline with the upcoming release of Dragon Age: Origins.

Just as they did with Baldur's Gate, BioWare has set out to push the envelope of possibilities further than ever before. Such bold moves are not without their inherent dangers though. In an age where the sight of an exposed nipple due to a “wardrobe malfunction” on live television not only dominated headline news for weeks, but caused parents across the nation to throw up their arms in protest, could the release of a game as brutal and gritty as Dragon Age: Origins be a risky move?

If you took little more than a perfunctory glance at the warning label, the argument could be made that it could prove disastrous for both developer and publisher alike. The reasons listed for the game’s mature rating are "Blood, Intense Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, and Sexual Content". This list alone has the volatile potential of a nuclear bomb to send parents and moral conservatives into fits of instant hysteria. While I think the types of reactions we've seen to such things in the past have bordered on the purely ridiculous (GTA hot coffee, anyone?), both BioWare and Dragon Age: Origins are cut from a different cloth than those that have come before them and they've proven it on multiple occasions.

The greatest strength of Dungeons & Dragons has always been the ability to play a character of your own creation and explore a fantasy world as you see fit. Free to make both intelligent and asinine decisions alike, along with all of those in between. We're still not ready to hand over the reigns of our favorite Dungeon Master to the shiny circuits of a computer, but we're getting closer by the day and BioWare’s new title will be an important step toward that goal.

How can it accomplish such a feat? By making the world gritty, brutal, exotic, and beautiful at the same time. Stan Lee knew many, many years ago that it was the flaws in his super heroes within the Marvel universe that made them so interesting. The same holds true for characters within a video game. It's the flaws within them and the dark recesses of their souls that make them compelling.


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