Making friends, Mostly.
In snippets of free time, I’ve been plugging away at Dragon Age. I’m still enamored. I’ve liberated Crestwood again (I can’t wait to sit judgement on that mayor; I was horrified all over again at the scratches in the caves under the lake). I’m saving Josephine’s life by some clever sucking up to nobles, and leliana is rolling her eyes at all of it. Cassandra is happily reading her romance novels, courtesy of Varric who will love me forever for giving him that ammunition. Sera is proud of me every time I give the middle finger to some asshole rich’un, Iron Bull’s gotten me drunk, I’ve given Cole enough freedom to see his pranks are born of kindness, and Cullen has confessed his secrets to me. Blackwell has pledged his life and love, and even Vivienne thinks I’m sweet (I don’t like her, so she gets my rudest replies).
What I’m saying is I approached the game differently this second playthrough. Every few trips back to Haven or Skyhold, I stop by and say hello to everyone. I’ve made friendships, gained richness of story.
I have a point here.
When I first started playing WoW, it was the same. I didn’t even turn on the ability that showed you all the quest text at once. Instead I let it roll across the page, reading along. And then I got impatient and it became about the leveling, not the story. And I didn’t realize how much I missed a good story.
Then I played Lifeline. It’s a little app designed for the Apple Watch but playable on any iOS device. And there are zero graphics. There’s no fighting. There’s no fancy voice overs. What there is is an astronaut named Taylor, marooned on a moon out in the solar system somewhere. And you’re the only one he can talk to.
So for three and a half days, I got texts from Taylor. He’d tell me about his day, his thoughts, his struggles. “Should I beat the galley door down, or sleep?” Or “should I save these pain pills? My shoulder really hurts.” Taylor is hilarious. He’s snarky and smart and scared, and I grew fond of him, determined to keep him alive.
Zero graphics. An amazing story.
I love beautiful games. But there’s a lot of talk right now at how undervalued writing is in video games, and man. I didn’t realize how true that was until I started missing it. Dragon Age is great, actually. It’s beautiful and the story is…decent. But what sets it apart is the depth of characterization, although it sure is whitewashed. It’s written well enough that I feel a connection to these characters. I want them to like me. I practiced the fire at Haven until I could save all the civilians.
I want to play more games with more story. Even if they’re slower. Even if I don’t get to finish them in a week, a month. Let me dive in. Make it worth it for me to read. More of this.